DIY GUITAR BUILDING
I'm sure you'd agree with me on this one:
Finding a DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit that sounds just as good as a $400 - $500 guitar is a tall order. This would require a kit with quality materials and great pickups.
Although no DIY kit will give you that perfect-sounding guitar, there are a few that come pretty close. In this article I've listed some of my favorite Les Paul Guitar Kits that are both relatively easy to put together (i.e. require no soldering iron, feel well made) and sound pretty good once fully assembled.
One such kit is the Saga LC-10 Deluxe Kit available on Amazon. It's a Les Paul style guitar and comes with all of its electronics ready for installation (solder-free assembly), includes chrome plated hardware, strings, cords, and an instruction manual that's easy to follow along to.
Read on for some more details.
Our #1 Recommended Les Paul Guitar Kit
Ease of Assembly: Beginner
Enjoyment Level: You'll Have a Blast!
Top: Flamed Maple Veneer Top
Fingerboard: Rosewood (Pre-Fretted)
Truss Rod: Adjustable
Electronics: Ready for Installation. Solder-Free Components.
Clarity of Directions: Mostly Clear
Guitar Kit Assembly
This kit is a blast to assemble, taking about a week on average from unboxing to finished guitar. The great thing about this kit is that once it's all put together, it has the potential of sounding like a $400 - $500 Les Paul! That's pretty good if you ask me.
Painting the Guitar Kit Body
The Saga LC-10 kit can be the perfect canvas for your creativity. For example, there was a fellow who recently bought this kit and decided he wanted a nice, unique paint job on his finished guitar.
Well, instead of just spray painting it (which is a very viable option), he took it to an auto shop that painted it with metallic paint, complete with shadows on the outside and a little bit of a marbled pattern on the inside with darker highlights. The result was gorgeous.
After putting it together he read up on bridge adjustment, strings, truss rods, and the like (it was his first time assembling a guitar) and it ended up looking like a million bucks (not to mention played incredibly well).
Included Kit Pickups: Are They Any Good?
The pickups that come with this kit are decently good. You shouldn't experience any feedback or buzz unless you're playing near a strong electromagnetic field (i.e. an appliance that's actively running, like a microwave).
It's An Awesome Kit, But It's Not Perfect
But it's not perfect all around. One complaint owners of the Saga LC-10 had were the thin wires used in assembly. If you're not careful, these can break apart and require re-soldering to be put back together.
If you're looking to beef the electronics up a bit this can be low-hanging fruit: replacing all of the thin gauge wires with a thicker gauge.
Consider Building the Saga LC-10 Les Paul
All in all, if you're looking for a great Les Paul Guitar Kit project to take on and build, the Saga LC-10 delivers. You have to come in with the right expectations (it's not going to sound like that perfect $1,000+ electric), but it comes pretty close.
For a build-able kit this is some of the best bang for your buck when factoring in quality and personal enjoyment. I think you'll have a lot of fun putting this one together, and know that you'll learn a lot in the process! (especially if you've never put together a guitar before...)
Video Demonstration (How it Sounds Once Assembled)
Our Secondary Recommendation (Good for Newbies)
Ease of Assembly: Beginner
Enjoyment Level: Great Learning Experience
Top: Spalted Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood (Pre-Fretted)
Electronics: Included. May Require Soldering.
Clarity of Directions: Only Basic Instructions Included
Great for Beginners
Not quite as good as the Saga LC-10, but it does cost a bit less. This Spalted Maple LP Kit is a great electric guitar for beginners who want to take on the project of building a guitar from scratch for the very first time.
All of the holes are pre-drilled, making assembly easier. The body is made of Mahogany and the Top is Spalted Maple.
Hands-On Assembly Required
The good (or possibly bad, depending on your goals) thing about this kit is that it requires a bit more hands-on effort to make it work to your liking. This is great if you're trying to learn everything you can about building a guitar and are willing to work through a trial-and-error experience.
On the other hand, it's not so great if you want everything to "come together" super easily.
A Note About This Kit's Electronics
For example, the electronics. You may need to do some soldering to get them all together, and might have to come up with some creative solutions during assembly (i.e. maybe you'll have to shim the guitar neck tight, like one fellow had to).
The key point here is that there will probably be a few things requiring minor adjustment during assembly.
I will point out right now that the strings that come with this kit aren't the greatest, so you'll have to replace them with a better set of electric guitar strings after you're done putting it together. A good new set of strings will significantly improve your sound!
The Spalted Maple Les Paul Guitar Kit isn't a bad option if you either don't want to spend extravagantly or just want a nice beginner kit to work from.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I buy a Les Paul guitar kit?
It's more personal preference and the style you prefer, more than anything. Les Paul style guitars in particular are known for playing heavier styles of music like rock very well.
This is due to having two humbuckers on their pickups, giving the LP more gain than any single-coil guitar (like a Stratocaster, for example).
On top of that, they also have set necks rather than bolt-on necks. If you look around at Fender Style Guitar Kits, you'll notice that those have bolt-on necks through and through. Not so with the Les Paul Style Kits and their marvelous set necks!
A set neck gives the guitar a warmer sound, and can also improve the sustain of the notes you play.
Les Paul Style Guitars have their own unique sound that comes from the combination of woods used, the electrical components (such as the pickups), the shape of the guitar body, etc.
If you like the sound and like the look, I'd say why not go ahead and build a Les Paul?
What upgrades should I add to my LP kit?
Ah, upgrades. This is always a great question.
We recommend looking at two big contributors to your sound when doing a build: Pickups & Strings.
These two are fairly low hanging fruit when it comes to upgrading the hardware in your guitar. It's relatively easy to buy and replace your guitar's pickups during assembly, and replacing your guitar's strings can be easily done.
With those two hardware upgrades alone you'll immediately see an improvement in your sound.
How much experience do I need to build my own Les Paul guitar?
You can have zero guitar building experience and successfully complete one of these kits. In fact, this is actually the reason a lot of people purchase a guitar kit - to get better at assembling their own guitars and learn the ins and outs of being a luthier (a maker of stringed instruments).
If its your first build, it's normal to struggle a little. It won't be easy the first time around, and you'll probably have to work around some issues with trial and error.
But don't let this scare you. Guitar kits come with instruction manuals that guide you through the process, all you have to do is follow along and build it up per the directions provided.
If you buy a guitar kit that requires soldering, you'll likely have to get a soldering iron and practice a little on some spare wires. But the first Les Paul kit we mentioned above doesn't require any soldering iron, so if you get a kit similar to the Saga LC-10 you shouldn't have any trouble.
The key is practice! Once you've built up your first guitar, you'll get better and better.
But it's perfectly okay (and in fact, normal) to start out your first build without any previous experience.
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