Kitbuiltguitars LP mahogany with maple top kit

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TheOtherDennisTheOtherDennis Frets: 633
edited April 2016 in Guitar Reviews
Don't know whether this should reside here in Guitars (because it's a guitar) or in the Others section (because it's a kit), but I thought I'd put it in here nonetheless.

This is a review of one of these - http://www.kitbuiltguitars.co.uk/guitarkits/build-your-own-guitar-flamed-maple-les-paul-style-guitar.html

Why I bought it
I bought it last year, about March, I think it was, as I was looking for a replacement for my original Les Dennis, which had begun to look very tired indeed and was really a pretty ropey first go at building anything, ever. The new kit came with black everything - scratchplate, tuners, bridge, tailpiece, switch, everything was black except the pieces of wood. Even the pick ups and jack plate came in black.

For me, this was a bit much black, even though I intended to finish it in that colour - I wanted a bit more of a balance.

It's a glued-in neck, not a bolt on, so it requires a bit more work than just a screwdriver.

The quality of the wood is mixed, it's fair to say. The maple top piece is very nice indeed, with some lovely figuring. The mahogany body appears to my uneducated eye to be pretty good quality too, but it's multi-piece. For £119 all in, you can't seriously expect a single lump of mahogany on the body, so that's to be expected. But it's a hefty old chunk, as befits an LP.

The neck seems nice - everything is straight, the head is a paddle awaiting your own personal style of cutting and the frets, while a bit chunky and not that smooth down the edges, are all even and straight (which is more than can be said for some kits I've had in the past).

Everything is sanded well, so that if you want to paint it, go right ahead.

However, the neck in this kit was not a straightforward fit in the pocket. You could either get it all the way down or all the way up towards the bridge, you couldn't do both. So some minor sanding is required to make it right. It's quite easy to overdo this, so you have to keep checking.

Some thing else I noticed quite quickly is that the instructions are very, very basic indeed. Just a sheet with a wiring diagram on it. All the wiring is in the kit, but it's loose. Nothing is connected to anything. So unless you really know what you're doing electronics wise (and I really don't), then this is not for beginners, imo. The wiring also looks very dodgy indeed to my untrained eye. (Again, for the money, you can't really expect much else.)

I chose to use some Wudtone for the top and do a Tru-oil on the back. Both processes revealed imperfections. In the top, there was this an odd pattern running down the middle, while in the back, there were a few places where the oil didn't quite take.

The funny pattern in the top simply sanded out, and if you were going to do a more solid paint job, it may not even have shown at all, I don't know, but it was a bit of a pain. Nevertheless, it did sand out and a second go produced this something much more acceptable on both front and back.

In the neck, the truss rod is definitely off-centre, but I've been assured it doesn't make any difference overall. (Oh, the stain on the fingerboard was by me, it didn't come like that.)

Putting it together
Assembling was a mix of nice and easy and a bit of faff. Aside from the neck fit, the bridge pins weren't properly drilled, though, and appeared slightly narrow to me, but other than that, everything went fairly easily and assembled nicely. The control cavity was wide and deep enough, the pick-up routs were fine and it went pretty well.

Personally, I preferred to use my previous chrome tuners and bridge/tailpiece, and my Iron Gear Rolling Mill pick-ups. I also used a wiring kit from Jeremy Charles, and replaced the rubbish nut, too, as well as putting some of my own choice of tone/volume knobs on.

The pictures in the next post show it looked when finished.

I had it set up by a professional, and everything is in tune, with intonation perfectly fine, and the pick ups sound great.

Verdict
Overall, a much, much better kit than anything I've built with before. Very good quality woods, well machined and well finished. I take points off for the very poor instructions, which are slack to the point of non-existence.

I made a couple of expensive modifications, though - while I already had the chrome parts, I paid 80 quid for the wiring kit upgrade, and had to drill out the hols for the tone and volume pots (but that's down to my choice of wiring, not the original kit manufacture).

However, a very solid 7.5 out of 10, with a good 9 out of 10 for value for money.

If the other kits are anywhere near as good as this, I would definitely recommend them to anyone here who knows what they're doing.
If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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