Refinishing a vintage SG

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by beerbelly, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    I know, I know- Blasphemy! Devalued by 50%! But it's my guitar, one I will never sell, and I feel qualified to perform this task. I've modified & built several guitars from kits and from scratch, using the traditional methods of finishing in nitrocellulose lacquer.

    This is a totally stock '64 SG Junior, an absolutely amazing sounding & playing guitar that I bought on ebay about 7 years ago. It has a lot of lacquer checking, which I was fine with, but also had many deep gouges and dents, which I finally decided to address. If I didn't already have experience with finishing guitars in lacquer, I would have lived with it, but I do, and the process has started.

    I'm using Citristrip orange, followed by Kleen Strip After Wash, followed by denatured alcohol. This leaves clean, bare wood. I taped off the original finish around the ink-stamped serial number before stripping, and will refinish over it to preserve the factory marking. You can see where the wood has been oxidized wherever there was a crack in the finish. Some very light sanding should eliminate that. To address the gouges & dents, I will use steam, a process I've used successfully before to raise the wood in those areas. I plan to refinish with Stew Mac Cherry red aerosol, a color that is very authentic looking on other guitars I've built, followed by vintage amber clear coats to bring back that aged look.

    I'll include updates as I go, through the final finished guitar; here are a couple showing the beginning steps.
     

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  2. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    Only the best wood shows- maximum materials efficiency. Here's a couple photos of the neck pocket & tenon. Pretty gnarly wood under the pickguard.​
     

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  3. 61LPSG

    61LPSG New Member

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    Beerbelly, Sweet Jr. you have there. Is it blasphemy to do a refin?, yes unless you make it white. I just love white Jr's.
    Can't wait to see the results...good luck, and post PIX.
     
  4. JohnnyGoo

    JohnnyGoo Well-Known Member

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    go for it !!!!! that LP JR you built is gorgous so i think youll do it justice.its your guitar to:dude:
     
  5. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    Refinishing a vintage SG?... you're a brave man. Looking forward to this... :cool:
     
  6. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    Some might say stupid! It took me a few years of experience before I decided to do this refinish, but I feel confident I can do a good job. Check my Welcome Wagon forum for examples of others I've done.

    Here are some of the gouges I want to address. The worst is on the front, right below the tailpiece (of course!):

    IMG_4286.JPG IMG_4288.JPG
     
  7. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    Front is stripped. Beautiful 51 year-old one-piece Honduran mahogany with nice grain symmetry.

    front stripped.jpg
     
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    well, i'd skip the lacquer and just rub in some tung oil and it's done. the beauty of tung oil is that if you
    scratch it, you can just rub out the scratch and apply some more tung oil. I built a Warmoth J-bass using
    this, as well as refinishing gun stocks and furniture. I like it a lot, it's easy to use, non poisonous (compared
    to lacquer) and it's very practical and it looks lovely and feels great to the touch.
    Done xtra coats 5x@100.jpg Body 6b@100.jpg 05d Warmoth Fretless Neck 3.jpg
     
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  9. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    That's beautiful...
    How many coats of the Tung Oil is on the body and neck?
    Did you use 100% Tung Oil?
    Any stickiness with the feel of the neck?
     
  10. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    That's a beautiful bass. But there's only one color and one method for my Junior- transparent cherry red nitrocellulose lacquer. A long process, but authentic to it's history.
     
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  11. shreddy bender

    shreddy bender Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a cool project! Looking forward to seeing the finished product !
     
  12. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    on my bass: lots of coats.... I just hung it on a wire and did one or two coats a day for weeks. don't know how
    many. till I got sick of doing it I guess. no stickiness, not much in the way of fumes or poison. I favor Formby's furniture refinisher, which might be a blend of ingredients, so I don't know if it's 100% Tung Oil. wait, I'll go look: The label says it's a "blend of Tung Oil and other fine penetrating oils..." so gawd knows what's in it.

    I did NOT use any filler, which might have meant less coats to reach a nice finish. I just wanted something I could do easily and
    without advanced woodworking skills. also I had lots of experience with the stuff, doing tables, chairs, buffet,
    dresser, and maybe four rifle stocks. It wears very well and is easily repaired if damaged by everyday wear and
    tear. hard to beat. and for this old guitar, just a suggestion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  13. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Good luck with the refinishing. I love Juniors!

    :cheers:
     
  14. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    Back & sides stripped. Old buck-nekkid Honduran mahogany. You can see some of the gouges I'm going to address.

    back & sides stripped.jpg
     
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  15. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    That is a very sweet grain pattern. Is that the old pore filler that is highlighting the grain?
     
  16. frankd

    frankd Well-Known Member

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    Very nice Guitar im sure it will be a pretty mutha hunka when your done.
     
  17. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    Yes, that is pore filler. I found quite a bit of it on the 'lip' of the control cavity. It looks just like Behlen Pore-O-Pac, which I've used in the past, and will on this guitar. Messy s**t, but authentic.
     
  18. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    I've never seen Honduran mahogany in its nakedness. On your pics, the colors appear brownish-yellowish. African mahogany is more grayish-reddish... is that accurate? Or how would you define the difference?
     
  19. JohnnyGoo

    JohnnyGoo Well-Known Member

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    it will be a beauty when done.
     
  20. beerbelly

    beerbelly Active Member

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    The photos were taken under the fluorescent light on my workbench, so the color may not be perfect. Here's a shot of it on the wall:

    on the wall.jpg
     

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