Sunday, February 2, 2014

Guitar refinishing.

I do an eBay search for a guitar every week.  The guitar I'm looking for belonged to my friend that passed away 11 years ago.  I'm not looking for the same model or the same make, but rather his guitar.  I have been unable to for the entirety of the time I have looked for the guitar.  For some reason in December , I decided to type into the search, Jackson Randy Rhoads.  When I first started playing guitar, I had a JC Penny special, then a Peavey Predator.  The predator was basically a budget USA strat.  It was nice, but it wasn't until I received a Jackson Randy Rhoads EX Pro that I felt that I had a "good" guitar.

When I moved away from home I ended up with another Randy Rhoads.  I had a black one and a white one.  I still, to this day, remember the serial numbers of each.  So when I typed into the search bar on eBay, and I saw the guitar that I used to own, not the same model, but rather, MY old guitar, I put a joke bid on it to win it...and sure enough, I did.  When I sold the guitar years ago, it was for rent and security deposit on an apartment.  It did bum me out but I enjoyed the white Rhoads more, so that's why I sold the black one.  
Here are the pictures of it from eBay.  You can see that it has seen better days.  I did not take these photographs, again, they are from the listing. 

My son has been asking me to play an "orange" jammer for awhile.  I don't have an orange jammer, so I decided to paint the black Rhoads, with base coat/clear coat finish.  I chose an orange color that Honda used on the Fit and the Element. 

The process of refinishing a guitar is a long one.  It isn't something to decide to do on a whim (like I did).  You really need to have the time set aside for the work and a space to do it in.  I decided to do it without either of them!
I removed the strings, neck, pickups and hardware from the guitar.  I had to clean the hardware because it was terribly corroded.  After removing all of the hardware, it was time to get ready to sand it and repair the body damage.

That is the guitar with the hardware removed and photos of the damage.  You can see that this poor thing has seen much better days. 
I then sanded the guitar body with 80 grit paper. From there I used Bondo body filler to repair the damaged fins.  After the repairs set up, I used 120, 220, 320 and 400 grit paper to sand the guitar smooth.
This is just after the 80 and 120 grit sanding.

I was thinking of what pickups I wanted to use in this guitar.  I've always liked Seymour Duncan pickups and I've had a particular fondness for the distortion and the jazz combo.  I was unable to locate a distortion trembucker in stock, so I decided to try out the "dimebucker." 

 I initially tried to use clear coat as a sanding sealer, but there was a big problem after I tried to use the primer.  The primer was lifting off of the guitar.  See in guitar refinishing typically a sanding sealer/grain filler is used on the guitar, then sanded smooth, then the primer is applied, then the base coat, and finally, the clear coat.   I spoke to one luthier who uses clear coat as a sanding sealer.  The products I used must have been incompatible in that fashion.

So I had to sand the guitar...again...yuck!  So again with 80, 120, 220, 320 and 400 grit paper.  After that, I applied 3 coats of primer.  After that, I wet sanded the body with 600.  I had a few spots where I sanded through, so I again sprayed primer on the guitar.  I used 2 more total coats.  I would say that I sanded off 1-2 coats so that would leave 3 coats on the guitar. 
Here is the guitar wet sanded with the primer (I chose red primer to really make my orange pop a little more).

After the guitar was wet sanded, I then sprayed on the base coat colors.  I sprayed 4 coats of basecoat on the guitar.  Once the basecoat had set up and flashed off, I then looked it over for runs.  I had none.
Now it was time to clear coat the now, I'm really disliking the finishing sucks!
Here's a photo I took with my cell phone.  I intentionally put the windows in the background hoping the it would throw the matrix metering of my phone camera off and that it would make a cool misty look in the worked.
After the clear coat set up, it was time to polish it.  I was lucky to have no orange peel.  I soaked some 1500 grit in soapy water and began wet sanding the finish of the guitar.  I could've been a lot more aggressive but I was concerned with sanding through the finish on the guitar, into the color...which would've been really...really...really crappy.
After using the 1500 wet, I used 2000 wet, then a rubbing compound, a polishing compound and a scratch remover.  I wish I had an electric buffer, because I could've gotten the finish a lot better.
I had to wire the guitar up.  Stupid me, instead of wiring the parts with the wiring outside of the guitar, I did it INSIDE the guitar...there's not much room to work in a Rhoads that doesn't have a front loaded pick guard, as you can see here.
One step that I don't want to forget, and I did AFTER I had the guitar wired (stupid me again lol!) I had to tape off the whole guitar, because I wanted to spray the trem route with black.

Here is the "almost" finished guitar.
I still need to pick up a new jack plate, switch tip, and black knob. I'm currently waiting for the lacquer to completely harden so I can polish it one more time.  I got some dings and marks in it by playing with it before it was completely hardened.  Hate to see it happen to a rookie :)
In the process of working on the guitar, I ruined my glasses.  I ruined high-index digimax lenses from America's Best...a $264 mistake.
So this is my story, yes I got an orange guitar and it's nostalgic because I used to own it years ago.  I'm more than likely the only one on the planet with a Jackson Rhoads EX that is painted Orange Revolution Metallic.  However, let's talk about the total damages.
$182.50 for the guitar (good price! Seeing as how when I sold it...I sold it for $650 however many years ago).  $105 in paint and sand paper.  $29 for rubbing compounds and bondo. $150 for the pickups, and $264 for my eye glass lenses.  I'll include the $10 that strings cost, only because when you buy a new guitar, you usually get new least if the music store is worth a crap you will!  Oh and then $30 for new electronics inside the instrument...
Total damage? $770.50
I can certainly tell you this...I did NOT plan on wrapping up that much money or time into the guitar.  It would've been cheaper had I not bought so much paint (I could've saved $30-40), or sand paper (realistically you don't need as much as I bought, so another $20-30), if I wasn't an idiot and didn't ruin my lenses, I could've saved MORE money on my glasses lenses (264).  In reality, I should've been into this project for LESS than $450.
At $450 for a custom painted guitar with excellent pickups and electronics, this is a DEAL.  At almost 800?  Not so much.  However, my kid is happy that I have an "orange jammer" and I'm happy I have a guitar that I never did want to sell, but had to when I was young.

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