Guitar Of The Month – May, 2019

Written by: Kevin Strom On: Jun 6th, 2019

Congratulations goes out to Simon Renaud for his guitar build, to earn him Guitar of the Month for May 2019.

Simon used our LPK-10L DIY kit to create his guitar.

“I have been playing guitar since I can remember, and I’m an old man now.  I never took the time to “open the box” until very recently when I stumbled on a YouTube video about guitar building.  Being a wrong handed player (left handed) it was not always easy, especially when it came to buying the guitar that I wanted.  Most of the time I was stuck with 2 or 3 options, so this project was the bee’s knees as my mini me said.  I ordered right away from Solo Guitars.

This kit was a left handed “B stock kit” made of 5 pieces of wood. That was exactly what I wanted & needed – a challenge! I was more than happy. I used its imperfections to get inspired and went for an overall Clint Eastwood look. Couldn’t go wrong! Who doesn’t like the guy right?

Finishing the guitar took me a lot of time.  I spent many hours on that process.  I started by applying Saman #205 Brown water-based Die to the body and then sanded it back to eliminate the raised grain but still keeping the light brown base. Then I applied the Saman #318 Ebony one step varnish to darken the grain and seal everything up. To accentuate the flamed veneer, I used 1500 grit sand paper to remove some of the Ebony varnish. Working around the flame lines to pop them up, I added a bit of color where needed with wood crayons (same crayons my kid uses for his drawings) and also created flame where there were none.   Once I was happy with how the stain turned out, I added 3 or 4 coats of Tung Oil in very thin layers.  I applied this to the top, back of the body and neck.

I made and modified lot of pieces on this project. First on the list were the pickup rings.  2 paper thin layers of maple veneer glued together, crossing the grain to add more rigidity (learned that on my second attempt).  Adding 2 more layers in each corner to support the screws and lift the rings up, making them like they were “floating“ above the body.  Once the pickups were installed, I realized they were still to low to achieve the proper clearance between the pickups and the strings, so I added small white washers to lift them up more. In the end I think it still looks nice.  Finishing these rings was a bit tricky since I wanted them to fit the grain on the body, so I waited until after the body was done. That way, it was easier to match the shades, lines and colors.

I also used mahogany veneer to cut and carve the rear cavity covers as well as the custom headstock, which I then painted black with a lacquer finish. I tried my best to keep the grain visible to fit the overall look.  For the logo part on the headstock, I used Adobe illustrator. Vectoring my signature to create a printable decal. The lacquer was applied after the decal was placed so it feels just like an inlay, without the risk of messing everything up.

The machine heads turned out to be a project in itself.  I ordered basic machine heads online, and when they arrived, they were greenish and cheap looking as I expected – not what I wanted at all.  I decided to paint the buttons with lacquer-based nail polish to get the perfect, not totally even color.  I then used different sharp tools to mark, slice and engrave them. After these steps I applied dark brown shoe polish to fill those gaps. Relic’ing my machine head buttons to fit the old look of this guitar was awesome. They turned out not so bad after all.

For the electronics, I wanted Les Paul 50’s style wiring with independent volumes.  I used shielded wires, CTS 550K pots, Orange drop capacitors (.015uf on the neck and .022uf on the bridge), Switchcraft jack and toggle switch.  Also, the Zebras (HMV’s) are hot & dirty and make the perfect combo with my Vox amplifier.

To complete the project, I did a full fret leveling, crowning and polishing job with home made tools… but that folks… is another story!!!  All in all, this was an extremely rewarding and fun project to do and I’m very pleased with this build.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I would be more than happy to answer!

-Simon Renaud

11 Responses to “Guitar Of The Month – May, 2019”

  1. kevwack says:

    Your first build? Unbelievable! Do you have any woodworking experience? Plus you seem to have a grasp on electronics.
    You did a hell of a job.

  2. jenright19 says:

    That would be really amazing if it were your 5th build, but your first? Incredible! That’s a beauty! Well done, sir. Really really great.

  3. blakemore.dave says:

    Nice set of pictures.. love it.

  4. joe says:

    A-ma-zing. A real jaw dropper. Thanks for sharing how you did it.

  5. SimonRenaud says:

    Thanks for the great comments. !! i really appreciate it.

    it is my first build yes. And to answer your question Kevmack, no i don’t have wood working background. I took this project one step at a time. meticulously and slowly. The videos helped A LOT !!!! 🙂 And some bad books.. haha..

  6. SimonRenaud says:

    Thanks Joe !! Pleasure’s all mine.

  7. renaudray2 says:

    Vraiment un travail de pro… suis particulièrement fier de toi

  8. W.Dahl2 says:

    Awsome Job. Im on my second build and I can only hope it comes out half as nice. Keep on building. Awsome!

  9. rollie396 says:

    Fantastic first attempt!I like the pickup ring idea.

  10. John Paterson says:

    Very nice piece of art. Congratulations I hope it sounds as good as it looks.
    From a fellow guitar builder.

  11. Vice242 says:

    Great photography too.

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