Douglas Gravity Rebuild

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by draggindakota, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    I've had this Douglas thinline copy for a couple of years and have been planning to mod it a little. The neck felt great but the tuners were junk, the pickups lifeless and the saddles rattled.
    20170909_103450.jpg
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    I made the switch tip and knobs not long after I got it, but otherwise it stayed stock.

    Fast forward to father's day, and my wife ordered me theW Wilkinson as ashtray bridge I had saved on Amazon. As luck would have it the tone pot died a couple months back (or so I thought...more on that later) so I went on guitar fetish with intentions of buying new pots to fix that at the same time.

    Somehow I ended up with all new electronics including a P90 for the neck. They only thing I didn't replace was the switch, but I may put a 4-way in it later.

    While I was waiting for parts to arrive I got the bright idea that since I was replacing the tuners I might as well strip and refinish the neck. Enter a big bottle of Citristrip...
    20190623_220806.jpg

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    To be continued...
     
  2. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Post the progress pics soon
     
  3. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    After multiple coats of Citristrip, letting each sit for 24 hours I gave up on the Citristrip and resorted to grease... elbow grease. I scraped and sanded and scraped some more until I think I finally got down to bare wood (I hope). At least I'm not getting sweet smelling dust and longer, just wood smelling dust.

    I also decided I wanted to reshape the headstock while I was at it.
    20190629_205259.jpg

    With the help of my dad's old bandsaw with a 30 year old blade and tires I made out of ribbon and electrical tape I managed to mangle the headstock into something very roughly tele-shaped. Queue up a bunch more elbow grease and I have this:
    20190722_222437.jpg
    I REALLY need a spindle sander. Either Maple is frickin HARD or Harbor Freight sandpaper sucks. I'm betting on both.

    In the interim, while I was slaving over the neck, my box of parts arrived from GFS.
    20190707_122952.jpg

    So, I made up a template for the P90 and after much hemming and hawing I cut a big ole hole in my guitar.
    20190707_190841.jpg
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    To be continued...
     
  4. wabashslim

    wabashslim Tele-Holic

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    That's a nice-looking top. How hollow is it under there?
     
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  5. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

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    Subscribed. This is going to be great!
     
  6. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    The top is plywood but has some very nice grain to it. I briefly toyed with the idea of stripping it and trying to do a burst but decided against it. And I'm impatient to hear how it sounds lol. It seems like mostly just the upper half under the f-hole. Lower half seems pretty solid except the the control cavity.

    I've got the electronics all in and wired, but need to get some pictures of that. Now I'm currently waiting on dye. I'm going to try to end up with something similar to this:


    My neck isn't flamed like the one in the video but does have some nice grain.

    20190722_222507.jpg

    I've got gold and brown dye on the way, and already have the Tru-oil waiting. Gotta try to find some maple to practice on but that brings me up to date so far. I've got the neck sanded to 220 at the moment, but I'm not sure if I need to go higher before dyeing or not.

    One thing that sorta bugs me though is the fretboard. Before stripping you could hardly tell the difference between the neck and fretboard. Now though, the fretboard is notably darker. It almost looks like the the Citristrip soaked in and stained the wood or something. Those spots of finish that can be seen in these pics I've already taken care of.

    20190722_222453.jpg

    20190722_222445.jpg
     
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  7. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Those dark color spots is probably sanding sealer that has penetrated deeper. Good luck trying to get that to take stain evenly. Been there on quite a few Rondo necks.

    I have the HH version of your guitar.

    Nice work on the p90 route.
     
  8. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    Thanks! That was my first time making a template and using a router aside from some quick practice on scrap pine. I didn't think about sanding sealer. Hopefully it takes the dye okay, if not I'll have to come up with some other plan.
     
  9. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    Over the weekend I reamed the tuner holes for the conversion bushings and drilled the new mounting screw holes. The tuners are Wilkinson vintage style. I also lucked out there and only need to plug one of the original screw holes in the headstock.

    Mounting up the bridge proved to be a bit of a challenge though. I knew the screw holes wouldn't line up as the old bridge was a 3 screw model.

    I laid out the position, checked the scale, marked and drilled the holes...so far so good, right? Well, I learned the hard way to always mount up the bridge pickup and check the fit before you drill. My holes ended up a little too far back and I had to plug and redrill.
    20190723_205910.jpg

    The bridge covers the old screw holes so I didn't bother plugging those.

    20190723_212237.jpg
    There's one little bitty sliver of the pickup route visible beside the bridge but I'm happy with the location so it's starting put. I may try to add a little wedge in there too fill the gap.
    20190723_204902.jpg

    And finally the wiring. This was my first time wiring a guitar. I followed the Seymour Duncan standard tele diagram but swapped the volume out to a 330k pot. So the electrical consists of a 330k audio volume, 250k audio tone, .047 polyester cap, a Switchcraft jack and the original 3-way switch for now. I'm not thrilled with how the grounds turned out but I plugged it in and it didn't squeal lol. I get good taps with a screwdriver in all positions and no hum or excessive hiss so I'm taking that as a good sign.

    20190723_204536.jpg
     

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  10. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    D'oh.

    Buttcrack. It was on a lot of vintage teles. Don't worry, I've got some on mine. It's charm.

    How'd you get your PG route so clean?
     
  11. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    Hey, good to know there's a name for that! Now my guitar can match it's owner!

    The PG route looks cleaner in the pic than in reality. It's not bad, but a bit over sized. I used the same template for the body route. I just made a makeshift router table out of mdf and stuck the PG to the template. I want to put a brown tort guard on it but it looks like I'm going to have to make one from scratch. The stock guard is bigger than an actual Fender thinline guard.
     
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  12. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    I couldn't resist...I had to throw it together with the unfinished neck to see how it sounded. The GFS P90 sounds great! The GFS '63 bridge pickup has some nice spank to it as well and should match up well once the heights are set.
    20190722_215754.jpg

    I also think I figured out what happened to the tone control with the original electronics. You can kinda see in this pic the white wire connected to the middle lug (which jumpered to the 1st lug of the volume pot) is wrapped around and touching the extra long lead of the cap that pokes through the 3rd lug and grounding out. Oh well...
    20190616_210848.jpg

    Still to do:
    • Final sanding / prep of the neck
    • Test my wood dyeing skills. Then test some more. Then test the tru-oil application
    • Order a new nut. Going with a pre-slotted bone nut and I'll either fart around with it myself or take the whole shebang in for a pro setup.
    • Order a tort PG blank, make a template and route it. That's pretty low priority though. Might not get to that for a while. I'll also need to get a pattern bit for the router.
    • Figure out how I'm going to record the requisite sound clips. I apologize in advance for my horrible playing :eek::lol:.
     
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  13. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    What. A. S***-show. Have you ever had one of those days that starts out bad, hits a sharp left and just snowballs from there? That was my weekend.

    My Angelus leather dyes came in on Thursday so I was pretty stoked to get going on the neck. I did some testing of the dyes on a piece of birch plywood, and a new wheel barrow handle I never got around to putting on the wheel barrow, I think it's oak. The oak turned out nice but apparently I didn't take a picture of it, the birch decent enough.

    20190726_215608.jpg

    I decided I was going to go with brown, sand back then top with the gold.

    Neck sanded to 400 grit:
    20190727_202736.jpg

    And then slathered with brown and sanded back
    20190727_203829.jpg
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    And this is where everything went left. You can see that the brown really soaked in in some areas and it looks really blotchy. Queue the gold dye...
     
  14. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    Well that's unfortunate. What looked really good on my test pieces came out looking like a REALLY bad spray tan. Can you say orange?
    20190727_231856.jpg
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    It's MUCH more orange in person. I absolutely hated the color but decided to run with it hoping the tru-oil would mellow it out a bit. But first, an interlude. The headstock was looking awfully plain so I decided it needed a logo. I whipped up something in inkscape, a tongue-in-cheek company name my buddy gave me many years ago, and printed it out at work on the laser printer. Again I tested the application on the oak(?) handle and it came out fine using the Mod Podge transfer trick since I don't have any water slide paper.

    Bolstered with unfounded confidence I slapped a logo on the headstock. I MAY have went a little overboard with the Mod Podge, as I found out the next day when I tried to remove the paper.
    20190728_141205.jpg

    I got the paper off without destroying the logo transfer, but had a nice thick layer of dried Mod Podge everywhere around it. I tried scraping it first, then resorted to light sanding which turned into sanding the entire face down to bare wood to get all that crap off :mad:. In a fit of frustration I attacked the neck with sandpaper...again. Sanded down as much as I could with 320. I've sanded on this thing so much I'm afraid the profile is changing, I know the heel is, but whatever.
    20190729_213040.jpg

    After going over it again with 400 I took a break to think. I decided to go dark with the neck to hopefully hide the blotchy-ness but that introduced a new problem: black side dots. So, I raided my son's bedroom and came up with a white plastic parts tree from a model car. It's twice the diameter of the original dots so they should be easy to see. Perfect!
    20190729_231230.jpg

    I did a quick test on...you guessed it...the oak wheel barrow handle. That went well so I drilled out the original side dots and glued in the new ones.
    20190729_230530.jpg
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    I tried melting some of the plastic in acetone and filling a larger hole in hopes of doing the front dots as well but that didn't work out too well. I'm not overly concerned with those being white though, I can't see 'em from where I'm standing :lol:.
     

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  15. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    That's the sealer on those necks & bodies coming back to bite you. I've been there & I feel your pain.

    Be prepared for the TO to behave similarly. It won't want to "set up" on those sealer areas but will on the bare wood segments.

    Try one of those $30 kmise or similar necks.
     
  16. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    I have a feeling you're right. Thanks for the tip on kmise necks, I'd never heard of them but they seem serviceable for the price. And I can get a rosewood board with block inlays:). For now though, we press on.

    I got the new side dots trimmed and sanded flush, and color back on the neck. This is gold over brown. It looks pretty good wiped with naptha.
    20190731_204638.jpg
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    I also got the first coat of tru-oil on. We'll see tomorrow if it dries completely.
     
  17. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

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    Shoot, It looks great to me, roll with it.
     
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  18. MadJack

    MadJack Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    ꓶꓞ ʻɹǝๅpuɐꓛ
    I didn't do the neck, but the rest of that build looks familiar. I've got that same butt crack showing too.

    Douglas Gravity Semi-Hollow Rebuild

    It now has a Buddha Custom Handwound Tele Bridge pickup and a Small batch P90 neck, that I unwound it about 400 wraps. I think I could have taken another 200 wraps off for a little better balance. I also put the black cover on the P90.
     
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  19. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    Well I'm happy to report the first coat of tru-oil dried just fine, so I put a second coat on tonight.

    20190801_185842.jpg
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  20. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    I've been on vacation this week and the goal was to finish the neck and get this thing put back together.

    20190803_154301.jpg

    After the second coat dried I made another attempt at adding a logo with Mod Podge which was an utter failure again. That was I a whole day lost. I managed to scrape it off without damaging anything and went ahead with the next coats.

    This is after 6 coats. I applied one coat a day and buffed with steel wool after every second coat.
    20190807_194429.jpg

    Yesterday I put on coat 8 and today it looked and felt just right so I decided to stop there. I masked off the fretboard and went after the frets to get rid of the all the sanding scratches. I started with 320 and worked my way up to 2000 grit then polished with 0000 steel wool.

    20190809_144106.jpg
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    And finally here she is all assembled. It still needs a bone nut and a final setup. I do wish I'd put lighter dots on the board but overall I'm pretty stoked with how the neck turned out. It was definitely a learning experience.

    20190809_204226.jpg
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    Eventually I want to put a new pick guard on it. I originally wanted tort but now I'm unsure with the dark neck. Maybe black pearliod? I'm open to suggestions.
     

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