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Unread 09-20-2010, 12:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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R9 Top Refinish

Hi All,
I'm refinishing a Les Paul top. Thought some of you might be interested in the process. I'll be posting lots of pix and info along the way.
This top will be changed to a "Lemon Drop" colour scheme.
Here is the guitar stripped of hardware.


Next shot is in the middle of scraping the lacquer off. Now if any of you had seen my ES-335 video of the rubbery lacquer refinish, let me just say that this lacquer was not like that at all....it wasn't exactly crystaline, but it wasn't too rubbery either. I used a rectangular scraper to remove the lacquer. But first I resharpened it with a mill file and a diamond sharpening stone to get a nice clean, sharp square edge. I did not burnish the edge or bend a hook on it. This simple yet formidable tool took the lacquer off in very short order, maybe 15 minutes of work.



I flex the scraper with my thumbs and hook my fingers around the corners. You don't want the corners of the scraper digging into the top.



Also, you have to be careful around holes and cavities, you can easliy end up with an adjacent "ditch" if you scrape over a hole or cavity. It takes a bit of practice. Here I'm demonstrating on a scrap peice of wood.





But I'm comfortable with this tool, and I'll only use a chemical stripper as a last resort.

Now I move to my random orbit palm sander loaded with 220 grit paper, and sand the top. Notice that I have my shopvac hose attached to the sander. I stayed clear of the fretboard edge binding because the edge of the sandpaper would cut a groove into it. Also, I'm very careful not to change the shape of the top. You have to be careful not to round the edge of the body over (where the binding is), or create any flat spots etc.



I taped the fingerboard binding off with electrical tape so that I can hand sand right up to the corner without touching the binding. The whole top was hand sanded with 280 grit garnet paper using a flexible foam rubber backing pad. That's all for today.

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Unread 09-20-2010, 01:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Beautiful job Fred!

Yep, thats my guitar!
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Unread 09-20-2010, 03:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Thanks for sharing, looking forward for all the process as it look like a very nice learning process.
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Unread 09-20-2010, 03:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Wow, bold undertaking, and it looks great so far! Why did you keep the bushings in, btw?
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Unread 09-20-2010, 03:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

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Originally Posted by Zonkers View Post
Wow, bold undertaking, and it looks great so far! Why did you keep the bushings in, btw?
Bold? Nah...

Why pull the bushings?
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Unread 09-20-2010, 03:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

I've seen plenty of Gibson's that came from the factory where they were painted with the bushings in.
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Unread 09-20-2010, 03:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Subscribed!

Thank you for sharing.
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Unread 09-20-2010, 04:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Very cool! Can't wait to see the end result.
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Unread 09-20-2010, 06:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Good chance to add a steeper contour to the top
That is a nice looking piece of wood though for sure!
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Unread 09-20-2010, 08:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

great work,Fred...are you doing the guitar work full-time out of NOTL now or are you still sometimes in Welland?
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Unread 09-21-2010, 03:35 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddy G View Post
Hi All,
I'm refinishing a Les Paul top. Thought some of you might be interested in the process. I'll be posting lots of pix and info along the way.
This top will be changed to a "Lemon Drop" colour scheme.
Here is the guitar stripped of hardware.


Next shot is in the middle of scraping the lacquer off. Now if any of you had seen my ES-335 video of the rubbery lacquer refinish, let me just say that this lacquer was not like that at all....it wasn't exactly crystaline, but it wasn't too rubbery either. I used a rectangular scraper to remove the lacquer. But first I resharpened it with a mill file and a diamond sharpening stone to get a nice clean, sharp square edge. I did not burnish the edge or bend a hook on it. This simple yet formidable tool took the lacquer off in very short order, maybe 15 minutes of work.



I flex the scraper with my thumbs and hook my fingers around the corners. You don't want the corners of the scraper digging into the top.


Also, you have to be careful around holes and cavities, you can easliy end up with an adjacent "ditch" if you scrape over a hole or cavity. It takes a bit of practice. Here I'm demonstrating on a scrap peice of wood.


But I'm comfortable with this tool, and I'll only use a chemical stripper as a last resort.

Now I move to my random orbit palm sander loaded with 220 grit paper, and sand the top. Notice that I have my shopvac hose attached to the sander. I stayed clear of the fretboard edge binding because the edge of the sandpaper would cut a groove into it. Also, I'm very careful not to change the shape of the top. You have to be careful not to round the edge of the body over (where the binding is), or create any flat spots etc.



I taped the fingerboard binding off with electrical tape so that I can hand sand right up to the corner without touching the binding. The whole top was hand sanded with 280 grit garnet paper using a flexible foam rubber backing pad. That's all for today.

I like it natural, how does it sound when unfinished compared to finished??

Did you clear the laquer out the pickup cavities as well?
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Unread 09-21-2010, 08:38 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Quote:
Originally Posted by The baron of norsworthy View Post
I like it natural, how does it sound when unfinished compared to finished??

Did you clear the laquer out the pickup cavities as well?
I did not string it up after I stripped the lacquer. I've done that experiment many times before and I know from experience that it always sounds better "in the white". The real issue will be "will it sound better after I've refinished it?"

No I'm not going to strip the lacquer out of the pup cavities. Since the colour in the cavities is already yellow / amber I'll just mask them off before applying colour, which as I said will be lemon drop....it should match perfectly.


Quote:
are you doing the guitar work full-time out of NOTL now or are you still sometimes in Welland?
Hi Mike, yes, I'm working full time in NOTL except for when I need to mill rough lumber, then I'll spend a day in Welland.
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Last edited by Freddy G; 09-21-2010 at 11:15 AM.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 08:54 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Nice! What year is it?
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Unread 09-21-2010, 10:05 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

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Nice! What year is it?
JJ, its a 2007 R9.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 11:00 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Did you heat the laquer up before scraping?
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Unread 09-21-2010, 11:14 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mildperv View Post
Did you heat the laquer up before scraping?
No
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Unread 09-21-2010, 12:41 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Very cool - thank you for taking the time to document the process and answer questions.
Can't wait to see the finished article. Details such as sandpaper grit are appreciated too
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Unread 09-21-2010, 05:31 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddy G View Post
This top will be changed to a "Lemon Drop" colour scheme.
Cool thread. I can't wait to see your pro tricks to get the Lemon Drop sheme. I actually tried to do that on my last LP kit but it turned out like a Honey Burst!
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Unread 09-21-2010, 11:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Screw the R9 refinish, I'm impressed with Freddy's immaculate workshop! My workbench looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster.
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Unread 09-21-2010, 11:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

+1 on that
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Unread 09-22-2010, 01:08 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Thanks for sharing this
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Unread 09-22-2010, 01:30 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Thanks for the comments so far guys!
I just wanted to post that the next time I'll do anything on this guitar won't be until Monday...so hang in there (I've got a recording session for the next 5 days).
But just to let you know what's going to happen next, I'll be masking the guitar and then mixing stain colour. The first stain will be just to accentuate the figure, and will be lightly sanded back so that just the "high" parts of the figure retain the stain. This will give it a real 3D depth.
See ya then!
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Unread 09-22-2010, 05:25 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Thanks Fred, Im looking forward to it. I miss her, but I know shes in good hands.
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Unread 09-22-2010, 08:50 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

this is gonna be real nice when done...
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Unread 09-27-2010, 01:35 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Its Monday, ill bump this back to the top.
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Unread 09-27-2010, 01:39 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Yep, and I'm working on it right now...will report back soon with pics
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Unread 09-27-2010, 02:59 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

these are by far my most favorite threads. I hope one day I can contribute something like this.
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Unread 09-27-2010, 05:25 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Hi,
My camera battery died and it's recharging so here's all I can contribute for now by way of pics.

This may seem like a boring little detail to some but it's important because work like this is all about the tiny details!
When I pulled the black masking tape from the fingerboard over the body, I saw that there was a fine line of red lacquer in the very corner where the binding meets the maple. That had to go. The way I got it out was to take a razor sharp chisel and cut it out. Notice the red on the binding at the 15-16th fret? I thought it was red lacquer that hadn't been scraped away cleanly when I first saw it, but luckily it was only buffing compound residue from the factory.




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Unread 09-28-2010, 05:57 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Can't wait to see how this turns out!
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Unread 09-28-2010, 06:16 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: R9 Top Refinish

Nice! Another option for fellow Canadians to get guitar refinished.
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