Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wrong way, right way, two days

To be honest, deciding to buy a guitar was not a good idea. Deciding to buy a guitar to become an art project was a horrible idea. Deciding that the art project would be okay if I just used a little spray paint was downright stupid.

Ready to paint. Note the piece of tape at the top of the neck covering the Silvertone logo.
Yet here I am.

My vision for the guitar from the very start was more or less clear. And already, even though it isn’t finished, I’m quite proud of the way the paint job turned out. As a matter of fact, my very first attempt at my image came out damn near perfect.

Getting ready for that sunburst effect to turn blue. Note the tape covering the model number at the top center.
The problem was paint drips. Laying the guitar on the floor and painting over it worked, it just wasn’t clean. I decided it had to be redone, which meant I had to sand it down again and, I had to figure out a way to keep from having drips on it. In my sleep, I came up with the idea of hanging the guitar up to limit the paint drips. It would also allow me to paint both sides of the guitar, and the edges, and the neck all at once. That was the ticket. In this humidity (it’s rained every day for a week here in north Alabama), I don’t know how long the guitar will continue to be sticky, but it’s painted, hanging in the garage and looking good.
Second time around. The burst is bursting and, no drips.
Next thing is to add the music to the front. Then I have to stain the neck and decide if I’m going to insert mother of pearl or not. Then, I’ll probably have to coat it with something so you can actually handle it. Then I have to remount the hardware. Then restring it.

First time around. Nailed it. 
Jeez. I wish I’d never seen the thing. I sure hope I can love my attention sucking child when it is all over.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Don’t Fret

After a two day trip to Mexico Thursday and Friday to attend a sixty seven minute meeting, which was made much more of a bad idea by getting in a cab with a driver who not only spoke zero English, but also knew next to nothing about the roads of the city where the meeting was being held (Celaya), I was ready to relax this weekend. And what better way to relax than by restoring a musical instrument?
Looking better (?) already.
The instrument was already apart, so today I just made up my mind to work on the finish: I sanded the hell out of the thing. I’m keeping the “Silvertone” logo and the model number on the top of the neck, but everything else is going to be painted over. I patched holes, repaired a split, and sanded, sanded, sanded. Then I went to work on the fret board.

Sanded sunburst. This was definitely done as a "real" guitar.
In the DIY industry, they have a mantra of “measure twice, cut once”. Well, I declare that the mantra of the musical instrument restorer is “Google it first, then give it a try”. My fatal mistake here was trying to sand the fret board with the fret wires still in place. I did an adequate job of it with my Dremel, carefully working between the wires and taking the paint and scuff marks off, but it didn't look right. I did that because I couldn't figure out how to remove the fret wires. After botching it, though, I realized the only way to fix my mistake would be to sand the neck sans wires.

Fret free sanding sans frets ahead.
And of course, Google has videos and wikihows, and fifty different shades of websites for “how to remove fret wires”, and when I went back to it, the fret wires came right out. I could have saved myself about a half hour and made a much easier job of things if I had just Googled first. Naturally, I bent the hell out of a few of the wires when I took them out, too, plus I don’t like the gold color for the motif I have in mind. I've already ordered a set of pre-radiused wires from China. They should be here in 20 days.That will give me plenty of time to sand some more, restore the wood, and paint my motif, which will be based on some guitarist’s song. I’m thinking of calling my guitar “Kenny” and putting “Chitlins Con Carne” (note the hint of Mexico) as the music that will adorn the paint job. We’ll see.

Anyway, the frets are gone, I’m none the worse for wear and the guitar restoration continues. No need to fret, at all.