Stripping the finish was, uh, different than what I expected. I took it to a local furniture refinishing place to have it chemically stripped. From what I read here and at Project Guitar, that SHOULD have worked. They dropped it in their vat and 2 days later--- nothing. They said they'd never encountered a finish so hard and resistant to their chemicals, and said it had to be some type of super-hard gloss finish that wouldn't even be legal in the states. So I had to hand-strip it using a hand-held palm sander and various sanding blocks to handle the rounded countours. You might want to check the tutorials on Project Guitar. If you do this, be SURE to wear a good dust mask. There's no telling what was in all that dust (not sure I want to know), but it couldn't be good for you.
Thanks for the comments,