Well, I promised a while ago that I’d talk about the guitars I was working on rebuilding. Tonight, I put some strings on them, and I am proud to announce both as the most glorious failures. 🙂 Mind you, neither of these guitars were of an even remotely decent quality, and they were not playable before, so the fact that they’re still not playable, isn’t that big of a deal. It’s the cost of education.
The acoustic “classical” guitar (quotes because it’s a term I’m well-aware that I’m using very loosely):
As you can see, this thing was atrociously pink. I hate pink. And, it had lost it’s pick guard. And, did I mention I hate pink?
Actually, the whole point of tackling this guitar was to really get a feel for what was involved in making a guitar a lefty, but since I was at it, and since I dislike pink almost as much as I loathe purple, I decided a new paint job was called for, too. It sounded daunting. Did I really have to sand this whole thing down? Just and it enough to give new paint something to adhere to? On internet advice I tackled the sanding process.
The bridge (which you can see, I think, is also pure crap), couldn’t be removed to sand it without breaking the darn thing in half, so I had to buy a new bridge, too.
And, of course, in spite of trying to find a bridge as close to the same size as I could, the screw holes didn’t match, so I had to drill new ones, and the saddle was the wrong size too, so I had to replace that as well.
Now, it was time to start painting. I went back to the internet for advice, and some fool suggested acrylic paint. Oooh, I HAD that (from my brief tenure as an artist. lol). BAD IDEA. I can not tell you with words how bad this idea is, so I’ll show you a picture of what it looked like once I tried to undo the damages…
(Yes, that is the disaster of the backpacker beside it, based on other bad advice, I’ll get back to that one in a bit. lol.)
So, Now that I had this mottled greenish disaster (even worse than the pink!) I decided there was really no point in priming. The damage was already done. Onward to doing things the easy way: with masking tape and spray paint.
Now, this time we’ve got something that really looks decent. Add a decal (this one is a waterslide decal. And some fret dots. Actually, the spray paint job went really surprisingly well. On aesthetics, I’ve got a pretty big win here.
But, it’s still got crazy high action. given the size of the bridge, I really can’t reduce it more without making it really weirdly skewed. I strung it up with ball end nylon strings, since I know it sounds painfully bad (even when in tune) with steel strings, but I wanted the flexibility to be able to switch back to steel strings if the nylon didn’t work out. I have a dreadnought acoustic, so a nylon string would justify having 2 acoustic guitars, was the logic. It’s still hard to play. It stell sounds like crap. BUT, it’s a lefty, it’s not pink, and I learned how to install a new bridge and nut. Not too shabby.
I admit, I had higher hopes for this one, but my first big problem was the neck had been cut totally wrong, and was coming away from the body, so before I could have any hope of playing this guitar, I had to first remove the neck, adust it, and re-set it.
That meant removing the fretboard entirely in order to get to the neck, but since the glue was incredibly weak, this basically came off with a butter knife. I sanded down the joint to make it more even, which meant I had to sand down the top of the body to get the joint to match. Awesome. 😦 I actually liked the color of this guitar, but the aesthetic damages caused during the neck repair made me decide to sand it down anyway.
On to more bad advice, and too much creativity, I took stain to this one. Don’t stain crap wood. Just don’t. Stain GOOD wood. Do not stain a $20 guitar. Definitely don’t attempt stripes, no matter how brilliant it seems at the time.
Ew. I tried to detail the edges with some black paint to make it better, but it just made it worse, so this one got attacked with spray paint, too. This time, I tried something sunbursty. The internet gave me the cardboard idea, but really, you don’t need it. You just need decent aim and a steady hand. If you don’t have a steady hand, then, yeah, maybe use the cardboard, but it mostly got in my way.
Now, I like how this one looked in the end. And for the half a second it stayed in tune, it sounded pretty nice. But, as I was tuning it, I could hear the body creaking. NOT the neck. My neck repair seems to be holding up to the tension just fine. The bottom of the guitar did not. You could hear the weak wood protesting the tension of strings, and the screw started to rip out of the bottom of the guitar. I loosened it and yanked it out, but not fast enough. I honestly don’t know if or how to fix the bottom of the damaged wood (which I sort of suspected might be a problem) to make this one playable. The body is poorly put together, not well assembled, and even if I manage to repair the bottom of the guitar, I’m not sure it’s ever going to hold up to the tension required to get and keep it in tune. I think this is also part of the reason the neck separated from the body while sitting in a closet. It’s a pity, but it is what it is.
I learned a lot from putting these two back together and refinishing them, but I knew when I started, since the build quality of both guitars was so poor (one cost me $20, the other cost $5. Mind you, I’ve put a good deal of money into them, but for the sake of educating myself, primarily) that I knew the odds were extremely high that even after rebuilding, I still was not going to find them playable. I was right. I may hold onto the backpacker a bit longer to deduce whether or not I can do anything about the backpacker, because if I can repair it, it will actually have a decent sound quality for what it is, and I admit, I kind of like the looks of it in the end! But realistically, they’ll probably both end up in the garbage.
But! Only the physical guitars are trash – the education I got from working on them is priceless. It was a good project, all said.
Until Next Time, learning, and enjoying every second of it.