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 Post subject: Telerez
PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 2:51 am 
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You may have seen this derelict on ebay. I'm such a sucker for projects, I can't resist them when they're a step from too far gone.

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This poor thing had seen serious abuse. The stickers and paint were the least of it- it had clearly been used for some Pete Townsend syle clubbing. The edges were slammed badly on both sides.

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Was it even an Uncle Matt guitar? Just enough left on the headstock sticker to identify it! It had started life as a 2248, Ivory white (repainted yellow) with a white pickguard (painted black!)

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Something wonderful about seeing a familiar name appear on the headstock!

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The first major step was to grind away all the damaged wood. The clubbing blows had crushed the grain of the wood into a handful of strands. I used a die grinder and a rasp bit to gently work away all the loose material so that only solid wood remained.

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The structure of the body is clearly seen in this photo. The body is made of five layers: the front and back surface are hard plywood, the middle layers are soft mahogany, and in the center is another thin stiff layer (maple veneers?).

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The layers are visible again in this shot of the neck pup cavity. Some gluing needed! The surface of the neck slot (with the number '4') is the center hard layer. I can see how this arrangement gives the guitar rigidity while keeping the weight light. It probably also kept the neck from breaking off while the idiot PO was trying to smash it.

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Here it is with most of the ruined wood removed. The most prominent area is actually a great spot to rest your picking hand, not unlike the bevel on the front of a Phoenix or Spectrum. I considered imitating the Phoenix/Spectrum bevel exactly, but decided to go with curves that integrate more smoothly in to the other lines of the Tele body.

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This is the top corner. It's a challenge to come up with a shape that doesn't just look butchered.

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I removed quite a lot from the bottom back. The rear layer had delaminated pretty severely, and rather than trying to glue it I wanted to remove any remains of the crack between the layers, to prevent any future separation or possibility of buzzing.

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The next hard decision was how to refinish it. The existing paint layer is tremendously hard and thick, and thicker at the bottom- it seems like they dunked the bodies and hung them to drip dry. It would have been nice to preserve the original paint, but then again, how to finish the ground away areas?

It would have to be paint, and smoothing between the original and non-original paint areas seemed like a nightmare, and would emphasize rather than soften the damaged areas. Finally I decided to remove all the original paint and take it down to bare wood for some kind of clear varnish.

Fortunately I found that the rasp bit was dull enough to chip the paint off while leaving the wood underneath virtually untouched. Time-consuming, but suprisingly effective! Every bit of wood grain emerging was like a treasure being uncovered.

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Next steps will be to finish removing the paint, and give it some heavy overall sanding before gluing up the cracks around the neck slot and giving it some coats of varnish. The original electronics are packed away, and I'll be using a combination of original and new parts for the rewiring.

TO BE CONTINUED!


Last edited by X189player on Fri Nov 12, 2004 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 5:12 am 
Great stuff! Looking forward to the next installment of this story. :up:

I'm so bad at DIY myself that I enjoy it more when others are doing it and I can look at the pictures and see how the project unfolds. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 10:27 pm 
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Next day! I can't think of a nicer way to spend a summer vacation afternoon than standing in the driveway grinding a guitar body...

Here's the front, all stripped. It looks like a Tele again!

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Now for the back. Parc, yeah. Go figure. Who knows what somebody with a spray can is thinking...

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OK, I should say a few words about using a rotary rasp bit like I'm doing. I would ONLY consider grinding off the paint (rather than chemically stripping it) because this body was already thrashed and would need to be reshaped and sanded anyway. This method leaves tons of tool marks, so if you're thinking of doing this and your guitar body is in good shape, don't do it, try a chemical stripper instead, like one of the relatively non-toxic modern kinds that use orange oil. So basically, this is the way I did it but I'm not suggesting anyone else try it, certainly not with an nice instrument.

I learned a few things about rotary rasp grinding- first, a fresh bit is way too sharp and eats right into the wood in an instant. I found it much better to use a bit that had already been used and abused, and was a bit dull and a bit choked with paint already.

Also, running a die grinder at full speed is way too much. Adjust the compressor working pressure way down (I started at 30psi rather than the rated 90 for the tool) What this does is as you put pressure on the bit, it can easily slow to a stop (which is ok for an air tool, though it damages the brushes on an electric grinder) and this forces a limit on how hard you grind into it. Besides, I found that the grinder bit on the paint would spin easily, but when I hit bare wood the additional friction was enough to stop the bit. This provides an additional level of safety.

Otherwise, be sure to always hold the grinder perpendicular to the grain, so as the bit turns the teeth move in the direction of the grain. When working close to an edge, be sure the teeth are moving toward the edge and not away from it, to avoid chipping.

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This was how I'd stripped the front, and it worked well, but it was slow. So as an experiment on the back I tried a sharper bit and started with a series of horizontal lines to start with and then went back with a duller bit to remove the material inbetween.

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It wasn't really my intent to imitate the lines of a flamed wood surface, but they kinda look this way, at least early on. We'll see how it looks when it's done.

One of the things a dull rasp bit does is it hammers the surface slightly, compressing the surface of the wood- rather than removing material around a gouge, it compresses it down flush. Doing this after having started with a series of horizontal lines makes it look pretty neat.

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Now it's ready for some serious sanding, and then it'll be time for varnish. There's some really nice grain on the front and back of this Tele! It definitely deserves a clear varnish, I don't care if you can tell it's not one solid piece of wood, who cares, it is what it is and I'm liking it...

To be continued...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:12 am 
If I was faced with a similar situation, I think I might try a router with a straight bit set about a 1/32" deep. I wonder if that would do the same thing (couldn't get into the curves though)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:19 pm 
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Did most of the sanding today. It took a lot of sanding to get through the heinous tool marks I'd left... but it looks good so far. I've started the varnish coats, then more sanding. More pics soon!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2004 7:25 am 
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Location: Myrtle Beach S.C.
Keep us posted. Can't wait to see the final results.

Ronnie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 3:10 pm 
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Here it is with most of the sanding done. I wound up overdoing it a little, the top layer of plywood veneer is worn through slightly in places (this is why I never work on other peoples' stuff!) But after consideration, I decided not to worry about it- this guitar will never be cosmetically perfect, the marks and flaws all add personality (or so I'm telling myself.)

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The shaping worked out quite well, though. I'm not sure it's all that obvious that it was reshaped to make up for battle wounds.

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Here it is with another coat of varnish. I'm using water-based Diamond Varathane, not a purists' finish, but one I'm very familiar with- used it on everything from floors to motorcycles. I'm using the 3x3 rule: three coats three minutes apart each, repeated for three days, with heavy sanding inbetween. Well, I may end up putting more coats than that on there. But one thing for sure- knowing how heavy the coats of paint Uncle Matt put on it, I have no qualms about heavy layers of varnish to fill the flaws, drip dry and sand out the drips later.

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As you'll see in the earlier pics, the pickguard had been sprayed black. I stripped this with an orange oil-based paint stripper, wiping the curdled paint off and washing the stripper off before it had time to soften the plastic surface much. Worked it over with fine sandpaper and the many scratches came out nicely. What you can't see is that there are still a bunch of scratches in it, but again I'm not worrying about perfection as much as consistency.

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More to come!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 3:17 am 
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I had honestly really meant to keep adding layers of varnish and sanding until it became a seamless glossy surface. But something happened on the way to the forum... It looked really nice in just the nine coats it had, and a little polishing with steel wool took the edge off the shine, just enough. I couldn't resist taking a picture of it...

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...and then as long as I had the body and neck together in one place... well, what would you do?

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Made in Japan. Resurrected in Seattle.

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Suddenly it was a guitar! At this point there seemed no turning back. The texture of the body, far from being seamless plastic, had warmth and texture, and I like it.

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Might as well test fit the pickguard and bridge...

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The bridge pickup was in good shape, and assembled back into the bridge with springs and bolts.

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Wow!

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The neck pickup was in pieces. It looks like it could be reassembled, but I also have an apparently identical pickup from an Electra LP of the same era. Actually though, that original looks like it would be easy to coil tap...

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It really looks like a Tele again!

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There's still a lot to do, this was really only a test fit. I need to get correct bolts and springs to mount the neck pickup, and of course there's wiring. Also, the tuners I'd planned to use won't work, they're too modern and too big in diameter... an older set fits but is left and right handed for a LP. I'm going to need to score some older tuners somewhere, preferably silver...

To be continued!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:37 pm 
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Well, once the initial rush of excitement at seeing it semi-together had worn off, I of course had second thoughts and decided to go back into the finish some more. So I've pulled it all back apart and given it another round of sanding and then three more coats of varnish, hung it up overnight to dry and then more sanding and recoating will follow.

I'm also seriously thinking of drilling the headstock for the newer tuners. if anyone can think of why this is a bad idea (the guitar is clearly not original anyway...) let me know.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2004 10:19 pm 
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OK then, I'll drill the headstock... that should mean I'll have enough done to get it back together pretty quick!

I dunno, just sitting with this guitar so far, I imagine playing the blues, thinking, this guitar has been used and abused, it'll sing the blues with experience...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 9:39 pm 
the project's lookin good, x189.
i'm like you--i don't like modding or changing. but once something's been "altered" to that degree i think you have something like a poetic license. i'm taking one with my aria straycat. i figure once parts have been removed, replaced, and "upgraded" to a certain point it becomes impossible to return to original. if there was a company making uncle matt replacement parts things would be different...
(besides you see vintage fenders/gibsons/etc all the time w/ upgraded tuners, straplocks, etc. so why not an electra?)
so, now that you've spent so much time with the guitar, what's yr impression of its build quality?
i ask because a friend is interested in getting an inexpensive telecaster and i mentioned the electras and arias to him. however, i've not had 1st hand experience with the pre-matt electra. so i'd appreciate a brief impression.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 9:48 pm 
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I'm impressed! the woodwork is really solid, and far from being a 'cheap plywood guitar', it's laminated mahogany with nice veneer front and back. The neck, of course, is great, and the pickups and electronics are as you see them- stock electra stuff is pretty good.

I guess it's no surprise (coming from me, a diehard electra fan) that I'd highly recommend an electra tele to someone as a great value with good sound, action and intonation (though I should wait till i string it to say that, but my experience with electra LP's has all been good.)

It's not pre-Matt, though, is it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 12:21 pm 
thanks for the input.
i have a les paul body that is made much the same way--and i suspect it may be an electra. (neck had been replaced.) it looks like the rock/super rock series. it's laminated solid slabs of mahogany. i haven't played it in years cuz i took it apart to fix up and never did but i remember it being very resonant w/ good sustain. (are there any markings on the tele's hardware to indicate manufacturer? i thought it might match my lp.)
as far as the tele's uncle matt/pre-matt heritage, i've always assumed that all peace sign electras are uncle matt and one with the older logo are not. there may be a overlap period, but i assumed that was the general "rule." electra telecasters were early models and made up till the mid 70s, around the time companies apparently started contracts with matsumoku. so i'd assume it's pre-matt. but even these older electras look like good solid instruments.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 5:03 pm 
That project reminds me a lot of both my Aria SG and the "Cheesecake". Both were destined for the woodpile or worse yet, Frankenstien's Castle. I did not re-finish the SG, but am happy with it the way it is. The Cheesecake needed surgery (Cardinal body and neck) since the body had a nasty crack into the butt, and the neck pocket had compression damage. It ended up with a somewhat whimsical rattle can job but seems to be holding up well.

Nice work! That's onle old Electra that has earned, and will now have the chance to play the blues.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 1:41 am 
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So I disassembled it again and went back over it with more coats of Varathane, quite a lot of coats actually… I was thinking of the original paint that was so thick and heavy that it felt like it’d been dipped. I sprayed, not dipped, but it was a bunch of heavy coats, and there was sanding to do to take the drip marks out. I used extra fine automotive sanding paper. It’s still not perfect, but perfect isn’t the goal. The overall feel is smooth, not grainy, and there’s not too many imperfections.

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Back into the shop, back together, got the bridge installed and the pickup wires routed to the control cavity. Finally the big moment- time to string it up! I did wind up drilling the headstock and installing some later Westone tuners. And set up the bridge, adjusted intonation, etc. So far so good.

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I strung it with 009’s, normally I use GHS Custom Lights, because I like the light gauge uppers for bending and the heavy gauge lowers for tone. This time I figured a little twanginess was probably in order. Now it’s time to connect the pickup leads!

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Step 25a: Always drip melted solder on the guitar finish. Check!


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The moment of truth- plug it in and play. BWANGGG! Loud and nasty! Yes! It lives, it plays! Better than that- it plays great! Its first few notes were some Muddy Waters licks, and I swear the guitar already knew the tune.

Click to hear it play!!!:

http://www.nwlink.com/~paulcl/guitars/telerez/telerez.mp3

http://www.nwlink.com/~paulcl/guitars/telerez/telerez2.mp3

(Go ahead and laugh, I reserve the right to wake up tomorrow a better player anyhow! :)

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Wow! This guitar is amazing me! I mean, the truth is, you salvage a guitar in pieces, you don’t really know what you’re going to get.

And it still has some issues- the humbucker isn’t working yet for some reason, nor is the tone knob, in fact, it sounds muffled like the tone is stuck on low. There is a remaining buzz happening that I think is a nut issue- seems like it’s buzzing on the open D string at the first fret, like the nut is too low. I might consider replacing it, though I have a hunch running heavier strings might solve the problem, actually. But never mind that. The minute I started playing it, I knew the next thing I had to do- install a strap, cause this guitar is going to get played, a lot!

But overall, this guitar is great! the neck feels awesome, it feels so good under your hands, fingering and chording is easy somehow. And when you plug it into a cranked amp, the distortion tone is just sweet! This is the kind of guitar you like to have handy, sitting on the sofa nearby to be picked up and played at odd moments throughout the day. It’s the kind of guitar that gets played whether or not the pickups even work, because it feels good and sounds good even unplugged.

I’m happy with my resurrected tele copy, I’d encourage anyone to consider such a rescue.

P.S. The recordings were made by plugging into a little Smokey Amp and then running its external speaker jack directly into the computer's microphone jack, hi-fi you bet!

P.P.S. The tone knob has mysteriously decided to start working today, and the tone completely opens up this thing's upper end, all the clear twangy stuff. The recordings above sound like they're recorded under a pillow, but what the heck, it's all part of the thing's history now. Maybe I'll get brave and post new stuff that sounds better.


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