Klein Copy: Part XII (Final!!)

So the project is complete and now I’d like to walk through the following questions:

  1. How does the guitar play & sound?
  2. What was the cost?
  3. Where are the gaps?
  4. Are these Chinese kits worth the amount of work and hassle?

1: How does the guitar play & sound?

I think the resulting guitar is incredible. Keep in mind that all of my guitars range from high-end to *really* high-end and I’m a gear snob. So far I really love playing this guitar. There’s no question that part of this is my personal bias and the fact that I’ve wanted a Klein for the past 15 years. This is definitely a really good and serviceable guitar that’s capable of producing a lot of the “standard” tones, as well as some unique ones. In particular the bridge pickup sounds amazing and is very versitle on it’s own.

2: What was the cost?

Part Comment Price
Klein Kit includes shipping $189
Duncan ’59 $77
Duncan Jazz $73
Dimarzio Area 61 $80
JCustom Headpeice $80
Pickguard $70
Hardware jack, 5-way switch, etc $47
Fret Tools $141
Misc Tools $123
Finish Supplies $70
Fret polish $25

Total Cost: $975

That a lot higher than the adversitezed $89, but going into this I knew that I would use better hardware and need to purchase some tools. Let’s subtrace the price of the tools, since that probably shouldn’t count against the guitar ($334).

Guitar without Tools: $641

That’s really reasonable considering how good this guitar is, and consider that a real one will sell between $5k-10k used. What sweetened the deal for me was the fact that I was sitting on $400 in gift cards. The reality is this is a *lot* of guitar for the money.

Now, what about cost in terms of time? I started this project on April 18th, and finished it up on May 30th. So 43 days in total, but a lot of that time I was traveling for work, or waiting on parts (mainly the pickguard took a little longer to make that I was originally expecting, but it wasn’t a problem). I suppose some people would see this as a high cost factor, but I love projects like this. I really enjoy working on stuff like this, so this was almost a bonus for me.

3: Where are the gaps?

Hardware – All of the included hardware for this project is garbage. Considering the price I knew it would be. This should be a real factor for anyone considering building one of these kits. Whether or not you can live with cheap hardware could be the deciding factor on if this is a good purchase or not.

Attention to detail – ummmm, there wasn’t much. From the frets to the sanding, to the route sizes, the attention to detail was mediocre. The good part about this is, again considering the price, it should be expected and these were all solvable problems.

4. Are these Chinese kits worth the amount of work and hassle?

The answer is maybe, maybe not. In my opinion there are a few scenarios where you win with these kits.

1) If you want something obscure like a Klein, you can’t afford a real one, and they happen make something close to what you’re looking for, then go for it. This was exactly my scenario.

2) If you enjoy the process of building/assembling guitars, these kits are really cool. There’s a phenomenon known as the Ikea effect. Basically if you invest the time and energy into assembling a piece of furniture, the sense of accomplishment that comes with it will increase the value of sed furniture. This very much holds true for guitars in my experience with my 3x Warmoth guitars.

3) Economic argument. Basically *if* you have the tools and skill, you can build a decent guitar for $189 that will be fully functional. Even with the crappy hardware installed, it’s probably a better instrument than what you could buy at a music store (or on-line) for that amount.

That said, for most people, they’re probably better off picking up something off the shelf for $500+ and then upgrading the pickups/hardware as needed. I’m really glad I went down this path. It was a great learning experience and I had a ton of fun with it. I owe a huge thank you to my wife for putting up with me obsessing over this (and spending more time and money than I planned) and to John for ordering this kit and making me get started.

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