Advice for relic-ing a guitar

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner: Guitar & Bass Technical Discussi' started by pwilson, May 14, 2006.

  1. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't have pics yet but I was able to get that good vertical checking on a highway one body and it looks great. It's funny to me how some guitars have vertical and others horizontal.

    I used both a freezer to a hot/humid bathroom (shower running) and also the spray stuff.
     
  2. Toneslinger

    Toneslinger Member

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    do you know what type of finish it was? I know you can do checking on nitro finishes but Poly finishes that they put on modern guitars cant really be checked by heating and freezing the finish.
     
  3. sameoldblues

    sameoldblues Member

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    I've got a Nash as well, and I've run into this same problem...I've been using the hair dryer/upside down computer duster method...but I also tried putting the body in the freezer and then rushing it out into the hot Florida sun...also with no results except for a very wet guitar. The Nash finish is very thin, but I think it comes down to the fact that nitrocellulose laquer takes a long time to fully dry and harden...it's just a bit too elastic to crack. When I got my Nash at first, the finish was scraping off under my fingernails...I thought I'd been screwed, because it felt like acrylic spray paint. But really, it's just that he sprays the bodies himself and, because he's so backordered, you may be getting a finish that's only had a month or two to harden. I'm afraid we'll just have to be patient with the curing process before we senselessly disfigure our guitars. I'll race you...
     
  4. Kingbeegtrs

    Kingbeegtrs Senior Member

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    checking is a tricky thing. I don't do it because it usually comes out looking fake. If you look at REAL vintage guitars the lacquer checks in straight lines either vertically or horizontally. When you do it yourself with compressed air or switching from hot to cold it usually has the "spider" effect which is a dead giveaway.

    There are some things that you just can't duplicate EXACTLY. I'd rather a guitar lack checking than to have fake-looking checking. Here's the deal: a lot of guitars have checking and some don't. One thing that they do have in common is that NONE have fake-looking checking.
     
  5. Chris Rice

    Chris Rice Supporting Member

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    I've owned many old guitars, and a few (not many!) have had the spiderweb checking. I currently own a '65 Goya that has a shattered finish in addition to vertical and horisontal checking (and cracks for that matter). It really depends on the formulation of the lacquer, how it was applied, and what kind of life the guitar has led. I've seen it on 50's Gibsons and Fenders as well.
     
  6. AustinIsPresent

    AustinIsPresent Member

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    Hm, sadly, my '94 Gibson Nighthawk is already getting some fairly substantial checking. It's generally running vertical up and down the body, same direction the neck runs. I suspect it's due to the "in and out of the cold car to warm venue" situation, as the case I've got isn't too stellar, and by the looks of it, the old owner wasn't all too careful. Try lending it to a buddy for a little while, I'm sure he won't be as careful with it as you are :)
     
  7. Kingbeegtrs

    Kingbeegtrs Senior Member

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    the 65 goya probably doesn't have a nitro finish. There were EPA regulations on Nitro made in the mid-60's. Fender, for example, used poly base coats starting around '65.

    MOST of the guitars I've seen had vertical or horizontal checking. People who relic guitars want them to look like MOST of the vintage guitars. make sense?
     
  8. Chris Rice

    Chris Rice Supporting Member

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    Yes, makes sense for your finishes. What I like about old guitars is the personality and differences from one to the next. The Goya is most definately nitro. The EPA had no jurisdiction in Sweden.
    The Goya:
    http://ricecustomguitars.com/random/IMG_4323.jpg
     
  9. Six Strings

    Six Strings Member

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    What about the metal parts? What techniques are used to age them?
     
  10. Kyle Ashley

    Kyle Ashley Member

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    PCB etchant
    a bath in sea salt, peroxide, and a hunk of steel wool

    work carefully with very short application times
     
  11. gkelm

    gkelm Gold Supporting Member

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    That sounds interesting...a nice safe and friendly option to the muratic acid I've used.

    Greg
     
  12. Kyle Ashley

    Kyle Ashley Member

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    well the etchant is pretty brutal...it will burn your skin and stain like crazy, but it dulls nickel hardware well if dunked in for a few seconds.
     
  13. Vince

    Vince Member

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    I had a couple of great aging artists helping me when we were doing the original first line for Fender back in the mid 90's, and our artistic philosophy started with a pretty simple approach. Every guitar would be assigned a "personality" and a fictional history, and everything that was done to it would have to be consistent with that story. I used to really enjoy some of the "tales" they'd come up with about who'd owned the guitar, where it had been played, how it had changed hands over the years, etc. It was fun to do, but it also helps give the piece life and can help each one be unique.

    I also took the guys to the vintage shows every year and drilled and drilled and taught them how to really "see" what old guitars look like and why.
     
  14. Blooz1

    Blooz1 Member

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    I learned a lot about finish checking "the hard way" back in the 70's before there was such a thing as a "relic" guitar.

    My LP Custom was in the shop, and a friend of mine lent me his pristine Goldtop LP so I could play a gig.It was the middle of a New England winter, and a very cold night. We were caught for over an hour in a traffic jam caused by an accident, and got to the gig almost an hour late.

    We had to load in and set up as fast as possible, so there was no time to let guitars warm up slowly. By the end of the night the gold top of the LP was covered with "spiderwebs"! The sides and back were fine, but the top was ruined!

    Needless to say, I was really embarassed to give the guitar back to my friend! I paid to have the top re-done, which cost $350 at a place in New York.It was almost as much as just buying a new guitar for him, but he was quite attached to the Goldtop since it had been a gift to him from a family member.
     
  15. bitsandvolts

    bitsandvolts Supporting Member

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    Given the relic craze, I have to ask...

    Did your friend call you up recently and go "remember when you ruined my goldtop? Can you do it again?"
     

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