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Bulldog Guitar Bodies | Les Paul Kit Review

by The Village Idiot

Bulldog Les Paul Kit Review
Bulldog Guitar Bodies

The Bulldog LP-S Kit As Advertised:

The LP-S Features: (current price $270 + S&H)

  • Maple Top with Flame Maple Veneer
  • 3 Piece Mahogany Back
  • Cream Binding on Body
  • One Piece Mahogany set in neck
  • 22 Fret Rosewood Fingerboard with Cream Neck Binding
  • Mother of Pearl Crown Inlays
  • 24-3/4 Scale Length
  • 2 Way Truss Rod
  • Routered for 2 Humbucker Pickups
  • Nut Size: 1-11/16
  • Neck: C Shape
  • Weight: Roughly 6.5 lbs

Images From BulldogBodies.com:

bulddog bodies les paul kit

bulddog bodies | Les Paul Kit LP-S

The LP Solid Top Kit Kit as Advertised

The Solid Top LP Features: (current price $470 + S&H)

  • Solid Flame Maple Top
  • 2 Piece Mahogany Back
  • Cream Binding on Body
  • One Piece Mahogany set in neck
  • 22 Fret Rosewood Fingerboard with Cream Neck Binding
  • Mother of Pearl Crown Inlays
  • 24-3/4 Scale Length
  • 2 Way Truss Rod
  • Routered for 2 Humbucker Pickups
  • Nut Size: 1-11/16
  • Neck: C Shape
  • Weight: Roughly 6.5 lbs

These kits are available here: http://www.bulldogbodies.com/

The Bulldog Bodies Les Paul Solid top Guitar Kit as it Arrived:

NOTE: This is the second kit I received the top veneer was bad on the LP-S and one of the fret marker inlays was basically clear on the first one Bulldog Bodies sent. I called and was given a reasonable explanation So… I figured I’d give Jay at Bulldog Bodies a second chance. The first LP-S Kit I had in my hands with the exception of those two flaws was pretty much of the same quality workmanship as this kit I am reviewing.

It is important for me to note that I paid for this kit and the suplier Bulldog Bodies was unaware this kit was going to be publicly reviewd, this way I am at least partially assured to have an acurate sample of the product that is available from this company.

I think it is also important to add to this review that because the first kit sent was flawed I found that Jay of Bulldog Bodies is easy to deal with and there was no hassle at all with the return. When the second kit was delayed he contacted me with the offer of a full refund if I didn’t want to wait for the LP-S Kit… This is when I decided to upgrade to the LP Solid top… Just because and he shipped it right out.

 

les paul guitar kit two piece back Bukkdog Bodies

The LP Solid Top Kit from Bulldogbodies.com two piece back

The routing is sharp and clean and the wood quality is acceptable. I checked and the control cavities are a precice fit for Gibson OEM covers. This will also take short shaft pots.

Bulldog les paul kit top carve

The carve of the top is pretty darn good and the top center seam is flawless.

.

The top is remarkably well carved and the seam is basically invisable… This top is not a bookmatched AA Flame… It is pretty much run of the mill maple with some flame in it but it is a fair piece of wood.

les paul kit neck pocket and pick up routs

The Neck Pocket and P/U Routs are Clean and Acurate.

Again, just like the control cavities on the back the routing on the top is impeccable on this example of the Bulldog Bodies LP Solid top Kit (The LP-S kit was not too bad either however I did not spend as much time looking it over).

Bulldog les paul kit body binding

The Body Binding gets an A for fit.

The body binding is a little whiter than I would have hoped for but it is fit very well. The seam with the top as well as the sides is tight and clean all the way around… After seeing a few examples of binding on Aisian kits before I am actually impressed with this one.

les paul set neck fit

Bulldog LP Kit. The fit of the neck at the is pretty good

The fit of the neck is pretty good but will definitly take a little work to prefect (the gap you see here is a bit exagerated by the shadow.. It is about .009″)… The heel of the neck has already been a little worked by me ( I got bored last night), as it came it was pretty chunky.

Set neck long tennon Bull dog Body kit

Hmm.. The neck tennon is offset.

The neck fits straight and like I said, it will take a touch of work for that perfect fit… The tennon s offset to the bass side… I was like Hmm I wonder why… Perhaps someone in ths “know” will comment and let me know. Again here you can see the clean routing. The angle of the setneck is pretty much right on (Thank god) so fitting work will be minimal.

LP Kit inlays and frets

The inlays, frets and fingerboard

The inlays are not bad… Not great but not bad, the color and figure of the inlays are just a bit mismatched but they are cut in well. The fret work and binding are “acceptable” ande the rosewood is fairly nice in apearance.

one piece neck, two way truss rod and headstock size

Straight, two way truss rod works and it’s cut right.

 

 

The neck is straight and sawn correctly. The truss rod functions properly and the fretboard is pretty darn level. The headstock is just about right on the money when compared to a Gibson Les Paul Historic… The holes line up within 1000ths of an inch when compared to an OE overlay. The neck is abot betwwen a 50’s Chunky and a 60’s slim.

 

Overall Quality Bulldog Bodies Les Paul Kit first look

This kit, the LP Solid Top as shipped comes in at $495… That’s a small chunk of change for a kit so if all you’re after is a guitar I’d say just go buy a Gibson. The LP-S Kit with a veneer top would be $295 shipped so ??? Hmm Still if all you want is a guitar go get an Epiphone. Now if you want to enjoy the actual process of building a guitar and don’t have a whole woodshop in your garage…

This example of the Bulldog Bodies LP Solid top kit just out of the box… I’m going to rate a B, if the inlays were better and the maple cap a littile finer I’d rate it an A. On the plus side the routing is very clean and accurate, the binding is well done, the neck is straight and clean and suprize… The kit weighs in at only 5.7 LBS.

This Kit will be finnished in the traditional ways Aniline Dyes, Nitrocellulose Lacquer etc. and I will be checking in here all through the process. It will be getting all new Gibson Nickel Hardware, ABR-1 (Tone Pros Historic Klusen Style machine heads) and a pair of PAF type Nickel covered Humbuckes, CTS Pots and Jensen Caps… Perhaps I’ll set it up with coil splitting… I have a quandary though.

What color should the top be?

Bulldog LP Solid Top Kit Sitting in a TKL Case

One last shot before I put it on my work bench…

To be continued…

(rather than creating several posts I have decided to simply add to one unified review)

Finishing The Maple Cap

The top required very little finish sanding and like noted the binding was installed very well, there was a very small amount of “glue” at the seams in the cut out that sanded out very easily. After sanding to a 400 the top was ready to receive the aniline dye.

Bulldog Les Paul kit aniline dye burst finish

Applying a light amber base, the wood took the dye very well.

water based aniline dye burst finish

I decided to go with kind of a Dessert Burst – Working the dye into the grain

Finished Burst with a lacquer wash coat.

Finished Aniline Burst with a Nitro Lacquer Wash Coat.

The Neck Pocket and Setting the Neck

You will notice that the neck is set in that last image up there, I didn’t even bother to document setting the neck because after the lightest amount of sanding and clean up the neck dropped right into the pocket exactly as it should… Even the little gap at the heel closed up tight with the addition of glue providing a little “lubrication”. That was it, glue, clamp and 30 minutes later it’s done. No problems at all perfect fit at the perfect at the perfect angle… After that BYO kit ordeal this was a very welcome… I’m impressed so I’m going to give this kit an A for fit. I am still puzzled by the tenon being offset though.

At any rate, here is a shot of the tedious way I like to shape the headstock:

Shaping the open book head stock with a file

Shaping the open book head stock with a tiny file… Takes forever.

So far, I am very satisfied with the quality of this kit’s fit, even so the price for the solid maple cap is a little stiff and for that I would expect better matching of the back halves and more uniform inlay color and appearance (these are my only two gripes at this point with this particular Bulldog Bodies kit) Up to this point I’m giving this kit a B+ overall

We will see if it hold that grade as the build continues.

Bulldog LP Kit Solid Top Review Update

Okay… I’m impressed.

Bulldog Les Paul Guitar Review

Finished Bulldog Les Paul Guitar

 

 Here is the finished guitar with a hand rubbed Nitro  finish and sporting All Gibson Pure bench stuff and Nickel Hardware… This one turned out really well.  After the setup it plays very smoothly and the “tone” has that sublime quality that just happens when it all goes right… Too bad I can’t play for beans… However my daughter tried it out for me and wouldn’t give it back.

This particular example of the Bulldog Bodies Les Paul Solid Top LP kit gets an A- to an almost A (yes it’s upgraded from the B+) The inlay color evened out after they were polished a bit and the only real remaining flaws in this guitar are mostly mine.

 

 

Review Update 7/1/2012

Since originally writing this review I have heard the quality of these kits are becoming less than exemplary… Many credible complaints about fitment and QC issues have been brought to my attention by  members of many guitar forums. Because of this I no longer recommend this kit for a novice builder.


19 Responses to “Bulldog Guitar Bodies | Les Paul Kit Review”

  1. [...] to this kit I bought from Champtone… It is going into the Bulldog Les Paul Kit (with the addition of a Push Pull for coils splitting) after I polish the finish out… just [...]

  2. Jim says:

    You can see at the last pic it has Gibson airbrushed out? Did you put a Gibson sticker on it or make a stencil? Its beautiful and you did an amazing job finishing it! I want one too. lol

    • Actually that is a real inlaid fiber headstock overlay… Everything on this guitar is Gibson OEM with the exception of the Deluxe Klusen machine heads (They are from Tone Pros) and the Jensen Tone Capacitors.

      NOTE: The back of the headstock is stamped “NOT A GIBSON” where the SER# would be.

  3. Marc says:

    Where does one get an inlaid fiber headstock overlay?

  4. Marc says:

    Yes, thankyou, I did see those at Crox but wasn’t sure if your’s was the same. Pretty awesome job on that finish btw!!

    Not sure if you ever determined why the tenon was offset like that? There’s another Les Paul body kit maker, Bartlettwoodwoorking.com that shows some bodies that almost appear to have the offset join, where the bass side is somewhat shorter. The Bartlett kits are nearly 2k!!

  5. Axe Man says:

    Thank you for this and your other LP Kit Reviews.

    One thing I have noticed is that all the kits you have built are of Asian origin and I completely understand this in consideration of the price range.

    Well, we have an alternative to the Asian invasion

    I have a proposition,I want you to review our kit it is made here in America. It is an accurate replica of the ’59 Les Paul.

    I understand that you don’t do your reviews on demand because a supplier can cherry pick a kit in order to get better marks than they deserve but would you do this:

    I have several wholesale customers that resell our product on eBay, I would like to give you the money to purchase a kit from one of them there are currently 5 vendors and you will see they are located and are shipping from different locations from the stock we have supplied, you make the choice of what vendor.

    I assure you we want an honest review and this is why I’m coming directly to you with this proposal rather than attempting to manipulate you in any way.

    Is this something you would be interested in?

    Cheers,

    Axe Man

    • Hello Axe Man,

      Hmm… Sure why not.

      I call things as I see them and the review I do will of course include this and any other conversations we have about your product and… Once it’s published… It’s Published.

      Best Regards,

      The Village Idiot

      (Responded via E-mail submitted as well)

  6. Drew says:

    Well, I might finally have to bite the bullet on Bulldog, man. That thing looks sweet.

  7. mat says:

    i still hesitate between precision guitar kit and the bulldog kit

    precisionguitarkits.com/guitars/59-lp-kit/

    did you ever build one from precision ?

    • I haven’t built a kit from Precision Guitar Kits… Yet. I have heard good things about their quality and some not so good things about their customer service, but I’ll reserve my judgment until after I’ve done one.

  8. Airman says:

    Hey There
    Great review you have here. I was wondering if it came with any electronics. You did not mention it so I assume not. Do you know of any place that would sell a complete set of all the electronics? I have never built a guitar before and I would like to know what I am getting myself into.
    Thanks

  9. Satellite^Guy says:

    I’m not “in the know”, by any means, but my WAG on the offset tenon would be because of the thickness of wood between the tenon and the cutaway. If the tenon was centered, I imagine that area could be too thin and weakened.

  10. Shelby Shelton says:

    I was looking into purchasing one of there kits. I know you mentioned it was all Gibson OEM parts. But, just wanted to ask if you had any issues fitting the Gibson bridge and tune o matic? Also, I was wondering if a Gibson solder-less kit would fit in the control cavity without any modifications?

    • Well Hmm..
      I had no issues fitting the bridge because I drilled the bridge and tail bores myself.
      I don’t know about a pcb board fitting, my guess would be that it would fit.

      Sorry I don’t have more definite answers for you.

      You read the review to the bottom didn’t you? Down to:

      “Review Update 7/1/2012 Since originally writing this review ….”

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