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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi There- Been lurking around for a while and picking up tons of useful info on a projects I've been working on, and figured I post up some of the results. I'll preface by saying this isn't really a "build" thread and more of a refinish/modding thread.

Living in NYC doesn't give me much space, and with limited resources I'm relegated to doing whatever work i can with the space and without destroying my apartment. Hence most of the work gets done periodically when i can find some time off at work and borrow my dad's garage. Below are some before/afters of:

1. Epiphone Junior converted to 2 pickups and 3-way switch
2. Squier Telecaster with new electronics, 4-way switch mod, and a french polished neck
3. MIM Strat with french polished neck

Starting with the Epi Junior, this was actually my first guitar that i purchased about 3 years ago just to learn and knock around with. I've got roots in rebuilding/refinishing old cars (thanks, dad), and frankly living in NYC does not lend itself well to that hobby, so I needed something new to get my diy fix with...

here is a before pic. I had to find a stock photo as it didn't stike me at the time to take a REAL before pic.

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first came the electronics. CLR 500k Pot, 3-way switch, .47 Orange drop cap, Seymour Duncan Phat Cat in the bridge, and the stock Humbucker in the Neck
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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On to taking it all apart, scuffing the paint (If i had the time to do it over again, I would sand it down to the wood the prime), filled in some old pickguard holes and gouges here and there, then good ol high build auto primer
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I want a custom pickguard, so designed one myself that i thought looked cool. Made a template first from tracing paper, cardboard, then rough cut with the trusty dremel (same as I used for all the routing in the above post - first time routing any type of wood. It's crude, I know, but best i could do with the tool on hand. I can feel a router purchase coming in my future) out of BWB pickguard material

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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome. Don't stop there.
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Forgot to tell about the nut and fretboard. Cut the slots on a pre-fab bine nut from Stewmac. This was meant for Gibson, but was a touch too short for the Epi so needed to shim with some balsa wood i had on hand

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Next up is paint. I found a deal at an auto paint distributor I've used on the cars, and since the price was right i went with Porsche 911 Turbo Yellow. IMO it's a pretty close match to TV yellow, and has a little warmer tone to it in my eye. This was base coated and clear coated. Went all black on the headstock with a crown design in gold. I decided to go with a design since i don't own a printer to do a waterslide decal, and figured this would look cooler anyway. I intentionally left some over spray arpund the design because i thought i gave a cool affect. hard to see in the pics, but it's there.

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Thanks for looking, got a few more to come
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Finally after months of starting and stopping on this project, it's done.
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That is some wet looking paint
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Up next is a Squier Telecaster that i picked up at small local guitar shop (Ray's Supply - they are great, will let you come in and play whatever you want, no pressuring) up in Lake George, where most of my work gets done.

For my money i loved how this one played, even stacked up against some of the american made fenders they had in the shop. maybe i just lucked out with this one. Only thing i didn't really like was the coloring on the maple neck. It was a very dull almost whitish look that bothered me. I took this one back with me to NYC and figured I could french polish it. Worst case, I learn a new skill and burn a few weekends time. I ended up going with a garnet shellac as I thought a darker finish would look nice against the blonde body
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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next up was upgrading the electronics. Went with 4-way switch mod, copper shielding tape all around, CLR pots, switch craft jack and electrosocket plate (great quality - will definitely use this again), orange drop cap left over form the Junior project

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Last pic is of the pickguard that i wanted to give a little scuff and stained with coffee. Dropped it in the oven at 250 for 30 mins in a pan filled with brewed coffee (let the coffee cool first). Knocked off just enough of the gloss where it looks an off-white color. It really came out much better than i expected, and didn't warp on me
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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...And here she is all done up and pretty. In my younger years I ran a detailing business during high school and college, and well some old habits never go away. If you are interested at all in detailing or protecting paint in general, check out autopia.org. This site has been such a valuable resource over the years. Anyways, this guitar was finished with a round of poorboy's SSR 1 by hand, followed by some poorboy's natty's blue paste wax ( this stuff is on the oily side but gives great depth and wetness, as they say ). iphone pics really do not do it justice, by i got what i got so....

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Old December 2nd, 2012, 06:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Last but not least is my faithful strat. Got a good deal on it, and was by far the biggest impulse purchase (thanks tax refund) I think I've ever made in my life. But i must say when i go for a while without playing this guitar, it seems to have a good way of reminding me why i brought it home in the first place. That said, I love how this plays, has the nicest feeling neck i've played so far, and i really dig the jumbo frets and low action combo.

This was a simple once, just a neck french polishing. The satin finish on the neck left much to be desired and hid some truly nice grain. I went with a mix of blonde and amber shellac on this, mostly blonde because I did not want this one as dark as the tele neck, and well...I bought the blonde shellac, had some garnet left over, so what the hell. Check it out some befores and in progress pics

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Old December 2nd, 2012, 06:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This was definitely more difficult in the french polishing that the tele, because I had the fretboard to contend with. After the wash coating (5x) with shellac, the polishing part was simple. Make the pad, load with 10-12 drops of shellac, 8 or so drops of denatured alcohol, and one drop if extra virgin olive oil. apply in a circular motion, gradually increasing pressure as the finish is applied. Constant motion is the trick, if you stop, you will end up with a nice mark that you either have to sand out later or dilute you pad to have more alcohol and shellac and try to even the finish that way. trust me either way is not fun. I didn't have the luxury of scrap to practice on, but when they say to do so, they're not lying.

Neck on this one was wet sanded with 1000-2000 grit. The fretboard was wet sanded using these 3M flexible papers form stewmac 400grit-10000 grit. The fretboard took for ever, but feels amazingly smooth

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Thanks for looking!
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 06:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I lied, the neck wasn't it for the strat. Also decided to make a trem block. I never use the trem, so why not. I can always take it out if i care to later on.

I used a piece of mahogany found at a local art store. Good thing is i've found a place to get some scrap for cheap for practice!

here is the block and some finished shots. This guitar was also finished with natty's blue paste wax

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Old December 2nd, 2012, 06:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks SRC - I've definitely got the bug full on now haha
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 01:27 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I like the yellow on that epi. How did you keep paint from all over your stuff?
I love that Tele. The strat looks good too.
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 01:45 AM   #14 (permalink)
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You have some beautiful guitars.
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 09:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Wow...love the LPJr.
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 09:16 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for checking them out and the kind words..much appreciated

I was really pleased with the Junior, really fun guitar to work on. I've got a couple adjustments to make on the nut to bring the action in line, then that puppy is truly done.

SRC, Oh I got paint everywhere when i sprayed. Took me about two days to sweep/wash out all that little yellow overspray off the floor. Thankfully i had the house to myself for a few days to clean that mess up
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Old December 4th, 2012, 04:01 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Some new updates on the Tele as of last night. Receive my Strat vintage repro neck pickup that i've been planning to try out in the Tele. My only gripe about the guitar is the original neck pickup. Just too muddy sounding to me.

Having taken this guitar apart a few times, and just set it up with new strings...I'm taking it apart as carefully as I can.

Here we go....

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I decided to leave the strings attached, unscrew the neck, and this time take a picture of my intonation. Will save me a few minutes later in the evening to actually play it afterwards

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One hiccup i did not plan for was having to adjust the pickup bobbin. I had to sand down the Neck side of the bottom plate to less than 1/8" to get it to fit in the cavity. Sorry wasn't taking pics during most of the adjustments. As you can see the cover is removed. I like having the pickguard with just the outer screws so i opted to have the pickup sit flush instead of drilling for adjustment screws AND enlarging the pickup whole in the guard.

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Then just a few finish shots

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Thanks for looking!
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