Hi all, I've been reading these boards for a little while now gaining a lot of inspiration from some really awesome projects here. I decided to give it a go, and start simple before trying anything fancy. I think this was a wise choice based on all the mistakes I made, but was a valuable learning experience. I think I spent about 3 months on/off working on this. Basic specs: Existing Jackson 7 string 25.5" scale neck Alder body - black laquer/gloss clearcoat Hipshot locking tuners Hipshot bridge .175 Custom Black Tusq nut EMG 81-7 & 707 (b/n) The project started off as an existing Jackson 7 string with a tune-o-matic bridge and lousy hardware and pickups (pictured below). The nut was also slotted too deep for my .064 low A string. At this point I had already routed out the body (poorly) for an existing set of EMG's I had. I swapped in a Hipshot bridge which I really like, but left ugly holes in the body that I tried to cover with tape. I also found I had to raise the bridge really high based on the depth of the neck. The existing string holes were also still visible as well. Yuck. Ordered an Alder blank from Stewmac as well as a few tools. I created a base template loosely off the shape of my ESP Horizon 2 with extended horns using 1/2" MDF. I eventually made different templates for the pickups, neck pocket, and cavity cutout. You can never spend too much time on the template, any shortcuts will show. Rought cutout on the band saw. I used the template router bits to finish the rest of the body, the bits I used didn't go the full depth of the body so I did it in multiple passes requiring a lot of cleanup afterwards. I'm going to order a longer shank next time I try this and get a proper table router setup. I also carved the tummy cut, I used a lot of hand tools and had a hard time getting this to look great. It eventually came out ok. Cutout the rear control cavity. I used some long drill bits to make the cable pathways, this was one of the more tense parts of the build. Next time I'm going to do a top and route out the body before hand. I managed to get everything drilled by hand without incident though. At the same time I also checked the fret work which had a lot of high points. I sanded down the frets with a 16" radius (same as original). Not the greatest of fret jobs, but good practice and played noticeably better afterwards and able to set the action much lower in the mockup stage. Mockup time, I put everything together temporarily to try playing on it and see where it still needed work. The neck pocket is the weak link, not enough meat to keep the neck secure on its own. Fault in the design/template stage. Otherwise it played great. I debated how to finish it for a while, and finally decided on black laquer and nitro clear coat. I wasn't too fond of working with this, open garage and respirator for about 12 coats of clear (not enough as I found out). I let it cure for about 2 weeks before attempting to buff it. I tried with a buffing wheel on a drill trying to be careful not to nick anything.... Unfortunately I made a few blunders there. I switched over to wet sandpaper starting around 320 grit moving up to 2000 in slow stages. This worked great except I didn't have enough clearcoat in some spots and got too aggressive with sanding and ran through... again... Aside from these mistakes i decided I could live with it for my first project. Lessons learned After bolting the neck back on I put all the electronics in, all pretty simple with EMG's wiring kit. Three way switch with volume control, no tone knob. I carved out a new nut using Black Tusq, cool stuff. Took my time and got the depths really close to perfect I think. Using a dial gauge really helped. I still have some minor details to work out with the truss rod cover, and fine tuning the action some more but overall not terrible. The playability of the guitar has vastly improved as well as the tone and action, so it was a worthwhile project. Feel free to comment/critque. I'm still learning and starting to plan out my next guitar build.