90 RG550 (Lefty!) - Jemsite
Tech: Setup, Repairs and Mods Guitar workbench discussion such as setup, repairs, mods, installing new parts and more.

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 02:52 AM Thread Starter
 
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A few years ago when I got married, my wife and I decided to get each other personalised gifts.

I am obviously into guitars, while she likes classic leather-bound books.

Anyway, I had recently purchased a rg550 in RFR at a steal of an auction on the bay.
New and tagged from a dealer on an auction.
I was the only bid and walked away with a brand new 550 for (you guessed it) $550 starting price!

My lady didn't care for the color, but I told her the history of the guitar and how my first guitar ever was an rg1550 from like 2004, and how that model was special to me, comfortable, and was invented around the time I was born. (As it always happens, that guitar is no longer with me for different financial reasons that happen to college students)

Fast forward a few months and I'm getting married.
That's when we had agreed to get each other gifts that are as old as we were. (I got her a large leather bound set of Edgar Allan Poes collections.)

She surprisingly tracked down something super rare (for a lefty anyway).
She got me a 1990 RG 550! With original case and paperwork.

Overall it was in fantastic condition. Maybe 2 or 3 tiny dings.
However, almost all metal components were rust flavored cakes.

20180922_115443_1592286604004.jpg

The worst part... The fret board. It was just about BLACK.

20180922_115419_1592286644154.jpg

The previous owner must have been a mechanic that never thought to wash his hands.

I've played it as it was for about 2 years leaving it alone cause it played and sounded fantastic.
One of my favorite sounding guitars I own.

Recently however, the fretgoo has been bothering me, and I feel that I go through strings on this guitar faster then my others.

I've asked around on tips to clean it up but 99% of the answers were people just saying things like "oh it's perfect the way it is", it looks great!" or "keep the mojo".

However I'm not interested in someone else's finger fret fungus, and I don't like the look of dirty guitars.

I finally got some advice from a few different sources, but there is a YouTube Guitar restoration channel, TWoodfrd that lead me down the right path. He doesn't have alot of content, but all his videos are great.

I sent him a message and he mentioned using oxalic acid to kill any kind of fungus, and bleach the board up.

That lead me to another thread of someone using a cleaning powder called Barkeeper's Friend.

After reading through his article, he mentioned that it would only work on bear wood, and that fretboards with a finish like his fender would need to be stripped.

He actually pulled his frets and sanded it down.
I was not ready to do that, my frets are actually in great shape.
So.
I scraped it with a razor blade very carefully for a few hours.

Last edited by KennyV; 06-16-2020 at 04:59 PM.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
 
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Here are some more pictures of the frets.
Almost every single fret in every single position was blackened up.

Who ever had it before me went to town on this thing.20200613_162838_1592286885756.jpg20200613_164629_1592286895475.jpg

I've never seen a more evenly worn fretboard before, with fret wires that hardly look used.

It doesn't look like this has ever been refretted, but I really don't know.

Fret wires are polished every time I change strings, but it still green by the time I get back to them.
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Last edited by KennyV; 06-16-2020 at 01:42 PM.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
 
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I decided to clean the board up as best I could before I started to clean off the old finish.

To remove the finish, I took a brand new razor blade and held it as a perpendicular to the board and lightly rubbed it from one fret to the other.

After I felt I got most of that fret done, I flipped her over and pulled in the opposite direction back to the first fret.

Here's a shot after the first few frets were scrapped down.
20200614_234702_1592287044377.jpg
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Last edited by KennyV; 06-16-2020 at 02:08 PM.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 03:01 AM Thread Starter
 
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It took almost a the entire afternoon, watching TV while working away at it, but I managed to get almost all the old finish off and bring all areas down to wood.

It already looked a million times better.
But there's still more to be done!

Here's a photo of just the old finished scrapping off the board.
20200615_013336_1592287254539.jpg
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Last edited by KennyV; 06-16-2020 at 02:08 PM.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
 
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Once the board had time to air out for a day or so (used a damp rag to remove dust from the finish) I came back to it with the Barkeeper's Friend.

This is kind of like a borax powder, and comes in a similar container. Although it is meant to be a metal cleaner and conditioner, it has the oxalic acid in it. So I figured I would give it a shot.
61MNPDs+Y3L_1592287850350._SL1000_.jpg

The goal here is to mix powder and a bit of water to make a toothpaste like texture in a small cup. I used a Tupperware but I don't think the container really matters. It's not a super strong chemical from my experience with it, although I did use gloved when handling it just in case.

Speaking of toothpaste like textures, a toothbrush works wonders with that kind of texture.

So, I used an old ready to be through out toothbrush and started to gently scrub on the paste in circular motions at first, then with grain of the board.

The article stated it was best to let it sit for a few minutes, so I did batches of around 3 or 4 frets at first, then wiped everything down with a damp rag.

Here is a shot about half way through this process.
The differences at this stage do not photograph well, but it definitely shows in person.
Alot of the gray stains were cleaned out, and the ones that stayed behind were about 90% better.

Some of the goldish color you see between the 5th and 10th frets is just from the damp rag.
They dried to the same level of white as the others.

20200622_032456_1592814338250.jpg
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Last edited by KennyV; 06-22-2020 at 05:25 AM.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
 
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After another night of working the frets, this board looks fantastic.

It looks almost as pale as the newer genisis line!

There are still a few spots that are not perfect, but hey, it's a 30 year old guitar that's been loved on more hours then I can probably imagine!

Here is a side by side with my 2018 genisis board.
15922881518183381788028156178209_1592288161641.jpg

And also next to another rg550 (88 )
I actually got this second one concidering to swap the necks out cause the body is not in great, has a few dings and scratches all over the back, shape but neck looks unplayed.

15922883072477639188002205335109_1592288363208.jpg

The guy who sold it toe said it was a student guitar at his store, but bearly had any lefties come by.

(The ones that did look like they dropped it a few times, but never really played it)
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Last edited by KennyV; 06-16-2020 at 02:10 PM.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
 
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Over the next few days I'm going to be using tung oil on the board to reseal and protect it.

I know that over the next few years, it will develop new stains and wear, but at least it will be my own at that point.

I'm currently scuffing rust off of the screws and bits so that I can repaint the needed parts in black, as well as uv bleaching the plastic that has turned brown.

This knob image is a great example! They can be compared to the image in 1st post.
They will never be perfectly white again,but at least it's white enough to not be confused with amber brown.
15923378876486488752454857962801_1592337937712.jpg
15923379726739056009427330787092_1592338005675.jpg
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Last edited by KennyV; 06-16-2020 at 05:07 PM.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 02:00 PM
 
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Re: 90 RG550 (Lefty!)

damm your wife picked a great guitar and apparently you picked a great wife! Only early 90s ib I have is an rt650 and its going to the grave with me. Im sure yours is a beast
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
 
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I absolutely love it.
It plays alot better then the genisis or the 88 model.

Something about it makes it feel just right to me.

There is a chance it's the lo profile edge rather then original edge, but thats pretty much the only difference.

The pickups on this thing are very hot and crisp.
I had planned to place the usual Evo set in there, but I just love the stock sound of these og ibanez v1 and v2s.

The 88 model doesn't sound as good though. Not sure why.
(And I think the genisis has the dreaded v7 v8 combo but no one is confirming )
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
 
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This part is me just being a bit nitpicky, but I also didn't like the gold look on the plastic for the tuning pegs.

I let them bleach with a UV light over night.
The 88 doesn't have it as bad as the 90 did.
But here's an idea of the difference.
20200616_152753_1592339388124.jpg

One on the left is the one that was not cleaned.
That one actually has nice figuring on the neck now that I'm looking at it a bit clearer.
15923394709052407903630793235193_1592339496849.jpg

Slight bit of flamming to it.

Meanwhile, the one I'm working on is just plain old straight grain nothing special.
Can't win them all right?
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 05:35 PM
 
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Re: 90 RG550 (Lefty!)

Ha reminds of a mod I did - pretty sure my RT had that set of hot garbage (V7/V but I saw a blog post about changing the bar magnets and I swapped them out for alnicos (I think, was a while ago) and it transformed them.

Interesting what you said about the genesis playabillity ... been gassing hard for the purple neon one . . but what was the difference exactly - shape, how tight the strings feel under your fingers, or something else?
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 05:39 PM
 
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Re: 90 RG550 (Lefty!)

Love when you get that surprise flaming. Sometimes cheap guitars end up with nice ppieces of flame maple - I used to scour ebay for cheap RX's or EX's with these - ended up finding an ex that had a real figuring that I threw on a partscaster. But was kinda bummed out when I realized after I got it that the Headstock isn't exactly the same size as a non-****ty ibanez.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clamjam View Post
Interesting what you said about the genesis playabillity ... been gassing hard for the purple neon one . . but what was the difference exactly - shape, how tight the strings feel under your fingers, or something else?
Not sure really.
Neck feel on the genisis is almost identical.
But not exactly the same.

The newer reissues obviously have a valute, but you'll only notice that in the open chord positions.
The only physical construction difference is an original edge vs my 1990 having the lo profile edge. So slightly more comfortable on the hand.

I think the string spacing and nut width are the same, so it's not that.

I feel as though the finish they used on the genisis are a bit different. Thinner maybe.

The old rg550 feel like the frets are kinda glassed over with their finish.

The genisis feel like it's much thinner and some wood texture can be felt.
When comparing the fret ends, they are a bit sharper, but still great.

I think that even though they say the maple boards don't get that special final treatments, my original 550s still did.

I think what it reaaaaly boils down to is the set up from factory is a bit off for me on the new genisis. From factory it's set a tad high, but everything is tuned and intonated so I let it be.

My '90 550 was used and abused, but the guy had her set up perfectly.

Super low action, everything intonated, just overall comfortable.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clamjam View Post
Love when you get that surprise flaming. Sometimes cheap guitars end up with nice ppieces of flame maple - I used to scour ebay for cheap RX's or EX's with these - ended up finding an ex that had a real figuring that I threw on a partscaster. But was kinda bummed out when I realized after I got it that the Headstock isn't exactly the same size as a non-****ty ibanez.
Yeah, there's alot of great finds on some older guitars.

I watched a video of a guy restoring an old Les Paul and it had a fantastically beautiful maple top under it's old black poly coat lol.

As far as the differences in ibanez guitars, I never trust parts to be compatible or even the stated sizes.

Even between different rg models!

They have so many different workshops now days that I feel each shop does their own thing as long as their bottom line isnt messed with.

I've had en ex, which is an "rg" bit nothing fit my older 1550 I was fixing.

Then the 350 and 450 are all off too.
I would say unless you get something from the exact model it's a toss up.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clamjam View Post
Ha reminds of a mod I did - pretty sure my RT had that set of hot garbage (V7/V<img src="http://www.jemsite.com/forums/images/smilies/icon_cool.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Cool" class="inlineimg" /> but I saw a blog post about changing the bar magnets and I swapped them out for alnicos (I think, was a while ago) and it transformed them.

Interesting what you said about the genesis playabillity ... been gassing hard for the purple neon one . . but what was the difference exactly - shape, how tight the strings feel under your fingers, or something else?
You think I should turn this into a restoration thread when I'm done?

I plan to fill some chips in the body as well.

I also have a 87 road flair red on the way, I ordered it yesterday.

Found it on a used gear site for a music store franchise.

It's in 90% perfect shape with all original case candy, but it has a ding on the back that chiped about the size of a pick.

I think I would like to make a comparison video of the 87 to the 2018s
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