Some backstory first

So years ago, I had an old Jackson Dinky that was thoroughly used before I bought it. Great guitar, wish I still had it, thing was built like a tank. Problem was whoever owned it previously never wiped down the Floyd Rose after gigs/sweaty sessions and it was rusting in places. Well after a while something broke rendering the guitar un-playable (and I was still a total noob to guitar so I had no idea how to fix it).

After months of not playing, my brother's friend gave me this ancient acoustic to play while I saved up to fix my electric. Turns out it's an old Harmony Folk series guitar, and I dated to around 1968-69. Someone had spilled some kind of laquer/clear coat all over it, frets are ground down in places, and needs new bridge, nut, and tuners but still plays like a champ. I want to refinish it, give it a fret job and really make it nice. Problem is I LOVE the tone, and am terrified that if I sand it down and refinish it, the tone will change. Anyone have any experience with this? Did it change your tone?

I'll post pics tonight when I get home of you want.
if there is any change in tone from the refinishing you won't notice it, you're more likely to notice difference from the refretting and the nut and bridge, but that will most likely to improve tone as long as you make sure it's done with quality materials (on a technical level, won't sound so vintage though so if vintage tone is your idea of good tone it won't improve)
Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top
Jet City JCA5212RC (SLO Modded)
Ibanez WD7 Wah
Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay
TC Electronic Trinity Reverb
Nah, don't really care about a vintage tone, and when I do it it'll be with top-notch materials, I want to do it right the first time. I'm more concerned about deadening the tone with too much/the wrong type of clear coat, I'm thinking of dyeing the top and back and doing a satin finish. Thinking of going with a bone nut and saddle, I'm worried about the difficulty of re-fretting this ancient beast since I'm a first timer.
the refret is probably best left to a pro

bone is great for acoustics, but if you're getting a luthier to do the refret ask about prices of the nut and bridge replacement as they can generally file one to the exact needs of your guitar

I know this is taking some of the work away from you, but a guitar you really care about the sound of isn't one to learn on

as for the finish, you probably can't afford enough lacquer to deaden the sound of a guitar, I reckon you'd need a clear coat thicker than the soundboard to start to notice

Make sure you go with something solvent based (nitro or acrylic sprays are good choices) and it will be extremely forgiving as long as you keep the spraying going in one direction with good speed so no pooling occurs, the solvent begins to acts very well to smooth it out, or at least the stuff I use does
Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top
Jet City JCA5212RC (SLO Modded)
Ibanez WD7 Wah
Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay
TC Electronic Trinity Reverb
^ Listen to this guy.

I attempted my first refret on a old mandolin i had, its not so easy, pulling the frets out can cause some nasty chips on the fretboard.

Its not impossible, my first attempt refretting has gone ok, but it took quite some time filling in the chips with epoxy then filing the fretboard flat.

Basically, leave the frets to a pro unless its majorly affecting playability, and only attempt it yourself with the understanding that it may not end up looking very pretty. (then again, you might get all you're frets out without any chipping I've only tried it once with a very old instrument)
as far as color goes, i warn you of choosing black, you have to really be conscious of how to use it. black dye is really a dark dark shade of purple or red or blue. i have a dark purple acoustic guitar, so trust me
point is black has to be done carefully and layered on.
for a huge selection of colors, go on ebay and search for Fiebings Leather Dye. comes with an applicator and all to rub it on. to use it, go to my building page in my sig and go to the "doing a burst with the rub on method" and watch my tutorial - even if you arent doing a burst. same tips and tricks apply. youll get a great color if you do it right. if you do it wrong though you can end up splotchy and with dark lines.

oh, and post pictures as you do it =D

double oh, for refretting, watch a plethora of youtube videos, and you can get a great idea of how to do it. i just posted one video in a thread earlier today on here
Last edited by xadioriderx at Oct 3, 2011,
Wow thanks for all the tips everybody! Honestly, I'm not that concerned with replacing the saddle and nut right now, like I said it's still in very playable condition and I think you're all right about leaving that to a professional with this guitar. As far as the frets go, it's like someone grinded down the high frets to make them all even, so I could probably get away with just recrowning and dressing them.

As for the finish, I'm thinking of trying a nice dark tobacco burst. I'm definitely going to check out your site xadioriderx, thanks for the input.

OH, a few other things I forgot. The binding. Oh how I despise the binding on her. It's this jacked up tortoise shell binding that aged like crap and is just really unappealing to me. What kind of difficulty would I be looking at if I were to strip it off and replace it? I imagine the pickguard would consist of prying it off and gluing on a new one (I'll be taking it off anyways when I paint). Lastly, the rosette. Mine looks like a sticker or decal under the paint. I know many are inlaid, but hell no I'm not even coming close to attempting that any time soon. Do they sell decal-like items that don't look like garbage?
if you sand through the finish, then heat up the binding quite a bit to soften the glue, you should be able to pull it off fairly easily. but it will take some work to get to. youll be refinishing the top sides and back already, so after you get down to wood, the binding will be exposed. google search "removing binding from guitar" and youll find info on it

pickguard will just pry off.
you could get a rosette sticker and clear over it. people do that for binding with pinstriping tape. never seen it for a rosette though
Last edited by xadioriderx at Oct 4, 2011,
Keep in mind, if you pull the binding off, you have to put new binding on. Also, if it's true celluloid tortise shell... it's flamable. My advice for refinishing is make absolutely sure you have sanded through all the various sealers and such. Refinishing an acoustic provides a unique challenge because you have to mind all the lumps in the top (trust me, it's not perfectly flat).
Most of the advise you have gotten here has been bad, although there has been a little good.

Refinishing your guitar will dramatically change the tone. If you like the way the guitar sounds now then don't mess with the finish.

Refretting is pretty easy on an unbound fretboard. You need some wire cutters to pull frets with, a rubber hammer, a triangle file with the corners ground off, some fret wire, masking tape, and an afternoon to spend doing the work. Simple job and there are online tutorials that should give you a good idea what do do.

On a bound fretboard it's harder because you need special tools to cut the ends of the frets and to clear out the slots when you remove the frets. You could always cheat and cut notches in the binding but this looks cheap.

You might also want to consider just doing a fret dressing rather than a refret. To find out how to do that just go to project guitar and search for fret dressing. It might save you time and money and prevent possible harm to your guitar.
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