Jan 11, 2017

DIY Semi Hollow 335 Guitar Kit Build Part III


After all the woodworking and finishing is done, only the hardware, electronics, and setup remain!

DIY 335 Guitar Kit





A pretty easy step to begin with, once the finish is cured, is installing the headstock bushings. I used some cushions and a small clamp to press the bushings tightly into the wood.  You could probably use a hammer but I found clamps to be a very safe and effective route.


Time to test-fit the electronics.  The pickups go in nice and easy... unlike the rest of the wiring.

DIY 335 Guitar Kit Wiring
After putting in both pickups and running the wires out
It's important to at least begin the wiring before hammering the bushings for the bridge and tailpiece because they will be grounded to reduce buzz while playing.  Have a little hole drilled through from the control cavity to one of the bushing holes, then run an exposed wire into the hole to contact with the bridge, and connect it to the ground of the circuit.


Since my previous wiring projects, I bought an improved soldering iron (an adjustable temperature one from Amazon for approx. $10) that was actually a big step up from the previous $10 Radio Shack soldering iron.  No more weak or cold soldering joints, which is extremely important in a 335 style, because the wiring doesn't go in easy!

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

After soldering and insulating the exposed wires, it's more or less ready for installation.  There are better video tutorials out there on getting this part to work, but here's the gist of it:

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

You'll want a few lines of thin string or wire (I used fishing line, which I would definitely recommend *against*).  Run these through the farthest holes (the output jack and one or two of the pots) and out through the f-hole, using needlenose pliers to grab the strings.  Tie them around the shafts of the respective components - the strings help pull the components through where it's nigh impossible to reach your hand through.


After what felt like the most frustrating and needlessly painstaking hour of my life, and three retries, I finally got all the electronics through and in their right places.  Luckily the soldering joints all held strong too, whew!

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

Now it's time to hammer in the bushings for the bridge and tailpiece.  I used a metal hammer with a sheet of cardboard as a buffer (a rubber mallet may work but may not be precise enough).  Make sure they're certainly straight as they go in - crooked bushings is a recipe for intonation problems down the line.  This part went pretty easily and turned out great, no problems.

DIY 335 Guitar Kit
Almost there, just a bit more to go!
What *not* to do
Back to the headstock, it's time to install the machine heads.  Now, I was a little anxious to see this thing finished and hear it play, so I just put the Kluson-style tuners in the way I thought I remembered to look correct.  Aesthetically, it wouldn't be such a big deal that they were backwards... except that they wound the wrong direction too.  So they came off and went on the other way, leaving a couple little holes as reminders to not rush dumb little things.

DIY 335 Guitar Kit
Better now, though not perfect

DIY 335 Guitar Kit
Adding the truss rod cover finishes up the headstock nicely

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

After that, I installed the strap buttons - this was very easy and quick to do.  I read many complaints about the placement of the upper strap button, but I actually quite like the feel and balance, at least on this particular guitar!

DIY 335 Guitar Kit


With the tuners in and the glue cured, I was understandably a little anxious to hear how it sounded.  I put on two of the cheap, cheap strings that came with the guitar (I had used up the other ones in setting the bridge height and position) and let it rock through this little Vox practice amp.

I'm biased but I love it.

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

Of course, it'd be nice if that was the end of the story, happily ever after, but reality was there was more work ahead still.  Specifically, my first fret level hadn't gone as well as I thought and there was still a major dead fret, on the first fret.  Time to take off those strings and give it a real leveling.

After installing pickups, you want to really cover them up to avoid getting metal dust and steel wool stuck to the magnets.


DIY 335 Guitar Kit
After more than a little fret leveling and checking, they were finally all well and truly level and polished.  Some intonation tweaking and we're about there!

Now is the point where you should file/shim the nut and make sure it's at the right height - I didn't notice this until later but it's a little high on the bass end still.  It'll play fine, but goes a little sharp in some chords, so I'll be fixing that shortly and maybe replacing it with a TUSQ nut while I'm at it.

DIY 335 Guitar Kit
Before restringing

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

DIY 335 Guitar Kit

DIY 335 Guitar Kit


It was a long process and not the easiest one, but a hugely rewarding project and a final product that I'm just thrilled with.  It's lightweight and superbly comfortable with the rounded edges and warm Tru Oil finish.

The tone unplugged is solid and plugged in has a surprising bite to it, while having a noticeably more open and natural sounding tone than solid bodies.  Feedback is something neat that I never really dealt with before, having only solid bodies, but the hollow wings "catch" feedback much more readily than solid bodies.  This is a problem for some rockers on stage at high volumes, but I love how I can get some organic feedback harmonics and sustain without losing my hearing in the process.

As always, stay tuned in the future, new demos will almost certainly be on the way :)

DIY 335 Guitar Kit


Part I

Part II

Part III

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