CARS TO GUITARS VOL#1: 1969 Pontiac G.T.O. in Liberty Blue Metallic

Record83

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I originally started another thread waaaaaaaay back in 2015, but I am finally ready to revive it after a long hiatus. So I am beginning a new thread here so I may continue to tell the tale...

My Dad is into classic cars...American muscle cars, hot rods, etc...from '50s to early '70s. Well....me....I am not into cars. I never caught on. I don't why, but I just never got into it. I was dragged to my share of car meets as a kid that's for sure...

His hobby was always buying/selling cars. I must have seen 300+ cars come through our driveway. I got into Model Trains and later music and guitars of course. So, we didn't have much to connect on. However, I got an idea to start building replicas of his cars into guitars.

So the concept for this project started all the way back around 2013. At the time my Dad had a 1969 Pontiac GTO in Liberty Blue Metallic. He told me then that he absolutely loved this car, he had owned one as youngster back in the 70s and that it made him feel young again. This was it. He had finally found the one, he was entering retirement, he was done with buying cars, he was going to keep this GTO forever.





Now, my Dad has owned hundreds of classic cars and I’ve heard this rant several times before, BUT this time he really meant it.

So, I started to draw up a concept for the guitar: Let’s say someone goes out and buys a brand new GTO in 1969. This guy is also a guitar player and has recently purchased a new Fender Stratocaster, one that looks a lot like the Strat Hendrix played at Woodstock. He loves his GTO so much that he would like his Strat to match the color of the car. This guy brings it to a Fender dealer and has it sent back to have it refinished in the same color as his beloved car.

My Dad was stricken with a severe case of left-handedness at childbirth and it was never corrected. He had always teased me to build a left-handed guitar in case he ever wanted to play. Now, I don’t recognize the existence of left-handers, nor should we encourage them to play an instrument. If they REALLY want to play they can flip the guitar upside-down and be cool with it (like Albert King and Dick Dale). However, I figured this was an in to connect with my Father and after all, I could flip it upside down and play righty and I would look just like a mirror image of Hendrix!!! Well, a shorter, fatter, older, paler, more lame version of Hendrix…

I began ordering parts for this guitar in 2013, first ordering a custom made ‘60s style left-handed alder body and a 1 piece CBS-style Maple neck. These were both built by B Hefner in California, which was a licensed by Fender builder, but they have since gone out of business. The neck was built close to ’69 specs with “F” stamp tuner hole spacing, 1-5/8” width at the nut, 7-1/4” radius and a thin D shaped profile. I decided to go with a 1pc construction with the skunk stipe as 1969 was the year Fender went back to 1pc maple necks from the Maple caps they were doing earlier. I also ordered it with slots only because I had planned on installing my own stainless steel frets.

I figured once this guitar was completed, it would be a great companion to his car and he could place it sticking out of the trunk at all of the car shows. After all, he was NEVER going to sell this one…

…then a few months into my project, HE SOLD IT! (Here are pictures from the listing):

















 

Record83

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When my dad decided to sell the car it wasn’t really a shocker to me. It’s not uncommon for him to swear that “this one is a keeper” and then to see someone handing him a check and hauling it away 2 weeks later. He’s impulsive and definitely purchases his toys on emotion (I may or may not have picked up on these tendencies when it comes to buying or building guitars). By then I had already ordered the neck and body and was invested in the project. In the end, this was more about me making something that I wanted and it would look cool either with a car or no car.

In 2014 I received the neck and body from the now defunct B. Hefner company in CA. I originally ordered these in late 2013, but wasn’t ready to start work until early 2015 (when I took these pictures). That’s just how life goes…

I ordered a 60’s spec body, paint grade Alder, left-handed, but with a right-handed vibrato route. (More on that later). It’s actually a nicely made body and just a hair under 4 lbs.







To match I got a “CBS” style 1 piece Maple neck, 1-5/8” nut width, 7-1/4” radius, slim D shape neck profile and routed for 10mm F-stamp tuners. I ordered it with slots only, no fretwire, because I plan on installing Stainless Steel frets







Here’s the raw pieces together










My Dad had suggested Automotive Touchup as a source for paint. He had used it on some cars before and said he was pleased with the results. Here is a screen grab of the cost going back to 2015!



I held off on ordering the lacquer, but began purchasing some other parts and hardware and was eager to get going on the build.

But of course, life got in the way again. I had some health issues and ended up in the hospital a few times and had to assist a family member through cancer treatment. My finances, work life and personal relationships at this time were quite honestly in shambles. BUT I did not give up hope. I hung on to these parts for several more years knowing that there would be a time that I would be able to build again…
 

Record83

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Following 2015 I moved a number of times, never setting down “roots” anywhere. I worked on guitar projects when I could, but apartments are not great places to do any kind of building or finishing. My guitar projects began to pile up…




But FINALLY on NYE of 2019 I closed on my first house. No more moving. No more bouncing from rental to rental. No more storage units! (Well, hopefully no more storage units…). No more WAITING to work on guitars. The time had come!

I was lucky enough to purchase a home which has an attached 2 car garage and an area for a workshop in the back. I immediately got all of my junk out of storage and proceeded to fill the place up with my stuff. Umm, will maybe have to clean this place up a bit before I start finishing guitars…




But first, I needed at least a small area to finish in. I decided to make a knock-down Spray Booth using the plans in Jeff Jewitt’s book “Spray Finishing Made Simple”




First I cut up some slats that will be attached to the foam board




Next cutting up the foam…



As you can see from my black clothing, this creates a ton of dust…



And yes, some of you more experienced builders may be cringing at my working environment and habits. Got to keep in mind: I had NOTHING. No tools. No workbenches. And worst of all no mentors or experiencing with building or using tools. I am self-taught. I am learning as I go…



Glueing everything up with foam adhesive…



Instead of buying another board to make the top, I glued the scrap cutoffs together




Made a movable spray dolly to hold the bodies and necks



Attaching the hinges to the slats



Here I am standing the booth up for the first time. It just barely fits under my open garage door

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Still have some work to do, but things are shaping up…

 

Record83

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Time to do some minor prep work on the raw wood. I really like the look of these two pieces. Again, we’re going after a ’69 vibe here. The Alder body weighs under 4# which I like.







The neck has a tight fit, but a little too tight. Once everything is finished, it will not fit the body. So I used a scraper and some sandpaper to clean up the routing and edges of the neck pocket.



Working a little bit at a time to clean it up. I’m learning to be more patient, working slowly and checking my work often as I go. Too many times I tend to “over-do” it.

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Next I pre-fit the F-Stamped tuners. I want to make sure everything is pre-drilled and fits before the finishing process. Checking the hole sizing versus the bushing and tuner diameter first to get an idea of how much I need to take out.

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Reaming the tuner holes to fit. The drillings were “stepped”, so I had to work a little off on both sides to make everything fit:
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Meh…they’re not lined up completely straight, so we’ll have to “fudge” it a little bit here. But that’s OK, I want this to resemble a sloppy factory job!



Now to drilling everything out for the screws and pre-mount the tuners

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Painter644

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Pontiacs were beautiful cars from the late ‘50s to the early ‘70s. I had a ‘59 Bonneville convertible in Shoreline Gold I bought for all of $400 in ‘68. It was a limited run with tricolor leather bucket seats, a cream colored top and boot, every option available, and/but got about 8mpg! I’ve been thinking of building a Shoreline Gold Strat… Shoreline is slightly gray, not gaudy or cheesy looking and might be my first with a rosewood board.
 

Telekarster

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Man that GOAT was beautiful! I've known guys like your Dad i.e. "This is THE ONE man! The car of my dreams! I ain't never sellin' this one!" 2 years later they're selling it... LOL!!! Congrats on buying the home and getting to work on those projects! Looking forward to your build threads!
 

crazydave911

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Umm, I am LEFT handed but play RH. You know WHY? Unless you spend a fortune everything is for you guys 😠. The upshot being we learn everything YOUR way then teach ourselves. My mom's folks were Basque, from Spain named Cruz until the church decided LH was evil and started burning us. So they moved to Italy, added an E and became Cruze. About half came to America 100 years later. All present and none burned, the reason? We're smart enough to pass the writing/ handshake test. Because again you are the majority.
I realize (I hope) your tongue was firmly in cheek but got a little steamed. That's okay though, lefties are less than 20% of the worlds population but account for more than 60% of the world's geniuses. Mike drop
 

Record83

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Umm, I am LEFT handed but play RH. You know WHY? Unless you spend a fortune everything is for you guys 😠. The upshot being we learn everything YOUR way then teach ourselves. My mom's folks were Basque, from Spain named Cruz until the church decided LH was evil and started burning us. So they moved to Italy, added an E and became Cruze. About half came to America 100 years later. All present and none burned, the reason? We're smart enough to pass the writing/ handshake test. Because again you are the majority.
I realize (I hope) your tongue was firmly in cheek but got a little steamed. That's okay though, lefties are less than 20% of the worlds population but account for more than 60% of the world's geniuses. Mike drop

My left-handed comments are entirely out of fun, not serious at all, tongue planted in cheek of course. I obviously do not actually think that way and I am not a "dexterousist" (which is not really a word). My apologies for evoking that response you had, I can understand that. Humanity has lived through some very ignorant times and in no way was trying to infer those terrible atrocities mentioned.

I make fun of left handers jokingly because of exactly what you're saying: everything is catered towards right-handers. Either you need to have it custom made or your options are limited. It's difficult to find exactly what you want, let alone what you need.

Any left handed remarks moving forward are in "good fun" and mainly i thought it would be lots of fun to build a lefty because it's something I never get to do or work on ever. And that's all for that subject...
 

ndcaster

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watta coinkydink, I just binge-watched Vice Grip Garage's latest episode on the mouse-filled seized up Camaro after yesterday's walking around a vintage car show down at the Fairgrounds

big fan of VGG and this thread is what I'm saying, and I'm also saying the coin dropped fully such that I get in my bones this time why car fixing and tele fixing are two sides of the same DYI coin, whether it's finagling the basic geomettry or putting on new lipstick

have a great sunnyday fellers and fellettes
 

crazydave911

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My left-handed comments are entirely out of fun, not serious at all, tongue planted in cheek of course. I obviously do not actually think that way and I am not a "dexterousist" (which is not really a word). My apologies for evoking that response you had, I can understand that. Humanity has lived through some very ignorant times and in no way was trying to infer those terrible atrocities mentioned.

I make fun of left handers jokingly because of exactly what you're saying: everything is catered towards right-handers. Either you need to have it custom made or your options are limited. It's difficult to find exactly what you want, let alone what you need.

Any left handed remarks moving forward are in "good fun" and mainly i thought it would be lots of fun to build a lefty because it's something I never get to do or work on ever. And that's all for that subject...
Sorry, not usually touchy, just caught me wrong
 

Record83

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And now for the boring, but necessary wood decontamination process. First a wipedown of Naptha to remove any waxes






After letting that flash off, next a wipe-down of Mineral Spirits to remove any silicone in the wood





And finally some Ammonia in warm water to remove any of the mineral spirits and silicone




The last process will raise some fibers, so I sanded both the neck and body down with P220 and P320 grit



Made sure to "true up" the fingerboard radius with a 7-1/4" block before shooting lacquer to make sure there were no inconsistencies in the neck and then cleared out the slots so there was no sawdust trapped inside




Attaching a paint stick to the body and a custom made handle to the neck that screws onto the end of the truss rod




I am going to first apply a coat of Cardinal Vinyl Sealer. I make sure to mix it up thoroughly because the substrate will settle on the bottom




Doing a viscosity test with a measuring cup (provided with my Fuji HVLP system) to determine which needle/nozzle set I need to work with



Dumping it into the gravity-fed spray gun

 




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