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Rehabilitating an old guitar

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(@melander)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 36
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I love going to pawn shops. On my last trip, they had a 'bargain bin' of guitars - mostly stuff out of starter kits, etc. but one of them caught my eye. It's a 80's era Washburn electric that after I played around with it a bit, I decided I really liked the feel of the fingerboard, and it didn't have much fret wear. The guitar itself is pretty beat up though. It is black-painted wood that is scarred and sticker covered. The five way pickup selector switch is gone, and by the look of the nickel-sized glob of solder at the wires, it's been through a home rewiring. I was seized with the idea that if I bought it, I could do a little home restoration on it as a fun project, so I did.

I'm wondering if anyone has some advice on this? I've never restored a guitar before, but I have worked on some furniture :lol: It's a 'bolt on' neck, do I need any special tools to take this off? I haven't even taken the cover off yet. I was thinking of sanding the body to see what the wood looks like underneath, then either a polyurethane glaze or a repaint - depending. There's a little crackle and hiss from the amp when I move it around, so I'll probably need to replace the jack. I don't know what I'll do about the wiring.

Thanks!


   
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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5480
 

Sounds like a fun project. A couple of parts e-tailers out there for misc parts. I use Guitar Fetish mostly. I saw another place called Guitar Electronics recently that looked like it would be a good place to use.

Advice? Not a whole lot. Don't assume anything. Have you been able to at least put strings on it and make sure that acoustically it plays OK? Maybe make sure the truss-rod ain't snapped. All the electronics are easily replaced, so no worries about any of that stuff. Is the neck bolt-on or set (glued)? Got any picstures? Regardless, all's you need for a fun project would be something in good structural shape. You don't even to lay out a ton of cash. You can strip it all down, sand it, expose the wood grain and then decide if it gets painted or stained before the dozen layers of clear coat. One feller even made the exterior of a strat-like object all beer bottle labels. His "beer guitar". Cool as heck.

There's a whole section in the forum called Guitar Repair and Maintenance. Lots of knowledge in there.

Just deciding what you want to do and writing down an itemized list would be a good place to start.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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(@melander)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Topic starter  

Thanks Roy,

It had a couple strings left on it when I bought it :lol: The first thing that I did when I got it home was take off the old strings (more rust than string) and peel off the stickers. Then I cleaned it up, and put a new set of strings on it. The neck is straight and it stays in tune. I guess I won't know about the truss rod until I get it apart. I've got a new baby in the house, so I'm sure it'll be months before the project gets done but I'm looking forward to working on it.


   
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(@lethargytartare)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 14
 

Projects like that are mostly good if you want the experience, and enjoy tinkering. Plus, you can learn skills that will save you tons of money over the life of a guitar if you play regularly.

As for the body -- I'd suggest you research the model first -- if you got it cheap, odds are good the body is just ply, and won't look good with a natural finish. Which doesn't mean you can't do it, just that you might not find a decent chunk of alder or other solid piece of wood under there.

My price points for beaters: 20 bucks or less and I'll buy almost any electric guitar (got a squier for 10 at a garage sale). But mostly I look for 80s era Ibanez RGs since their parts are more or less interchangeable, and if I see one for under 60 bucks, I snag it.

If you're thinking in terms of flipping it, be wary -- mainstream mass-produced guitars have extremely low resale value, and custom work by DIYers has virtually NO value (speaking from personal experience). That's why these kinds of projects are best for fun and learning.

Cheers!!

ltt


   
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(@melander)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Topic starter  

Thanks LethargyTartare!

I appreciate the advice. I'm not sure what model the guitar is, I did a search last night, and don't think they are making that model anymore. I think it's one of their cheaper models, it has a bolt on neck. The plate over the bolt on neck says something like 'handmade in america for 100 years,' and the serial number begins with 85 - making me think that it was made in 1985. It was right in your price zone :) I got it for $30. I thought it just would be a cool project and a way for me to get another guitar. Something also appealed to me to take that beat up guitar out of the bargain bin, and make it in to something nice. I figure I have to sand it anyway, and if it turns out its just ply underneath, no problem, I'll just put some fresh paint on it.


   
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(@lethargytartare)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 14
 

Can't go wrong with that! Seriously -- at that price, you could part it out and make a profit, so no matter how the project goes, you know the fun will be worth it!!

Enjoy! Post pics of your results if you have a chance.


   
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