Velvet Suit Interviews- Sara Kosa on Building her Les Paul

Sara Kosa works behind the scenes as an engineer editing audio books and recording bands.   However, you may have caught Sara and her beautiful DIY axe on the scene at a recent Young American Artists‘ show. She finished the project late last year and the results are awe-inspiring! I’m reluctant to even call this guitar a Les Paul copy because of the unique qualities it has on it’s own. She had a lot of interesting things to say about the guitar and process in a recent interview with Bedside Manner.  Full interview and photos below…Oh, and I assure you, a velvet suit was worn during the questioning…

Bedside Manner: Can you give us the specs of your guitar…pickups, electronics, finish, etc…

Sara Kosa: The guitar is a Les Paul style. The body/neck are solid mahogany. The bridge pickup is a Gibson Burstbucker, and the neck pickup is the stock pickup that came with the electronics kit (and it’s actually not bad by the way). Electronics came with the neck/body kit I ordered, but I upgraded the parts from www.stewmac.com (which is a really awesome website that has literally every possible tool/part you could ever want to build an instrument from pickups to sheets of pearl). Apparently Les Pauls are wired so that the neck pickup volume/tone knobs are on top, with the bridge knobs on the bottom…but that felt really weird to me so I wired it the opposite way. I got Grover Locking Tuners and new volume/tone knobs from stew-mac also. For the finish we used Varathane wood conditioner pre-stain and Varathane Premium Wood Stain ‘Golden Mahogany’, and many coats of lacquer (which was sprayed on in my backyard hanging from a basketball hoop haha – not the best way to do it but my only option.) The finish was .. finished with wet sanding to make it very shinyyy. The input jack is a Neutrik connector (the kind that locks the connector in place so it doesn’t get pulled out).

Click readmore for the rest of the interview and pretty pictures!


BM: How long did it take you to complete the project?

SK: My dad and I did this together, he did a lot of the wood work (like drilling the bridge post holes) because he’s done carpentry for most of his life, while I did all the research and told him what to do. We started around March (2010), and the first show I played with it was the end of August (2010).

BM: Why did you decide to build a guitar? I mean, why not just go to the store and buy a pre-made/factory sealed one?

SK: Haha honestly, I was in guitar center and I fell in love with a Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus that was $2700, which was too expensive. So it’s kind of modeled after that. Kevin told me about the website www.guitarfetish.com, which is a great website that has neck and body kits (completely untouched wood, doesn’t even have bridge holes drilled) for a lot of different guitar styles, and they’re cheap! So I thought it would be really awesome to build a custom guitar myself. And my dad knows how to work with wood so that was a plus. (He liked doing it so much that he wants to keep making them and selling them).

BM: What was your biggest challenge in building the axe?

Probably making sure the measurements for the bridge posts were right…maybe it’s not that challenging but it’s a scary step because those holes are permanent and they have to be in the right spot so the intonation is right. It was also scary gluing the neck in place…because if it doesn’t fit in nice and snug it won’t resonate as nicely. These things probably don’t sound so scary, maybe I’m just really paranoid haha.

BM:  Any advice for people wanting to tackle a project like this on their own?

SK: Do it, it’s fun! It allows you to learn a lot about your instrument. And you don’t have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on just a body and neck from a place like warmoth.com. The kit I ordered from guitarfetish.com (http://www.guitarfetish.com/Guitar-And-Bass-Kits_c_74.html) cost only $200, and it comes with everything you need (pickups, electronics kit, hardware..) i just chose to upgrade most of those parts. Do a lot of reading so you know what you’re doing, and don’t rush. Maybe test your bridge measurements with a string to see if the intonation is right before you drill and make it permanent…there’s instructions online how to do it. And when you’re finished, take it to someone to get a set up/fret dressing. I recommend Paul Unk ‘The Guitar Guy” in Toms River. He’s a great luthier, he’s been making guitars his whole life, he knows what he’s doing. He sanded down the neck/frets and even made me a new rosewood cover for my truss rod (without me even asking!) to match the fretboard.

BM:  Thank you!  I’m sure it’s much more rewarding playing a guitar you made yourself than one you purchased.

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Posted on June 28, 2011, in Velvet Suit Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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