So I "accidentally" bought a semi-finished LP-kit carcass. It's time to ressurect it.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Mr.Fingers, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    First some background information: I never liked LP's, as I found them clunky, had awkward ergonomics, a "muddy" sound and the tendency to cause necrosis to the leg when playing seated. I'm not even that fond of humbucker guitars (I'm more of a Telecaster/Jazzmaster guy). The closest I got so far was owning a Gibson SG with Classic '57 humbuckers and a Maestro vibrola. But the LP is such an iconic guitar, and since I now own almost every type of classic guitar save the LP, maybe I should give it a shot.

    Then two things happened. I was browsing the classifieds this Sunday morning, while waiting for the coffee to brew, and I stumbled across someone who sold 2 LP husks (one Epiphone, one nameless kit), each for the price of a set of strings. I was interested, but didn't really think about it. Then MrsFingers, who also plays the guitar, told me she wouldn't mind having a guitar-project to work on, as she's quite interested in the technical side of things. I mentioned I saw those husks on the classifieds, and I was "strongly encouraged" (while being threatened with a slice of cheese) to contact the seller and buy one of those. So I did, and I managed to snag the kit-husk. The husk was bought as a test-bed for the previous owner to hone his skills on refinishing and dowelling holes.

    In terms of guitar-working. I've assembled/adapted a few Fender-oid instruments in the last years, so I know what certain stuff does on a guitar, but this thing, with a carved top, a set-neck,... is yet a whole new chapter for me. Consider me very rooky, so I'll gladly absorb any useful information, tips, tricks, remarks, suggestions you all can give me.

    So without much further ado, I present you: Lesty! (that's the name on the headstock).

    [​IMG]

    The good
    1. It looks like proper wood. According to the seller, it's a one-piece mahogany neck, a solid mahogany body and a maple top with a flamed motif (not sure if veneer of solid though)
    2. There are no apparent cracks, tears, gaps anywhere, and the neck is installed in the right plane and angle, and lines out properly with the holes for the bridge.
    The bad
    1. There are 2 dowelled holes in the top, about 1 cm further to the back of where the current holes for the stop tailpiece are.
    2. The holes for the switch and the treble-tone are filled with a plug of some sort (wood or plastic)
    3. The cavity for the switch is filled all the way with silicone kit used in bathrooms. It's gummy, it's tough and it needs to go
    4. A bit of an overzealous sanding near the switch location (there is a dimple there)
    The ugly
    1. There is this hideous golden finish. While acceptably applied (no runs), it's a bit too gold for my taste, so it needs to go. If there is a flame-top underneath it, I would like to attempt a burst using waterbased stains. And the gold sits everywhere, also on the back, the sides, the neck,...
    2. That "Lesty" headstock logo. I don't like it. So that one will very likely bite the dust as well.

    On Monday, MrsFingers started prodding in the silicone kit in the switch cavity with a corkscrew, a pair of tweezers and a stubby knife while watching the TV. Some four hours later, she managed to extract all of the kit from the cavity.

    [​IMG]

    Then, we removed the finish at some strategic locations to see what's underneath it. The gold finish (and primer) are nitro-based, so they came off nicely with nail varnish remover. Underneath were the remnants of a burst, and a subtle flamed maple pattern. The holes for the switch and tonepot were nicely doweled with a wooden plug, but the ones for the stop tailpiece look pretty rough.

    [​IMG]

    There is also a lot of damage to the top. What you can't really see is that there is still a VERY thick layer of transparent plastic-y finish over the top. 1mm thick at least. The damage is all to that plastic layer, the wood underneath seems to be almost pristine.

    Anyone a suggestion on how to remove that thick coat? Sanding? Stripper? Heatgun + scalpel?
     
    Side Burns likes this.
  2. tigger

    tigger Senior Member

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    If it's poly, heatgun should work reasonably well.
    Is the neck glued on straight?

    You could slap a bigsby on to cover the second set of holes...
     
    kiko likes this.
  3. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    It looks like poly to me, but it could be anything (not nitro, as the thinner didn't affect that layer in the slightest, while it ate away merrily at the gold layer). I'll try it with some heat tomorrow.

    The angle on the photo is a bit skewed, but the neck is mounted as it should. The cavities for the pickups aren't that tidy, so it looks crooked.

    A Bigsby I was also contemplating, but I'd rather have it a hardtail. Maybe add a (new) veneer to the top?
     
  4. tigger

    tigger Senior Member

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    Is the top a veneer already? Can you see it in the pickup routes? You could also plug them with maple plugs...
     
  5. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    I have no idea (yet). there is one faint line there, but that could be from the thick transparent layer. The top-wood is lightly coloured for the full depth of the top. I'll need to scrape away more paint there to see what the top is made off.

    Maple dowels I was also thinking about, as I have a block of maple somewhere with a subtle flame to it. I just need a dowel-cutter then, but that can be sourced.
     
  6. Bobby Mahogany

    Bobby Mahogany Senior Member

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    You did really good for the price of a set of strings!

    Very interesting project.
    Will follow this thread!
    :thumb:
     
  7. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    Tried prying at the poly finish yesterday with a hairdryer and a blunt puttyknife... The finish becomes soft and can be "chiseled" away, but the wood underneath is damaged and splinters... Will probably have to veneer the top.
     
  8. kiko

    kiko Senior Member

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    Nice base for a project. Looking forward to you finishing it! :cheers:
     
  9. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    Use an orbital sander with an 80 grit disc to take the poly off, but don't hit the wood. Then, go to 250 grit. Should go fairly quickly. Wear a mask too.
     
  10. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    Father in law is a painter, and has an industrial sander... Managed to sand the back, some of the back of the headstock and most of the neck... Neck & headstock did go fairly easy, but that body... That finish is made from concrete.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    I like "Aircraft Remover" (aerosol paint stripper you can buy at auto stores) for stripping finish. It'll blister up just about anything and isn't as gunky to mess with as the syrupy brush-on stuff. Spray on, let the finish blister up, wipe it away with 0000 steel wool. Use outdoors, wear gloves!

    I'm always apprehensive about the chances of marring wood and/or altering contours with sanding/scraping.

    BTW, that silicone in the switch cavity is maybe the single most inexplicable guitar mod I've ever seen. You see lots of ham-fisted stuff, but you can at least usually tell what somebody was trying to accomplish. That silicone is just bizarre.
     
    Mr.Fingers likes this.
  12. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    Thanks kakerlak (you do know that that name is almost the Dutch/Flemish word for cockroach, do you? :D).

    I went to a car/bodyshop, but since I live in the EU, and the EU decides what's good for us, stuff like the Rustoleum AircrAft isn't for sale if you don't own a multitude of certifications and are not a professional. The "toughest" stuff that's available just off the shelf is stuff like Polyfilla Super Decapant, which compared to stuff like Rustoleum is basically minty toothpaste. I let that "Super Decapant" eat in for 6 hours (recommended duration is 30 minutes up until 4hrs at max) on that finish, in a sealed environment, and it did absolutely nothing.

    Removing that finish from the top is making me nervous... very nervous!

    That silicone... yeah... I don't know it either. But it's gone, so that's good. Maybe I'll epoxy the entire control cavity once the pots are installed, to prevent reverse-engineering :rolleyes:
     
  13. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    Sanding, sanding, sanding...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That dark-Brown is the tough nut to crack, the lighter brown is pore-filler I assume, it will go as well. Still a long way to go, but I like what I see so far. 2-piece heel though.
     
  14. grandmaster

    grandmaster Junior Member

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    Cool, I'll be keeping an eye on this thread!
     
  15. Mr.Fingers

    Mr.Fingers Junior Member

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    Some more sanding. Managed to get rid of the gold on top. Very thin maple veneer by the looks of it. I’ll need to attack the top with an orbital sander to preserve the carve though...

    [​IMG]
     

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