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How To Take A Solo, And Make It Your Own

AmandaCaster Solo custom JEK-10 kit


It’s always nice to see someone you know get recognized for doing good work – especially when it comes to custom guitars!

Recently, our good friend Mike LaPointe was lucky enough to get one of his many custom guitar builds featured on the Solo Guitars site.

The following article was originally published by Solo Guitars in November of 2021 and is reproduced with permission.

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Written by: Kevin Strom On: Nov 9th, 2021

Congratulations goes out to Mike Lapointe for his guitar build, to earn him Guitar of the Month for October 2021.

Mike used our JEK-10 DIY kit as the basis to create his guitar.

“I completed this JEK-10 kit with my daughter Amanda Lynn. Frankly, looking at last month’s Guitar of the Month winner, I was humbled to even be considered.

I work in collaboration with my daughter Amanda Lynn on about one guitar a month. She’s the real talent in our family. I was inspired to try this because she was doing similar artwork on canvas and was rather prolific and driven to create.

It occurred to me as the art stated to accumulate in our home that it might work on a guitar body. We started by stripping down and painting a Squire body and it turned out (to a Dad’s eyes anyway) spectacular.  So when I saw these kits available for less money than a body and neck would cost from virtually any other credible source, I thought, why not. I was shocked at the quality of the neck and body.

The build process was basically as follows:

I sanded the body to about 220 grit, filled with simple wood filler, and then primed it in matte black. Then both the neck and body went to Amanda’s studio (living room, LOL) where she did her magic. Her process is not a wrap and not a hydro dip. She prepares her paints in cups and then manually pours them on the guitar.

The top and back must be poured in separate steps. One must dry completely before the second can be started. During the pours she manipulates the paint with torches, compressed air and with her hands.  As you can see she also works in acrylic resin. The two pockets on the front of the guitar are chambers she created with hand tools and a dremel. She filled those chambers with acrylic crystals and resin as well as a glow-in-the-dark material, so yes, they glow quite strongly after being exposed to light.  This one we named MindStorm.  After both sides have cured, she returns them to me.

For this one and all I have done recently, I spray them with nitrocellulose lacquer and buff them to as good a shine as I can achieve. With this type of process, there will always be texture. In other words, bumps and lumps are par for the course.

I had lots of parts on the shelf and for this one I wanted to upgrade the bridge so I opted for a Gotoh 1996. That required me to reposition the bridge inserts as the Gotoh was slightly wider than the stock Floyd. That meant doweling the existing holes and re-drilling them.

The pickups I selected were also parts I had on the shelf and as this is obviously a shredder, I went with a Seymour Dimebucker in the bridge, a Seymour Duncan Strat single coil in the middle and a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the neck.

I opted to wire it so that the humbuckers were automatically coil cut in positions 2 and 4 of the five-position pickup switch. I did this because I always tap or coil cut humbuckers when combined with a single coil and why have a push / pull or toggle which is just another step?

Did I mention that I bought two of these kits?

While building the second kit (nearing completion now) I decided to use the supplied FR licensed bridge and frankly, although the Gotoh is indeed a stellar bridge with excellent design improvements, I have to say that the supplied bridge is more than adequate. It works as you would expect a Floyd to work, and that is bulletproof stability.

Now that I’ve started reading about other submissions for Guitar of the Month, I recognize the huge resource these testimonials represent. I intend to pick the brains of previous winners (whether they know it or not, LOL) to improve my process.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’m shocked at the quality of the neck and body. The neck pockets are tight and the fret work is excellent. Naturally, I dressed the edges and polished the frets but it plays far better than I would have expected for such a reasonably priced kit.

Thank you for considering this guitar. To be mentioned among such beautiful instruments and talented builders is a source of immense pride for us.”

Unfortunately, Amanda didn’t film the making of this guitar, but if you’d like to see her finish a different guitar using the same techniques, check out this Youtube video here.

-Mike Lapointe

Ibanez Guitar Divider

With the help of his daughter’s unique process, Mike is brilliant at assembling his custom guitars and realizing a vision.

By using carefully selected materials, innovative hardware and premium pickups, they look and sound awesome!

He’s also wise enough to know that there are some very fine setup adjustments needed to make the guitars fully playable – which can be slightly out of his comfort zone.

To that end, we’re grateful to be part of the process, and see these killer instruments reach their full potential.

Follow Steve Blundon:
Steve Blundon is a business owner, published author, former music teacher and active master guitar tech who's been servicing instruments for over thirty years. Visit Author's Page.

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