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Old 05-09-2012, 10:48 PM   #1
Daniel_V's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Posts: 47
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Post Ibanez RG550 '91 MKB - Mod Project

Hey there!
New guy here! I've been 'lurking' here for a long time but now I want to share with you a project I'm about to start.

Long story short - I have a '91 Ibanez RG550 MBK. Its pretty modded right now..

The specs:
Basswood Body
Maple Neck and FretBoard (Previous owner had the neck refinished and restored to original with new frets)
Bidge PU: DiMarzio Super Distortion
Middle PU: Removed
Neck PU: Fernandes Sustainer FSK401
Electronics: SeymourDuncan Pots and SwitchCraft Jack
Misc: Dunlop StrapLocks, Some stickers (Marshall UK flag, Custom EDGE sticker on headstock)

Little history of the guitar as I know it.. (Skip if you want)

The first owner used the guitar as a lefty (Hendrix style) and bolted the strap button to the lower horn leaving the guitar with a decent hole in it. The guitar was heavily played on stage as it seems. Dings and scratches - SHE HAS IT !
The next owner (the guy I bought it off) installed the sustainer (probably himself) with the original V2 and S1 pickups. The job was..
The pots and the 5-way were original and almost 18yo at the time so you can say they were scratchy at the least.
I reassembled the guitar with new quality pots, switches and wires.
I was in love with it, but the sustainer was really weak. I tweaked it almost every possible way. I found a position the Sustainer Mode was OK but still - the Harmonic Mode was completely unstable and I had to pick really hard to hear something like a harmonic - totally not the point of the unit.
Then I installed HighEnd 3 Way Lever Switch, SD Pots and DiMarzio Super Distortion (got rid of the S1 in the middle) and.. Eureka! (Thumps Up for a nerdy cheer-up! )

The guitar stayed like this almost two years. Tuned in E , so as you can imagine - a guy posting here doesn't play E standard as an everyday basis. Last month I was given lots of string sets in different gauges to find my favorite one (I'll probably endorse the maker here in Bulgaria, hopefully in the Europe catalog) and thought why not put them on the 550, tune it to my favorite Drop C and see how it goes. After that I can't put down the darn guitar.

All and all - I love the guitar but that old, matted and flat black finish is just boring. I know it's somewhat a limited model - Maple neck with black finished body - they are few, but when you have mainly dark-colored guitars and you want this one to stand out - I cant see any other way but to REFINISH the damn thing!

I'm thinking of stripping the body down, putting a natural veneer on top, maybe stain it and oil-finish it. I want an unfinished wood feel, to breathe and sound more open. (Like the RGA32 MOL -Sorry, I worked some years in the local Ibanez dealership as a main repair/setup guy and dealer so I know the catalogs like my ABCs.)

Today I'm heading out to the veneer and wood shop in a near city and going to check what they have as options.

Here are some mock-ups.

I have other Ideas too but first I have to see what the veneer shop has to offer. I was thinking to save the black/white theme of the original guitar and do something flamed/quilted and then stain it black, sand it a bit so the grain stands up and then just oil finish it. Same on the back - just stain black the basswood and oil it.

The questions:
1. Anyone done this before? Flame top just Oil finished? Can this be done?
2. Have any good ideas? Help a brother out.. I like swirled finishes but not this time. Something 'woody' and natural.
3. Anyone have a blueprint or CorelDraw of the original 550 pickguard? Since I dont use the middle PU - HH pickguard will be better than this (covered with black sticker) and I want to make some adjustments for pot positions, switches and so on. It will be handy when laser cutting the new replacement.

Ok thats for now. Sorry for the long read.
I'll update with news on the veneers!

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