Sawtooth ET Guitar Sharpening

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by GTG_Gopher, May 30, 2019.

  1. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    So last Thanksgiving I sprung for one of the $50 Sawtooth T type guitars on Walmart's website. [​IMG]
    Small dogs were not included...

    Long story short, we did not hit it off well. It went into timeout for a while.

    I dug it back out here this month (May 2019) and decided to give it another go. Then I remembered why I parked it to begin with! The nut was a hot mess, it had more in common with the wall of ice in a Game of Thrones that a decent nut. One of the tuners stripped the screw that the handle was attached with, and it looked kinda goofy with a translucent paint job on a body with two very mismatched pieces of wood.

    But it sounded pretty nice when it did work, nice resonant body, and the neck felt pretty decent in my hands.

    I have also though placed an order for a Lake Placid Blue Squier FSR tele. It's not due in until the end of June. So I got to thinking, shoot, can I get this Sawtooth going for the price of that and get it painted a nice blue? For the same additional cash outlay as the Squier? By the end of June?

    Well, I'm giving it a try. I'm sure I'll spend more on this than the Squier, especially if I start adding in the tools I've been buying. I'm hoping to get this done by the end of June, but I would rather run long than half butt something here.

    My basic plan is to put new tuners on, fix the nut (see below) and refinish the neck. For the body I am refinishing it in a solid blue. The electronics may stay for the time being. Long term I'd like to get another set of Bootstraps to load in there, with a 4 way switch.

    When I went to remove the nut, I chipped off a piece of the wood on the headstock side. http://www.tdpri.com/threads/chipped-nut-slot.952752/#post-9113185

    A few folks mentioned that a new piece could be built, so I went to the local Fleet Farm store and picked up a little piece of 1/4" 'Hardwood'. so while I am waiting for paints to dry / cure, I have another sub project to work on.

    When I was FF getting the wood for the nut slot , I also cruised through the automotive department there and picked up some sandpaper, primer, and a can of Duplicolor light blue paint.

    This morning I started in on the body.
    [​IMG]

    Noticed a few of things pretty quickly.

    1) I hit bare wood quicker in some spots than others. I am using a sanding block, so not sure if the factory finish was thinner there than in other spots or filler wood,if it's my sanding technique?
    [​IMG] Not as noticeable on the front

    2) This job really calls for a dust mask. Came in and saw I even had dust on my glasses. Hate to think how much went down the ole wind pipe :( I picked some up now for when I do the next passes with the finer grit papers.

    3) I got the backside down to bare wood, not sure if I want to continue that on the front and sides? Not sure if the wood under there needs a sanding sealer now? You can clearly see the mismatched pieces of wood. This did not look good with the clear paint that was on it. [​IMG]

    More to come...
     
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  2. Journeyman 22

    Journeyman 22 TDPRI Member

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    20190602_152534.jpg Sounds like fun. These Sawtooth guitars are great for begining modders. Mine is ready to get a "swirl paint job.
     
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  3. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    I got one of the Walmart clearance ones too. Very nice guitar for the money. I spent another $50 for a set of Dragonfire big-pole alnicos and a 4 way switch. Went with barrel saddles. Happy with how it came out.

    One note of caution is that the control cavity wasn't big enough for full size pots, since it had been routed out of the correct position to align with the notch in the pick guard for the plate. Note the blue tape marking where the control plate wasn't concentric with the routing. I had to do some Dremeling of the body to obtain adequate clearance. I also had to deepen the rout underneath the taller 4-way switch for clearance, seen at bottom right.

    Just giving you a heads-up in case you want to check these issues before assembling your Tele.

    IMG_20181227_170343466_HDR.jpg IMG_20181227_174249256.jpg IMG_20181228_102912496_HDR.jpg
     
  4. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    Good catch on measuring for the electronics. I have a control plate wired up that I pulled out my GFS t-style when I changed that over to single coils. The GFS one has a full size 3 way switch, and a push pull pot for the tone, since it had the lil puncher mini humbuckers.

    [​IMG]

    Good news is that the full size controls fit without any issue on this one.
    [​IMG]
    (Excuse the shadows, need to put up another light in the shop)

    I also finished the rough sanding on the body here tonight. That is dirty job. I had a few spots on the back where I hit bare wood before the rest, so one thing led to another and now I have a bare wood guitar body.
    [​IMG]

    Next up is the finer sanding steps. Would rather deal with plain sawdust than the dust from their finish coat.
     
  5. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    I looked at the control plate I have, and the body may need some adjustments for it to fit after all. When I try to line it up on the current holes, the sides of the pots are pushed up right against the body. I think I'd rather fill and redial the holes than start trying to carve the body.

    I also had to figure out how to hold the body while I paint. I really wanted a way to be able to hit the end edges of the body straight on. What I ended up doing was getting a kitchen turntable and a bottle of Gatorade....

    The neck of the Gatorade bottle fits securely in the bridge pickup cavity. Putting all of that on the turntable allows me to easily get at all the edges.

    Then when I am ready to spray the fronts, I can hang it from a hook and do those faces.
    [​IMG]

    Now I just need the weather to cooperate. Currently a little to cool and humid to spray, and we're forecast to be cool and damp for the next week or so...
     
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  6. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    I think that if you move the control plate, its end will no longer fit into the rounded plate cutout of the original pick guard. When I modded mine, I considered the guard to be in a fixed location, otherwise the gap between guard and body edges would be altered.

    However, if you're already planning to make your own guard, then ignore the above. From what I've read, the Sawtooth black guards don't fit all that well and don't have an even gap. The off-white one on my guitar is a bit better in that respect, so I didn't want to move it. Here is a better pic of mine. I can't see yours squarely in your pic, but it looks like it is a bit uneven on the lower horn.


    IMG_20181228_104028358_HDR.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  7. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    Yup, the black pick guard was not a good fit. It's very uneven around the horn. One of the first things I noticed out of the box.
    [​IMG]


    I have another one around the house here that I ordered a while back. It's a little more even, but I think I may have to do some grinding after all to get everything to line up...
     
  8. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    Had a few weeks off from this project, hit a busy streak at work.

    Also, the weather really damp, seemed to humid to paint.

    But this week things cleared up a bit on both fronts. I took my first shot at painting this thing.

    I sanded the body down with the 400 grit sandpaper, and everything seemed nice and smooth. I tried my painting rig, putting the body on a gatorade bottle to hit the edges, and then hung it from a rafter in the garage with some twine. The bottle and turntable worked well for the edges. The twine not so much. When I hung it up, it twisted slowly back and forth for several minutes.

    Today I took a wire hanger and used that to hang the body from the rafter, worked much better, as soon as I let go it stopped moving.

    I did three coats of primer, and then the paint. There is a definite learning curve to doing this. First, I used way to much paint on the first coat on the edges. It seemed like it wasn't covering and well I probably got one of the larger drips in guitar finishing history.

    [​IMG]
    The Mother of All Drips

    I got better at it as I did the front and back.
    [​IMG]
    2nd coat

    But then I discovered that I did not sand well enoguh at the finer grits (used 60 grit to get the factory finish off) and or that I didn't get a thick enough layer of primer on. There are scratches still very visible after a couple of color coats.

    [​IMG]

    Guess I will need to sand this attempt back and try again at smoothing out the scratches and try this again.
     
  9. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    What type of paint are you using for this job?
     
  10. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    I'm using Dupli-Color perfect match and Dupli-Color primer. Temps were around 80, humidity was around 72%.
     
  11. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    Watching with interest. I have a black Sawtooth for a project.
     
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  12. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    The folks on the Finely Finished sub forum have been really helpful with some finishing questions.
    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/rattle-can-finish-scratches-visible-what-did-i-miss.961062/
    Turns out that using the 60 grit sandpaper to remove the factory finish was a bit, um, aggressive. I then made the mistake of going from 60 grit to the 220. Turns out there is a whole galaxy of grits in-between lol. Just not in the aisle I was perusing at the local Fleet Farm store.

    I picked up the 80, 100, 120, and 150 that I was missing. I also found some 180 around the garage. The 80 grit was actually a 3m purple sanding sponge. It worked really nice going into the curves inside the horns. I also used that as the base for taking the other grits through the horn as well.

    So now I have it back what I think is the factory sealer? As I did this sanding, I definitely broke through to bare wood in a couple of places. I think I now have to get some sealer and deal with this once and for all!

    Also, I sense a disturbance in the force around how the new pick guard and the old control plate are going to line up, ala Michael A's reply above. Something tells me I should get this issue squared away before another attempt at painting.
     
  13. GTG_Gopher

    GTG_Gopher Tele-Meister

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    What are you thinking for your project?
     
  14. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    I would like a Red white and blue like Buck Owens guitar or just a surf green. My Sawtooth has 3 really bad places on the back. I'm almost afraid what I might find if I got her down to bare wood. The neck is OK but the body? Who knows?

    DSCN3172.JPG
     
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