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#1
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PROGRESS
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• Dismantle, strip out all electronics, and and prepare for sanding. [DONE]
• Sand out original finish. [DONE]
• Paint cavities. [DONE]

• Stain body. [CURRENT]
• Clearcoat body.
• Shield pickup and control cavities.
• Dye fretboard ebony black. (Suggested by Ippon)
• Sand out ding to headstock.
• Replace hardware.
• Assemble.
• Re-wire and install new pickups and pots.
• Re-string.
• Pray that it works.

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I will be updating this thread with pictures and videos.
At current I am juggling good weather and working nights so this may be a slow process.
Hopefully any issues that I come across will serve as a guide to project newbies like myself.

QUESTIONS will be posed in orange.
NOOB ALERTS which will indicate any mistakes I make in red.

Guidance and comments would be very much appreciated.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Jan 11, 2012,
#2
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THE GUITAR
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I have acquired this Ibanez RG321MH which is in pretty tatty condition.




It has a fixed bridge with a string-thru oil finished mahogany body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard and chrome hardware. Pickups are INF4 bridge and INF3 neck. As far as I can tell the guitar is completely stock.

I am going to attempt to transform it in to a beast. This is my first guitar project and I'm pretty much new to each part of the process so with a little bit of luck and some help from you guys, hopefully I can make something cool out of this tired instrument.


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INITIAL CONDITION
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There are a few issues with the guitar which require work.

Scratches to body...



...scratches to fretboard...



...ding to headstock...



...and a wiring issue indicated in this video.

There's also a couple of small but unsightly dings/gouges to the body/edge that need removing.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 14, 2011,
#3
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THE PLAN
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I have a couple of ideas for body colour but may change my mind further down the line.

[EDIT] I have modified the images to use the same grain pattern as the actual guitar body that I'm working on so this is what they may look like when complete.


First idea is to stain in cream/white with black bridge, chrome pickup rings and control knobs, black pickup covers, chrome tuners/machine heads and stained black fretboard.




Second idea is to stain a deep red colour with black grain, all chrome hardware, black pickup covers and stained black fretboard.




I'm leaning towards the white finish at the moment as I love white guitars.

I'll finish the guitar with a strong clear coat. (Nitrocellulose?) Then install pickups (w/covers) and dye the fretboard black.


The electronic changes will be a pair of covered Bare Knuckle Aftermath passive pickups...




...and just for fun, a Shadow Kill Pot.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 22, 2011,
#5
i wanna ask/say something
1.-The killpot thing, what does it do? is that a killswitch?
2.-It seem like the wood is uhm... idk like they didnt polish it, dont try to remove paint with bleach or amoniac or something like that, i doesnt work, use sandpaper
3.-What your going to use to paint the guitar?

well thats all i will add this thread to favorite coz i tried to do this to a cheap guitar and didnt work... so i hope it will work for you
PD:sorry for my english i really speak spanish
#6
personally, I like the guitar's finish now. I think it looks sweet. and I wouldn't worry about scratches and dings...
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#7
go nuts with the refinish, bright orange with that sparkly stuff mixed in
My Gear:
BC Rich Gunslinger Retro Blade
Vintage V100 Paradise + SD Alnico Pro Slash APH-2's
1963 Burns Short Scale Jazz Guitar
Dean Performer Florentine
Bugera 6260
Orange Micro Terror + cab
Digitech Bad Monkey
Zoom G2G
#8
Quote by alexisXcore
i wanna ask/say something
1.-The killpot thing, what does it do? is that a killswitch?
2.-It seem like the wood is uhm... idk like they didnt polish it, dont try to remove paint with bleach or amoniac or something like that, i doesnt work, use sandpaper
3.-What your going to use to paint the guitar?

well thats all i will add this thread to favorite coz i tried to do this to a cheap guitar and didnt work... so i hope it will work for you
PD:sorry for my english i really speak spanish

Yeah, the kill pot it is a kill switch built in to the pot so you don't have to route an external switch. See this video for a demonstration.

I will definitely be sanding the guitar body using the palm sander guide found here and any other advice that I'm sure I'll be requesting when I get to that part of the process.

I will use stains for the guitar finish.

That sucks that it didn't work out for you with your guitar. If you find this thread deleted it means I have destroyed the guitar and have hidden the evidence to avoid the shame.

Your English is better than mine at times!

Thanks for adding to your favourites.

Quote by Robfreitag
personally, I like the guitar's finish now. I think it looks sweet. and I wouldn't worry about scratches and dings...

Not being a huge fan of black guitars I actually really like the finish on this one as well. If it was in better condition and wasn't so easy to ding I'd probably keep it as it is. The oil finish offers very little protection. Literally, a very light depression of the pick leaves a mark.

Besides, this should keep me entertained for couple of months.

Quote by RetroGunslinger
go nuts with the refinish, bright orange with that sparkly stuff mixed in

Haha. Tempting, but no. I'm not that exciting. Maybe on the next one.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 22, 2011,
#9
i screwed it at the last part haha besides did you ever thought leave a natural finish, i mean just the wood, no paint, theres a jackson X with emg 81/85 that look sick!
#10
Too bad man. Better luck next time!

Natural finishes look amazing, just not great in mahogany in my opinion.
A figured koa, redwood or wenge top would be pretty cool, but one step at a time!
#11
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DISMANTLING GUITAR & REMOVING ELECTRONICS
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I have removed the strings and unscrewed the neck which came off with relative ease. Maybe a bit stiffer than expected but it didn't require brute force. There was a slight cracking which I think it was just the paint that had fused the two pieces together slightly. There are no chips or cracks to the neck or body.

QUESTION.
Is there anything I should do to preserve the shape of the neck? I am worried that it will warp/bow without the pull of the strings. Also, is it worth cleaning the paint off the neck and if so, what would be the best method as not to damage the finish?





Now to remove the electronics. Upon close inspection, this may be the culprit that has been causing the grounding issues as demonstrated in the video posted earlier.



This is the grounding wire that comes directly from the neck pickup (which is where the feedback was coming from when touched) and should be connected to the bottom of the volume pot (earth).


I have sketched out the wiring so it can be used as guide when it comes time to the rewire. The Shadow Kill Pot will require some additional wiring but I'll worry about that later. I have since discovered and may use the original Ibanez wiring diagram.




Next job is to remove all electronic components from the cavities. Time to solder.




This was more successful than expected and has resulted in some pretty clean components to work with. However, I'm omitting a picture of the bottom of the volume pot as it looks awful.

QUESTION.
Some of the components became very hot whilst soldering. Almost too hot to hold. Is this normal and is there any chance the components may have been damaged? If so, are there any tips on how to prevent the damage of components whilst soldering?





To remove the string-thru ferrels I placed a screwdriver with the same width of the holes through the top side of the body and knocked them through with a slight tap of a hammer.




Finally, the guitar fully stripped of all components and hardware (bar tuners) ready to be sanded.

Last edited by Bewmcawr at Jan 24, 2012,
#12
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SANDING OUT ORIGINAL FINISH: FRONT FACE
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To remove the oil finish and bring the body down to bare wood I am using a palm sander with 80 grit sandpaper, trying as much as possible to go with the grain. The guide recommends using 50/60 grit but 80 grit seems to be work fine for this type of finish.




The finish is coming out with very little effort (I'd be sweating without the palm sander. Highly recommended!). During the process I am using a can of compressed air to ensure there is no build-up of paint/dust on the body or paper.




No change of method for the arm contour. Just a slight angle on the palm sander.




After about 30 minutes, the front is completely sanded with 80 grit ready for a finer grit. This might have taken less time but I was caught marvelling on a few occasions.



The front was completed using just one piece of 80 grit which still looks in great condition and will likely be used for the entire back also. The cavities will be painted the same colour I decide to stain the body and then covered with shielding tape.

There is still a little black finish in the grain but this will be removed with the finer grit.

NOOB ALERT!
The guide recommends covering the entire surface area of the guitar with the palm sander (as opposed to segments) as to not create uneven dips in the surface. In hindsight this is probably better practice, however luckily there are no obvious dips that I can see as the oil finish came out with ease. Just in case, I spent a little time going over the entire surface to make sure it is level.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 22, 2011,
#13
Quote by Bewmcawr
NOOB ALERT!
The guide recommends covering the entire surface area of the guitar with the palm sander (as opposed to segments) as to not create a dip in the surface. In hindsight this is probably better practice, however luckily there are no obvious dips that I can see as the oil finish came out with ease.


the $4 squier i got had been repainted, looked like they did exactly that. theres divots and mishaped edges all over. one day ill strip it and do it up right, but for now, whatevsss

looking good so far, keep it up! you seem to be a lot more patient than i am, that will pay off, i promise.


you could leave the sides or back and sides black. that always looks cool
#14
$4 Squier?! Haha. Where did you find that? How does it play? What finish does it have and how obvious are the divots etc..?

Fortunately 70% of the top and bottom surface area is flat on the RG so no problems with raised sections or rounded edges to maintain. The only round edges are where the neck joins the body and on the horn ends which shouldn't be too difficult.

You're right. It would look pretty awesome with black back and edges and a coloured front. If I was confident enough to add binding then I would probably consider it but for my first project I'll keep it relatively simple. I have a feeling staining is going to be a headache.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Sep 24, 2011,
#15
Quote by Bewmcawr
$4 Squier?! Haha. Where did you find that? How does it play? What finish does it have and how obvious are the divots etc..?

Fortunately 70% of the top and bottom surface area is flat on the RG so no problems with raised sections or rounded edges to maintain. The only round edges are where the neck joins the body and on the horn ends which shouldn't be too difficult.

You're right. It would look pretty awesome with black back and edges and a coloured front. If I was confident enough to add binding then I would probably consider it but for my first project I'll keep it relatively simple. I have a feeling staining is going to be a headache.


the $4 squier was a garage sale find. the kid had pulled it apart to paint and didnt know how to connect the wires again, so it was "broken". more like a 3 minute fix
i threw a MIM HSS setup on there, and it sounds great, and actually plays really well too!
the lumps and divots are pretty noticeable, its a sparkle/charcoal colored finish, just spray can, no clear coat even. its pretty bad really
but for $4 i cant complain.

with sharp corners you could get away with back and sides black without binding i think. but up to you.
biggest thing about sanding is taking the time and not rushing it. rushing is when you push harder to go faster, and then you get divots and stuff. not fun! i have a tendency to rush. lol
#16
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SANDING OUT ORIGINAL FINISH: REAR FACE
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Moving on to the back, I am following the guide and sanding over the entire surface of the guitar instead of segments.




The strap end took a little more work to remove.






Done, and again there's a little finish left in the grain which I'll remove later with a finer grit.






NOOB ALERT!
Or just common sense alert. Whilst sanding the back of the guitar, the front was exposed to the green table surface and some of the dye rubbed off on the the wood (see edges). This sanded out easily but I'll place down a protective sheet next time.




Check back soon for the fun bit. Sanding the contours.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 22, 2011,
#17
Quote by xadioriderx
the $4 squier was a garage sale find. the kid had pulled it apart to paint and didnt know how to connect the wires again, so it was "broken". more like a 3 minute fix
i threw a MIM HSS setup on there, and it sounds great, and actually plays really well too!
the lumps and divots are pretty noticeable, its a sparkle/charcoal colored finish, just spray can, no clear coat even. its pretty bad really
but for $4 i cant complain.

Cool. So potentially a little project going there?


Quote by xadioriderx
biggest thing about sanding is taking the time and not rushing it. rushing is when you push harder to go faster, and then you get divots and stuff. not fun! i have a tendency to rush. lol

Yeah, I am the same. More excited to see the final outcome than impatience!
#18
Quote by Bewmcawr
Cool. So potentially a little project going there?


Yeah, I am the same. More excited to see the final outcome than impatience!


ive got enough little projects. i picked up an 80s hohner "strat" for 15 bucks too, everythings black, kinda neat, just needed a little love. not to mention the two builds i have going on right now. ones of those is on hold though.
more likely ill fix up the hohner and sell it with an old amp as a beginners package for a little money, keep the strat for fun (for my brother), and just continue the 2 builds. if the strat werent divot-ed and a mess paint-wise, id do more with it, but it sounds great and is fun to play, so ill leave it for now. i do have an experimental finish i want to try on something, so i may just give it a go on that, its a perfect candidate.

i know what you mean, i end up wanting it to be done so im less patient, then i end up less happy when it is done because i didnt take the time on it. vicious cycle... lol
#19
Very cool, fun project!

I had the exact same model and color and the RG321MH is a very nice platform for an all-out mod. I went with BKP Aftermaths and through my high gain amps, slays!

As far as de-soldering and soldering, make sure your iron is really hot - I have an inexpensive 40W which is sufficient for pots, switches, and PUs. Your components are most probably fine, but it's always ideal not to have it for longer than necessary.

I used a combination of Stain (opaque) and aniline Dye (transparent) to go from Black to transparent YellowOrange with Black grain.

For grins, I "ebonized" the fretboard using Fiebing's Leather Oil Dye. You probably have something similar and usually available from equestrian and boot shops.

For clear, I used Polycrylic, so tough, and since I knew I'll be using it for mostly brootz/high gain, made the topcoat a bit thicker than usual. The Nitro you're considering should work well; however, based on what I've read so far, you appear to be particular about dents and dings. You'll probably need to touch up the top every once in a while.

More pics!

#20
Quote by xadioriderx
not to mention the two builds i have going on right now. ones of those is on hold though.


Excellent. I've had a peep at your builds. Looking good. I'll definitely keep an eye on the progress. I have a question or two to ask but I'll give the whole thread a read and post them in there.

Quote by Ippon
Very cool, fun project!

I had the exact same model and color and the RG321MH is a very nice platform for an all-out mod. I went with BKP Aftermaths and through my high gain amps, slays!

I used a combination of Stain (opaque) and aniline Dye (transparent) to go from Black to transparent YellowOrange with Black grain.

For grins, I "ebonized" the fretboard using Fiebing's Leather Oil Dye. You probably have something similar and usually available from equestrian and boot shops.

For clear, I used Polycrylic, so tough, and since I knew I'll be using it for mostly brootz/high gain, made the topcoat a bit thicker than usual. The Nitro you're considering should work well; however, based on what I've read so far, you appear to be particular about dents and dings. You'll probably need to touch up the top every once in a while.

More pics!


So the Aftermaths sound good? I'll actually be running the guitar through a Line6 POD HD500 which I imagine is not using them to their full potential, but I'm future proofing.

How did your finish turn out? Would you recommend using a similar process for what I'm trying to achieve?

I'm not set on nitrocellulose. I'll probably do a bit more research on the clearcoat before deciding. I just want a real tough clear finish which shows the grain, the colour of the stain and shines. Any recommends on this also?

I would love an ebony effect fretboard and hadn't even considered dying it. I definitely will though. I think it would look pretty amazing with the finish I have planned and would solve the issue with the scratches. My only concern is the binding on the fretboard. I guess I could tape over it.

More pics to come!

Thanks for the advice!
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 22, 2011,
#22
I've heard some pretty nice recordings through a Line 6 Pod; however, you'll really start smiling when you plug it to a proper high gainer at band practice or gigging volumes. The Aftermath and Mahogany combo was incredible through a Soldano SLO and Diezel VH4, in stereo.

With the Black stain, I let it set for over a day, sanded it back, applied Black stain again, sanded it back after over 2 days, then applied the OrangeYellow dye. I re-applied the dye to get the darker color I wanted, after a few days.

Tip: Make sure that the sanding sealer (clear and not noticeable) is totally removed; otherwise, the stain may not look good ... appear blotchy. The trick is to get the Black stain in the mini-grooves and not outside.

If you'll be using the guitar at home only or rare gigs, Nitro should be fine. I knew mine will be used a lot in band practice and some mates are spastic, thus the Polycrylic.

Last edited by Ippon at Sep 24, 2011,
#23
^I'm not entirely sure they even use sealer on these open pore finishes...

TS: Can you get the Aftermaths with regular covers like the ones in the picture, or do you have to get them with the cover that leaves both rows of poles exposed?
#25
Quote by Ippon
With the Black stain, I let it set for over a day, sanded it back, applied Black stain again, sanded it back after over 2 days, then applied the OrangeYellow dye. I re-applied the dye to get the darker color I wanted, after a few days.

Tip: Make sure that the sanding sealer (clear and not noticeable) is totally removed; otherwise, the stain may not look good ... appear blotchy. The trick is to get the Black stain in the mini-grooves and not outside.
That's great advice for the black stain. I've been watching this video and the guy gets great results on the black stain. Do you guys think that mahogany would stain well using this method? I'm also considering an all white stain/coat.

Regarding the sealer, this is one of my concerns. Apparently with mahogany it is best to use pore filler before staining as there are lots of open pores which look bad when applying the clear coat. Will the pore filler take the stain in the same way as the mahogany without discolouration?

Quote by Pikka Bird
TS: Can you get the Aftermaths with regular covers like the ones in the picture, or do you have to get them with the cover that leaves both rows of poles exposed?
You can get covers with or without the poles exposed. See here (registration might be required). Otherwise, you can get all sorts of crazy cover styles. Check the Bare Kuckle gallery forum (again, registration might be required) for more information. Or drop a message to Tim on the forum. He is part of the BKP staff and is a huge help.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 26, 2011,
#26
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SANDING OUT ORIGINAL FINISH: CONTOURS
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OK, so I finally got around to the next part of sanding, the countours and edges. This was considerably more time consuming than the faces as most of the process was completed by hand using an 80 grit sanding sponge and sandpaper taped to a wooden dowel.

Now using a pizza box lid for protection from table stain. Ghetto, but that's just how I roll.

Rear body contour:








Neck contour:




As I progress I am discovering some problem areas. Most notably the central section of wood which seems tougher than the upper and lower sectons causing some uneven sanding. I'm taking extra care to ensure they are smooth.

Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 22, 2011,
#27
These are great guitars for modding, nearly picked up one myself but I found the neck to be a tad odd feeling.

Can't go wrong with a maho body though
#28
Ah really? How's that? Too thin?

I've been playing for about 18 months and have learnt on a Schecter so the neck on the Ibanez will take some getting used to.
#29
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SANDING OUT ORIGINAL FINISH: OUTSIDE EDGE & HORNS
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I am using the 80 grit sanding sponge to sand the outside edges. For the horns I am using some 80 grit sandpaper taped to a wooden dowel.

I'll omit using the palm sander for this section as I want to keep the edges as round as possible.


Enough of Papa John's creepy face.








The top horn sanded easily.




The bottom is taking a little more work.
Seems the grain is darker here also. Hopefully not an issue when finishing.




There are quite a few sanding scratches against the grain on the bottom horn cavity caused by the dowel having very little give...




... but taking a little more time and patience I have managed to remove them with the sanding sponge.



QUESTION.
As you can see in the image above, there seems to be a crack in the wood. The body is solid (there's no flex or give at all when applying force) but should I be concerned about this?
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 23, 2011,
#30
Quote by Bewmcawr
Ah really? How's that? Too thin?

I've been playing for about 18 months and have learnt on a Schecter so the neck on the Ibanez will take some getting used to.


I found it was chunky and just had a bit of an odd profile. It's not really a huge issue, just not as comfy as my Loomis or even ARC, both of which have chunkier necks than my Ibby 7421 (not in a bad way!)
#31
I kinda like the wood. it wood (lol) be kewl if you just put a clear coat on. EPIC!!!
#32
Quote by Mehtabb
I found it was chunky and just had a bit of an odd profile. It's not really a huge issue, just not as comfy as my Loomis or even ARC, both of which have chunkier necks than my Ibby 7421 (not in a bad way!)


I see. I have actually just compared the neck to my Shecter and it really isn't that much thinner. about 3mm or 4mm. It feels much thinner when playing. Odd.

Quote by JCGGUITARS
I kinda like the wood. it wood (lol) be kewl if you just put a clear coat on. EPIC!!!


I see what you've done there.

Hopefully the white stain that I ordered will maintain the look of the grain but give it a brighter weathered look. I've just ordered some mahogany offcuts do perform some tests.
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 23, 2011,
#35
Quote by Bewmcawr






The picture on the box suggest that these pickups use sound to shove as much testosterone into your body as possible.
#36
the white finish looks pretty neat
Quote by kangaxxter
The only real answer to the SG vs Les Paul debate is to get a Flying V and laugh at all the suckers who don't have one.


Quote by Blompcube

if you embrace inaccurate intonation it can be quite arousing.


I <3 TWEED
#37
Quote by Greyson Scott
I love white guitars looking forward to seeing how the stain turns out :3
Quote by Ippon
Semi-transparent White would look very nice indeed!
Quote by EspTro
the white finish looks pretty neat
Thanks guys. White guitars are awesome. I'm going for a slightly weathered white washed look. The stain has been ordered so I'll upload some pics as soon as I've done the first stain test on offcuts.

Quote by Darkdevil725
The picture on the box suggest that these pickups use sound to shove as much testosterone into your body as possible.
Haha. That's the idea!
Last edited by Bewmcawr at Oct 23, 2011,
#38
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FINISHING: PAINTING CAVITIES
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As I'm settled on finishing the guitar white, I am painting the cavities white using a generic matt white Dulux tester paint. I'm painting the cavities before fine sanding in case I get any paint on the body which I'll sand out.

NOOB ALERT!
My bro' laughed at me for this long winded taping process and then said "why not just tape it once and cut it with a sharp knife?". Well, that would require common sense.







Four hours to dry and I've applied another coat. (Disregard the "Once" on the paint pot. This is a lie).

Last edited by Bewmcawr at Jan 26, 2012,
#39
^Good progress... And yeah, your bro got you there...

Quote by Darkdevil725
The picture on the box suggest that these pickups use sound to shove as much testosterone into your body as possible.

Well yeah, they're named after bareknuckle boxing. Hardly an effeminate kind of sport.
#40
im suprised the basswood grain looks that good

glad u went with white.
Quote by kangaxxter
The only real answer to the SG vs Les Paul debate is to get a Flying V and laugh at all the suckers who don't have one.


Quote by Blompcube

if you embrace inaccurate intonation it can be quite arousing.


I <3 TWEED
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