Easy Sunburst Guitar
Build a kit electric guitar and finish it like the pros.
By Steve Lodefink
ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO LEARN ABOUT
electric guitars is to build one of the many
DIY guitar kits available. When it’s done, you’ll
have not only a working instrument, but an
understanding of how your instrument works.
You’ll know how to string it, adjust it, and set
the action the way you like. You’ll become
your own guitar tech.
If you’re an old hand with guitars, kits can
be a low-cost way to get that “custom shop”
Les Paul look you’ve coveted, for no more
than the kit price, plus a bit of elbow grease.
parts come together to become an electric
guitar. Finally, there’s “setup”: adjusting the
neck, pickups, action, and bridge to make the
guitar sound and feel good.
The finish typically involves a base coat
and a clear, protective top coat. For a classic
”sunburst” finish, you don’t need an airbrush;
you can use 2 colors of spray paint for your
base coat. Make sure your clear coat and
base coat are compatible. Traditional guitar
finishes are nitrocellulose lacquer, available
in spray cans from luthier supply houses.
Polyurethane will serve just as well. Acrylic
finishes also work, but tend to be less durable.
Begin by Finishing
Kit guitar building has 3 phases. The first is to
apply a finish to the wooden parts. Done right,
this is 80% of the work. The second phase is
assembly, which is really fun, seeing all the
1. Prep the parts.
Many guitar manufacturers have trademarked their headstock shapes, so to protect
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