Set Neck DIY Explorer Kit with EMG 81 and 85
This was my first explorer project. For some reason the neck is more of a baseball bat style than the slim necks that most explorers feature. This isn’t a bad thing for me as I’m fine playing a guitar like that. I originally set out to do something pretty straightforward albeit with active electronics (in my mind, this is a metal axe pure and simple). Many of these came with pre-carved banana headstocks 3-4 years ago but most I see now are blank. Good or bad depending on how you look at it. I generally don’t mess with the shape of an explorer headstock as they will always be that hockey stick look.
The kit itself did require some angle adjustments on the neck. Out of the box it was basically set up as if it was a strat. I’d highly recommend a shim kit if you’re going to build one of these. Other than that, the nut wasn’t really aligned right either so MAKE SURE YOU TEST THE STRING POSITION BEFORE SETTING THE NECK!! Basically there’s more room between the lower strings and the edge of the fretboard than the bottom. Fortunately this wasn’t a result of a misplaced pocket or holes for the bridge so it was a relatively easy fix. Had it been one of those things and this may very well have become an end table or something.
I opted to go with black hardware just because that’s my thing for explorers. As I type this I’m thinking about doing another one and I may go ahead and something with gold. The EMG 81 and 85 set is pretty much what you would expect out of a set of EMG Pickups. High output, tight low-end etc. For some reason, I’ve found that the Zakk Wylde signature set is cheaper than others so if you’re buying new, go that route. It’s the same friggin’ thing and you don’t have those bullseye graphics or anything to anchor the guitar to the player.
This is a fun player, definitely a chunky rhythm machine. The body is mahogany, maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. Pickguard is stock and that’s a Three Floyd’s sticker on it It’s finished in a gloss black. Definitely use a grain filler to do this guitar if you want that glass top look!
Want to build an Explorer DIY guitar like this? Here’s what you’ll need!
Explorer Guitar kit – This is what I used although mine had black speed style knobs. Easy swap.
EMG 81 and 85 Set- The Zakk Wylde ones seem to be the best deal. You can fit these and a battery in the compartment BUT the kit ships with long shafts. You’ll need to get the short ones to fit in this guitar
Short Shaft EMG Controls – Unless you plan on doing some routing for a battery cavity you’ll need these
Black Bridge – Because its’ just cooler. I’ve this bridge a few times on guitars and it works pretty well. Intonates easy etc.
Black Locking Tuners – These are nice for the money (you could always opt for pricier Sperzels or Grovers if that’s your thing). I’ve used ’em a few times.
Sanding Sealer – Definitely use this if you’re going to be doing a solid color
Grain Filler – Goes hand in hand with above. You’ll need it on this guitar for sure
Black Nitrocellulose Lacquer – One can should do for this
Clear Lacquer – You’ll need at least two cans of this
Blank Shim – This is probably the minimum viable product- you could just get some wood to offset but these necks are not angled very well out of the box. Likely you’ll need something to help
That’s it! All in all this can be built for around $500. Enjoy!