I finished an LP in POLY! Also a Tom Paul kit review

silverkw

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So I finished the Tom Paul kit I bought in poly.


Before I put my flame suit on, I'd share some first hand info on the Tom Paul kit I have:

- I bought the kit with the maple plug at the switch location, which cost me $500.

- The top is beautiful flame maple with really nice grain. The top is carved really nicely, when Tom Paul said that he studied Max LP bodies before, he wasn't lying.

- The back and neck is Honduran Mahogany. The neck is 2 piece separated near the headstock joint to give it more strength, with carbon fiber re-enforced near the truss rod cavity.

- The back looks to be one piece from the back, but from the side, it's got the pancake kind of construction. I guess for $500 you can't really expect real one piece Honduran.

- The neck profile is more of a 60's slim neck than a 59. It's not thin, but it does not have the nice round shoulder of a 59 neck. It still feels really good, but I wish it was a bit fatter.

- Fret board is Braz. Although it looks like 2 pieces, but it's got very nice grain.

- Bindings and headstock are nicely done, no problem there.

- Frets are nicely done, I had to do a little bit polish, but they are very good to begin with.


So overall, the quality is there, but onto the not so good stuff. They are not huge problems that can make or break the project (almost, but eventually not), but they came as surprises so I was not completely happy with the fact that I wasn't informed about these issues before I got the kit. I would be more cautious next time when I look at a kit:

- There are 2 pieces of inlays that are off center, each by about 1/16". Normally that would not really be noticeable, but unfortunately, they are right next to each other, and one is off to the bass side, one is off to the treble side. This made the whole thing looks quite obvious if you pay attention.

- The 2nd problem is that the pickup cavities are off center (fortunately to treble side only), and too close to the neck. This almost made it a deal breaker for me when I started to lay stuff on the body. First I have to enlarge the routing to be able to fit pickup rings and pickups. And because the bridge pickup is off center by quite a bit (like 3/8"), the bridge pickup almost could not conceal the cavity completely (in fact after I finished it, it still shows a bit on the treble side). And also because I had to push neck pickups down, there are no pre-made pickguards that would fit between the pickups, I am looking modify one of my existing pickguards or getting one custom made.

Anyway, I have decided from the start that this is not going to be a "replica", instead it would be a workhorse LP in a color I like.

Now, back to the main thing, the finish. First of all, I am a firm believer that the thickness of finish has much more to do with the sound than the actual type of finish itself, which is even less important on an solid body electric guitar. Second, I just don't have the facility to spray finish. So I decided I am going to try the Minwax Wipe-on Poly. It's the oil based finish. The worst I can do is to sand it all done and start over.


Anyway, here are some pictures of the progress. Here's when I got it, it's good looking, isn't it?










Here you can see the problem with the neck pickup cavity, it's off center, and too close to the fretboard, no room for the pickup ring, so the whole thing needs to be pushed down, here's how I use a metal pickup ring to give me an idea of how much wood I need to take off using Dremel:




Finally, the pickup is in! But I don't think the cavity would fit a covered pickup, but I never planed to have a cover in there anyway!




I used the tricks I learned from this forum to locate the bridge.




More to come!
 

silverkw

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more...

Here's how I get the angle of the bridge right. The bridge post should be decided by the angle of the neck and strings.

I use a hand tool to do a straight drilling because I don't have drill press. I taped cardboard on the bottom of the hand tool, one side more than the other, until I get a straight angle with the neck.





I then used Roman's tips on using a machine screw instead of the metric bridge posts (I had no idea I got the metric ones until I started looking at screws... anyway...)






She's stringed, I put on one pot and neck pickup, started playing. The frets need to be leveled, but I played it for a couple of days before I did anything else.






I used a bit water to rise the grain of the top, and then sanded it down. I masked the back and neck to get it ready for some dye.






I sanded down the grain using 400 grade sand paper.




Here's the stuff I use for dye, aniline concentrate. I decided to user water as it would give the color more depth. I started mixing some dye colors. I have a piece of maple veneer to test the color, but it was bleached, so the color might still be a bit off...


 

silverkw

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Here are the stuff I use to wipe on the color. Cut out of 4" by 4" from an old white T-shirt. I wrapped them into small balls for easy apply. Also wrapped one around a pick so that I can get to the hard to reach area using the balls.




First is the amber color for the grain:




Dried:




I mixed the amber I had left with more red, and wiped on the "burst".




Dried overnight:





I didn't take picture, but the next morning, I sanded down the middle of the body using 600 grade sand paper to remove the amber color on the top, but the color is already in the grain:




Now I have a new mix of yellow, I wiped the yellow color on the whole top, to give it a nice subtle transition burst color.





After the color is dried, I use a homemade tool to scrap the binding clean, basically normal shaving blade taped using paint tape, to leave the blade at a certain length, so that it doesn't scrap the actual wood, only the bindings:




 

silverkw

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I like the look so far, it's a bit more amber than I imagined... but I am growing into it...






Alright, here are some stuff I used. The poly spray just for a wash coat, so that the wipe-on poly does not mix with the color. And finally, the much hated poly finish itself. I think it's just thinned down regular poly, but using wipe-on application, the layers are really really thin.





Sprayed the wash coat.





Here's where I failed completely... the back was supposed to be filled because it's mahogany. But the water based filler I got is not good enough for this, and I had given up the filling process completely after a few hours of frustration.

Turned out I liked the final finish that I can still feel a bit of wood grain.




Dyed the back and neck, then let try.








Scrapped bindings again, I'll know better next time, only do this once...

 

formula73

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Dig! Poly isn't inherently bad. I can't wait for more updates!
 

silverkw

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Thanks!

more...

Started wiping a few thin coats after I sprayed the back with the wash coat.





Then I sanded the back a bit more with 600 sand paper just to kill some really obvious grains after a couple of coats... again, I have learned my lessons here, I am very confident that I will do a better job next time.




More coats. I try to get on at least 2 coats each day. This wipe on-poly is really really easy to apply, and each layer is very very thin.

You ask me how do I know it's so thin? Because I sanded through the 10-12 coats of finish in the final hand wet sanding in a matter of minutes! More on that later...











Some left over color spray I used for some other project. I used them for the headstock. Got the decal on, and then clear coat. You can see the spray really leaves a lot of orange peel comparing to the super smooth wipe on application of poly.

I managed to screw up the headstock finish a few times, and wasted 2 decals in the process, but finally, after wasting a week on the headstock, here it is...


 

silverkw

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Thanks!

More...

Wet sanding has been covered extensively everywhere, so I won't waste too much time writing it here.

I have 800, 1000, 1200, 1600, 1800, 2000 grades sand paper, soaked in water over night, and started with 800, slowly moving upwards.

I stopped at 1600, because there is one final clear coat of poly that will be on, and I don't want the surface to be too smooth so that the final coat does not stick.

I sanded through the finish easily, between the toggle switch and the fretboard, and another spot at the similar location on the treble side as well...

My guitar is relic'd even before it's finished! It's kind of too late to fix it as I don't have the color mix anymore (been in fridge for too long, and I got tired of reminding my wife that they are not left over soy sauce, so I threw them out). More lesson learned here.




Final coat is wiped on and dried. I didn't even polish it...






I got the bridge post screws in, and used Dremel to cut off the head. I will cut off more later after the height is finally decided.





Another trick I learned from the forum, sanding the bottom of the pickup rings so that they fit perfectly to the body. Hats off to Ex-Nihilo!

Sorry about the the pink pictures. My camera is dying...

Basically, because double side tapes are too strong, I put on paint masking tapes first.







 

silverkw

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Finally... By the way, "Celine" is my wife's name, and she bought me that R7.

I slightly polished the top with some polishing compound, but found it pretty much not necessary. It felt almost as if the polish would make it less shiny, well, that's the effect some of us want I guess...

Tried a bit polishing the back, but soon gave up, because the white polishing compound would get stuck in the unfilled grain (they are sealed by the poly, but still remains uneven surface).

I then used fine steel wool to buff the back of the neck, so that it's not sticky when my hand sweat. The neck felt really smooth yet organic, that it wasn't grain filled. I am actually started to thinking having oiled neck for my next LP project instead of finished...

Some parts I used:








I installed all the hardware and took some pictures. In some pictures, red color shows up from nowhere, so I did some color adjustments, but still could not capture the true amber nature of the finish.

Anyway, looks good in person, and looks good in pictures, although slightly different in color.

I took a few pictures to show off the top carve of the guitar. I'd say it's shaped better than my R7 (07).

That's pretty much it. I'll try my best to answer any questions. I have learned a lot from this project, and I truly believe that the next one is going to be better. And by that time I might have the facility and space for some real Nitro spraying. But for now, I am happy with what I have done.

This LP's got a cool snappy attack comparing to my other LP's, it's quite unique sounding, acoustically loud and unforgiving when plugged in. I hope I can get some sound sample's out. If I can't get my real mic sorted out, I might have to use my Line-6 Tone port for some rough demoing...










The very last 3 pictures are most accurate in color, especially the 1st one:



 

L60N

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Love the top on that! You must have put some hours into the wet sanding! :shock:

Congrats getting it finished! :)
 

slapshot

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all it needs now is a pickguard!
looks great though.where'd this kit come from?
 

Knarbens

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Dude, that's a wonderful color!
Love it! Looks so fresh! :)

 

HRC

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Great job on the build...:thumb:
 

silverkw

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Thanks for your comments everyone!

What's a Tom Paul kit? Stuff looks interesting...
Yeah, like I mentioned, top is nicely done, but I also mentioned about the issues I had with this. Hope this would help. Let me know if you have any specific questions.


Dude, that's a wonderful color!
Love it! Looks so fresh! :)
Actually the color is not as bright as in this picture. But it does look really vivid under the sun. :)

all it needs now is a pickguard!
looks great though.where'd this kit come from?
Yeah I am in the process of getting one done...

The kit is from a thread in the Member Classified area.
 

Cpt_Gonzo

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Can those kits still be obtained, except for buying them in the member classifieds?
 




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