ES-335 poly removal?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by klobasa, Oct 16, 2021.

  1. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    So he changed EVERYTHING about the guitar. EVERYTHING. Pickups. Pots. Bridge and tailpiece - and even how the are attached. The headstock shape and overlay. The pickups. And oh yeah. The finish . . . aaaaaaannnd concluded that the finish is the difference? OK then.

    Again, do what you like and enjoy. But to @telemnemonics point - how many hours (dozens?) went into this project? It's not a cheap guitar in economic terms any longer. It's very likely a guitar more expensive than a custom shop Gibson or maybe even vintage? If the work is the reward, have at it. But it is not a bargain.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
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  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My negative response to the idea of sanding the poly off a 335 style is based on both my own hours spent stripping and refinishing, but also more based on working as a guitar tech and getting handed guitars half ruined in attempts to make them somehow better when they were fine to begin with.

    The internet seems to be a mix of gear chat for hobby modding and gear chat for music making.
    Hobby modding is fun but it assumes the modded gear was like going on a trip, and after it's over the need for the gear to have become better gear is not really why hobbyists into modding do that sort of thing for a hobby.
    The inclusion of claims that a refinished electric guitar then has amazing sound?
    Gear chat, we like to talk, and in the misinformation age, talk need not be true or lead to good results, it's talk for its own sake, like much of the hobby modding is done for fun, not to make modded guitars into better musical instruments.

    Of the maybe 10-15 or so guitars I've stripped and refinished or lightly sanded and painted a new color. pretty much all were in rough shape and in need of fixing up.

    Applying a finish?
    I start with a fresh (unfinished) guitar (body or neck) rather than pay for a pro finish to be applied then remove it.
    Or a beat up old guitar, preferably cheaper but sometimes more expensive vintage that's cheaper than if it had the original finish but more expensive than a new mid priced guitar.

    As for this specific task?
    You seem to know there are issues with sanding through the thin veneer, as well as issues sanding into binding, plus scraping into corners you cannot sand into like around the neck joint etc.
    I mean any project has challenges.
    Not much need for advice like "sand with the grain" or "don't use a hammer", since those are obvious.

    The last point that many who ask such questions may forget,is that IF YOU HAVE TO ASK?
    That indicates you're not fully aware of the problems one encounters with such a process?
    If we all assume you know the basics, then warnings about what can go wrong and how much more labor is involved than might be expected, those are the useful answers.

    Ask a question like: "should I marry this girl I like?".
    What do we suggest?
    Go for it dude what could possibly go wrong!
    Or list some risks and things to look out for?
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
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  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Refinishing a guitar is not likely to ruin it like break the neck off or accidentally sand off the fingerboard.
    Customers have brought me guitars that they did ruin though.
    I then say "ruin" if the guitar needs $300 worth of repair work to end up worth $200.
    And I've bought refinished vintage guitars that the former owner ruined the value of.
    Fine with me to pay a low price for an otherwise decent vintage guitar, and then put some labor into fixing what the hobbyist did.

    "Ruin" might mean to most of us that we took a $1000 guitar, put $400 worth of labor into stripping and spraying it, and ended up with a guitar worth only $300.
    In the guitar business, a refin is worth less than the original finish, IF the new finish is absolutely perfect.
    Any visible flaws in the new finish and the value drops way down fast because it's obvious that a hobbyist experimented on a musical instrument.

    We do often urge hobby modders to experiment on cheap guitars, or kit guitars, or already messed up guitars.
    Gaining skills takes a lot of practice, and harming or reducing the value of good guitars is not required for the learning process.

    Some build threads display friends telling friends to hang it up and build a new one!
    Because the end goal is best possible results.
    One hopes for good results on better guitars and one suggests practicing on crappy or cheaper guitars.
    It's perfectly normal.
     
  4. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    I see no interest in buying a guitar that is "perfect" right out of the box. I mean, what am I supposed to do with it...? To play it? Nah, that sounds super boring :D

    I like to buy good guitars and do something unusual with them, to make them great (imho great). Something that stands out, feels personal. I do not count hours, it's my hobby. And I love challenges. I enjoy being in a new situation where I need to think "how do I do this without f****ng it up?".

    That photo is terrible, but in that old picture is a halfly finished guitar that I made in 2002 or so. Gold sparkle body and neck with semi hollow body (made out of 34 pieces). I couldn't find anything like that anywhere, so I had to make it myself...
     

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  5. Deebers

    Deebers TDPRI Member

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    @klobasa , everyone seems to want to be your accountant and tell you 18 reasons why you shouldn't do this. I think "because I want to" is a perfectly good reason for a project like this. Beats watching television. Good luck and have fun!
     
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  6. Nicko_Lps

    Nicko_Lps TDPRI Member

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    Poly-urethane
    or
    Poly-ester ?

    If its the polyurethane one, i can guarantee you there will be no sound difference at all since with nitro/poly or without. i did that test before finishing the guitar ive built.

    I did re-finish a very old charvel guitar strat-type body for a friend around 10 years ago, im sure it had polyester laquer and my friend reported that its alot better now. Im not sure about it though as i didnt listen before and after myself.

    I know that nitro has a unique feeling, this "cold touch" that i love myself but dont expect to listen to any tonal difference.
    I know there are plenty of "GOLDEN EAR" people that tell you otherwise but that is a marketing trick.
    The marketing trick has gone so far that people swear they actually listen to a difference because they are CONVINCED there is a difference

    Nitro finish is a very old, very cheap finish. As a carpenter(furniture's) that probably used a few metric tons of varnish so far i can guarantee you that no varnish is better than acrylic polyurethane ones and the lowest possible quality finish is nitro but it pairs up well with the industry standards: Cheap.

    1L of nitro varnish cost (to me) around 5-8e
    1L of acrylic polyurethane costs around 15e


    Hide glue + Nitro are the biggest myths ive ever seen, to me worse than flat earth theory :)
     
  7. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    It's polyurethane. To me, it's not at all about the sound. It's only about the feel of it (how does it feel in my hands) and how the nitro ages. And there are differences between nitro too. I don't care for standard Gibson or Fender nitro finishes either. In my experience, they stay too soft and feel like they don't cure fully. The worst example ever is the old 52RI teles (all of them that I ever tried). The nitro was sticky and soft, just disgusting feeling necks in those. The nitro necks that I have finished have no stickyness whatsoever. I have now three guitars: the Yamaha, SG and a tele. The least favorite feeling neck was in that Yamaha. It was way stickier than in those other two (that I refinished). Eventually, I had to steelwool it. Now it's fine, but still not as good as those other two.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2021
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Unfortunately the term "poly" when used for a finish is kind of generic and really doesn't tell much, particularly the chemical composition. I use the term to mean any modern finish that undergoes a chemical reaction as it cures. It might be chemically catalyzed (two part), it might be catalyzed by light (UV finishes), it might just be a chemical reaction with air. Most modern finish are not evaporative like shellac or lacquer.

    I'm not set up to apply any catalyzed finish and I really don't want to, but it does mean that if I do a repair on a guitar with a modern finish I generally can't do a good job cosmetically. I've experimented with some of the cross linking water born lacquers and didn't like them, I keep going back to solvent based nitrocellulose lacquer.

    Every finish has advantages and disadvantages. Lacquer works well for me.
     
  9. Alex Dovnar

    Alex Dovnar NEW MEMBER!

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    Thank you for sharing this video on this forum and thanks for watching. I haven't been here for a long time Yes, removing polyester varnish is a very difficult task. Moreover, the top veneer layer in the laminate is always very thin. And it can be easily sanded down by accident in some places. The hardest parts are the ears and the throat of the neck. From the side shells, I removed the varnish with the help of a grinding cylinder installed in the drilling machine. But all this ultimately gives an amazing result for the sound. This is especially noticeable on semi-hollow guitars.
     
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  10. Nicko_Lps

    Nicko_Lps TDPRI Member

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    Nitro does not stay sticky and specially soft, nitrocellulose is by far the hardest curing paint/varnish you can find out there and thats why when you bumb it on a corner it breaks and falls off whilst the polyurethane does not.

    In that case you are describing sticky and soft, you need a better quality buffing job to fix the problem you are describing. Nitro feels like glass, if it does not the sand+buff job was bad.
    The paint/varnish that feels best on hand(for me) is the acrylic polyurethane matte. It feels like a very fine high quality silk.

    Polyurethane acrylic matte varnish can be applied ONLY on the back of your neck if you cover the rest of the guitar and will give you the best possible feeling available.
    Downsides? Depending on how much youre playing you might need to refinish that neck in 5-10 years or so because your hand will act like an abrasive vs the neck and make it glossy again plus you cant buff matte finish, you must make it 100% perfect but in your case (just the neck back) is nothing hard to do.

    As far as the aging you mentioned... It turns like a thinned yellow mustard cover.. You really like that?
    Polyurethane hardeners (the expensive part) where studied for years in order to be able to NOT take that yellow tint. Thats why acrylic Polyurethane needs only 10% hardener plus its milky white colored instead of mustard like old technology clear coatings.

    PS
    You can spray Polyurethane over nitro but you cant spray nitro over polyurethane. Nitro thinner is way more aggressive than the ones used on polyurethane and will damage the polyurethane below it.
     
  11. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    You are right and wrong. My 2010 Gibson SG has the original lacquer on the headstock (front and back). When I bought the guitar, the body was ugly, someone did an ugly relic job to it. And obviously the neck was sticky, because some previous owner had sanded the back to bare wood. I sanded and buffed the whole guitar. The lacquer still felt sticky and soft. I know how to buff and sand btw. I decided to finish the body completely. It's now one month later, the guitar is finished.

    The lacquer on the body is already now very hard and smooth. It feels completely different to the headstock. Both are done with "nitro".

    Many people hate nitro on necks, because "they are sticky", and that s definitely true in many many many guitars done by big manufacturers, but yes, nitro is hard and very smooth when done correctly with good nitro.
     
  12. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wish that forums like this had a rule that goes as follows: When the original poster says "Hey how do I do such and so?" please do not come back and say "No you don't want to do that."

    This would be the exception to that rule.
     
  13. Nicko_Lps

    Nicko_Lps TDPRI Member

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    As you know yourself very well nitro is 1 part lacquer/varnish. I really cant grasp how someone made it sticky and soft which is the effect someone can get if no hardener is added on a A/B lacquer/varnish. The only explanation i can give is that someone applied a metric ton of wax on that neck before you buy it.

    If your SA2200 is the one i see on google with binding and laminated its a tad risky to sand all your way down. Each wood veneer should not be more than 0.8mm, ones i use in carpentry are 0.4mm..
    The new paint removers are water soluble and will make your life very VERY easy with minimal to no wood removal, if you sand your way down you will have to remove some wood..
    I have no clue though if paint remover will affect the binding ABS plastic, the remover i buy is contained on a plastic bottle though but no idea if its the same material.

    No conversation indeed about heat gun on a laminated 335 style guitar.
     
  14. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    There are some heinously wrong statements in some of the posts above. I don't have the time or inclination to go into it now, but keep your eyes on this space. A knowledgeable poster should be along shortly to set things straight.

    In the meantime, please don't do or decide anything.
     
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  15. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm not the knowledgeable poster that my colleague Sea Devil prophesied, but here goes anyway:

    I'm confused by your questions. You're asking how to go about a big project on a substantial guitar, the reasons for doing so are vague, but you claim to have successfully refinished a couple of guitars already. I guess I'm wondering what your specific questions or worries might be.

    Ninety plus percent of the refinishing jobs that get posted here don't go well. I'd among those who would advise against it.

    I do wish we could somehow get away from the 'nitro' mystique. The stuff ain't magic.
     
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  16. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    That someone was Fender and Gibson. Not me, not any of he previous owners.
     
  17. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    1. I have never removed the poly from laminated contoured top and back.

    2. I have never removed the poly from inlayed and bound headstock

    Any tips for these are appreciated.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/ngd-road-worn-50s-refinished.1064551/
     
  18. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    Just now saw your message. I'm a big fan of your work! Big thumbs up!
     
  19. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    I have to take back my previous comment. I misread a post or two from klobasa. Totally a language barrier issue; carry on.
     
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  20. klobasa

    klobasa Tele-Holic

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    I think I will ditch the idea of refinising this particular guitar. I think the biggest risk is damaging the multi ply binding, particularily in the headstock. There would be very little room for error.

    Plus, I really dislike the idea of removing the poly in general. It was a pain in the a** to remove it from tele and strat type of guitars and I think I promised myself then, that in future I will refinish/finish only nitro lacquered or unfinished guitars.

    I don't see any point in spraying the lacquer over the existing finish either, so I'll leave the guitar as it is and learn to like (=tolerate) the poly finish.
     
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