My First Kit Guitar – And Last

The first kit build. I broke from the Lake Placid Blues and went just a little bit wild with blue, purple. teal, and black inks.

Lake Placid Blues

Kit body of a Stratocaster style guitarI’ve never been a Strat girl, but one of my major influences — Jimi Hendrix practically ate one every day for breakfast with those giant magic hands he had.  It seemed natural that my only true impulsive guitar purchase was a 1960 Mexican knockoff in Lake Placid Blue. 

It was not an amazing deal or a pushy sales rep — it was my own ego that got me — if I had a Stratocaster I would soon be playing (more) like Jimi!  Right? (yeah, no.)

I did not even try it out in the store and immediately regretted buying it when I finally did play it at home. 

It buzzed and fought me with sky-high frets, would not stay in tune, and it just did not sound right.  I was relieved my model was missing the tremolo bar which was a good thing because they scared me anyhow.

As you grow as a musician, you begin to understand that the instrument has breath and a soul and it’s own personality and not all instruments and people get along right off the bat.
The problem was not the guitar but that  I was still a beginning player when I purchased it. 
The problem was not the guitar but that I was still a beginning player when I purchased it and had done no research about the guitar.  I also did not know that all I had to do was take it to a pro and have it tweaked to make it more playable.

I did not know that guitars were rarely perfect straight from the large-scale manufacturer and that as your playing level increases the fussier you will be about how your guitar is set up.  As you grow as a musician, you begin to understand that the instrument has breath and a soul and it’s own personality and not all instruments and people get along right off the bat.

I wanted to play deep, dark moody rock and Zeppelin and I bought a guitar that sounded better in my hands as a jazz guitar than a rock guitar.  I have learned that is not the guitar that decides how you will sound, but that you must learn how to make your guitar sound like you.  I also learned you can’t make a dog meow and you can’t sound like another guitar player just by purchasing a similar guitar.

Making Peace

After years of collecting dust, my husband sneaked all my broken down ignored guitars away like King Moonraiser collecting misfit toys.  One the of the guitars he took was my Lake Placid blue Strat to someone named Eric.

Eric knows guitars.  He took my acoustic Guild I named “The Beast” because it was so hard to play and tamed it so my beginning daughter could play it.  Eric also said it was a terrible guitar and waste of money, but at least I could play it now.

He also fixed my pretty blue Strat — but it broke down again a few months later and sat for another year until my son picked it up.  He also got tired of the buzzing and put it down again. 

My violin teacher told me there is nothing sadder than an instrument gathering dust….she never played my Guild guitar, “The Beast.”

I did not want to take the Strat back to Eric.  Was I such a bad player I broke my guitar again?  Would he think I was being fussy?  It was a $450 guitar — what did I expect? 

So it sat unloved for years until one day, a friend posted a link on Facebook to a bass he had just purchased.  It was a nice little student bass so I clicked on it. Within 30 minutes I had looked at his bass, many more bases, and of course, then came guitars and all of a sudden I had a Stratocastor-like guitar kit arriving in two days.

Her Story

The kit came with a very soft body, but the neck was straight and surprisingly playable. I tossed every part the kit provided except for the nut — which I would have replaced but was certain I would damage the cheap mounting.

I replaced everything from the pots to the pickups to the tree to the tuning pegs.  I gave her noiseless pickups and cahnged the beige pickup guards to black and the white pots knobs to white.

I had a blast with the Farraday cage — anyone who loves guitars and craft projects and electronics would.  Frankly, next to hand stain/dyeing her, building the Farraday cage was the most fun. It is even a fun thing to say.  Hey, I built a Farraday cage.  Farraday.  My father had office space on Michael Farraday Drive in Reston, VA.  Good times there, perhaps that is why this long digression over a single word….

I also updated the vintage style Strat trem bridge (knockoff part) the kit came with and replaced it with a 2-post American style bridge. Drilling the holes and inserting the bridge was mindlessly simple. I would do it again but setting it up was not so simple nor was finding instructions to do so. Fender’s Amazon store did not send any installation directions and all the Fender links I found went 404.

Above is a picture of the bridge resting in place on the guitar. I was in the home stretch!! Some grounding work, soldering, and attach the neck (which is all done!)

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