Help with removing layer from guitar body

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Whammy, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    I’m currently modifying a cheap Squier Bullet Strat.

    The thing is that I’m in the process of removing the paint but it’s actually a little odd how many different layers it has.

    The guitar has four different color layers. The top being white, the original color of the guitar. Under that was a black coat. Under that was another white coat. And under that was yet another black coat.

    Anyway I sanded through the four layers thinking I hit the wood but it turns out that there is a layer of what looks like a wood filler. It’s very thick and hard and takes quite a lot of effort to remove.

    I’m half tempted to just sand it down to this wood filler layer and paint it. But this layer is actually what is making the guitar sound awful. It’s a basswood guitar and I’m quite used to the sound of basswood.
    But this guitar acoustically sounds thin, hollow and just harsh on the high end.

    I managed to removed some of the wood filler layer and when tapping the exposed wood compared to the covered wood I can hear a huge difference in tonality. The exposed part sounds like basswood. The covered part sounds just like I previously described.

    Anyone know an easy way of removing this wood filler layer. It’s going to take me a lifetime just to sand through it.

    Here is a photo where you can see the exposed wood and the wood filler layer (along with the 4 paint coats)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  2. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Random orbital sander and some low grit paper?

    Supposedly a heat gun can peel a thick fender poly finish off in one chunk, but I've never tried it. Not sure how it would handle that filler either.

    Edit: also a respirator. Dear God wear a respirator when sanding.
     
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  3. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    If you've gotten through four layers of paint, then you already know the best methods for removing material: A good sander and lots of time and patience.

    Removing the wood filler might have some effect on the sound, but it sounds like the way they built the guitar was to minimize the amount of wood they had to use in the first place. It might be too thin once you get all of the filler off, exposing a lot of the pickups and lowering the bridge so that the action is too low. But, hey, if you get through it and it's bare wood under there, and your guitar still plays fine, then I'm sure you will appreciate having brought out a new characteristic of your guitar!
     
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  4. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Just add a maple cap if it is too thin :D
     
  5. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    excellent suggestion!
     
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  6. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the inputs.

    Yeah my first guess was that the filler was a way of cutting back on the amount of wood they use in the long run.
    Unfortunately these strats have a thinner body than normal strats. So I’m still on the fence regarding striping it completely.
    My guess is that I’d lose 1-2mm from removing the filler which would be fine for me. But I won’t be able to remove it from the pickup cavity so it will still have an impact on the tone.
    Ugh maybe I should just leave it on.
     
  7. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    I wouldn't worry about a little bit in the pickup cavities affecting the tone.
     
  8. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    i'd be more worried that most of the guitar is the filler. There's got to be a reason they used so much.
     
  9. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    Extremely cheap guitar. If they can save a few millimeters of wood on every entry level squier, then in the long run they will save money, keeping the price low on the guitar.
    From what I can tell so far the body is composed of 3 or 4 different cuts of basswood glued together.

    I don’t get the four layers of black, white, black, white paint. That just seems like a waste of money.

    Yeah you are probably right.
     
  10. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    I have a hard time believing a finish layer is cheaper than basswood. Unless it is plaster or something.
     
  11. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    I find it hard to believe too. It has to be something cheap that they are layering on these guitars.
    I do know that it is extremely tough. As tough as a poly finish. If you can get a knife under it you can shatter it. But that damages the basswood underneath too much.
    Odd stuff. Wasn’t expecting this when I started sanding.
     
  12. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Maybe it is just an easy way to get a really flat finish.
     
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  13. HighPotency

    HighPotency SS.org Regular

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    You're exactly right. Bare wood absorbs finish, so the epoxy sealer fills the pores and seals them, making the wood smoother and preventing it from absorbing any finish that is sprayed on.
     
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  14. Mr_Mar10

    Mr_Mar10 *space for hire*

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    Have you tried some nitromorz or something?
    Just try not to get it below the sealer coat

    That shiz will eat thru anything :D
     
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  15. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    Never actually painted a guitar before. Generally speaking, what is it like spray painting basswood as far as absorption is concerned? I thought it was meant to take paint pretty well?
     
  16. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    Spray painting a guitar body is simple so long as you're not looking for anything fancy or smooth.

    If you want a flat, glassy finish, then you're in for a bit of a haul as far as work load is concerned: lots and lots of level sanding, in between each coat, then finish sanding the many layers of poly clear.

    But if you just want to slap a new color on there and don't really care about texture or sheen then it's simple, just do thin layers at a time on top of a primer coat.
     
  17. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    Nearly done with completely removing the finish. It’s close to 3mm thick on the back of the guitar.

    Because the body is thinner than normal strats the cavity routes for the pickups on the top and the tremolo spring system on the back, merged together making a hole through the body. They had crudely glued in some kind of wood to cover up the hole. I removed it because I’m sure it was also contributing to the bad acoustics. Once the pickup and back covers are on you won’t see anything.

    Quick question. Do I need to apply a sanding sealer before spray painting?
    I read before that basswood doesn’t need a sanding sealer but I don’t know how accurate that information is.
     

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