WD Music Modular Guitar Review - (First Ed. 2003, Revised 2013)
WD Guitar Kit Review.

Preview

Most guitarists although curious and tempted by the thought of building their own guitar usually shy away from this in the thought that it’s too complicated, costly, etc…

The WD guitar kit solves this problem by providing a quality instrument in a kit form with all the components required to build the guitar. Everything is provided from the essential items such as the body, neck, pickups, to smaller details such as screws, drill bits and even strings and a pick!

The kit is therefore ideal for those wanting to initiate themselves in building a guitar without the problems of hunting down the correct parts making sure they fit correctly etc.

The item we have for review is a Double Cutaway Style guitar which basically resembles a Fender Stratocaster®. Its alder body is urethane finished in fiesta red, the maple neck has a rosewood fingerboard and all the hardware is chromed. Kent Armstrong MP-112K pickups are installed in the pre- assembled 3-ply pickguard and genuine Kluson® tuners are also provided.

Going over all the components it must be said that everything seems to be thought over very carefully as most holes for example have been pre-drilled, and all parts have been tested so one does not have to worry about extra work.

In the following series of articles we will build the guitar with details and clear photographs to illustrate how the instrument is assembled.

Before we start

The first to do as indicated by the instructions with the guitar is to check all the components are correct and undamaged this will avoid any problems further along the line. Also some tools and supplies will be required these are:

  • Household glue
  • Low tack masking tape- do not use duct tape.
  • Soap- this is to “lubricate” the screws before usage. It makes it easier to insert screws.
  • A small “C” clamp described in the tuner installation instructions.
  • A small electric drill.

Part 1

Neck Pre-assembly

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Carefully Insert the Bushings by hand or with the aid or a small “C” Clamp

1: The first job at hand is to install the tuning keys bushings onto the neck, to do this one needs to insert the bushings with great care into the pre-drilled holes. Depending on the instrument a small “C” clamp might be required but on our example the bushings went in smoothly with normal hand pressure.

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A small piece of tape can server as a depth guide

2: Next the tuning keys were temporarily placed into the bushings. They were carefully aligned and held in place with some small plastic clamps. Holes for the screws were marked and then carefully drilled using a piece of tape on the drill bit as a depth guide.

Tip. Before inserting the screws dip then in some soap, it makes life a lot easier!

3: Next you need to check the neck. Sight down the fingerboard and if required use the truss rod adjustment to make perfectly straight. .009/.010 gauge strings should exert enough tension to put correct bow in neck when tuned to pitch.  I found the neck to be perfectly straight and did not require any adjustment.

Please note this is a double action truss rod, which means you can adjust neck for both forward and back bow.

Part 2. – Assembling the Guitar

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Bridge Installation
4. Now that the neck is completely assembled and adjusted the next step is to assemble the guitar body and it’s components.

The bridge is to be installed first. Simply insert the bridge assembly into the body face and install the six screws.

Tighten them slowly and once they are in all the way back off about one quarter turn.

 

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Checking Clearance 
Once installed I would recommend that the clearance between the tremolo block and the body cavity is checked.

I only found this out at the end of the assembly of the instrument causing extra work so if checked at this oint it could avoid removal and re-assembly of the tremolo block.


On my example a small amount of wood had to be removed from the left side of the cavity to ensure enough clearance for smooth tremolo operation. This was accomplished using a Dremmel tool and with a small sanding attachment. Always be careful not to blemish the finish and always wear protective eye gear when using power tools.

 

 

 

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Tremolo Claw & Springs
5. The next job in hand was to install the tremolo claw. This is simply screwed in to the pre-drilled screws and the springs are then attached.

The loop ends go in the claw and the “L” shaped ends in the tremolo block. For string gauges .008 two springs are usually sufficient, for .009/.010 three springs for higher gauge springs you might want to install five springs but this is down to personal choice.

 

 

For my purposes and .009 gauge strings three springs were installed.

6. Having assembled the neck and bridge the next task is to wire up the pickguard and jack plate. The instructions simply mention that the jack assembly is placed into its cavity after threading through the wires from the pickguard cavity to the jack cavity.

I elected to actually do this the other way round and thread the jack wires into the large cavity, as there is more space there.

The wires are colour coded and push fit. Once connected a shrink sleeve wrap was placed over them for insulation (simply heat the wrap and it will shrink to size). A wire also goes into the tremolo cavity this is for grounding. Once wired up the jack plate was placed into position and I drilled the holes (3/32” bit) and installed the screws. Another option if you intend to leave the electronics as they are is to solder the cables for better electrical contact.

Next the pickguard was placed into position and secured with tape (low tack). Tip: ensure the lip of the pickguard is flush with the end of the neck pocket otherwise some trimming might be required.

I also made sure the cavities were covered and that the tremolo assembly had no contact with the plastic to ensure smooth operation. Also great care was taken to not trap or pinch any wires to avoid potential short circuits.

Part 3 - Neck Installation.

Text Box:  7. Now that the main body assembly is complete the next step is to join the neck to the body.  To do this the neck was placed into the slot in the body. I ensured that the neck seated properly and the end of the neck is firmly against the end of the neck pocket. To achieve this the pickguard had to be trimmed slightly. The neck was then lined up with the pre-drilled holes in the neck and body and the neck plate and cushion were place into position. I used the provided screws, and tightened them in a random manner as when replacing a car wheel. The neck was found to be ever so slightly off so the screws were loosened, the neck jerked into position and then the screws were tightened again.




 


Text Box:  8. Installing the head nut is the next task. The nut is to fit tightly and also needs to be the right height. I found using a file to be to slow and laborious so out came my dremmel tool to speed up the process. I evenly sanded the nut on the sides until it fitted; once this was done I sanded the bottom of the nut to slightly reduce its height.

9. Now that the neck and nut are installed it’s time to string the guitar. The strings were installed in the usual way by cutting them to measure and crimping the ends into the tuning pegs at 90-degree angle, as these are vintage style tuning keys.

Once the guitar was strung to pitch I left it for a couple of hours to adjust to its environment before making any further adjustments. I came back to the guitar later and adjusted the tremolo springs, saddles etc… The strings were also a bit to high at the first fret so further sanding of the nut was required for height.

10. The next task was to fix the pickguard assembly to the body. The pickguard was simply placed correctly onto the body making sure that no friction was been cause to the tremolo assembly and that all cavities were covered. At the neck pocket though it had to be slightly trimmed in order to avoid problems with the neck seating properly. Also I ensured that the high and low “E” were aligned as best possible under the pickups pole pieces.

Text Box:  11. String Tree. The string tree installation was pretty simple. It was a case of placing the tee into position between the “E” and “B” strings marking the position and then drilling the hole.

12. Next the guitar was plugged in retuned to pitch and the pickup heights were adjusted. This is done to taste although a certain minimum height must be kept for proper tone.

Standard factory measurements from a Fender Standard American Stratocaster are 1/8 “ for the bass side and 3/32 “ for the treble side.

13. All final setup and adjustments were made such as adjusting the action using the bridge saddles and setting the intonation. Also don’t forget tuning was checked after each step.


Text Box:  14. Now that the guitar is nearly finished one of the last steps is to fit the rear tremolo cover.  The cover was placed over tremolo spring cavity in such a way that the opening in the cover allows access to all 6-string holes and that it also covers the cavity. I taped it in placed squared it up for aesthetics and then drilled the 6 holes and installed the provided screws

15. Strap Buttons. This was simple enough and only a question of installing the buttons in pre-drilled holes I also elected to install some cushions as found on most guitars to avoid marking the finish.

That concluded the assembly of the instrument and from then on it’s ready for use!