Guitar Of The Month – August, 2019

Written by: Kevin Strom On: Sep 11th, 2019

Congratulations goes out to Francesco Rende for his guitar build, to earn him Guitar of the Month for August 2019.

Francesco used our JEK-7 DIY kit to create his guitar.

“About a year ago, September 2018 to be exact, my then 14 year old son Francesco first picked up a classical guitar. He had a handful of lessons, and although he enjoyed it, he wanted to be able to play his favourite genre of music. You guessed it…Metal!

So, one month after he started playing, we bought a pawn shop Squier, and a month after that we found Solo and purchased some Fender Tex Mex pickups to improve the Squier. Since then it’s been hectic to say the least. As he got better, he learned to prefer certain guitar characteristics, so his collection of guitars grew. Joining the Squier was a Fender Strat with humbuckers, and a Gibson SG.

This spring he decided that he wanted to build a 7-string guitar. Neither he nor I have any experience in this, but he was determined. We drove over to Solo and talked to Matt for a bit, then left with a JEK-7 kit. 

We spent a lot of time deciding what finish to use on the guitar.  As Francesco had zero woodworking experience, we decided to go with a stain and semi-gloss finish so any flaws wouldn’t be as visible as with a high gloss finish.

Francesco was looking at some photos online, and really liked the guitars with a red stain over a black grain. We did a bit of research and came up with the plan.

Francesco applied 8 coats of Varathane Charred Wood Accelerator stain so there was good penetration into the grain. Then he sanded the front of the guitar until only the grain was black in colour.  He followed that up with 3 coats of “cinnamon” colour stain from Sherwin Williams. Lastly, he sealed the body with 5 coats of Minwax Polycrylic.

For the neck, he applied 6 coats of Varathane Charred Wood Accelerator stain, enough to make it look slightly charred but worn. He followed that with 5 coats of Minwax Polycrylic. He also treated the fret board with lemon oil. 

Assembling the guitar and electronics was pretty straightforward. The neck fit perfectly, and once I taught him how to solder he was done pretty quickly. 

When we bought the kit, Matt had warned us about how annoying it would be to set up the guitar with a licensed Floyd Rose bridge. He was not wrong! It was tedious work, but with some research and a few YouTube videos, it was done! Francesco did not use the strings that came in the kit, but replaced them with a set from Elixir. 

The finished piece is quite attractive. It doesn’t scream at you with a high gloss or a colourful paint scheme, but it has a subtle elegance in my opinion. The red stain/ black grain on the front is very subdued, and the charred look of the sides and back complement it very well. It looks like someone pulled this guitar out of a fire, sanded the front and put some red stain on it. Also, the vine inlay on the fret board is absolutely beautiful.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. We didn’t expect it to be. This was his first attempt at anything like this. However, we are very happy with the way this turned out. The quality of the kit components was superb, and the instructions gave enough information that even a 15 year old with no experience could complete it. We ended up with a good looking guitar, and it sounds fantastic too. More importantly, he has an incredible sense of pride when he tells people he built it himself. The real proof that shows this was a successful project is this: Francesco leaves his Strat and SG at home and brings his 7-string to school every day to jam with his friends. Mission accomplished.  

Of course, this begs the question; what’s next? Perhaps a dual neck kit is his next challenge?!?!”

-Tony Rende

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