Guitar refinishing - 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 90 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Portland Oregon
Posts: 140
Guitar refinishing

I am about to refinish my rg550. Its a little beat up (*not that I have ANY problem with that and in fact like beat up guitars) but it has some significant neck pocket cracks and so its an exploratory mission.

Firstly, I am going to be very frank about re-finishing. This means I am going to tell you the truth and its going to upset some, as there is an overwhelming amount of misinformation about re-finishing and unfortunately seen people vest significant time, effort and money only to end up with a sub standard finish....and quite a few are overwhelming abortions.

My experience....well, I worked in a major guitar factory in the finishing department until getting promoted into final assembly, management and then R&D. I have taken literally thousands of guitars from raw wood to finished product. Now as a 'hobby' I design, build and operate some unique racing vehicles; this fact is influencing the guitar and will be utilizing some finishing techniques that can be applied to different applications.

-In truth for a 'how to' I would much rather show how to do a solid or transparent as most of the refinished guitars are simple single color but I will try and help with this as much as possible.






Here is a pic of the guitar in question and the neck pocket cracks. The opposite side is the same.
I need to know if these cracks are finish or are compromising the guitar structurally.




Here the headstock after disassemble. I was fortunate the neck is superb and requires no major repair. On the left side you will note there is a pretty nasty scrape. This 'ding' also pressed in the edge of the wood, this will need to be built up.

NOTE:

I have seen an overwhelming amount of people who feel it necessary to remove the finish to wood. This, for lack of a better work is crazy as hell....crazy UNLESS you suspect issues in the wood (*as I do with the neck pocket cracks), want to do a transparent finish or are going to do a veneer (I have even successfully veneered over finish). One could argue that removing the preponderance or all of the finish will keep the thickness of the guitar OEM.....well thats true but for the most part unless the guitar is finished multiple times should not be an issue.



The finish on a guitar serves 2 purposes:
1. Cosmetic.
2. To protect the guitar.

The 'issue' with Basswood (used on many Ibanez) is that it is very susceptible to dings, more so IMO then any other common guitar wood. People forsake the 'protect the guitar' aspect of most of the home re-finish jobs. Not because they are lazy...they just dont know any better.

This is one reason removing the finish to wood is a bad idea. The problem is that before paint is ever applied to the body, a coat of armor was applied to the guitar for a base substrate. This armor (*at least what we used in the guitar factories) was a 2 part ultra high build polyester. This polyester was BRUTALLY hard but also sealed the wood, filled in minor gaps/dings and after sanding provided a solid foundation for subsequent layers of paint (that offer very little in the way of protection).

For my race cars/bikes I use Sherwin Williams Ultra Fill II #21 polyester primer and is very similar to the polyester we shot guitars with (*except the guitar polyester was yellowish-clear). Smells the same however.....
Ultra Fill or other high build poly would be a good choice for base substrate.

BUT......

Lets say you want to go another route for a protector coat.....

Go buy yourself a pint of epoxy.



While not a guitar, this is a subwoofer box I made. Note the yellowish wood, this is the 'pre sanded' fit pic but the only one I had on hand...now its gloss 'piano black'. This is because it was first 'painted' (*with a chip brush) with epoxy. After the epoxy dries it can be sanded smooth and will provide the protection, seal and fill needed to accept paint AND protect the guitar.

If you strip the guitar to bare wood simply paint your guitar (with brush) with epoxy. Runs, drips, brush marks are OK because they will be sanded out. If you need to re-coat with epoxy, after curing lightly sand or use acetone to 'break the glaze'. Epoxy forms a 'wax' that will need to be removed so there wont be any issues with adhesion to the previous layer.



BTW:

I am doing a true carbon fiber overlay (*not the vinyl horse poop) without bagging. I seen someone else 'attempt' to do this but they had a lack of experience in the technique...and the thread (*another forum) fell into obscurity (*because they f-ed it ALL up).

More later and feel free to ask questions......

~JH

Last edited by worldrecordholder; 01-05-2013 at 05:45 PM.
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post #2 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Portland Oregon
Posts: 140
Re: Guitar refinishing




Here is the headstock after a 'deglaze' with some 220. I built the 2 dinged areas up with some epoxy. After it cures (24hrs) it will be taken to level.

NO TOUCHING SANDED AREAS WITH BARE HANDS NOW!!!!

Sure you will to prep with a solvent to de grease but why add more. This might be just a personal thing, but the way I do it.

~JH
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post #3 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 10:03 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,148
Re: Guitar refinishing

Looks like this will be a great thread. I usually only take the clear and color layer off and leave the original sealer you are speaking of, when possible anyway. Looking forward to the progress.
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post #4 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 03:46 AM
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

+1 for using epoxy as a grain filler. On the ES build I'm working on I used a squeegee to spread the epoxy which gave it an almost finished surface to reduce the amount of sanding.
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post #5 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 11:48 AM
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

Looking forward to this and totally agree with the misinformation branded about .
How would you clear and finish a multi-laminated guitar. It seems that sealing the bare wood before clear is the most important part ,or is it ?
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post #6 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

Quote:
How would you clear and finish a multi-laminated guitar. It seems that sealing the bare wood before clear is the most important part ,or is it ?
The problem with finishing wood (as apposed to metal or plastics) is by nature it has variances in Rockwell (hardness across grain), is 'thirsty' (absorbs moisture [paint or other] AND IS ALWAYS INCONSISTENT with gaining [lighter wood in the grain will absorb more then the darker] and no matter how much you sand will have some amount of texture.

For transparent finishes I use:

(Maple top)

dying wood [optional now]

2-3 wash coats mixed at 1X4 (transparent sealer lacquer to reducer) flashed till sticky (15 mins? depending or RH and temp).
3-4 final coats of sealer

Cure 48hrs
light sanding of sealer coats to level

[option 2 if dying wasnt chosen] - Shoot transparent shading color

Final coats with Nitro (*or if you have giant balls UV), depending on build of paint.....4-15 coats.

Sand smooth, graduated grits up to 1K

Buff (brown and heavy)
Buff (white and light)
Spray wax and wipe

Put guitar on pad and send to final assembly after inspection.

~JH
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post #7 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Portland Oregon
Posts: 140
Re: Guitar refinishing

oh, and above all to do a transparent, you should have a good working knowledge of the equipment, setup, technique and understand that things can still go wrong. Even in the guitar factory I worked at only 1 person (the 'paint master') would do the transparents, but a few people could shoot the solids.

AND....

I will be using a crystal clear epoxy called 'Ultra Glo' for this CF overlay. This product will also work for sealing the wood on a transparent after an 'Ultra Seal' application, and provide enough build after cure (24hrs) will allow for sanding and final coats.

While I have not used this on a transparent finish.....it should work great and be a nice shortcut for the guy without the equipment-skill to do a transparent.

~JH
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post #8 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Re: Guitar refinishing



Difficult to tell from this pic but the wood edge is now built up and sanded smooth. Note that I did not use a 'bondo' type filler. This is because the headstock edge will be shot with some satin and the filler I use (green or pink) would look like horse poo.

Typically I would not just paint 1 edge of anything but as the edges are very sharp I dont have to worry about blending. I should be able to shoot this edge without being able to tell.



This is a piece of carbon fiber cloth I cut from a roll section I had laying around. Carbon fiber is neat stuff, but requires careful handling. If you are laying a structural part or racing part (*I personally dont care if there are 'weave imperfections' in any of my race parts) you dont need to worry about it. As this is purely decorative, look closely at the weave for snags, pulls, unevenness or anything else that will affect the final appearance. Clearly keep dust, pets, kids or anything else away from it. (*and try not and touch it with your greasy arse hands!

BTW: I am using carbon fiber....but same applies to any other cloth or heavy textured media for overlay. (*on that note burlap would be SWEET!)

Note how after cutting I am already getting frays.



Use a low adhesion tape to 'seal' the sides of the media. This will keep frays from pulling out....and nothing is worse then getting a tuft plastered in fresh goo! After taping I trim the excess to make the overlay package smaller and easier to handle.

Also note that I was generous with the amount to 'hang over'. This gives me plenty of wiggle room.

~JH
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post #9 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

First you a little (very little) 3m super 77 on your base. This spray glue remains sticky without getting hard. This allows you to lay the CF, fix your compound curves, remove and reposition or completely replace IF something happens before you apply goo. NEVER TRY AND APPLY CF DIRECTLY TO A GLUED PIECE!
Depending on the mix you may run out of time before you get it set....and its all over at that point!







Pouring on the goo!

Its full of bubbles after being stirred for 4 mins.. It looks 'greyish' because of the bubbles.

This is fine and just how it is....

After the glue is spread, you must 'DEGAS'. To degas you need a propane torch. Lightly run the flame over the glue and all the of bubbles magically go away. I cant explain it, it just does.

This first layer is only a base adhesion layer; to make the carbon ridged so it can be trimmed. You will never be able to trim this without edge pulling unless you first seal it.



Here is a pic after degas. I had an 'oh s*&t' moment. I used some old stock of rosin and there were some sand like hard bits in the rosin.....I had to pic these out very carefully before it started to set up and wouldnt self level. It just goes to show you cant be too careful and sometimes no matter what you do stuff (poop) happens.

At this stage its difficult to see how it will look in the end. A few more processes and it will be taking form.

~JH
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post #10 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 06:55 PM
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

Loving this. So wishing for a carbon fibre RG myself.
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post #11 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 12:50 AM
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

I just used Dinoc 1080 3m.

Came out Black when I cleared it.
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post #12 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 05:14 PM
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

....and then?
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post #13 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

Quote:
I just used Dinoc 1080 3m.

Came out Black when I cleared it.

Friends dont let friends use vinyl. Not meaning to be a dick but I hate fake carbon fiber.


Quote:
....and then?
and then trim the excess around the sides. You dont need to be really precise, you just need to get the bulk.

After it cures enough to not leave a mark after you press with a fingernail I like to use a scotch brite maroon pad (I think 00) only to take any high spots out, deglaze AND after scuffing the surface will cut full cure time dramatically.

This is a before deglaze pic. Note that I am keeping the tuner holes covered. This is to help prevent rosin or paint from building inside. If you choose to remove them or use this technique on something else, use a release agent or wax.



In this pic the CF is still pretty raw....raw but sealed (waterproof). This means subsequent layers of rosin will not soak but build allowing for the depth and 'wet look'.

I always go waaay overkill for cure before additional applications. The soonest way to destroy a good finish is to rush additional coats before cure. I dont want to get into the term 'crazing' but trust me, its not good. I will let it dry a few days before doing anything additional.

~JH
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post #14 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 10:20 PM
 
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Re: Guitar refinishing

Quick OT nitpick: Resin is used in an epoxy, not rosin.
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post #15 of 90 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Portland Oregon
Posts: 140
Re: Guitar refinishing

Quote:
Quick OT nitpick: Resin is used in an epoxy, not rosin
Funny thing is that I know that. I use both so much I get them mixed up.....maybe it has something to do with the FUMES!



Body sanded, dings filled and sprayed with spray glue.



After applying the carbon fiber sheet I noticed a stressed area in the weave near the top horn. This was a very visable place so I was able to lift the CF and shift over about an inch to push the spot off the edge.
You will also see a line going through the area covered by the pick guard. This is because the CF sheet was folded and not rolled. If this was on a guitar where this would be visible I would of used a different piece.



Headstock now with 2nd coat. You can see variances, this is due to different levels in the build thickness. After a 3rd coat I will block sand and buff.



Here is a close up of the body after degas. While its still wet you have a little time to fix any issues. I pushed a few specks of crap and a few bristles of the brush to the trem routing.

Also note that I did not try and wrap the fiber around the sides. I could of done 90% of the body but the inside of the horns would not allow the fiber to stretch so I didnt even attempt.....I know better. What I am going to do is blend the top (CF) into the sides, paint it black and then to a light fade around the sides to transition.

~JH
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