Note from GuitarAttack:  This is a very cool paintjob and check out the killer headstock decal!

From David Choe:

My Saga saga really has been a saga. I ordered my T-Style kit in Jan 2005. Yes, it really took me that long to finish it. But, I can definitely say it was worth the time, effort, and dedication.

Actually, I didn't even touch the kit for almost a whole year. The reasons for this were twofold. First, I spent a good deal of time planning out what I wanted to do with it, as I knew from the beginning I wanted to customize it some. Second, I was just plain lazy about starting on the work. Once I did start, I did a little work at a time... when I had some. Anyway, here are a few comments on what I actually did do.

Paint & Polish: I used the Zinsser Primer, Dupli-Color Metal Specks Retro Red, and Deft Clear Gloss (all sprays). I found that the metal specks paint was a bit difficult to work with for a couple of reasons. 1) You get red dust everywhere when you spray. I had to use a large cardboard box lined with trash bags to spray in. 2) You can't sand it (according to Reranch instructions) until after you put down the clear. I did end up sanding through in a couple of spots and the red specks showed some silver. 3) Because of #2 it was really difficult to do a spot repair, which was necessary due to a couple of dings. I ended up using about 3 cans of the metal specks and 3 cans of the Deft. Overall, though, it looks really nice. Even the repairs are not that obvious because of the speckled color.

For polishing I used 800, 1000, 1500, 2000 wet sand steps. I had to use a lot of 800 because there was light orange peel (again because of #2 above). But, each of the successive steps went really fast. For a sanding block, I used a 3" long piece of a composite hockey stick shaft. I glued a piece of craft foam down one side. This worked really well as a backing because it was firm with a little give. Most of the time I could get a good grip on it. For final polishing I used Meguiar's ScratchX and pieces of old t-shirts. This worked really well and I got a nice glossy finish.

For the neck and headstock, I used wipe on poly (satin) per the Mattocaster instructions. This was really easy. I think I put too much on the fretboard, though. It's basically shiny.

One painting tip for other newbies: Make sure to tape off the neck pocket!

Headstock, Tuners, & Logo: I cut the headstock using a coping saw. This worked fine except for the fact that the maple kept causing the saw blades to break. Also, the headstock is composed of 2 pieces of wood.  They started to separate a little. So, be careful. I ditched the standard tuners for some little bean ones I ordered from I liked the look and feel of these much better. I had to manually ream out the holes and drill some new screw holes. This worked fine, except that some of the old holes can be seen on the rear. Also, just for fun (and to hide at least one of the stock holes) I made the tuners horizontal.

I created and printed the logo per the instructions on I was able to find a Fender-ish font on the web. If I were to do it again, I'd find something thinner than a transparency. (I've heard that some people use water-slide decals like the ones that come with model airplane kits.) Also, go easy on the spray adhesive. Mine didn't dry entirely clear.

Ferrules: This was another change I wanted to make. I would be very careful in doing this and suggest you use a drill press. I didn't and I had to rework some crooked holes. But, they came out looking pretty nice! No? After the paint was finished, etc., I used a drill bit to manually ream the holes out (removing, paint, etc.). Then I pushed the ferrules in by hand. There's just enough friction for them to stay put.

Pickups: I replaced the Saga stocks with a GFS Dream 180 HB (neck) and a Vintage Alnico 62 in the bridge. These sound really nice and have totally different qualities.

Pickguard: To accommodate the neck HB, I ordered a pearloid white pickguard from guitarfetish. Of course, had to plug and redrill the holes. But, it fit very well.

Wiring & Shielding: I wired the pickups together with a custom 5 way switch to give the following combos: 1) HB, 2) HB-split, 3) HB+SC, 4) HB-split+SC, 5)SC. This gives me a very nice array of sounds. It also required me to dremel out the control cavity a bit. One other thing about the wiring, since I wasn't using the stock pots, I rewired it using small connectors, like the one used for PC cooling fans. This allows me to easily disconnect things without having to resolder. The connectors are small enough to fit through the wiring holes without a problem. I also shielded the cavities with some copper tape from The pots were switched to 500K. All of this was pretty much per the Fender wiring diagrams for a Fat Tele. The one thing I left out was a resistor in the original wiring. I think this is a treble bleed (to keep the SC from sounding too shrill). But, I found that it sounds fine without it.

Bridge: The stock bridge seemed so-so. So, I ordered a new ebay special. This was a bit heavier and chromier. The downside of this is that the bridge makes a bigger ding if your drop it on the paint, like I did. Doh! Also, this allowed me to do the string-thru. One issue I had with both bridges is that the high-E string is a bit too far toward the edge of the neck. The Low-E is fine. I think this might be a string-spacing issue. But, so far it hasn't been too much of a big deal.

Frets: I did the pre-finish assembly after I had the primer and red-specks on the body, but before clear. I used some small nuts as temporary ferrules. During this stage, I realized that some of the frets had some high points toward the outer edge, i.e. they were too flat. So, I attempted pulling them and re-seating. Uh... I recommend practice on a junk neck and a 40w soldering iron. It's not too ugly, but I had a hard time getting them back in. The neck has some "light" scaring. It would have been a lot easier to just file them down, which I had to do afterward anyway. For this, I used a piece of sandpaper (600) taped to a 1/8" thick piece of aluminum sheet. I used the edge of this to sand the offending frets down. In the future, I think I'd like to do a full re-fret job. But, not right now!

Big thanks to guitarattack for all of the helpful info and suggestions!

One other thing. The inspiration for the headstock logo is my son Lucas. He's 2-1/2 and is a budding guitarist. Ha!

- David Choe


Great job, David -- Killer T-Style!

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