First "vintage" project...

If you have a string instrument of any kind that needs fixing, a mistake you made in building a new instrument that you need to "disappear," or a question about the ethics of altering an older instrument, ask here. Please note that it will be much easier for us to help you decide on the best repair method if you post some pictures of the problem.

First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:23 pm

I just bought a '69 Gibson B-15 at auction. I got it at a very low price due to it's condition. It's not too bad, but she seems to have been neglected for quite some time.
So, here's the deal... there's not really anything wrong with it that I don't know HOW to fix. I've done several projects, major repairs, and even complete restorations on inexpensive/later model guitars.
But this is my first time doing major work on a guitar that I consider to really be "vintage" or to possibly have any real collector value. it's also the first guitar I've bought for the purpose of restoring for spec.

edit: reformatting pics to post... then more quesitons to follow....
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:41 pm

here are some pics....

This crack is really the only structural defect this guitar has, and it's a pretty simple fix.
crack1.JPG


the finish is cracking and peeling really bad, even completely flaked off in many places.. I'd estimate the body has maybe 10-20% of raw wood exposed...
side1.JPG

back1.JPG


more pics and questions to come....
Last edited by Ryan Mazzocco on Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:44 pm

This is really the only "HOW" question I have on this guitar...
There is a crack forming between the heel and body. Can I just put some HHG in there and clamp it together or is a reset in order? The neck angle looks great.
heelcrack1.JPG
Last edited by Ryan Mazzocco on Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:56 pm

okay.. so I think we now have all the information... so on to my real question...

The purpose of this project is to turn a profit. From seeing what this guitar can possibly go for and knowing what I paid for it, I believe this can be done, but I've never done this before and seems like there are more exceptions than rules when it comes to restoration no-nos depending on who you ask.
I understand that collectors want things that are all original, or at least as original as possible. Everything on this guitar is original so far... (except the nylon strings that were on it when I got it)
so the biggest question mark for me is the refinish... is this guitar more valuable with a horrible "alligator skin" finish, or with a new finish? I don't think there's any hope of preserving the old finish. there is raw wood exposed and the rest could just flake off if brushed up against a couch.
if I do a total refinish, how do I preserve the original Gibson decal on the headstock? I haven't tested the finish yet to see what it is, but if it's lacquer could I just hit the face of the headstock with some 220 and spray over it?
headstock1.JPG


Thanks!
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:16 pm

Looks like you need a tuner bushing as well.
Other than that, I'm going to wait for the more experienced to give some advise - The finish looks "done" to me, but I'm no expert.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:29 pm

yes Chuck, it is missing a bushing. there are a few other things it needs as well.. but I figured I wouldn't clog up the thread by addressing all of them. it's been through a lot though.. a few bad repairs at an earlier point in it's life that need re-repaired...
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:07 pm

You should try to find a copy of George Grotz's book "instant furniture and other crafty practices". If the guitar has a solvent based finish you may be able to "rebrush it". Basically you carefully reamalgamate the finish using the original solvent and rebuff it to restore the luster. This can make the old finish look like new. And who could argue that it isn't original?
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:08 pm

that's very interesting Clay. sounds like a good theory. but there is so much of this finish that is gone I'm not sure there is enough left to go around. even so, this process sounds a little beyond my skill level. I am a carpenter first and a finisher only by necessity.

But other than Clay's suggestion I seem to have really stumped the room. Either that or this is something we're not really supposed to talk about? I intentionally didn't mention any dollar figures (neither what I spent, nor what I hope to profit) because I was afraid it would be stepping over the line.
So have I somehow stepped over a line anyway? or does no one really have anything to say on this topic?

Thanks.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Mark Swanson » Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:06 pm

I don't think you should refinish. As bad as it is, it will still be worth more than it would be refinished even if you did a great job, which would be very difficult if you haven't much finishing experience. And by "experience" I don't mean just knowing how to put some finish on, but knowing how to finish it and make it look like it's supposed to are two different things. Unless you have experience doing finishes that mimic old Gibson finishes, don't try it. You will probably get more money selling it as-is than you would if you refinished it.
There are ways of re-melting the finish that's there using certain chemicals but you need to know those tricks, and I've never had any luck with that myself- you need to know just how to do it and what to use, but it might help this guitar. Done wrong, it could also ruin what finish is there.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:10 am

If you have a spray gun you may be able to "mist on" a little lacquer thinner to remelt the finish enough to keep it from flaking off. The trick is to not over do it or on vertical surfaces the finish may run.
If you bought it strictly for resale, letting the next person deal with it is probably the best option.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:48 pm

Thanks guys. I appreciate it. Just something I'm trying to work my way into. I respect your opinions and am truly grateful for your help and insight.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Mark Swanson » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:07 pm

Plain lacquer thinner won't melt the finish very much before it evaporates off. You need something slower, Butyl Cellusolve, or a very slow-drying thinner, or lacquer retarder- something like that. And as I said I am not familiar enough with that process, but some are able to get good results.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:07 pm

To reamalgamate the finish butyl cellosolve might be a better choice. To just get the finish to stick a little better, a faster evaporating solvent might cause less problems.
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Re: First "vintage" project...

Postby Michael Lewis » Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:10 am

Time has brought many substances to this guitar, sweat, dirt, air, smoke, dust, and maybe many other substances like furniture polish, sun tan lotion, bug repellant, beer, tears, baby barf, and who knows what else. Some of these things are water soluble and some are not. I would start with a damp cloth to remove any water soluble material and let it dry thoroughly before using a solvent like naphtha to remove any oil based or wax based substances. This process may wash some of this stuff down into the checking of the finish or any cracks in the wood which will cause difficulty if you intend to re-amalgamate the old lacquer. By the way, that is nitrocellulose lacquer.

So you can see some of the pitfalls in your path, and you can't know what is there until you start and see any reactions of whatever you apply to the surface. As Mark Swanson said, you need to know what to do if something goes wrong. This could be like the Tar Baby in the Uncle Remus stories, once you get started the only thing you get is deeper in. If you don't have much invested in the guitar you may just use it as a learning experience, and learn what happens when you do one thing or another, and why we told you not to. We all screwed some stuff up when we were learning, and we learned how to pull some stuff out of the fire so to speak, and we all had to eat lots of work for the same reasons.

Understand that a proper refinish requires that you remove the bridge and pick guard, remove all traces of finish without removing any wood, and re-apply new finish. No doubt there are some dents and dings in the wood which will show differences in color from oxidation and dirt, and these will show under the new finish. Then you will have a refinished guitar that shows it has been worked on. The smart move has been suggested that you sell the guitar as is. That way you will have no work in it. Frank Ford and Richard Johnston of Gryphon Stringed Instruments started out making guitars and mandolins, and it didn't take long for them to figure out that it was much more profitable to buy and sell instruments than to make and sell, and it was less work too. If you want to make stuff that is one thing but if you want to make money learn sales and marketing.
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