Sep 122018

I love tools. You can never have enough 😎 … and, although a soldering iron, two screw drivers and a spanner would be sufficient to finish this guitar kit in a minimal way, it offers a lot of possibilities to indulge in this passion. After all, the result should be good, right?


If you look at the kit and read the build instructions, you encounter the nice sentence: “The guitar will need to be fully ‘set-up’ after construction.” – which mainly means that the neck has to be adjusted correctly. So: filing the nut slots, make sure the neck’s straight, possibly dress the frets. Later on, set up the string height and intonation.

Lots of possibilites to acquire new tools!

Presumably I won’t need everything, at least not for this build, but Rockinger and Crimson Guitars got an order from me – that should satisfy my needs for now 🙂

Tools for the Neck

… not mine, the guitar’s …

Notched Straight Edge

To determine, whether, and to assure, that the neck is straight, you need a straight edge. As this is a guitar neck, there’s a little subtlety involved: there are a lot of frets hammered into the neck. To really measure the neck and not the frets, the straight edge needs to have notches where it would otherwise sit on the frets. Can be bought on Ebay or Aliexpress from China, for relatively little money; I didn’t want to go the cheap, but the quality route here, so it’s British precision work. That I hope to get sooner as well. Stewart-MacDonald‘s version is cost-prohibitive; plus, this thing is quite big and heavy, so the transport alone would be quite expensive.

Leveling File

Once the neck itself has been straightened, the frets may have to be leveled. They should all have the same height to prevent string buzzing at certain positions where they hit a higher fret. To level them, you need a long, straight file that’s pushed evenly and without pressure over the frets until they have the same height.

Fret Rocker

Even if all frets look even, there can still be some subtle height differences. To find them, this tool exists. It’s always positioned over three adjacent frets and then you try to “rock” it forward and backward over the center fret. If you can, one of the frets is either higher or lower and you have to correct that. Some people simply use an expired credit card or the like; this, however, is not really exact.

Fret File

After having leveled the frets, they need to be shaped; ideally, they are rounded, so that the string only sits on a very small area when pressed down. There are some methods for that; in principle, a small file with rounded edges, so that it doesn’t hurt the fret board, would be sufficient. I’ve got this set of fret files since quite some years, since it’s more comfortable this way.

Fret Finishing File

Untreated frets have very sharp edges that need to be smoothened unless you want to cut your fingers. The small file from above would be sufficient for that as well; the linked one is the luxury variant.

Nut File Set

The last step when setting up the neck is to file the slots into the nut where the strings are running to the tuners. The slots should have the same width as the strings that run through them.

What else do I need? Hmmm … the head must be done, it needs a more beautiful form. For that, rasp, file and sanding paper should be sufficient. And a good idea. Apart from that:

Tools to Finish the Body

The guitar kit came in a relatively raw form. The wood has been brought into a nice shape, but only roughly sanded. To finish it, be it in paint, oil, or whatever, it has to be sanded down to a much finer degree. This mostly needs sanding paper. Lots of sanding paper in various grits beyond 200. And a sanding block – if you sand by hand only, it’s very easy to create dents.

Apart from that, this guitar kit is complete, so, to my deep regret, it doesn’t need more tools 😎

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 Posted by at 3:32 pm

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