Guitar Retrospective #6: “Wild Horses”

"Wild Horses" - Front

“Wild Horses” – Front

In 2007 I purchased a lot of 3 Squier Strats because I had a pile of fabric I wanted to use on guitars and some time on my hands. I also wanted to see what it would be like and if I could actually work on 3 guitars at once. I staggered the production so I could be working on different phases of the project for each guitar. I only had so much space so this worked well. While one guitar was being sprayed in the garage I could start prepping the next one on the table. Then one could be hanging in the closet while the second one was being sprayed and a third was being prepped or worked on, and the cycle would go like that until I had 3 guitars hanging in the closet at one point waiting to be finished. The “Wild Horses” strat was the first to  be completed from this batch.

Stripped Squier bodies.

Stripped Squier bodies.

I bought Squiers because they were cheap, they had all their components there, and I could get some really good practice and experience stripping and refinishing guitars. What I found was that stripping guitars is no fun! Depending on the finish it could be a real P.I.T.A. These wonderfully inexpensive guitars had a thick resin coating under a polyester finish. It took a great deal of sanding to get through the armor on these things, but eventually I could get them down to the resin dipped coating. What I finally figured out was that I didn’t really need to do a complete strip on these things, given this ironclad finish. There was no real reason to get down this far as it turned out, other than it looked good for a minute before I started covering it all up again. By the third one and subsequent refinishes, I would just do a good scuff sand and maybe prime. That was plenty good to glue a fabric down to.

After cutting excess fabric around the edge.

After cutting excess fabric around the edge.

Body painted, smooth transition on the edges.

Body painted, smooth transition on the edges.

So the new challenge to figure out with these strats turned out to be the curvy body shape. The Stratocaster body is so iconically sexy and smooth, made possible by the shape along with the rounded edges. The Ibanez bodies I had worked with previously have primarily flat tops with a defined edge. So it was easy to cut the fabric off at the edge and that was that. With these bodies, the rounded edge doesn’t provide an exact place to obviously end the fabric, and what to do about the new lip that the fabric edge creates?

I put that question to the great minds over at my favorite guitar refinishing forum, Guitar Reranchand while I waited for an inspiring response I took out my exacto knife with a fresh blade and took it to the body, carving along the top just before it dropped off the edge. I don’t know exactly who provided the answer but I was lead to something I wasn’t aware of at the time, CA-30, otherwise known as thick super glue. I use this stuff all the time now. I knew super glue existed of course, I had G.I. Joe action figures as a kid, and they had some tough battles, so I was aware you could glue your fingers together while attempting to fix the broken pieces while your mom wasn’t looking. But I didn’t know it came in thick. This turned out to be the key. Regular super glue was so watery it was subject to gravity (not so super at all really). The thick super glue could be applied like caulking around the edge of the fabric, running a nice bead that transitioned between the body and fabric. Then with some tedious (pretty hard stuff) and careful sanding, you would be left with a totally smooth transition. Once painted, you’d never know what lie underneath.

The finish idea was lead by this fabric I had picked out of one of my mother’s fabric catalogs she would get periodically. I finished it front and back with the fabric since I had it, and decided to just use white for the edge and burst color, I think because all the components (knobs, pick guard, pickup covers) were white. After painting the burst, that white fade, I had an idea for a nice finishing touch. It looked like it could be a foggy morning on the plains where these horses were running. To do this, I ordered a can of Mary Kaye White spray paint from the Guitar Reranch, and sprayed over the body until I was happy with the look. This paint is very translucent, meant to be used over natural wood with good grain, like an ash, so it sprayed very faint and gave the perfect touch.

Mary Kaye White gave the look of fog.

Mary Kaye White gave the look of fog.

This was a fun project and lead me to some new discoveries and techniques that I continue to use. This project also started a trend where I would not know what to do with all my new guitars, so my answer was to give them away to friends as gifts! (Whoa what a guy, right?) I was a groomsmen in a good friends wedding where we even played some original acoustic music we had written together for the ceremony, very special and very good memories, so I decided that this guitar belonged with them, the new happy couple. That reminds me I haven’t been to their house in awhile I need to check on it and see if they have it properly displayed or not. 😉

I’ll wrap this one up with some pictures of the guitar below, thanks for checking this one out.

j.

Close up of polished fabric finish.

Close up of polished fabric finish. Like a MIRROR!

Wild Horses - Front 2 Wild Horses - Back Wild Horses - Full Front Wild Horses - Full Back Wild Horses - Edge 1 Wild Horses - Edge 2

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4 responses to “Guitar Retrospective #6: “Wild Horses”

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