Ibanez JEM Forum banner
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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.

Musical instrument Guitar String instrument accessory Musical instrument accessory String instrument

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

Musical instrument Guitar String instrument String instrument String instrument accessory

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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
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. Musical instrument Furniture Musical instrument accessory Guitar Wood Musical instrument String instrument String instrument accessory Musical instrument accessory Guitar accessory

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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
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.
Hand Musical instrument Wood Guitar accessory String instrument
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
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.
Automotive tire Wood Automotive wheel system Tints and shades Asphalt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
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.
Tin Beverage can Tin can Aluminum can Drink

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.

Textile Wood Automotive tire Rectangle Floor
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
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.
Musical instrument Guitar String instrument String instrument String instrument accessory

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.

Musical instrument Guitar String instrument String instrument String instrument accessory

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)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
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.
Asphalt Font Office equipment Road surface Bullet
Guitar accessory Electronic instrument Steering wheel Auto part String instrument accessory
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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 )
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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.
Musical instrument Guitar Guitar accessory String instrument accessory Wood

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.
Wood Branch Table Twig Wood stain

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?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Ha reminds of a mod I did - pretty sure my RT had that set of hot garbage (V7/V8) 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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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?
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Day 1 of tungoil coats.

I'm going to let it sit for another 24 hours now and apply a few more light coats.

First time using tung oil, if anyone happens to read this and had advice, I'm happy to hear it.

What I'm currently doing is a thick coat this morning, and another thick coat in the evening.

My research says 2 thick base coats are best for protection. Then light sanding and a few light wiped on coats to smooth it out.

Opinions?
Product Eyewear Material property Font Drinkware
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
You think I should turn this into a restoration thread when I'm done?
I also think I would like to make a comparison video of the 87 to the 2018s
Yeah, I figure you got a good start on the one, and a great head-start on the other!
Nice axes BTW. Give your wife a big hug from us, she sounds awesome!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Yeah, I figure you got a good start on the one, and a great head-start on the other!
Nice axes BTW. Give your wife a big hug from us, she sounds awesome!
Here's the 87 I just landed.
It's still in shipping so I dont have it on hand but this is what the guy sent me.

You can see the ding on the back.
Only damage the guy admits to.

Musical instrument Guitar String instrument String instrument String instrument accessory Musical instrument Guitar Musical instrument accessory String instrument accessory Guitar accessory Musical instrument Guitar accessory Musical instrument accessory String instrument accessory String instrument Guitar accessory String instrument accessory Musical instrument accessory Font Plastic Guitar accessory Font Rectangle Musical instrument accessory Tints and shades
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So I've come to find out that this is an extremely common issue on some of these older ibbys.

Seems like the original cellophane plastic tape that comes on the pickgaurds and such don't age like wine.
More so like milk..
Amber Tints and shades Metal Macro photography Rock
So to anyone else with a plastic coating still on your guitar, take it off!

Restoring this part wasn't exactly fun or easy.
And many readers might glaze over this and just say "oh just buy a new one"
But.. I want to keep this guitar original. And I'm left handed so I can't find one online.

So.
I soaked it in soapy water and tried to peel it off.
No go

So then I tried goo gone.
Bottle Liquid Beer Drinkware Food

It kinda helped.. but not really.

So I ended up just sanding it off.
This kinda left me in a bit of a predicament cause now it was all scratched up.

The matching tremolo cavity plate is slightly textured as seen here.
Finger Audio equipment Rectangle Gadget Metal

It kind of reminded me of orange peel after spray painting something.

So I gave it a thin coat of black, and buffed it with a wax

End result isn't perfect, but I can love with it compared to how it started.
Plant Peripheral Input device Grey Tree
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So after the neck I moved on to the body dents.
There was only 1 I was interested in working on.
Wood Metal Auto part Door Automotive exterior

It the only ding with exposed wood.

I used the drop fill method.
Moderate success, but it is covered, and Alot better hidden now.

This will never be perfect again, but I'm happy with it.

Automotive lighting Wood Barware Automotive exterior Audio equipment
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top