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Unread 05-25-2012, 01:14 PM   #1
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Modding My First Ever Guitar (Acoustic Content)

I could be finishing my first full build, or even working on my RG350 mod, but .... it, why not start taking apart one of my other guitars and not finishing it.

So this was my very first guitar that I got almost ten years ago, it's an Eterna ES-31 made by Yamaha. Pretty cheap acoustic but it sounds quite decent, I was just not a fan of how it played so I haven't played it much at all these last few years.

So I decided to buy some new tuners (Gotoh Vintage ones), a graphtech Tusq nut, ebony bridge pins as well as an ebony endpin just for kicks. Also got some fret files and such so that I can learn how to crown and level frets and hopefully make this guitar play more smoothly.

So this is what it looked like before:

















So the fretboard has never been cleaned on this guitar and was pretty goddamn disgusting. So that was the first thing I did when I took the strings off: broke out the lemon oil and let the fretboard soak in as much as it could over the course of a few days, I think it's a lot better now. Did the same to the bridge but it wasn't nearly as dry.







Took out the old tuners and knocked out the bushings, unfortunately this resulted in some chipping on the top surface so now I need to put some kind of veneer or top plate on it, luckily I have a piece of figured mahogany which should do.





The new tuners are too small to fit in the holes so I filled them in and will be redrilling them.





Also knocked out the old nut, didn't come out as easily as I thought it would but then again I was holding the guitar with my knees and trying to use a hammer and punch with my hands.

So here's where I am at today:





Hmmmmmm wonder what kind of wood is under that finish. The good news is that the sealer and clear coat aren't very thick at all. I'm pretty sure I got to the bare wood in less than 5 minutes of hand sanding with 60 grit, so a power sander should make short work of that finish on the back of the neck and then I will oil it up later.

I'm kind of considering sanding the back and sides of the body and oiling those too only because the finish is chipping around the edges but I don't think I will. I wanted to do a reasonably quick and easy mod for this and ran into more trouble than I wanted when the new tuners were too small, plus I don't want to go through the headache of sanding the finish between the neck and body joint.

SO, here's a list of what's happening with this mod:
  • New 15:1 Gotoh Vintage Oval Knob tuners.
  • Replacing old plastic nut with Graphtech Tusq.
  • Replacing old plastic bridge and end pins with ebony ones.
  • Sanding gloss finish off back of neck and oiling it (probably tung oil).
  • Putting figured mahogany cap on headstock.
  • Cutting the top of the headstock in some way so that it isn't just a goofy looking square.
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Unread 05-26-2012, 09:31 AM   #2
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for a crappy starter that fret wood is beautiful man! cool mod to! Great practice, I been thinking once my 7 is finished about refinishing my peavey tracer 6 string =] , cool project man! Love the widows peak volute heheheh

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Unread 05-26-2012, 10:10 AM   #3
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Thank you! And yeah for a cheap starter this thing is actually quite decent, just needs a few tweaks since the tuners were pretty crap. And I wanted to get some more practice with fretwork (doing my RG350 too) as well as using oiled necks. I don't have any and I'm quite interested in how they feel.

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Unread 05-26-2012, 02:18 PM   #4
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Looks pretty sweet. And also fun. And yeah, I was also thinking the fretboard looks nice. Keep it up dude.

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Unread 05-26-2012, 11:57 PM   #5
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Decided to be productive tonight and sand back the neck to the wood.

















Quite pleased with how the wood looks under the finish actually. Apparently it is made of nato wood, probably quite cheap but it looks nice to me. Getting to the wood wasn't a problem either with a power sanded with 40 grit sand paper in there. Now to finish leveling that mahogany piece for the headstock so I can glue it on.

Also I hate photobucket for unrotating the pictures that I rotated already.
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Unread 05-29-2012, 07:12 PM   #6
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Glued the mahogany to the headstock, I will try to upload a pic later on tonight when I take the clamps off and hopefully cut off the excess.

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Unread 05-31-2012, 04:09 PM   #7
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Well instead of uploading a picture the other day of the ugly incomplete headstock glued on, I just cleaned up and shaped the headstock today and took a few pictures.









Kind of wish that more of the figure showed up in that piece of mahogany but oh well, can't win them all. Next up comes drilling out for the tuners and then gluing in the nut.

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Unread 05-31-2012, 10:42 PM   #8
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Right on man, mahog is rough to get figuring out of a small piece, I think the one you got has some good character!

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Unread 07-07-2012, 08:13 PM   #9
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Man, it's been a little while hasn't it? School and the absolutely horrendous combination of heat and humidity have kept me from doing anything with this, or my other builds/mods for that matter. But this evening the humidity went away so I decided that one last go over with sandpaper and steel wool was in order as well as the first coat of tung oil for the neck.



The mahogany on the headstock actually looks quite good when the oil is fresh, so I'm gonna end up putting a looooooot of tung oil on it and gloss that SOB up. If I don't like how it looks later then I have quite a bit of shellac so I can give that a go, I just didn't feel like dissolving it at the moment and I would like to get this acoustic done and playable asap as I have currently stripped all but one of my guitars.







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Unread 07-08-2012, 11:39 AM   #10
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love that soft first coat look. hbang
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Unread 07-14-2012, 02:09 PM   #11
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Put 3 coats on the neck and buffed with 0000 steel wool. REALLY like the feel of it! Smoother than Devin Townsend's head.



I did 5 or 6 layers the same way on the headstock before I thought to myself, "why wipe off the excess tung oil 10 minutes after applying it if I want this to be glossy as hell? Worth a try I suppose." So the last layer I put on I left unbuffed and let the oil dry and here was the result:



Turned out much nicer in terms of glossiness! I'm just gonna need to do several more layers to smooth it all out so hopefully that works out all well and nice.

Buffed the headstock down a bit again with 0000 steel wool before applying more tung oil and here is how she sits right now:









I think next time I want a glossy oil finish I'll just get Danish oil, but I just wanted to see how this would work with tung oil, plus I have 3 cans in my garage.
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Unread 07-14-2012, 02:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackMastodon View Post
REALLY like the feel of it! Smoother than Devin Townsend's head.


Oh lord, I almost snorted coke outta my nose

It's amazing what some TLC and elbow grease can do to supposed budget guitars

Looks nice, props
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Unread 07-14-2012, 03:33 PM   #13
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Thanks man. :wave: I just think it's funny that the body is dinged up in many place but the neck looks significantly nicer. Maybe some day I will redo the body too, but that will be quite a ways away. I'm just doing this mod so that the guitar plays well.
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Unread 07-16-2012, 08:22 PM   #14
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Looks good so far. The only thing I would have recommended would be to take the time to measure out the size of the tuners for correct spacing between them and drawing guidelines onto the headplate before drilling. It would have led to more uniform tuner hole placement. Right now the A string looks like it will be grinding against the tuner for the low E with the current holes you've drilled.

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Unread 07-16-2012, 10:12 PM   #15
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Looks good so far. The only thing I would have recommended would be to take the time to measure out the size of the tuners for correct spacing between them and drawing guidelines onto the headplate before drilling. It would have led to more uniform tuner hole placement. Right now the A string looks like it will be grinding against the tuner for the low E with the current holes you've drilled.
Hmmmm, I didn't even think about that. Hopefully it won't be a problem but I do see what you mean. I'll go check with a quick fitting of the tuners and a straight edge and see how it will be.

Edit: Oh yeah, it's definitely in the way, and what's worse is that the headstock is actually too thick and the strings would be blocked by the bushings. Wish I checked for that a looooong time ago, but thanks for bringing it to my attention Necris. So now the plan is to take some meat off the back of the headstock and leave a small volute kind of thing so the joint doesn't lose and strength and probably get a couple of string trees for the strings themselves. The D string also looks like it might get in the way a bit.

So lesson learned: measure things out and make a template if in doubt. This is why I shouldn't do projects to procrastinate from school work.
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Unread 07-17-2012, 08:22 AM   #16
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Necris is right. There's nothing straight on those holes. :/
What I'd do is letting this headstock thick, and check if classical tuners used for opened headstock will fit. This:


If yes, I'll change to headstock to this kind. It will allow you to get those holes away and going back on something straight.
Other thing, the curves on the beginning of the headstock (between tuners sides and fretboard) are not very round. I'll round this a little, personnaly.

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Unread 07-17-2012, 09:34 AM   #17
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that is a pretty good idea. or chop it off and drop500 on the new hipshot headless >,>

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