BUILDING AN UN-SAGA FLYING V


Note from GuitarAttack:  This is a great story.  Lots of great techniques, even if it isn't a real Saga!  These are plentiful on eBay...check them out.  Key tip:  Always test paint on scrap!

 

From Simon GIbson

Hello -

Firstly I want to say a quick thanks for your Saga Saga's website. It is a brilliant collection of examples of self built guitars that really helped me to start and finish my own build. I have done my own write up and pictures of my own experience and would be happy for you to post them on the site if you think they will be of interest to others.

Having been bought the best guitar in the world a couple of years ago, and still loving it very much, I fancied the challenge of making my own guitar from a kit.

I like the flying V shape but couldn't justify buying one just for that reason. When, after a couple of years of looking, a DIY kit in that shape came up at the right price, I took the plunge and got it for my birthday. Having spent a some time thinking about the colours I might paint the guitar if I ever got one, I had settled on painting it red and white stripes, after the colours of the football team I support (Lincoln City FC).

The reason (other than the fact I'm mad)? I happen to like the colours, and I thought that they would make for a cool looking guitar (and now that I have it, I'm even more convinced). Also, if you are going to go to the effort of painting your own guitar you might as well make it unique, and I don't think anyone else is daft enough to make a Lincoln City FC guitar.

When the new guitar arrived I started off by doing a test fit of everything to make sure that it all went together, and it pretty much did. The holes for the plastic cover holding the jack donít line up, and one day Iíll have to replace it with something that fits properly, but it does the job for now.
 

My top tip would be my test piece. Once I had the kit and knew that I would be building and painting it I dug out an old piece of offcut wood and used it to practice shaping the head the way I wanted and the paint style I intended to use.

This turned out to be a fantastic thing to do, because I made virtually all my mistakes there and painting the guitar was much easier and less stressful as a result. These included discovering the making tape I used allowed too much bleed through at the edges or stained the white, so I bought more expensive tape. Or that sanding between coats and buffing the finish at the end was far beyond my level of competence and ended up giving a worse finish for me than just taking my time with the spraying.

Iím not a perfectionist so am happy for the finish of the guitar to have a bit of Ďcharacterí. Or that the Lacquer used would cause a Sharpie to run, so I couldnít write on it anywhere I intended to lacquer.

Having taken the guitar apart again I primed and painted the body and neck. I bought some generic spray car primer, paint and lacquer from a national store chain and it seems to have done a respectable job.

The finish is nowhere near as professional as on my nice guitar, but then you wouldnít expect that.

First I primed and rubbed down the guitar. Then painted the front white as a bed for the stripes, masked off where I wanted the stripes to be and painted the rest red. Everything got a few coats to try and ensure an even finish.

 

Once that was dry I took off the masking tape to reveal the stripes, stuck a window sticker of the club logo to one of the legs and gave the whole thing a few coats of clear lacquer. For the neck, after I had shaped the head the way I wanted it, I just masked off the fret board, painted it red, stuck a name and serial number on it and then lacquered it.

Really simples stuff, which took me a couple of weeks start to finish.

 

As for the electronics, the guitar didnít come with any wiring (or assembly) instructions but the Seymour Duncan website has a section with wiring diagrams for seemingly every conceivable combination of guitar internals, so it was a simple job of picking the diagram I needed based on the parts I had.

It took an afternoon to solder it all together, but seems to work just fine.

 

Finally it was time to put all the pieces together, string it up, plug it in and see what I had created. Astonishingly, it was really rather nice to play (I would describe it as charming, and acknowledge that Iím biased), although the top E string touches the first fret. I know someone who is experienced with setting up guitars, so before I start diving into adjusting truss rods and filling and refilling nuts Iím going to get him to cast an eye over it to see why the problem really is.




It still needs a bit of set up work, and possibly a look at improving the electronics to reduce the hum, but I'm happy with the results (which is more than can be said about the football team). Lessons learnt would be that I needed to be more patient between coats as rushing it a little has introduced some imperfections, although I tried to leave the guitar for a few hours between coats the lacquer seems to have needed significantly longer, and I probably could have bought a second can of lacquer and given it a few more coats before assembly, to improve the look of the paintwork a little, but I was just too excited to finish it.
 


I love it as much as the expensive guitar (for very different reasons, of course) and if someone out there is reading this and is unsure if they should get a kit then I say go for it! They seem pretty impossible to mess up if you take your time and do a little preparation, and the result is very satisfying.
 


Regards

Simon

   
Great job, Simon!  Thanks for the photos and the great story!

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