Jazz Bass Guitar
Build It Yourself Kit By Saga
My youngest son received this Saga Jazz Bass kit as a gift from Santa in 2010. So before we we rush to put it together here are a few thoughts. Read & re-read the instructions. They are not much, but will suffice for a novice to do a plain assembly job. I read many different reviews of this kit on the internet. We did a pre-fit of everything to make sure it would go together with out much difficulty. The neck did fit the body perfectly and we screwed in 2 of the neck screws to hold it in place while we attached the bridge with 2 screws and put in one tuner in the lowest position. Then we took one of the strings and test fit without tension to be sure everything lined up and had decent clearance. It did so we repeated this on the treble string position. So far so good. We test fit the pickups. We have to further inlet the bridge pickup. Very tight & slightly too small. The pick guard and tuners screw holes didn't match up. No big deal to fix before or after final finishing.
This is a view of the contents as it comes from the box. All parts were included and test fit was done to see if anything was missing. All good in this kit. Body and neck in great condition to begin finishing.
Complete contents (click on photo for larger image).
Pros: Excellent fit & pre-finish on body and neck. These two parts are virtually ready to paint and final finish. Tuners appear pretty good in my kit - no backlash noticed. Bridge is solid and heavy, but nothing fancy. Control knobs were very smooth to operate with nice chrome finish typical of a kit.
Cons: I think I'll replace the strings. The screw holes on the tuners and original pick guard are off set. A few line up, but not all which should not be difficult to remedy for a woodworker. Pickups appear to be OK for the price and evidently upgrades are easy - the bridge pickup cavity needs slight work to fit the pickup smoothly itself. Extra blue (ground?) wires are with each pickup and no idea where they go; no help from wiring diagram either.
Body: The body is very well prefinished with sealer. This one is a two piece. All inletting is done and precise. The paint is a black acrylic over coated with a misting of clear pearl that got heavier towards the edge. The final clear coat is of lacquer. Many coats and I'm currently letting it "cure" before buffing & polishing. Even after a few days the smell lingers a bit.
Neck: The fingerboard was finished with a penetrating oil and allowed to cure. Then the fingerboard was taped off and the maple neck was clear coated a couple times with lacquer and is now being allowed to "cure" before polishing it smooth. The neck and body will be polished together.
Allowing the neck & body to cure (click on image for larger photo).
Assembly: To finish out the body it was wet sanded with 400, 600, 1200 and then rubbed/buffed with a microcrystalline auto body compound. Then it was rubbed again with a wax polishing compound followed by wax. It is glass smooth and reflective. The neck was simply wet sanded with 400, 600, and then 1200 and it was done. The neck is satin smooth and satin finish. I don't have electric buffing tools. It was all done by hand and that is quite a bit of work.
The pick guard was fitted. It was an extra after market purchase; pearloid white. The original in the kit was too plain for me. Had to trim it very carefully with a fine file for a snug fit. Most of the guard screw holes will have to be filled and re-drilled. That will be last after everything is fitted and assembled into place.
The tuners were fit and are semi-finished. Many of the little tuner crew holes didn't line up. At least one hole on each tuner did fit correctly as the tuners were aligned and put in place. The offset screw holes were filled by gluing in toothpicks with Tite-Bond II. If the holes were larger I'd have to use dowels or something. The final drilling will take place after they are dried overnight.
(click on image to emlarge)
The finished product:
The finished guitar was tuned and then played. It played very nicely and exceeded expectations. After tuning it was intonated and only 2 of the strings were slightly off. Easy to adjust and then pickup height was set. I had several different guitarists take a look at it without commenting it was home built. They loved it and one actually spent an hour and a half playing it. He was good on it and didn't believe it was built and not bought outright.
Check out the next in the series: Raptercaster
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