Its been several weeks now since the guitar was first assembled. In my last post I gave the impression that I was done with setup, but nothing could be further from the truth. I tinkered with the setup for a couple of weeks and just now have it the way I like it. Here's what kept me busy... at first the bridge was too high, so I added a shim to the outside edge of the neck pocket in order to raise the headstock relative to the body. This allows the bridge to be lowered a bit while retaining the existing string height. Then I thought it would be nice to have the bridge flush against the body so I added a second shim, but this ruined the tremolo action. During this process I visited the Carvin store in Hollywood to see how the Bolt guitars are setup and finally decided on a single shim. At Carvin the bridges are perfectly parallel to the body and have a 4/64" gap between the body and the underside of the bridge. With a single shim my bridge is at the same height as the factory built Bolt guitars.
In order to shim and un-shim I had to take the neck out. Each time I loosened the strings and lifted the neck out of the pocket as carefully as possible but broke the high E string three out of four times. Lesson learned: get a pack of single gauge strings that match the high E string for the guitar (10s in my case).
I've also been battling fretboard buzz, and have raised the action a little higher than is suggested in Dan Erlewine's "Guitar Player Repair Guide, 3rd Edition". Currently I'm relatively buzz free with the string height set around 0.07 inches on the bass side and about 0.05 on the treble side.
Yesterday I showed off the guitar to my next door neighbor who happens to be a professional bass player. He was blown away by the finish and impressed with the intonation. He even remarked at how well it stays in tune even after some deep dives with the whammy bar. I'm not surprised about this last fact - the guitar has locking tuners, no string trees due to the tilt-back headstock, a graphite nut, and the Wilkinson tremolo. All of these contribute to a great tremolo system.
And now for the moment you've all been waiting for... finish pics.