Gibson finish test, Faded to VOS

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Scumback Speakers, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm sure there are a few of you out there with the "faded" finishes on your Gibson guitars that became available a few years back. I happen to have two of them, a Les Paul and an ES-333. While I initially thought the "faded" idea was a good one, I soon realized that I wanted my polished & shiny nitro lacquer finish back...so I quit playing my 05 LP Faded.

    I got gas recently for a hollow body after 31 years of not playing one (ain't that the way it goes sometimes? LOL) and wound up bidding on and winning a blonde ES-333. Well the guitar got here and of course, the previous owner claimed it was in "MINT" condition.

    Yeah...right...except you couldn't even see if it was mint with the layers of dust, crap, fingerboard oils and sweat he left on the guitar. I guess, however, it would be mint IF I took the time to clean it up, right? LOL

    So, I get the guitar and had to literally rub really hard on it in some spots to clean away the grime...by the time I did, I realized that some spots of the guitar, like where your arm goes over the top of the guitar were not matching the other parts of the "faded" finish. By that I mean they were shinier, or duller, depending on how much rubbing I had to do.

    Great...now I have a "multi-faceted faded" finish. :jo Not what I was looking to achieve. Enter the "fark it" mode! I'm going to buff this whole thing out now, I'm pissed!

    I contacted a few friends who had these finishes, none had any experience with them, but one, Chet Feathers (ola Chet!) said he called Gibson to ask about the "faded" finish and it's thickness awhile back. Gibson told Chet that the "faded" finish was their regular nitro cellulose lacquer, but it was just thinner, and dulled down with some micro-mesh type cloth.

    So, fine...what the hell, I ain't playing this one the way it is, so it's time to experiment. (I know, I know...$1000 plus guitar in decent shape and I'm experimenting...WTF?)

    So here's the finish test...

    This picture is the area I buffed out on the back with the help of my luthier (which means he turned me loose on his buffer with both a coarse and fine polishing compound) and about 15 minutes of buffing with both compounds. As you can see, it takes on the typical shiny lacquer finish look, or VOS finish look.
    [​IMG]
    Here's the front of the guitar, where I've buffed out just an area about 3 inches in from the edge for about a foot. I've laid a house brochure underneath the guitar so you can see the transition from faded to VOS look.
    [​IMG]
    As you can see, the finish will shine up quite nicely. These pics are fresh from the buffer, and haven't even been polished. So if you're tired of being faded, you can get shiny again with a bit of effort.

    I'm going to take the entire guitar apart tomorrow, get it's new pickups ready to install, order a pickguard and bracket, and get this guitar shined up on Friday...if it turns out as well as I hope...this one may be next.
    [​IMG]

    If anyone has any questions about doing this, shoot me an email...
     
  2. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    Pretty cool man! Pretty cool!!

    I love that faded LP. Plays great too.
     
  3. DualRectifier

    DualRectifier Silver Supporting Member

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    I've always wondered about this. What kind of polishing compound did you use? What kind of pad? High rpm, or slow?
     
  4. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I'll ask my guitar luthier about the polishing compound. He had two big buffing wheels (approximately 12" in diameter or so, pads about 1.5" wide, and both of the buffing wheels were about 24" apart) that were on his buffing motor. Looked like the similar buffing pad/whatever you use to do a car, except they were setup for his belt driven motor. The coarser compound was orange/red in color, the finer compound was off-white/cream colored.

    The rpm seemed slower to me, perhaps 100-150 rpm? I spent about 15 minutes doing the entire back of the guitar, and I did the front part in about 5. I figure by the time I strip off the hardware, I'll need to buff it for about another hour total, maybe a bit more, before it's all "glossed out".
     
  5. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I believe the original owner might be contacting me to kick my butt (ola TC! :drool ) if I "gloss out" that LP...heh heh...and you're right, it does play pretty good since I had my luthier go over a couple of anomalies, plus the new RS studs, and stuff I put in it....
     
  6. indytruckboy

    indytruckboy Member

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    Did you do the neck as well?
    Also, I see that the 333 has a control access in the back. Do all of them have that?
     
  7. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Pretty sure all the ES-333's had the plastic control cavity panel. I finished buffing out the entire guitar yesterday, and it turned out pretty close to a regular finish. You can now see slight imperfections, though, light impressions and minor dings show up just like a completely finished model. However, the overall look is very cool, and all parts of the guitar shined up nicely.

    My luthier has to recut the nut slots (they're too high), there are 2 or 3 frets around 14th-16th that are high (causes some buzzing) and need leveling, and I have different pickups being installed as well.

    I'll get the details on the rubbing/buffing compound on Monday when I pick up the guitar.
     
  8. HammyD

    HammyD Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the info! I have been thinking about a 333 because I want and 335, can justify the cash and I notice the thinner finishes seem to sound more "woody."

    I think what you did is great and looks wonderful!!!!
     
  9. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    James Dawson, thanks, and you're welcome...I have a habit of experimentation (sometimes to extremes) that keeps me learning and digging music, gear and tone...this is just another of those "what if?" things I seem to keep doing... pics next week after it gets properly setup. :D
     
  10. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    Thanks for the post. I was always interested if you could do that with the Faded models. People could save several hundred euros with this here in Europe - get the Faded model and buff the **** out of it. :D
     
  11. Chuckracer

    Chuckracer Supporting Member

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    :confused: I'm still trying to figure out what VOS means...?:confused:
     
  12. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Vintage Old Specification (or Spec, or Style) from what I've read...
     
  13. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    OK, the sun is too high for good reflection type photos, but I'll snap some more later on to give you a better idea of how the faded finish turned out completely buffed out. Here's a teaser for now.
    [​IMG]
    I have replaced the original 490R/498T set of pickups with some old Voodoo pups that I had in my Epi Birdseye LP...man have those covers tarnished over three years! LOL

    More pics later...
     
  14. HammyD

    HammyD Supporting Member

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    And.....? Any more photos? Progress?

    I've tinkered with the idea of a blonde 333, Duncan Antiquities, RTS Super Pots, Hoveland Musicaps, and vintage nylon saddles to get as close to my old 67 335 at an affordable price!

    Once again, thanks for posting!
     
  15. bobbymack

    bobbymack Supporting Member

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    This is an '04 333 I picked up used for $850 from a guy who is a Larrivee dealer, this was his personal electric axe. And a nice one it is...

    I bought a $20 Ryobi buffer and a $2 can of Turtle Wax polishing compound, and went to work...
    [​IMG]
    I installed a set of Lollar Imperials which sound fantastic in this guitar, got rid of the black speed knobs, left the switch tip in a cup of coffee for a day, and installed a pigtail tailpiece.

    This guitar is very likely the best value I've ever got in a guitar. It plays and sounds great, just sounds killer through the Fuchs, and for a lot less money than I have in most of my other guitars. Hmmm...
     
  16. HammyD

    HammyD Supporting Member

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    Very, very nice Bobby!
     

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