Hi guys,

so bought an ebony Epiphone 1958 Korina Explorer a while back and I've decided to make this my next project.

I've been looking at a few things to do with it, but still haven't made up my mind about a few things. So maybe some of you guys could help me out?

Anyway, I've been looking into the Wudtone finishes. Really like how they look (just google it and you will see what I mean). Thing is, that since they enhance the grain I really have to know whats underneath that nice ebony finish. So started sanding it of today. All by hand. The entire body. And it's terrible. Worst idea ever. It's messy. It takes forever. And it hurts your hands.

Positive thing is that the body looks very nice underneath. It's quite hard to tell, but from the looks of things, I think it's a 2 piece body. Or it's a 2 piece veneer. But then again, why use veneer on a solid colored body? The cath is that there's a clear coat under the actual color coat. I'm guessing that it's sealer or something. All I know for sure is that i'ts hard and thick and it's a pain to get off... I also know that for applying a Wudtone finish, the wood has to be bare otherwise the dyes don't soak into the wood.

I've attached a few pics the proces. Not really sure what to do with the neck really. I don't think I want to sand it, but since it's set it's kind off in the way...
Explorer as is.jpg
Explorer Stripped.jpg
Explorer sealer.jpg
Explorer sanded.jpg
I just realized that this thread doesn't look to appealing. I am as hoping the attachments would show in my post as a pic instead of just al link.
So how can I make it look fancy?
+1 on the sander and I've already been using 60 grit paper. But as you already mentioned, I just have to be patient and stick to it!

Also been thinking about the finish. I think I'm gonna go for a reversed red/black burst. Since I don't want to touch the neck it will remain ebony colored. So I want to make the area where the neck is attached to the body black and then make it fade to red on the outside egde. Maybe with some darker 'highlights' like seen on James Hetfields' Woodgrain explorer.
So here's an update on the sanding proces:

I've finally managed to get the sealer off! Then I found out that there IS veneer under the sealer
Sanded that off, got to the glue layer (which was a real pain as well) and than finally some real wood! As it turns out, it was a 2 piece veneer and the body is actually made out of 5 pieces But as you can see in the pics, it's quite hard to notice. Only the corner with the toggle switch is a little darker and I'm hoping this won't be to noticible after I put on the finish; so fingers crossed...

This is how the glue came of:

And someone actually wrote something under the sealer:

I've also placed an order at wudtone. Andy Preston hooked me up with a custom kit, containing 2 burst kits (Dark onyx and Carmine Gypsy) with some Black Magic Woman to darken some area's and a top coat.

I also want to make it a string through guitar (don't ask me why) so I have to fill the tailpiece holes. I've ordered a hardwood block and a plugcutter. Since I want to mask the holes in a cool way, I'm thinking of placing a wood inlay over the holes. Something with a nicedesign. Not quite sure what yet, though. I also have to fill and re-drill the bridge holes. Since I want to put in a Schaller roller bridge (simply because it looks great) and the studs bushings are a lot smaller, so this is also why I need the hardwood and the plugcutter.

So that's it for now, the next update will follow after I receive the tools and wood to fill the holes...

EDIT: Crap, the pics didn't work...
Last edited by Rocket-Man66666 at May 27, 2013,
Make sure when you're messing with the bridge, you get the end result to work with the original neck angle. You can't exactly go shimming the neck with a set neck guitar so don't go lowering or raising the bridge too much.

As for Wudtone, I finished a guitar with their stuff a while back. It does work very nicely but you have got to make sure you have gotten right down to the very bare wood. Even just a thin layer of sealer will repel that stuff. You also need to remember that with a wood like korina, which has such uniform grain, you're going to get a very flat finish, almost like a satin solid finish. 'S why Wudtone show off all their finishes on ash bodies, which have that really obvious grain.
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So here I'm back again with my next update.
I've received the different bottles with the Wudtone dyes.

I've been testing the finishes on a small piece of wood. I've put a little dyed epoxy on the wood (which I'm going to use for the inlays and plugs), and some other stuff which I think I'm gonna use to draw my design onto the guitar. This is all as an experiment to see how the different things interact. I don't have any pictures my experiment, just yet.

Here is the design I've come up with:

I'm gonna make the moon and the ground an inlay to cover up the tailpiece holes.
As you can see, I also plan to sink the top string ferrules and make slots for the strings. Something like this:

I had to test if I was able to draw this, so I tried it with a simple ballpoint pen on a piece of paper and I think it looks great!

Furthermore, I've received my wood and the plugcutter which I've already used to make my four plugs to fill the bridge and tailpiece holes.

Quote by MrFlibble
Make sure when you're messing with the bridge, you get the end result to work with the original neck angle. You can't exactly go shimming the neck with a set neck guitar so don't go lowering or raising the bridge too much.

I've measured the string heigth at the bridge before I removed it, so all I have to do is measure how much I sanded off and add that to the total height. This should work out, right?
Here I am with yet another update!
I've scaled my design to make it fit nicely on the guitar:

I'd reveived the schaller hardware which, with the Vintage Copper finish, looks great! Since I wanted to sink the top ferrulers, I had too test how deep they could go without touching the back of the bridge. Turns out I can't sink them...
Not quite sure yet, but I guess I'm going to go for a similar effect by darkening the area where the slots should have been.

Anyway, my dad helped me with the holes for the string trough. Because the arm on our drill press was to short, we used one at his work.

In the next pic I had also drawn the location of the inlays:

I've routed the cavities for the inlays:

And have made the moon(!):

I'm still working on the ground inlay. It's quite tricky because it is very narrow. I have to be really carefull not to break it...

I'm actually very proud of my inlay work. It was the first time I tried it, but I think the result looks pretty good. There are just a few minor gaps, which I think I can get rid off using a glue/sawdust mixture. But I'm not really sure what I could use best...
Would it be better to go with a CA glue (super glue) or an epoxy?
Last edited by Rocket-Man66666 at Jun 17, 2013,
Do I still use sawdust with the tighbond? And is there a reason you use the number 2, instead of the number 1?
this looks amazing man....
“More metal than your gran’s left hip.” - Paul Allender on his PRS signature guitar
Quote by Explorerbuilder
Dont use wood glue for those types of applications... Use sawdust and epoxy.

Wood glue works just fine. Fill the cracks with the glue, then use an orbital to sand while the glue is still wet. The sawdust created by the sanding is more than enough for the glue. I use this technique daily at work to hide cracks and seams.

Any reason to use epoxy? I haven't ever used it.
Quote by Rocket-Man66666
Haha so now I'm still not sure what to use

You have both readily available test each one to see which you prefer. The glue technique is very easy and stainable. I doubt epoxy matches as well as sanding the sawdust back in.
I'm afraid that when I start sanding when the glue is still wet, I might rub it around other parts of the body and end up having to redo the finish because there are some parts where it doesn't sink in...
But you are right, I should test the few options I have on some scrap.

Actually, thinking about it, I doubt that it has to match seamlessly. All it really has to do is blend with the surface of the wood, since the edge of the moon will be black. If it's smooth I can draw over the gaps, completely camouflaging them under the ink.

I think this is also alot easier. I know the Wudtone finish won't stain the glue, making the gaps a lot more obvious. And since I have to apply the deep colour coat first, so that the ink won't bleed in the grain while drawing, I first have to glue in the inlay so that I can sand it smooth. This means that I can't stain the glue up front. Mostly because I have no idea to what color I have to stain it and because I don't want the stain to bleed into the unfinished wood.
The glue thins and dries quite quickly when you sand it in. I do it for fine furniture building. I trust it more than any other technique. As for the finish your using, no. It won't stain the glue, which is why you fill the cracks and then sand them while its still wet. It hides the glue leaving a layer of stainable sawdust on top. The crack will be filled 100% without a single gap. Requires very little skill. I'm not sure about the epoxy and how difficult that will be.
Like I said, I'm going to test the different ideas and see how they react to the sanding and finish.
I let you guys now what I find
Alright, so here are my findings about the filling:
- CA glue is the easiest of the bunch. Fill the gaps with dust, use excessive dust to prevent bleeding and pour it onto the seam. It's fast and easy to sand flat because it's real hard.
- Second is the "wood-glue-sanding-while-wet" method. I think this method gives the best results. Gaps are still visible, but less noticible then with the others. However I do find it quite anoying to sand while the glue is still wet. And this does leave some residue, so there's more sanding to be done.
- I found the epoxy/dust mixture the most annoying of the bunch. It takes longer before you can sand it, it needs quite a lot of dust to blend nice and it left the most noticible, nice black line at the seam. It is real nice for filling larger gaps though.

Here is a pic of the three methods. I have used a piece of plywood which I routed and put some inlays in. Not my best work with some noticible gaps :

The top left is done using CA glue, the top right is epoxy and dust and the bottom is done with the woodglue.
I also put a finish on the the little piece of plywood and the woodglue comes forward as the best choice. Don't have a pic of the finished piece though...

Back to the project:

I've finished the ground inlay as wel; FINALLY! The first inlay went pretty good, but I cracked it into three pieces right at the end...
Since I was trying to fit the routed piece and the inlay together I could chose which one to manipulate for it to fit. That wasn't the case anymore... Now I could only remodel the inlay, which made it quite a lot harder. Cracked the second inlay, cracked the third, cracked the fourth. But by than I had enough of it. I know this is not how one should do inlay work, but I glued in the piece that was still intact and fit nicely. The next day I went to work on the final piece. Took me two attempts and almost three hours to complete it! Glued it in as wel. So can you see where the two pieces meet?

No? Yes? Maybe? Here it is:

I think it came out quite nice! As you can see there are a few black marks in the grain around the inlay. This is some of the woodglue residue I was talking about. It's no biggie; have to sand the entire body with a higher grid anyway before finishing. Just have to make sure to get rid of it all.

This is how it looks with the pickguard and pickup frames:

Since the tailpiece used to be grounded, I had to ground the bridge now. I had routed a small cavity under the ground inlay for the wire. Since I was afraid that I couldn't get the cable trough after I glued in the inlay, I put it in and than glued in the inlay. Had to clear the hole for the bridge because the inlay covered it. Stupid me, I wrecked the wire... Anoying thing is, that now the wire is glued down and it wont move...
I should have embedded the wire in dust or something

I've also drilled the holes in the moon for the ferrules and filled some screwholes which where just slighty off with respect to the new holes (for the pickup frames and the jackplate cover).
Letting it all dry right now and then the next step is sanding and putting on the first coat. So I guess you'll get to see the guitar closer to it's final state in the next update
Looks good. I recently bought a Wudtone kit myself so it'll be interesting to see how it comes out. I've been waiting for better weather to use mine.
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I'd rather go at my hands with a hacksaw than play lead guitar, and I'm only slightly exaggerating.
It looks great man. Gives me some inspiration. Glad to see you were able to test each technique to see which worked best for you. I love the open minded approach you took. What finish are you putting on it? In our shop our 'finish sanding' process is done with 150. After sealer is put on we move up to 320. We do mostly 'furniture finishes' which are rubbed and not glass smooth but if you are aiming for a glass smooth finish progressively higher grit will get you there. JUst remember, if you go for a mirror finish and want high gloss do not wet sand with water. Use Mineral Spirits so it does not swell the wood. Good luck!
Quote by GAPendragon
Looks good. I recently bought a Wudtone kit myself so it'll be interesting to see how it comes out. I've been waiting for better weather to use mine.

The weather on this side isn't much better, I'm afraid... College exams this week, so next update will be next weekend anyway. Hoping the weather will improve by then...

Quote by syntheticocean
It looks great man. Gives me some inspiration. Glad to see you were able to test each technique to see which worked best for you. I love the open minded approach you took. What finish are you putting on it? In our shop our 'finish sanding' process is done with 150. After sealer is put on we move up to 320. We do mostly 'furniture finishes' which are rubbed and not glass smooth but if you are aiming for a glass smooth finish progressively higher grit will get you there. JUst remember, if you go for a mirror finish and want high gloss do not wet sand with water. Use Mineral Spirits so it does not swell the wood. Good luck!

Thank you for those kind remarks! I'm putting a Wudtone finish on there. I actually don't have a clue what it is made off; all I know is that it contains pigment and dyes which are emulsified into natural oils, waxes and curing agents.
I will sand it with 220 before applying the finish and in between coats I'm going to lighty sand it with some fine steel wool. I'm not going for the glass smooth finish; that's why I went with the wudtone finish. I've ordered the finish with a satin top coat as well, hoping that it's going to look more like Gibsons faded finish.

Anyway, thank you all for your kind words! I really appreciate it!
Furthermore, after applying the first coat, I think I might use a better camera so that you guys get to see it all in a little more detail!
Sorry guys, I've been really neglecting this thread...
That doen't mean nothing has happend!

I've managed to get the ground wire for the bridge out. Also managed to get a new wire in, but sadly not without damaging something...
I ended up with a hole right below the inlay, which I filled up with some dyed epoxy.
I made some photo's of it, but my phone has been a disaster lately (One month to go and I can get a new one!) and somehow the pictures are gone...

I've also made de control cavity bigger. I've been thinking of putting some sort of effect inside the guitar (also I'm putting in an N-tune chromatic tuner, like in all of my guitars) so I have to fit a battery and a small veroboard in there.
Not quite sure yet about what I effect I want to include though. I've made a few already (a rangemaster clone, a really simple fuzz, a Black cat od1 clone, a MI Crunch Box clone (which sounded pretty awesome but theres nothing here that I can't do with my amp)) and I'm currently working on a Orange Squeezer compressor clone and a filter (for both I've made the veroboard, but I haven't tested them yet). Also made a backcover for it.

I've also started with the wudtone finish, which is quite a pain to get right...
I don't know what it is, but the front and back react immensly different than the sides. Also the blending of the black and red is quite hard to get in a nice smooth gradient. After the first layer I ended up sanding most of the guitar back bare because I didn't like it. Now, a lot of layers further it's getting better!
I haven't made a lot of pictures of the proces, simply because I wasn't satisfied and I didn't really wanted to share it with anyone...

But I have some shots of how it looks right now! I still have to play a little with the black to darken some area's to get the effect I'm after, but the most obvious part looks nice. It's not quite what I had in mind, but I still think it looks quite nice with everything put together.

Here you can see my mistake made by putting in the ground wire pretty clearlym but overall, it doesn't jump out and I think it will fall completly into the background after I finish the drawing.

And here's a shot of the back:

The color is the same as the front, but the camera has a hard time picking up the red as it is...

So what do you guys think?
Quote by Explorerbuilder
Honestly, i think it looks out of place and pretty ugly. But hey, its your guitar.

What looks out of place, in your opinion?
Not much I can do anymore, but I'm still curious
I couldn't agree with ExplorerBuilder's post any more at the point he wrote that. Seeing the finished version changed my mind though. With all the hardware, electronics and strings in place I think it'll look pretty cool and unique. Would never own it myself but it's your guitar and very unique to you. Good job ultimately.
"Air created the greenness. And once you've got something, that leads to otherness." - Karl Pilkington.
Haha yeah I'm not sure what to do with the pickguard yet. I even thought of making one of wood. Anyway, I first want to put everything on and see how it all looks together before I go ordering stuff or doing anything. The pickguard can easily be exchanged, so no worries yet
Still waiting for my pickups and tuners...
Just a heads up, this is going to be a MASSIVE update!

Quote by Ippon
I just realized that you could've lined up the skull's eyes with 2 of the knobs.

I've thought about that, but then it would be harder to get the tree and all as I would want them. And I thought the eyes looked pretty badass, so I wanted them to be visible.

It took a really long time to get the tuners! It took around four months all in all to finally get exactly what I wanted (first I received three by three, instead of six in-line; then I only got the bushings which were of the wrong size; then there was a company vacation in between). Anyway, I ordered the Grand Tune machine heads directly from Schaller.

Although they didn't quite fit six in-line, I really liked how they looked and I was confident to get them to fit nicely. Here are the results:

As you can see, I had to chop a little off to get them in line, but I'm really please with the result!

After I had installed the tuners, I was finally ready to test the pickups to see which I wanted. I had ordered four different Seymour Duncan pickups: a SH-12 Screamin' Demon, a SH-5 Custom, a SH-2 Jazz Model and a SH-PG1n Pearly Gates. In the end I went with the Screamin' Demon in the neck and the Custom in the bridge.

And now it was time to get to work on the electronics. I wanted to install a N-tune chromatic tuner (as I have done with all of my electric guitars), a compressor (Orange Squeezer clone), a clean booster (LP-BEE clone), and a fuzz (Germanium Fuzz Face clone) all in the guitar. This turned out the be a pain! For some strange reason the N-Tune can not work with other electronics at the same time (there is another person on the internet who had the same problem when adding an active circuit). So I had to hook it up in such a way that, when activated, the N-Tune would be completely separate from the rest of the electronics. Ended up using a circuit that a few guys from electro-tech-online had develop for me, which used a 4-pole double latching relay. The circuit could be controlled by a simple momentary push switch. Furthermore, the compressor can be controlled by a latching switch and I wanted to control the booster and the fuzz with a push-push pot.
I also had some extra holes in the pickup rings and I thought it would be cool to fill these with some LEDs that react to the audio signal. I had already came across a certain circuit here on UG. Had some problems with it at first, turned out to be an faulty IC (special thanks to: Phoenix V and jof1029).
Here's the LEDs installed on the neck ring:
I also wanted a blend pot to control the mix between the neck and bridge pickup. But I ONLY wanted this control when the selector switch was in the middle position. I had come up with a design for this before (I successfully build this inside my LP) and it involved messing with the pickup selector switch. It was a hassle, and my first designs were ridiculously unreliable. But now I have perfected it and it's still not the easiest thing to set up, but when you get it right it works like a charm!
Here the modified switch:

I had also made up my mind about what with the pick guard. I wanted a matt black one. Came across a company on ebay (Snakebite custom Guitardesign) who would custom make one for you, with some handmade artwork.
And finally, here is the finished product:

The momentary swith for the tuner and the latching switches for the LED driver and the compressor are located inside the neck pickup ring, as you might have noticed already. The switches used are really tiny, and quite cute actually but a pain to work with because of it.

On the picture below, you can see the ring LED's in action! There are also LEDs behind the pot's on the pickguard. These pots have a transparent, hollow shaft which fit a 3mm LED. I spray painted the shafts matt black (with a bare line across part of the top and side, to see how it is orientated). The LED/LEDS in there turn on when the fuzz and/or boost is activated (using a Millennium II bypass wiring).

On the back there is a small pot in the backcover, which acts as a volume control for the compressor. Next to it is an LED which turns on when it is time to change the batteries (there are two 9V batteries behind the backcover). I'm not to happy about the looks of the back side; but then again, it's still the back so I don't care as much

Although I have used a stereo input jack to turn most of the things off when there is no cable connected, the LED driver can remain activated when not turned off and the tuner as well (although it has an auto turn off function). And when the cable it not removed, the compressor, the booster, the fuzz and the low battery circuit all remain powered up. So I implemented my own auto power off circuit which kicks in when the guitar hasn't been moved for about two minutes or so.

That's it. I think I covered most of it
I am a huge fan of this, man. Kudos to you. A beautiful guitar.

BC Rich Warlock
Dean 88
ME682-In Progress
Carvin SX300
Clayton 1.0mm picks
Planet Waves cables.
clips of the circuits!
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Stay classy, pit.
I've seen this thread on and off for the past several months and the last time I saw it, I was like "Oh god.... he's just destroyed it..." The white pickguard looked horrible.

But now it's gone full circle, it's actually come out really good.
Roses are red
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Quote by Axelfox
Wow that work on the front looks AWESOME! I love it. Having sanded a guitar down to raw wood myself, I know what a pain it is. Very nice work. I love it.
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I wasn't sure about the black until I saw it finished, turned out nice, I think I would have gone with just straight black for the pickguard, but that's ME and its YOUR guitar. Kudos!
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