Beware ! You're in Kamikazie here. Not many pro luthiers around, more often brave souls experimenting in their kitchen.
Silvertone 1478 project - by Michael
This page was copied from www.guitarhucksters.com, Michael's website. A big thanks Michael !
Michael lives in Finland so dates are in the european format d/m/y
The neck and body arrived at Helsinki Airport Customs at 3.8.2006.
The body was OK, the neck seems to have had the paint stripped with a dull knife before refinishing. I'll attempt to paint this sunburst.
5.8.2006 : Stripped most of the old paint.
6.8.2006 : First coats of red
13.8.2006 : The sunburst is taking shape
It might seem as if nothing has happened during the last few weeks. Painting takes time and is not very entertaing to post about while it's happening. "As exiting as watching paint dry" describes the process.
I sprayed 7-8 coats of clear laquer on top of the color layers. I let the body dry for about a week before doing the final steps.
Here's the body before the final polishing :
I first flattened the surface with fine sandpaper :
Next I polished it using automotive rubbing compund (first regular, then superfine grade):
Now it's starting to look like it should :
A few words about refinishing guitars:
- Don't do it unless it's absolutely neccessary ! A beat-up original finish will always be worth more than a refinish.
- If your guitar is worth a lot of money you should let a professional luthier do the job.
- If you decide to do it yourself you should learn on really cheap guitars with no collectors value
- Don't rush, the quality of the finish is equal to the effort you put into it.
I do my lo-budget refinishes with acrylic laquer in spray-cans (available from auto parts stores). Acrylic is easy to work with, not too poisonous compared to 2-component laquers and not too expensive. I do recommend the use of a breathing mask, this stuff is not a good idea to get in your lungs. I do my spraying outside which means that I do these projects in the summer or early fall. Watch out for rain and other moisture. You don't want to leave stuff outside to dry too long, birds shit, leaves fall and cars raise dust, none of which you want to get on your guitar.
Today I started assembling the guitar.
Body and neck screwed together, Schaller strap locks (I use these on all my guitars) installed.
Silvertone logo from Banana Guitars, tuners from Kevin Bacon, ferrules from Andy T and truss rod cover from LONDED.
I ran into a problem during assembly: the holes on the tailpiece didn't line up with the ones one the body. This is not unusual with old guitars. When I drilled new holes I used one of the old ones and put the E strings and the bridge on before drilling to make sure that I got it straight. A tailpiece that is not in line will pull the bridge sideways and the strings will not be aligned with the fretboard.
I used the nut from my Meteor neck (which will be replaced anyway) and a temporary bridge to assemble the guitar. I was pleasantly surprised: the neck which looked a bit crooked before assembly was playable straight from the start. The guitar was nice to play like this and sounded good acoustically. This looks promising !
More parts arrived. Now the guitar has the correct bridge and a whammy bar.
The pickups and the knobs have arrived and are waiting for a pickguard :
Time to tackle the electronics. The neck pickup was bought as a "project" (non-working). Fortunately I have a few working coils in my pickup box.
This is what the underside of the pickup looks like. Unlike most pickups these are held together by rivets instead of screws.
To open the pickup housing you have to drill out the rivets from the underside :
Here's the pickup with the coil changed for a working one. I assembled it with thin screws in place of the rivets. The next step will be sawing the excess length of the screws off and fastening the pickup to the pickguard.
More electronics work. This is the wrong way to connect the pickup switch :
This is the right way. Always test the circuits before you screw and rivet everything together.
I got the electronics working and then all that was left was to screw the whole thing together :
All that is left to do is to have a new nut made and to experiment with different string gauges to find the perfect set for this particular guitar. This turned out really well. I could have bought a S-1478 in comparable condition for the same amount of money that this cost me, but the satisfaction of having saved another "hopeless" case makes it worth more.
Michael - october 2006
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