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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
馃榿 So after being curious for a while I got my hands on a 1990 RG550 this week for relatively little money. I鈥檓 pretty blown away by it, totally in wuv. It鈥檚 a much better guitar than my Genesis RG550 is, in all respects except cosmetic.

I knew cosmetics were bad going in, it鈥檚 why the price was low. Someone has refinished in a woodstain and it鈥檚 a bit blotchy. I鈥檓 living with it for a few weeks before deciding whether to refinish or not. The head has never broken and no sign of a crack beginning. The maple board is losing its finish rapidly but I don鈥檛 mind this. The neck is pretty sticky though.

I鈥檇 planned to satin or oil the neck. What I鈥檓 wondering is, given the general condition and probable refinish, where to stop? Leave the original finish on the back of the head and have a hard line between old gloss and oil or remove the lot? If I did the head as well, is it worth making a duplicate of the serial sticker? Any particular oils that anyone would recommend?
 

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I have a thread where I restored my 1990 550 a few weeks back.

I used tung oil and I'm pretty happy with it.

I only did the fretboard though cause my maple board was black and I didn't like someone else's "mojo" on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think I just read it? Maybe not as you seemed to be mainly dealing with the body and just a bit of fretboard.

Tung was exactly what I planned. I鈥檝e had it in a few guitars and I love it as a finish. Never actually applied it but I鈥檝e done a few oil finish guitars so not really expecting trouble.

Neck on mine is minty in some respects and grim in others. It鈥檚 essentially undamaged - just a very slight scratch behind the eighth that probably isn鈥檛 even through to wood. The board isn鈥檛 damaged but the lacquer is peeling all over like it was a vintage Fender from the 50鈥檚 60鈥檚. I actually quite like that. It doesn鈥檛 upset my playing so I鈥檒l probably leave that and clean it up. The entire back of the neck needs work though. It鈥檚 really quite sticky but not really damaged, just very heavily played. Sitting next to my Genesis RG550 the newer neck looks unbelievably unrefined... otoh, the super slim originals broke an awful lot. I figure if this one has made it thirty years, so long as I don鈥檛 drop it or do anything silly with the locknut it鈥檚 probably a survivor.

So, did you do the entire back of the neck or stop just where it flares out for the head like many do? I鈥檓 seriously considering doing the whole thing but that鈥檚 going to cost me the serial sticker and I鈥檓 not sure if I think it鈥檚 cheesy putting a repro serial back on even if it鈥檚 鈥榯he real thing鈥 and the real number. A previous owner basically threw any vintage value out when the original finish was removed so I鈥檓 not really concerned about value as such but more whether it鈥檚 generally a bad thing to do. I鈥檓 still deciding if I want to re-refinish the body. I鈥檓 probably going to, there doesn鈥檛 seem anything to lose at this point on it and it鈥檚 in good order. There鈥檚 a couple of tiny pits in the tip of the low horn and that鈥檚 it, body damage wise... they look more like something originally fillered that the stain exposed tbh, too. This guitar seems to have had a hard playing life but a very careful owner.
 

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Well I have 2 550s that I made a post about.

An 87 in road flare that I had already taken to be fixed and they made worse,

And a black I did myself.
Here's a before and after.
17330

Musical instrument Guitar String instrument String instrument Musical instrument accessory

As far as the value.. unfortunately the 550 isn't a Jem.

So as long as it has an original paint color and In good shape it will still sell competitively with others of it's day.

These still easily go for 400 to 600 in bad shape, so one that's been restored and repainted can get around that too.

At least what I've seen on reverb and eBay.

A Jem for example that still sells at 3k average looses Alot of value.

On top of that, it really depends on what your after. If you are happy with it and never plan to get rid of it you can do what you want.

You could also just fade it out, and preserve the heel and headstock, just work the area that your in contact with.

My goal was to try and keep it as stock as possible.
Not because I want to sell it, I plan to keep it for life since it was my wedding gift and it happens to be a birthdate guitar, I think only a few months younger then me but as close as it gets. (as a lefty)

That said I want it to be in as good of shape as possible for as long as possible.

Of my 20 guitars, my wife and I already talked about the ones that she would and wouldn't sell if anything were to happen to me.

I we kinda agreed on 3 that can't be sold

This 550, a limited edition Schecter Hellraiser, and myforever long partscaster that I've been slowly replacing and upgrading things on since she met me.

It was the first guitar she heard me play, and she bought me the other 2.

She said maybe one day these get passed on to our children (although I doubt they would be lefty).

So while I'm not worried on its value, I see more value in keeping them as is as long as possible.
 

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I'd planned to satin or oil the neck. What I'm wondering is, given the general condition and probable refinish, where to stop? Leave the original finish on the back of the head and have a hard line between old gloss and oil or remove the lot? If I did the head as well, is it worth making a duplicate of the serial sticker? Any particular oils that anyone would recommend?
If it were mine, I would just do the back of the neck to make it playable, leaving the sn# sticker and heel alone. I can't stand a sticky neck and I've had good luck with just a sanding and rubbed Minwax oil finish. That's just me though... and I don't always do the right thing! Good luck!
 

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Another easy alternative is just to scrub the back of the neck ever so slightly with like a scotch bright pad.

That will leave everything intact and make it smoother to the touch.

Alot of people do that with their poly finish on painted necks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hm, food for thought. In all honesty I鈥檇 live with the red stain if I hadn鈥檛 just built a partscaster that was very close in colour (more of a cherry red but still tickles my 鈥榤atchy matchy鈥 phobia 馃槄

If the body still had original poly I鈥檇 probably leave it too No matter what conditions, I鈥檝e seen some horror stories when people try to remove original finishes and while the whole 鈥榬elic鈥 thing amuses me (especially some of the crappy jobs people seem to be managing to sell!) I don鈥檛 mind an honest tatty instrument. That鈥檚 why I鈥檓 thinking about keeping the peely fretboard, vintage vibe although it also simplifies things a bit. Something has to happen to the neck though.

I鈥檓 a bit too old to be finding 鈥榖irth month鈥 RG鈥檚 although this Feb 鈥90 is the one 17yo me should have bought instead of that clearance S1 HM Strat (notwithstanding the Fender at 拢375 was around half the price of a new RG550 at the time) and it鈥檚 definitely a keeper although it may get some electronic updates. Cosmetics apart it鈥檚 perfect and beautiful.

I鈥檝e seen decent fades done into the poly and that鈥檚 a possibility. If I do go for the fade and decide I cant live with the line that no one else can see, how feasible is a further refinish to match up or would it be fine to just do the poly and assume it鈥檒l match? Which brings me to the final question...

Tru Oil gunstock oil and wax or (real) Tung oil? Any thoughts?
 

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RG550's arent collectible, high value sought-after antiques. Theres frankly way way way way too many of them. A properly refinished 550 is going to have more value than a beat to hell "original". And please note I said "properly" refinished lol. A 5$ rattle can job aint what Im discussing. Maybe in 80 years, this will be different, but I really doubt it.

That said, RG550's have the distinct advantage of being "unique" in the ibanez world. Serial or not, the only question people would/could have would be "what year is this one?". Quite frankly, people will just think its an 87. The serial number provides very little value or concern to most buyers. What I would do is take a very high resolution image of the serial number, and save it. Then I would do my refinish work on the neck, then in pencil write the serial number on the heel.

You put (real) in parenthesis making me think you're familiar with the differences. If youve used real tung oil, you know its a pain in the arse to use, and takes a really long time for it to cure. I would probably err towards the gunstock oil myself; thats what ernie ball uses, and its good enough for me :D. Its easy to apply, dries quickly, and feels great. Win-win-win here. As for the body refinishing, thats up to you, but if you dont have an oscillating spindle sander, do know that sanding the inside of the horns just flat out sucks. Be careful to not to change the "shape" of anything either. Those necks are super thin as it is, and removing more material can put it in the "prone to failure" area.

For me, theres a difference between a poorly treated, beat to hell instrument and "well worn". Ultimately up to you, but if you want to refinish it, youre really not gonna harm anything.
 

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I would try to preserve the original finish on the back of the headstock and feather it in a bit.

For the back of the neck I've used Tru-Oil and Liberon Finishing Oil (which I'd read was close to a bare-wood feel). Both feel great and were fairly easy to work with.

Any pics of the body?
 

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I wouldn't listen to KennyV too much. His "before" guitar is a flipped picture of my guitar. HAHA. I would never scrub such a beautiful board.

Brown Musical instrument Guitar String instrument String instrument
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My mistake.
The project was a few months in the making and 100s of pictures back on my phone.
I must have downloaded a picture of your guitar at some point, and when I was scrolling my images it was the first that popped up.
Since they looked exactly the same i didn't think much of it.

Here's an actual progress shot of mine after i cleaned it from the initial dirt layer that was on the surface before i bkeached it.

17327
 

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馃榿 So after being curious for a while I got my hands on a 1990 RG550 this week for relatively little money. I鈥檓 pretty blown away by it, totally in wuv. It鈥檚 a much better guitar than my Genesis RG550 is, in all respects except cosmetic.

I knew cosmetics were bad going in, it鈥檚 why the price was low. Someone has refinished in a woodstain and it鈥檚 a bit blotchy. I鈥檓 living with it for a few weeks before deciding whether to refinish or not. The head has never broken and no sign of a crack beginning. The maple board is losing its finish rapidly but I don鈥檛 mind this. The neck is pretty sticky though.

I鈥檇 planned to satin or oil the neck. What I鈥檓 wondering is, given the general condition and probable refinish, where to stop? Leave the original finish on the back of the head and have a hard line between old gloss and oil or remove the lot? If I did the head as well, is it worth making a duplicate of the serial sticker? Any particular oils that anyone would recommend?
better than the genesis? lol

you're suffering from the nostalgic placebo, the genesis is a superior guitar in every aspect, especially the neck

an older guitar may feel or even sound better because of the wood being aged, but this applies to ALL older guitars, every single classical and acoustic guitar from 20-30 years ago will sound better than similar guitars made today because of this, the same applies to all wooden instrument, including electric guitars

similarly, the genesis 10-20 years from now, will play and sound better than whatever equivalent Ibanez comes out with then

there is a reason why Vai continues to play his old guitars from the 90s
 

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It's not a matter of nostalgia.
The electronics on my original 550 are better with the v1/v2

The ones on my genesis sound like a modern prestige with v7/v8

I agree the build quality is better with the Genny, but not the sound and feel.
 

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It's not a matter of nostalgia.
The electronics on my original 550 are better with the v1/v2

The ones on my genesis sound like a modern prestige with v7/v8

I agree the build quality is better with the Genny, but not the sound and feel.
have you opened to check the electronics? lol all those pickups are mediocre, everyone who buys an rg550 puts dimarzio on them anyway

for example, do you think that bridge and knife edges that came from that 30-year-old guitar are going to be as good as the new original edge trem which according to Rich, they are now made with the best hardened steel they ever used

maybe you like how it feels or plays, wood can change over time, it will sound better and even thog is electric, wood plays a role there too
 
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