Pimping a guitar...



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Pimping a guitar...

Postby phantasmagorovich » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:47 pm

and learning by doing!



I've been thinking about this for a while now.
My first and until recently only guitar was this Gretsch Synchromatic that was built in Korea and always was nice enough but never quite what I was longing for. So recently I have built up massive guitar gas for a couple of different axes but for the time being I won't be able to blow out money for instruments. At least not nearly as much as I would want to. So I have decided to do something about the Gretsch.
Image


The easiest thing first. I took the shine off the back of the neck. Used something similar to a Brillo pad to do it, worked like a champ. Instantly more comfortable.:
Image
Ever since I have played a guitar with an oiled neck and it was so much more comfortable I've been meaning to do this.

Now the second easiest thing. I don't want fancy wiring but I do want to exchange all the electronics. I will get some fancy cap for the tone pot, because it makes me feel good to know there is a fancy cap in there (tin in oil or whatever the crap it is called). I will also get fancy pickups from the creamery. New pots, because the old ones had their shafts broken off years ago and it always annoyed me but never enough to actually do anything about it. While I'm at it - fuck let's change the switch as well. It is missing it's cap anyway and I'm in a mood for change.

Electronics question: Apparently the ground was connected to the bridge in the old layout. It never buzzed or anything, but should I put the ground to something else like the tinfoil that I sometimes see in the cavities?

Now here is the hard stuff: the actual make-over.

The body looks like this right now:
Image

I am not sure what I am doing. When I took her apart I discovered the guitar is actually made from laminate. That was sort of a disappointment. Had she been solid I would have stripped her and put some oil on her, maybe tinted the oil. Now I am not too sure about that. I might keep the sides and back in black (i have already brilloed it up, but matte black is très stealth), or I might just strip and oil her up anyway. Other suggestions are welcome. Here is a pic of the neck cavity where I saw the laminate.
Image

More questions:

If I keep the black back & sides what do I do with the blems from my cello bow? fig.a
How much wood is needed to support the neck? I would love to cut some of the upper body off in a right angle, to make her a little more punk rock. fig.b
Image
I would love to give her a new pickguard. The old one is broken and not very pretty. I do not know how to find the right shape. It would be perfect if I just drew a pickguard onto the guitar and then somehow copied the drawing. Maybe I am just being stupid here though. How am I to find the right shape for a pickguard?

Burn her? Shoot her? drive over her with a car?

I am pretty sure there were more questions but I am getting drunk and can't think of more.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby StudioShutIn » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:50 pm

I don't know enough about guitar DIY to help with most of this..but as far as the pickguard goes, you could just google "pickguards for Gretsch Synchromatic" :idk:
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby phantasmagorovich » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:33 pm

You're right. But I should have specified that I want a pickguard that is different from the original. It would be perfect if I made one that stretches down to the pots.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby mysteriousj » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:56 pm

Buy a blank and cut to size? I brought a blank a few days ago for a project, and just cut it out with a coping saw haha, i'm not sure if that's the correct procedure but it worked for me anyway. You can get them on evilbay and heaps of guitar parts stores.

phantasmagorovich wrote:and learning by doing!

Now the second easiest thing. I don't want fancy wiring but I do want to exchange all the electronics. I will get some fancy cap for the tone pot, because it makes me feel good to know there is a fancy cap in there (tin in oil or whatever the crap it is called). I will also get fancy pickups from the creamery. New pots, because the old ones had their shafts broken off years ago and it always annoyed me but never enough to actually do anything about it. While I'm at it - fuck let's change the switch as well. It is missing it's cap anyway and I'm in a mood for change.

Electronics question: Apparently the ground was connected to the bridge in the old layout. It never buzzed or anything, but should I put the ground to something else like the tinfoil that I sometimes see in the cavities?


Don't mess with the ground, keep it tied to the bridge that is normal practice. Shielding is good though I want to do it to one of my guitars.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby mathias » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:57 pm

Let Masked Elwood have his way with the body. He'll probably do some combination of painting, burning, and layering cool stuff on it..
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby phantasmagorovich » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:30 am

Ah, yes. I'd love an elwood'ed guitar. But what I think is so special about his treatment is that he makes those guitars fully his. So I thought I will do the same to mine. Right now I am thinking about staining the wood with either coffee or red wine.

Mysterious J, how did you find the shape for the pickguard? I thought about drawing one on the guitar with some pen that rubs off, and then rub it off onto a piece of paper. But I should have done that before I took off the paint. Damn!
Did you just trial and error the shape? Taking off more and more until it was good?
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby mysteriousj » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:36 am

I wasn't doing a pickguard actually, I was doing the back control plate thingy(lets get technical here, I can't remember what it's called?).. on a les paul like guitar. I just put some paper over it and marked it, cut it out as a template, then marked it on my pickguard blank. Then I cut it out by hand with a coping saw, it didn't quite fit perfectly so I had to sand it a little to get it just right. :!!!:

But there's heaps of youtube videos on this:


Draw/sketch the shape you want onto some paper/card and then cut it out and put it on your guitar to see if it looks right. Then once you've got it right use it to make an outline on the blank basically.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby Jero » Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:31 pm

mysteriousj wrote:Buy a blank and cut to size? I brought a blank a few days ago for a project, and just cut it out with a coping saw haha, i'm not sure if that's the correct procedure but it worked for me anyway. You can get them on evilbay and heaps of guitar parts stores. Don't mess with the ground, keep it tied to the bridge that is normal practice. Shielding is good though I want to do it to one of my guitars.

I'm pretty sure guitarfetish sells blanks now too...and yea, leave the ground to the bridge. You want your strings and whatnot grounded so it's not amplifying any hum, plugged in.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby mathias » Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:37 pm

Re: the ground wire and shielding

This site was an awesome resource when I cleaned up the wiring on my Strat and shielded it, years ago. Amazed that the site is still on the internets, it is so ancient.

http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/shielding/shield3.php

This is for a Strat, but you can learn the theory and apply it to LP-style wiring.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby Mudfuzz » Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:41 pm

phantasmagorovich wrote:and learning by doing!



I've been thinking about this for a while now.
My first and until recently only guitar was this Gretsch Synchromatic that was built in Korea and always was nice enough but never quite what I was longing for. So recently I have built up massive guitar gas for a couple of different axes but for the time being I won't be able to blow out money for instruments. At least not nearly as much as I would want to. So I have decided to do something about the Gretsch.
Image


The easiest thing first. I took the shine off the back of the neck. Used something similar to a Brillo pad to do it, worked like a champ. Instantly more comfortable.:
Image
Ever since I have played a guitar with an oiled neck and it was so much more comfortable I've been meaning to do this.

Now the second easiest thing. I don't want fancy wiring but I do want to exchange all the electronics. I will get some fancy cap for the tone pot, because it makes me feel good to know there is a fancy cap in there (tin in oil or whatever the crap it is called). I will also get fancy pickups from the creamery. New pots, because the old ones had their shafts broken off years ago and it always annoyed me but never enough to actually do anything about it. While I'm at it - fuck let's change the switch as well. It is missing it's cap anyway and I'm in a mood for change.

Electronics question: Apparently the ground was connected to the bridge in the old layout. It never buzzed or anything, but should I put the ground to something else like the tinfoil that I sometimes see in the cavities?

Now here is the hard stuff: the actual make-over.

The body looks like this right now:
Image

I am not sure what I am doing. When I took her apart I discovered the guitar is actually made from laminate. That was sort of a disappointment. Had she been solid I would have stripped her and put some oil on her, maybe tinted the oil. Now I am not too sure about that. I might keep the sides and back in black (i have already brilloed it up, but matte black is très stealth), or I might just strip and oil her up anyway. Other suggestions are welcome. Here is a pic of the neck cavity where I saw the laminate.
Image

More questions:

If I keep the black back & sides what do I do with the blems from my cello bow? fig.a
How much wood is needed to support the neck? I would love to cut some of the upper body off in a right angle, to make her a little more punk rock. fig.

You can safely get away with having about a inch/3cm of body against the side of the neck so it doesn't shift...

As for the blems. If REALLY deep mix epoxy with saw dust apply and then sand down to match, or get some car touch-up paint and build it up bit by bit and then sand to match...
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby phantasmagorovich » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:30 pm

I have decided to strip the whole damn thing. I'm already down to the sealer in the back and part of the sides. I have also stripped the complete front and that makes me a little sad. I had put much faith in the folks at Gretsch, but no. The top of the guitar is so thin that I stripped it away completely on the sides and in some other parts the piece of wood underneath shines through. Well, if shine is a word that can be applied to such ugly stuff.

Pictures:
Image
Image
Image

Now I am a little at a loss about what to do. I don't really want to cover it all up in a solid colour after working so hard to take the old coating off. Ideas about what to do: I could torch her. But I think that will only worsen what is already not so pretty. I could pull off the Godin Radiator move and cover the whole front in a badass pickguard. Stickers. Paint her. Buy a bookmatched maple top from a luthier's supply and make her look better than she is?
:idk:

Mudfuzz wrote:You can safely get away with having about a inch/3cm of body against the side of the neck so it doesn't shift...

As for the blems. If REALLY deep mix epoxy with saw dust apply and then sand down to match, or get some car touch-up paint and build it up bit by bit and then sand to match...


Too late for fixing the nicks, I am already sanding on the side.
I won't be able to cut off as much as in the picture, because the cavity for the switch is in the way. And cutting in so deep that the whole cavity'd be gone is also not an option, because then I'd lose all the stability for the neck. But the little cut that is possible will be done!! :thumb:
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby Heavy_Soul » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:56 pm

STAIIIIIIIIIN. that under-stuff will make a killer bursty/contrast! Just mix up some red wine and kool-aid in a huge bucket and leave it in it for like a day or something super weird
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby mathias » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:39 pm

Do another burst! then you can overspray black over the areas where the veneer sanded through.
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby StudioShutIn » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:52 pm

Heavy_Soul wrote:STAIIIIIIIIIN. that under-stuff will make a killer bursty/contrast! Just mix up some red wine and kool-aid in a huge bucket and leave it in it for like a day or something super weird


I'd say go for it...staining this way (by basically 'dipping' the guitar) can be unpredictable, as far as how it coats the existing surface..
but this can make for some interesting results :thumb:
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Re: Pimping a guitar...

Postby Mudfuzz » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:58 pm

I say paint it gumball pink with a flaming scull...
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