Tag Archives: Jai Guitars

Guitar Retrospective #11: “HB Adventure Strat”

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It’s been awhile since I posted a guitar retrospective. There are still quite a few to go to get caught up to present times, so here we go!

This guitar started life back in early 2008 as a guitar kit. I had been looking into other means of obtaining guitars to refinish and after doing several Squier strats (“Wild Horses”, “Koi Flower”, “Miartisme”) I wanted to try these kits I had been reading about. I had done an LP style guitar from a Saga kit before, but I had tracked down some strat and tele style electric guitar kits made by Grizzly, which was a big woodworking and metalworking machinery company that had a local store, so I was able to go and pick a few up to try out. It wasn’t a typical place you would think to find guitar kits. Turns out the owner of Grizzly was a luthier himself, who made some pretty amazing guitars, so he offered these kits and other guitar parts through his company. You can still get guitar parts there, but it appears the kits are no longer available. It was your standard electric guitar kit, decent body and neck, with a blank headstock (the stratocaster and telecaster style headstocks are copyrighted by Fender so couldn’t be reproduced and sold), and probably lower end hardware and electronics.

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I remember the reason I wanted to try guitar kits was because you started with a complete guitar, and the body was a blank canvas, you didn’t have to do any work to strip it down before you could refinish it. But it was wise to do a rough assembly of the guitar to make sure everything fit together ok, so there wouldn’t be any fun surprises at the end.

For the finish, I had this cool looking green fabric, I don’t even know how to describe it. If I were to free associate I would use words like; Celtic, hippie, natural, earthy, lavender, forest, green, free, peace, love, unity. I felt it was a great opportunity to use on one of these strats, and it really worked out for getting a good placement on the guitar to maximize the graphic element and still remain a cool subtle look. I started with the front and decided to finish the back with fabric also, with a more subdued section of the print, but it works to keep continuity. Here are some shots of the process. Pretty simple with this one, used the standard material finish process I’ve come to know: glued fabric on, sanding sealer, cut it out, more sanding sealer (a lot), sanding, paint, clear coats, final wet sanding and polish.

The Front:

 

 

The Back:

 

 

The Pickguard:

The kit came with a plain white pick guard, I didn’t feel this particular look required a matching pick guard, so I didn’t apply fabric to it, but I didn’t want to leave it stark white either. I  decided to paint it the same color as the edges and burst of the guitar, which was a seafoam green. I thought that color worked really well to compliment the graphic on the print as well as brighten it up overall, as the main color of the guitar was a dark green. Man I can’t believe I used to have time to think about stuff like that.

 

 

The Headstock:

As I said earlier, the kit came with a headstock blank, which looks like this.

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It’s just a paddle, which doesn’t look very good. I didn’t feel like dealing with this again myself, like I had with the Les Paul style guitar. So I talked to some people on the guitar forums I visited at the time, and found somebody that would cut them out for me in the traditional “strat” style. I sent them off, and they came back all nice and pretty, ready to go.

Also, during the process of refinishing this guitar, it became apparent who I was making it for. Some very close friends of mine were getting married, and try as I might, they just wouldn’t push their wedding date back so I could get this thing properly done in time to give it to them. (I know right!? So selfish.) I thought about my options, and realized I would just do as they do, and go with the flow, and use the opportunity to make it really personal, so I hand wrote the name on the headstock and added a personal note on the back. I don’t think I’ve had to admit this yet, but I did this on the day of their wedding  before leaving my house. I was working on this thing to the very last minute. It is by no means fancy, but I think it’s fitting, and it works, and that’s what I tell myself.

 

HB Adventure:

You’ve been wondering this whole time, “What the hell is HB Adventure”? I purposely waited until the end to tell you, because I worry about your attention span and wanted you to earn it. Let me be the first to say, Congratulations! Here it comes. HB stands for Hannah and Barry, two very dear friends who I knew separately and then came together to create a beautiful life, incredible love story for sure. <humor>You see Barry was my ex-boyfriend and Hannah was a chick I knew in High School, at least that’s how I remember it. </humor> They really lived life proper traveling and had a blog to tell us all about it while I stayed home making guitars and checking in on their adventures. Life is still happening over at HBAdventure.com, to the fullest to be sure. I really admire my friends who have always seemed to do life right, exploring and capturing the very best life has to offer, and leaving the rest. They teach that now to their two beautiful daughters.

But back in August of 2008, they were just getting married, and I had made a gift for them. I had taken the neck plate in to be engraved, as I was known to do for special occasions. (Mostly this is so they don’t forget who it came from, I hope they don’t know any other “Joe’s”.) 😉

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j.


Guitar Retrospective #10: “7-String Koi”

 

DSC00921Beginning 2008 I picked up a guitar body on eBay for cheap thinking I would refinish it and resell it. It was a bit of an experiment to see how quickly I could turn around a guitar body and how much I could resell it for. I found an Ibanez RG 7 string body and stripped it down from its metallic burgundy finish to bare wood. I had another Koi fish fabric print on hand I wanted to use and this was a perfect opportunity. The fabric was dark so obviously suggested a black paint accompaniment. Also, since I was trying to do this quickly, I ended up just doing fabric on the front, and painting the back. It was pretty straight forward and took just a few months of working on it nights and weekends. I wish I could remember what I sold it for, but I don’t remember making a bunch of money on it, otherwise I would have done it a lot more. I went back to doing full guitars after this, so that’s a pretty good sign I hope I broke even on it. 🙂

Here’s a gallery of progress shots on this project.

FRONT:

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BACK:

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GLAMOUR SHOTS:

j.


Guitar Retrospective #8 (Pt. 2 The Headstock): “Landscape Les Paul”

Welcome to the 2nd installment of the “Landscape LP” project, where I will discuss the creation of the headstock. If you noticed in the first picture from Pt. 1, the guitar kit came with what they call a “paddle” headstock. Meaning, it’s just a blank, intended for the user to create their own style. They do this in these generic kits because the headstock shapes are patented by the company. So to cover their ass since it’s probably too expensive to get the license, they exclaim “you get to make it any way you want!” Great. Thanks for all that extra work. Well I turned some lemons into some some seriously delicious lemonade with this project, turning that square paddle board headstock blank into a perfectly fitted custom shape to complement the detail in the fabric print on the body, as well as match the print by finishing the headstock in fabric as well.

Here’s what I started with.

LP HS back

LP HS front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I set out designing the shape, figuring out what would get cut out. I didn’t want to stray too far from a tradition Les Paul style headstock design, so I used my little Jai face logo as a starting point to figure out the shape.

Traced a template to sketch ideas on paper, then transferred over to headstock when I was satisfied.

Traced a template to sketch ideas on paper, then transferred over to headstock when I was satisfied.

 

Cut it out using a coping saw, band saw, and a pneumatic sanding drum, if I remember correctly.

LP HS cut

Sanded smooth.

Sanded smooth.

Burnt it up a little, rough cut here. Maple is hard!

Burnt it up a little, rough cut here. Maple is hard!

 

Touched it up with sand paper and files to get the shape just right.

Touched it up with sand paper and files to get the shape just right.

 

Then I set about giving this headstock face a fabric finish. Same process as the body.  I chose the portion of the fabric from the back of the guitar, the night sky with a few birds. It was at this point I realized how well suited that shaped was, as it looks just like a bird flying if you’re looking at it head on.

After fabric has been glued down, and several coats of sanding sealer.

After fabric has been glued down, and several coats of sanding sealer.

After sanding the sanding sealer. Got into the fabric a little on the edges but that's ok, it's getting a paint burst.

After sanding the sanding sealer. Got into the fabric a little on the edges but that’s ok, it won’t really show.

 

Trim those fabric edges sharp and clean to the wood.

Trim those fabric edges sharp and clean to the wood

After clear coats.

After clear coats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polished to a lovely shine.

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And all set up and ready to go.

Tuners installed and complete.

Tuners installed and complete.

 

I hope you enjoyed following the process of this guitar, it posed some new challenges which was why I was happy to choose this style and try out this kit. I expanded my knowledge and experience trying out some new things with this one, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. And I know where it lives and get to visit it every now and then.

 

Creatively,

j.

 

 


Guitar Retrospective #8 (Pt. 1 The Body): “Landscape Les Paul”

I began this project in June of 2007. Since I was also in the middle of a couple strat projects, namely, the “Koi Flower” and “Wild Horses” guitars, I was ready for something different. I decided to try a Les Paul style guitar, with a curved top.  I picked up a Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit.

Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit

Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit

After studying the kit, which was decent enough with the components (kit guitars like this usually benefit from upgrading some of the parts), I remember being impressed with the body. Nice figure in the top, nice binding, nice mahogany back. I thought, “Wow this is pretty good for a kit guitar…Ok, now which fabric will I use to cover this up with.”

Saga body frontSaga LP body back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had picked out a beautiful Japanese scenic landscape print for this guitar. I used this print because there were a lot of great options and a lot of surface area on this guitar with which to display it, with the rear routed control cavity, and the larger body size, you could see a lot of this fabric. This was the full panel I had to work with. Actually a little more than what is shown in this picture, since I got a full yard, there is more tree and hillside to the left. fabric full panel

I laid it out with my paper templates to determine which section of the fabric would be used for the front and which for the back. This is one of the funnest parts of the process, because you are deciding the look of the whole guitar, it is the decision moment of the design process, because once you cut it out, that’s it, you’re committed. Unless you have a bunch more fabric, which I never do. Fabric can get expensive, especially these fancy prints I always pick out, so I usually only get a yard.

Layout

Laying out fabric, template positioning of the back of the guitar.

So I’ve documented the material finish process on previous posts, so I won’t bore anyone (or myself) with every detail by describing it in words. But I will do it with a series of pictures, because pictures are fun and require MUCH less reading.

LP fabric front rough

Fabric glued down, rough cut – front.

LP fabric back rough

Fabric glued down, rough cut – back.

 

Post-Sanding Sealer coats and cut out cavities. Front of guitar.

After sanding sealer coats and cut out cavities – front.

Post-Sanding Sealer coats and cut out cavities. Back of guitar.

After sanding sealer coats and cut out cavities – back.

 

After sanding, before paint - front.

After sanding, before paint – front.

After sanding, before paint - back.

After sanding, before paint – back.

 

After paint - front.

After paint – front.

After paint - back.

After paint – back.

 

I interrupt this series of beautifully laid out sequential pictures to say, holy cow was it difficult to find this shade of navy blue that matches PERFECTLY with this print. I tried at least half a dozen different shades of the usual brands I use, only to find none of them blended well with this fabric. I eventually went to a store I never go to, I believe it was a Sebo’s hardware store in town, and found a construction spray paint that looked promising. When I shot it and saw this result, I was ecstatic, I could finally stop buying blue spray paint.

 

After shooting clear coats - front.

After shooting clear coats – front.

After shooting clear coats - back.

After shooting clear coats – back.

 

For the detail oriented like myself, the paint I used had a hint of sparkle, which again matched PERFECTLY on a deeper level with this print, as it also has a little sparkle in the print, which I’ll show soon in a close up pic.

After clear coats, side of guitar, notice sparkle in paint.

After clear coats, side of guitar, notice sparkle in paint.

 

After wet sanding and polish - front.

After wet sanding and polish – front.

After wet sanding and polish - back.

After wet sanding and polish – back.

 

Yes I did get a few sand-throughs along the edges on this one, I was really bummed. It’s a learning process, and I’m always learning new tricks to avoid this terrible eye sore that is very easy to allow pop up.

And hey, I’m a man of my word, here’s that close up where you can see the sparkle detail in the print.

Close up of front, notice the sparkle in the print.

Close up of front, notice the sparkle in the print.

 

As you can see if you look closely in the neck pocket where I sign and date the guitar upon completion, this guitar was finished in August of 2007, it was intended as a wedding gift for a close friend. I remember now I was kind of rushing to complete this towards the end so it could be ready to give away after the long drive to its new home, which might explain the lack of completed pictures with it all strung up and full body/neck shots. By the way, the headstock was a completely custom design, and will be featured in its own post. Here are the shots I have of the completed body all put together. I show these with slight embarrassment, as guitar players will know, one of the pickups is backwards. (Ooops! so embarrassing!!!) Hey, it was my first experience with a Les Paul style guitar in person, I hadn’t come across pickups like these yet, and like I said I was rushing to get this out the door. But yea, I feel stupid seeing these pics now, so try to ignore everything I just said. :-/

LP finished front 1LP finished back 1

 

You might have noticed the custom neck plate I had engraved to commemorate the event, very special detail. I gave a big heartfelt speech during the rehearsal dinner where I presented the happy couple with the unique gift, explaining how the creation of the guitar represented what a good marriage might require: patience, love, attention to detail, hard work, more patience, etc. I said I hoped it would hang on a wall inside their home to remind them of this. Well, they are now divorced. It must have been sitting in the closet or something.

Seriously though, I hope my buddy forgives me for my commentary if he reads this. The guitar is with him now and that’s where I intended it to be all along, so mission accomplished. I should probably go visit him and replace that neck plate though. 😉 Love you buddy!

LP finished front 2

LP finished sides

LP finished front 3

LP finished back 2

 

Thanks for checking this out and remember there’s a part 2 coming where I go through the process of designing and creating the custom headstock on the neck of this guitar.

 

Creatively yours,

j.

 

 


Guitar Retrospective #7 (Pt. 2): “Koi Flower”

As I mentioned in the first installment of this project, this guitar fell victim to the stand it was displayed on. Just when you thought it was safe right!? And frankly, I didn’t do a very good job on the first attempt, so having the sides of the guitar completely melted down to the wood where the guitar rested proved to be an excellent excuse to give this guitar a facelift and correct some things that went wrong the first time.

Where the stand melted the finish.

Where the stand melted the finish.

Close up of damaged area.

Close up of damaged area.

Damaged area and horrendous sand thrus.

Damaged area and horrendous sand thrus.

The pictures above show the damaged areas and the sand thrus along the edges. All of this needed addressed, so I busted out the random orbital sander with some 60 grit and went to work taking it back down to the paint/fabric level. Once I got close I switched to a higher grit so I wouldn’t rip through the fabric completely. If I wore into lightly it was no big deal, that could be built back up with no issues. You can see below the faint areas behind the pickups, that’s a good example of sanding into the fabric. That happened to be where the bridge was gonna sit anyway. But I still wouldn’t consider it an issue, creates kind of a cool accent to the look.

Sanded back down to fabric.

Sanded back down to fabric.

Sanded down to fabric on back.

Sanded down on back and sides.

Masking template and paint.

Masking template and paint.

At this point I was ready to move forward again being extra careful with each step of the process, especially with making sure I built the sanding sealer coats up enough to fully cover everything. There was one spot on the front where an air bubble had developed (from not using enough glue in the beginning), which I addressed specifically by cutting the fabric, applying some super glue in the bubble, and flattening. With sanding sealer coats and sanding that area down repeatedly, I was able to completely flatten that spot out and remove the bubble. Can’t even find that spot now. Once a solid foundation was established again, I could repaint the sides and burst. I was able to get the same paint as before, so I could get the same look as before which I was very happy with, as I had matching pick guard, pick up covers, and knobs.

Using the cardboard template to paint sides and a burst.

Using the cardboard template to paint sides and a burst.

I still had the body template I had made the first time for painting. This is a great simple tool to make as you begin the process. I make one for every guitar I do. Since I just do one-offs I use spray cans and a cardboard cut out of the guitar body I’m working on, which I just trace at the beginning when I have the guitar in pieces. It can be manipulated for curves in the body, like the bottom left corner of the pic on the left, where it’s just bent over to follow the curve of the body to keep the spray uniform. I start by placing the template flat on the body to get the sides painted, shooting at a downward angle so most of the paint hits the sides and doesn’t sneak underneath. Then to do a burst, where the paint fades into the body from the edges, you can place items between the template and the body in the middle to give it a little lift (like shown), and spray at various downward angles while moving the template around as necessary. It masks the body while leaving the edge open enough to get a nice natural fade. It takes some practice and going a little at a time and checking often to see where it needs more paint. But you can get a very nice looking burst with this method with some practice just using spray cans!

Paint complete. Burst on front.

Paint complete. Burst on front.

Paint complete. Burst on back.

Paint complete. Burst on back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finish the paint process by very lightly sanding the faces of the guitar to remove any paint dust that may have settled in the burst process. Usually just a rough rag will suffice. And always wipe down with naphtha after each step to remove dust and finger oils! There was also the headstock component to this which I apparently didn’t get pictures of along the way the second time through. The finish had sunken a little revealing the outline of the decal, and it was just a little rough overall. I gave that the full treatment as well, minus the paint, while I did the same steps as the body. So after a long and slow process of applying clear coats, sanding down (the clear was going on quite rough and orange-peely), more clear coats, letting it cure, and then the final wet sand and polish, and not encountering a SINGLE sand thru, which was cause for much celebration!, I could call this guitar fully restored and complete. I waited for a sunny day and got some final pictures. So here you have it, in all its glory. 🙂

j.

 

Koi 2 - Front 1 Koi 2 - Front 2 Koi 2 - Back 1Koi 2 - Front 3 Koi 2 - Back 2Koi 2 - Horns Koi 2 - HeadstockKoi 2 - Front Full Koi 2 - Back Full

Me and the Koi-caster.

Me and the Koi-caster.


Guitar Retrospective #7 (Pt. 1): “Koi Flower”

The second guitar finished in my batch of Squiers was the oriental themed “Koi Flower”. Oriental fabrics are the best for this sort of thing, as it turns out, and there are plenty more to come. I have to say I had a family in mind to be the recipient of this guitar, even well before I was making it, as I had the fabric on hand for awhile before I was able to put it to use, but I wasn’t sure yet what the reason would be for getting it to them. I stewed over that for awhile after completing this project even, but I’ll come back to that, time for pictures!

Koi Flower - Front

I know I’m going to start repeating myself at some point, but you have to remember that these are retrospectives. I am going through my picture folders (the digital term for photo albums) — I’m looking at my computer hard drive people, and these files are telling me that they were taken in the spring of 2007, and one quick glance at your phone will tell you it is now 2013, which means this was 6 six years ago, which I find hard to believe. But what this means is, I’m relying on these pictures I took at the time to jump start something in my memory to tell the story of these guitars, and I may cover some ground that’s been previously treaded, and for that I’m sorry. Ok here we go.

Koi Flower - Front fabric

Fabric template cut.

This fabric was in my small collection at the time, of course I can’t recall where I chose it from…I believe it was from the same mail-order catalog as the “Wild Horses” print.

Side Note: When I find a fabric print I like, I get a yard of it. It’s the unit of measure that they sell the stuff in, so you will halfway sound like you know what you’re talking about, even though you stutter and don’t look nearly like their average customer. A yard is more than you will need, to do front and back even, but it’s always better to have more than you need. Fabric of this nature has a pattern, which repeats. If you get a yard, you have a couple chances at getting the exact same section when going over a guitar body. It’s insurance, incase something goes wrong, which it does sadly. I can cover most everything in these blog posts, and I like to get into detail when I can, but there’s nothing that compares to actually doing it, and that’s where we learn isn’t it? The other reason to get more than you need is, what if you decide later to do the headstock, or the back of the neck, or the back of the guitar body even, or make a matching amp or something. You will have some left over fabric to do so. The thing is, fabric is fleeting, cool prints are limited, and they have a way of disappearing forever, as if they never existed. So get what you can while you can, and keep in mind, you’re competing with quilters out there, and they are many, and they have more money, and more time, than you could ever imagine. That said, if you know any quilters, I bet they have a TON of cool fabric that they would give you to make into a guitar, so time to start making nice with your friends’ mothers and grandmothers.

Koi Flower - SS

Fabric glued. A few coats of sanding sealer.

Ok, back on topic, I gave you way more info on that side bar than I intended, time to scale it back. Here’s a picture of a guitar with fabric on it.

Alright I’m back, I can’t leave you like that, consider it bonus content. Notice how horrible this looks. Not what you pictured right? This, to me, is what’s so cool about this process. It can go from looking like this –>, to the picture at the top. It still blows my mind seeing these pix, or going through my fabric bin and finding scraps from these previous projects, knowing what they became, unbelievable. Anyway, it won’t look like this for long, but you have to go through the long process of applying sanding sealer once the fabric is glued down to the guitar, to build up a layer of clear on top of the fabric. The sanding sealer also hardens and raises the fibers of the fabric, which you later sand down smooth, to remove any resemblance of fabric, which will also lead people to believe you are some amazing painter/artist. My advice? Go with it, I can’t stand that look of disappointment in people’s faces any longer when I have to explain I am a “fake artist”.

Koi Flower - Front SS Cut

Mid Sanding Sealer – Trimmed.Koi Flower - Back SS CutBack of guitar. Mid sanding sealer and trimmed.

White = Primed

White = Primed

After a few coats of sanding sealer, the fabric is hard enough that you can trim the excess and cavities with an exacto knife. Remember to use a fresh blade, as you don’t need the extra trouble of dealing with a frayed edge or something. This is what you will have at this point. Continue with many more coats of sanding sealer, I’m talking like 20, before you start dry sanding with 400 grit.

I went through the process of using super glue around the edge to transition on the last post, so once that is done, and sanded, and plenty of sanding sealer coats have been applied and sanded down smooth and flat, it is time to move forward to primer if you so choose, or paint. I find I like doing a primer coat, because it is a form of checks and balances. Things may look real good with just bare wood, but once you hit it with that primer, things start showing up. You will know if you need to do further prep, re-sanding some spots maybe, or more sanding sealer. Imperfections are quite apparent after primer. The primer helps with the color coat anyway, so better to catch all those imperfections now, so the paint can go on smooth without having to backtrack. Because let’s face it, if you’ve tried doing a fabric finish, there’s so much work that goes into it as far as “prep”, that once you get to paint, you’re practically home free, and to have an issue at that stage in the process, well let me tell you, it’s devastating.

 

 

 

As the picture to the right shows, I did in fact prime the edges to check my work. And once any issues are dealt with, you can safely move on to paint. I chose a beige/cream color to go with this print. I also had chosen some replacement hardware (pick guard, pick up covers, knobs) to go with this new color scheme. Below you can see it after paint, front and back, just did a fade around the edge using a cardboard template of the guitar body set just above the surface.  I just do this with spray cans, and sometimes you can get a little overzealous and more overspray than you desire gets onto the main surface of the body. If this happens, just do some light sanding with a fine grit to remove the excess overspray, you still have that sanding sealer underneath the paint so you’ll be fine, shouldn’t have to worry about a sand thru at this point.

 

Koi Flower - Painted Front

Front after paint.

Koi Flower - Painted Back

Back after paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next set of pictures below show the body after clear coats have been sprayed, wet sanded, and polished. As you can see, I had major sand throughs on this one by the time it was all said and done. One culprit was some of the fabric wasn’t completely glued down and throughout the process it separated from the body some and created a bubble, so block sanding created the sand thru at those points. It also looks like I probably sanded too much around the edges, which I later learned to stay away from until you get to higher grits. Edges are notorious for sand throughs as those areas don’t get the build up of clear that a flat surface on the guitar gets.  A total bummer but a total learning experience too. All of those sand throughs was one reason there is a “Pt. 2” to this particular guitar.

Koi Flower - Polished Front

Front after polish. Sand throughs, shoot!

Koi Flower - Back Polished

Back after polish. OMG! Major sand throughs! LEARNING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally it was time to assemble the guitar, adding the aforementioned beige pick guard and accessories.  Not a perfect color match but I prefer it to the stark white.

Koi Flower - Assembled front

Assembled with beige pick guard, pick up covers, and knobs.

Koi Flower - "Lefty" <— After very briefly toying with the notion of turning this into a Hendrix-style righty turned lefty guitar for myself (I needed another guitar like I needed a cushioned toilet seat), I returned to my original idea of giving it to some close friends. And coming up was the 1st birthday of their little girl Anyka, perfect opportunity to give a gift! I mean, what 1 year old girl doesn’t want a custom electric guitar that’s twice the size of them!?

So to prepare, I decided it needed further customization. I turned to a gentleman from the Guitar Reranch forum who makes replica and custom water slide decals.

Custom headstock decal.

Custom headstock decal.

This was my first time doing these, but included were multiples in case I messed up, and a page of detailed instructions. So I was set, and without too much trouble, had a custom headstock. “Anyka Ray” in a Fender-style font in gold lettering with the small block lettering saying “Koi-caster”.

And of course, the guitar gift was a big hit with the birthday girl. 🙂

Anyka and "Uncle" Joe

Confused and loving it.

Koi-Caster at the gift table

The only guitar at the gift table.

I’m gonna wrap this up with a couple more glam shots of the finished guitar. Coming up in the second installment of this project, which I am currently (present day) about to finish up, again, we will find out what happens when a guitar finish reacts chemically to the foam on the guitar stand, and I attempt to improve upon the overall finish of the first attempt. Thanks again for checking this out and sticking through all the blabbing until the end, your reward is two more pictures! 🙂

j.

Koi-caster finished front

Koi-caster finished back


Guitar Retrospective #4: “Samurai Sunset”

Starting point.

Ibanez RG7420 with Black Metallic finish

In December of 2006 I began work on my fourth guitar. I had found another deal on eBay for an Ibanez RG7420, a right handed 7 string electric guitar, born from the factory with a metallic black finish. It was dinged up a bit but that’s never a big deal on a refinish anyway.

Fabric panel I started with.

I already had the next piece of fabric picked out that I wanted to try, a Kona Bay asian kimono print, that I picked up at the local fabric store. They do some of my fabric asian fabrics. It had great color, a cool landscape and the cherry blossoms were beautiful. I figured there was no way this could look bad on a guitar.

I had developed some better methods by this point, and I was just getting better with practice for this one, so it turned out really well. I was also fine tuning the materials that worked better for me, and discovering some new products that worked wonders. I did the fabric on the front and back this time. Since I only had this one panel I had to get it right the first time and make efficient use of my material. (Side note: what makes these guitars especially unique is the fact that fabric prints run for a limited time. Only a certain amount is made. So it can be very difficult to track down a particular print after you’ve boughten it and it runs out at your local store. I had maybe boughten this fabric a year or two prior to actually getting around to using it, so this was all I had.) Luckily the print was laid out in such a way that it was just perfect for the guitar shape. The bottom half of the fabric went to the front, and the top section went to the back, and was just the look I was going for. Made my job really easy. I was also very pleased to no have to worry about a pick guard for this one since the body was rear-routed, a feature I really enjoy when doing these fabric finishes. You get more space for the print without being broken up by the guitar hardware. The guitar came with a black headstock so I didn’t mess with that, just left it as-is. And since it worked so well with the colors of the fabric, I painted the sides of the guitar black and did a black burst. With black hardware and covers on the back as well, it just couldn’t get any better than framing this art in black. And it made the colors on the print just POP.

Black sides and black hardware.

There’s not too much else to say about this one, other than that I’m extremely proud of it and very pleased with how well it turned out. I used this one to get some photos taken and feature it on my business cards and website. And this is one of the few I still have. Without further ado, here are more pictures!

j.

"Samurai Sunset" Ibanez RG7420. Custom fabric finish by Jai Guitars.