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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

What to do with this old Melody Maker

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by freddarl82, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    39
    Nov 10, 2012
    Colorado
    I bought this Melody Maker husk on ebay a few years ago. From all the Gibson serial number cross references I can find, it is a 1964 (serial 211xxx). When I first bought it, I wired up/installed Seymour Duncan P-Rails with independent switching for single coil, P-90, or humbucker. Beautiful playing guitar -- solid mahogany with a brazillian rosewood fingerboard. When I bought it, only the bridge and tuners were included. It was already hacked up and refinished in the manner shown when I bought it.
    -- routed for two humbuckers (and not well, at that)
    -- big honking Grover tuners (work fine, but too much metal for the narrow headstock)
    -- worst of all, the headstock had also been stripped and finished the same as the body

    I've gotten the finishing bug lately (two USACG necks and one USACG body), so I am considering trying to get this MM back to a portion of it's former glory. I really do not know what is on this body...my guess (and that's all it is) would be satin poly. I would like to spray black nitro on the headstock and get a gold Gibson decal for it. After that, I would like to consider spraying gloss nitro over the rest of the body (along with the headstock to seal the decal). I was in the Guitar Center in Hollywood last week, and they had three Juniors in roughly this same tint, but with high-gloss nitro (appropriately worn and dinged from 55+ years).

    Does this sound reasonable? Should I scuff-sand, apply sanding sealer, then nitro? I don't want to cover up the grain with a solid color. Sunbursting would be out of the question without a complete strip, which I do not want to do as any stain could go quite deep into the grain.

    Advice from those here who have forgotten more about refinishing than I'll ever know?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's the electronics installed (I also replaced the rather unwieldy pigtail bridge with a Wilkinson compensated wraparound.

    [​IMG]
     

  2. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    57
    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    I don't think I could like it better than it is. Except the 'skin ripper' bridge.
     

  3. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 21, 2014
    Florida
    I don't know much, if anything, about Gibson's... Least of all Melody Makers, but this looks like a worthy project and an intriguing thread. That's one beautiful piece of wood you have there. Subscribed.
     

  4. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    39
    Nov 10, 2012
    Colorado
    Another possibility for what's on there: Tru Oil or Tung Oil? I'm not sure how to tell...
     
    tomas83 likes this.

  5. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    Why do you want to take the finish off that's there? Why not just nitro over it? Mahogany being a brown wood will tend to darken red to cherry, or yellow to orange or mustard. And sanding sealer is poly anyway. You could just sand that back until you hit raw wood, leaving the finish you have as pore-filler. You could mist-coat the centre with a lineout,, and fog the edges and horns a darker brown or black. Sort of like the below.

    If it were me, I'd lightly sand and hit it with a couple lacquer nitro coats. Or Just leave it as is and vintify the pickguard and hardware. Maybe a Ric-style double-layer guard?
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017

  6. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    39
    Nov 10, 2012
    Colorado
    Thanks. But I wouldn't be a bit surprised if, back in 1964, this one was thrown into the "solid color finish" bin because of the large oval grain pattern on the back!
     

  7. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 21, 2014
    Florida
    Maybe so. But you're talking to a barncaster fan, so I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
     

  8. Tarnisher

    Tarnisher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 12, 2008
    Brooklyn
    Another vote for leaving it. I think it's gorgeous as is.
     

  9. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    BTW that bridge is a Badass, used by Page on his vintage Danelectro (slide on 'When the Levee Breaks') to correctify intonation. Worth a fair bit if original and not a knockoff. The MM/LPJr wraparound is intonated for a wound G - never sounds right without.
     

  10. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    39
    Nov 10, 2012
    Colorado
    Thanks. The Wilkinson on there now has the ridges to allow better intonation. Gibson got the post placement right on this one, as it intonates very well with this bridge.
     

  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    I think the first mystery is identifying the finish that's on there, then you can decide if it's a suitable base for your new gloss topcoat. You would have to experiment with the area under the pickguard to see how it reacts to (1) light scraping with a cabinet scraper or utility knife blade, (2) a dab of acetone, (3) a dab of chemical paint stripper, and (3) heat. If a thick soft mess of junk starts to lift from the wood, then you want to get it outta there and strip back gently. If acetone softens it too much then it will be a mess when you spray on a nitro topcoat. I would not try sanding it off because you'll burn through to bare wood unevenly and the new clearcoat will be blotchy.

    If it's a reasonably hard and smooth finish then you are correct that it would not need to come off; I'd go with your first instinct of a scuff sanding (grey or maroon scotch brite pads) before grain filler and a clear coat.
     

  12. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    39
    Nov 10, 2012
    Colorado
    Thanks, Vizcaster! I was thinking of testing under the pickguard, but your suggestions give me a few additional things to try.
     

  13. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Dec 24, 2015
    west of I-10
    That thing has already been though enough hell. Just sell it.
     

  14. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA
    I'd leave it as is and swap out the bridge to a wrap bridge and put in Duncan Antiquity p90's in there.
     
    robt57, Special Brew and John Owen like this.

  15. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    39
    Nov 10, 2012
    Colorado
    I did a little testing last night on the section between the pickups. A razorblade scraped up the slightest amount of dusty residue, which may have been mahogany with the bit of stain that is in it. Dabbed on some acetone. It simply flash-evaporated away with no impact on the finish. Next, I started rubbing some acetone back and forth. Again, nothing. Then, I really applied some elbow grease with the acetone and just the slightest bit of coloration was visible on my white rag. So, it seems to be a fairly durable finish that does not adversely react with acetone.

    Finally, I taped off the section between the pickups, covered up the rest of the guitar, and shot some rattle-can nitro on the area. Despite having laid it on pretty thick, it still exhibited typical nitro behavior and was dry to the touch after 15 minutes. Still looked good this morning, and showed no ill effects when I took some 600 grit sandpaper to it.

    So, it seems like this old girl will handle the nitro fine. I now plan to lightly sand, grain fill, vinyl sealer, then spray it.
     
    Flakey likes this.

  16. seanmarshall9

    seanmarshall9 TDPRI Member

    11
    May 13, 2015
    Columbus
    +1 on the Ducan antiquity P90s. Get this this nitro'd with 2 P90s and you have a hell of an axe.

    I also might consider swapping the bridge out to a wrap-tail or ABR-1, as that thing looks like it could take a chunk out of your arm.
     
    Special Brew likes this.

  17. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    You might get away with skipping the vinyl sealer, or at least minimizing the amount that you apply, because you've already got the wood sealed so the topcoat isn't going to absorb unevenly. Some amount of sealer will however be good for purposes of ensuring adhesion to the unknown (and potentially contaminated) substrate. Make sure to clean it with some lacquer thinner after scuff sanding the existing finish.
     

  18. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    You could strip the existing clear (assuming one is on there - it's a bit hard to tell), sand, and then use two-process wood bleach to take it back to raw grain. That's the standard method used for both furniture and solid-body guitars.
     

  19. Special Brew

    Special Brew Tele-Meister

    407
    May 1, 2014
    Gutter
    I think it looks OK as is. I would test a bit of nitro to see if reacts and if not 3-4 light coats, two P90s, some 3-on-a-plate Klusons and a Mojoaxe or Pigtail bridge and your are rocking and rolling.
     

  20. tomas83

    tomas83 Tele-Holic

    Another vote for true oil or tung oil...
     

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