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 Post subject: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:42 am 
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Mahogany
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I'm working on refinishing a guitar for a friend. It was his very first guitar and it was a gift from his father, so there is sentimental value.

This is not a high end guitar by any means. It is a jazz box with unbound, plywood, top and back. My friend stripped the original finish off and before he could refinish it, he had some flooding in his workshop. So the guitar had some water damage as well. When he brought me the guitar, he had repaired most of the damaged areas with some sort of "plastic " wood filler. I sanded the guitar up and sprayed a lacquer finish on it. I set the guitar aside to let the lacquer cure for a month. When I picked it up again to wet sand the finish had cracked everywhere the guitar had been repaired with the "plastic" wood type filler.

I have since sanded all the finish back off and cleaned out all the crappy filler. My question is, what kind of filler should I use for this repair and subsequent lacquer finish? There are several places where the plywood has chipped and needs some fairly substantial repair.

I know many will say it's a lost cause....move on, but it means a lot to my friend, so if I can get back in decent shape for him, I would like to do so.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:00 pm 
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Would you mind telling us a little more about the guitar? What brand is it? What woods is it constructed from? Have you stripped ALL the finish off - new and old?

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:57 pm 
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Chris Pile wrote:
Would you mind telling us a little more about the guitar? What brand is it? What woods is it constructed from? Have you stripped ALL the finish off - new and old?
I will post a couple of pics when I get home from work. All finish is stripped. It is back to bare wood. This is how I received the guitar.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:58 pm 
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Mahogany
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Here is the guitar. I dont see any brand label. The sides and neck may be maple, but I'm not sure. The gaps at the neck joint were filled with filler.

Thanks for looking!ImageImageImageImage

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:35 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Filler ain't going to fix that. I am getting a bit weary of seeing these newbie problem projects here.


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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:02 pm 
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I'm a total rookie when it comes to wood finishing so all I'm doing is throwing my initial impressions/guesses at this problem.

Between all the sanding and the water damage, the edges of that plywood look pretty far gone. I'd say there's no real way to get a decent looking transparent finish. I've seen youtubers use bondo to build up significantly damaged/chipped areas and then spray a solid color of lacquer over top. To me something like that seems to be the simplest and most efficient solution, of course its not a real world solution, but rather a "duct tape" hack but maybe the best way to go for this particular situation.

On another note, is the neck coming off?



These users thanked the author Conor_Searl for the post: Jeremy Vonk (Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:23 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:12 pm 
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The neck is firmly attached. I'm not sure what caused those gaps. I've also been thinking bondo and a solid lacquer finish. I really just need a filler that isnt going to cause my finish to crack. This is primarily a cosmetic repair on a sentimental piece. This is not intended to be some Dan Erlewine restoration magic.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:23 pm 
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Jeremy - I've been doing this over 42 years now...… What you have in your possession is a FLOWER POT, okay? You can slather that decrepit wreck with whatever you want, but it will never be a musical instrument again. My guess is that it was barely a working instrument before your friend stripped the original finish. Be a man, and call time of death on this thing. He can hang it on the wall if he wants, or toss it in the nearest dumper. It's DONE.

If you want to salvage something out of it, carefully take it apart and make patterns for a real guitar to be built in the future.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: Hesh (Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:37 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:37 pm 
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Shoot it! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:14 am 
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Water damage + laminate construction = non-repairable.

Once the plywood starts to de-laminate it's all over.... no filler in the world gonna stop that. Even if you manage to glue down the fraying edges you will find the plys will continue to separate in new areas causing bubbles and humps.

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These users thanked the author B. Howard for the post (total 2): Hesh (Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:11 am) • Jeremy Vonk (Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:21 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:30 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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It's not like he's rebuilding an instrument for a client.


I would first check the neck angle to see if it will be playable or not. Even if not playable and you want a wall hanger then fust fill it with epoxy and finish it in black Nitro or something.


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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:06 pm 
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jfmckenna wrote:
It's not like he's rebuilding an instrument for a client.


I would first check the neck angle to see if it will be playable or not. Even if not playable and you want a wall hanger then fust fill it with epoxy and finish it in black Nitro or something.
Thank you! This is not a professional rebuild for a paying client. I dont think I ever presented it as such. I'm just trying for a passable finish that won't crack.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:34 am 
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Jeremy Vonk wrote:
I'm just trying for a passable finish that won't crack.


And I am saying that will most likely never happen. A finish can never be stable over an unstable substrate.....

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:06 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Yeah that's why I'm saying just fill and finish it and accept it for what it is. And really, it's old and it's ok if it looks old. Kind of like how some really old beach cottages look as they have been beaten down with sun and salt for so many years. When the finish bubbles back up in the future, so be it.


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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:55 am 
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Jeremy, you've had about 120 years of experience at the bench tell you it was a lost cause.
Believe it, or don't.....

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:04 pm 
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He’s got nothing to lose with a lost cause


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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:27 pm 
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Quote:
He’s got nothing to lose with a lost cause


Yeah, drive on. Might make liars out of all of us..... But I'm not holding my breath.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:47 am 
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Jeremy Vonk wrote:
The neck is firmly attached. I'm not sure what caused those gaps. I've also been thinking bondo and a solid lacquer finish. I really just need a filler that isnt going to cause my finish to crack. This is primarily a cosmetic repair on a sentimental piece. This is not intended to be some Dan Erlewine restoration magic.

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Jeremy my apologies for my comment "shoot it." I'm a professional Luthier who makes my living working in the trade and a co-owner of a very busy Ann Arbor Lutherie repair shop that last year serviced around 1,100 guitars, nearly 100 mandos and a couple dozen b*njos. We have over 260 five star Facebook and Google reviews and recommendations. Some of our clients are famous and we pretty much have nearly all the gigging musicians in Michigan, Northern Ohio and northern Indiana as clients. People attempt to send us work often and we will not accept shipped in work. Our business model requires us to have in person contact with our clients including the opportunity to see them play so we can customize our work for them to meet their needs. My business partner David Collins is widely considered by other professional Luthiers to be one of the best there is. We are Martin certified and we were Taylor certified until a few years ago when we made the strategic decision to no longer do Taylor warranty work. There is talk of taking our business private and not accepting new clients at least for a while. We are turning away one out of every three instruments coming our way.

When I joined this forum over a decade ago there were a number of influences here who set the tone that hack... work was unacceptable and it was not promoted here. The standard that I learned for workmanship was that Luthiers, real ones.... who wish to participate in this craft and industry should endeavor to provide a value proposition that includes a standard of work superior to f*ctory offerings. This means that a guitar that I worked to build should be built with a standard of care, fit and finish, build quality equal to or superior to say Martin. It also meant that repair work should be equal to or superior to the best work available, always. There are exceptions of course with the concept of what's appropriate for the instrument.

We took our learning of Lutherie very seriously back then and some of us refused to even consider selling an instrument that we produced until we had over a dozen builds, guitars in the hands of gigging musicians to get data (provided as gifts) and most importantly inspected and vetted by some of the top Luthiers alive today. The standard of don't sell your stuff until you have the ability to service it in every conceivable way necessary such as neck resets was prevailing back then.

Our mentors included prodigies who built superb instruments and were intolerant of cutting corners or hack... work. Another major influence here was Gerry Garcia's guitar tech and builder, a life long industry pro and innovator behind many notable accomplishments and someone who did not mince words in telling us that we were full of **** if we don't take this seriously. He used to say that if we don't learn to do proper repair work we were building "GLOs" or guitar like objects that he further pronounced not much better than model airplane kits.

After licking my wounds from the smack downs that happened frequently back then and recognizing that this was the world of these folks and that I was at that time a stranger in a strange Lutherie land I opened my ears and mind to them and took heed of their advice. Partly as a result of some of the harsher contributors here back then AND the intolerance of hack... work I'm a far better Luthier these days and wealthier too.

I'm very grateful to these folks, Mario and Rick, thank you!!! There were others too such as my business partner Dave Collins, Barry, Colin and more. Thank You!

Now to you. My comments are valid in my world. This guitar is not worth the repairs and would be turned away from any commercial shop unless the person doing the work has nothing to do and in my view very poor judgement. Doing no harm is key in this trade and this instrument was never built or engineered to be serviceable. I'll add that the value of anything vintage is often greatly reduced by stripping and refinishing....

Dan Erlywine describes using Bondo (as did the Padma) in his excellent book available from Stew Mac on guitar refinishing so yes if you are going to paint it with solid colors Bondo could be used. It's not a great thing to use on a guitar but it's used and would be appropriate for this one.

Lastly and this is not directed at you. We are seeing more and more threads of someone who wants to reset a neck joint that is not serviceable or do extensive restoration on a laminated instrument. These are some of the many things that commercial shops who do well won't do and clients generally won't pay for if the charges are for the actual time required.

When these threads appear there are always the same folks here who have been here long enough to remember when hack work was not encouraged encouraging.... hack... work. It saddens me to see this and I'm growing very tired of it and frankly embarrassed to have my name associated with a forum that has to argue about doing unsound practices or encouraging activities that have zero learning value because they would not be done commercially.

In my world many of my friends who work in the trade do not participate here and if they ever did they've left long ago because again it's embarrassing to be associated with a place that seems to fight about encouraging hack work every time someone just "won" some POS on eBay and wants to know how to do the minimum to get by.... I'll add that this crap is at times flipped to some unsuspecting, unknowing buyer who then has the heart break of having been conned into buying a major disappointment.

We, my associates and I often discuss this among ourselves and even question who the usual suspects here are that seem to always be chiming in with encouragement of practices that just don't fly in the real world.

There is also the crowd that we call the hoarders. They are seeming incapable of declaring anything DOA and instead want to hack it back to life and are encouraging others to do the same thing. Over and over again those who work in the trade try as we will to say that there is little learning value in doing something that will never be done again and is impractical in the real, commercial world.

With all of this said it's sad to me to see what's happened here to this forum. I've never shared this before and if this rubs anyone who is encouraging hack work or unsound practices the wrong way, good. Some of you do not know what the hell you are talking about and it shows...

Lastly at some point all that will ever be left of any of us... is the work that we did. The guitars that we built and repaired will be what speaks for if we gave a **** about what we do and who we did it for. I learned to a large degree here that my legacy as a Luthier should include the best that I'm capable of doing as often as I can. It would be great if others here shared this philosophy and I know many of my friends here do.

Good on you for trying to help a friend, my apologies for being curt and harsh prior and good luck to you Jeremy.

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These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: Chris Pile (Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:01 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:09 am 
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Hesh wrote:
With all of this said it's sad to me to see what's happened here to this forum. I've never shared this before and if this rubs anyone who is encouraging hack work or unsound practices the wrong way, good. Some of you do not know what the hell you are talking about and it shows...

Could not agree more!!!



Then there is this....?
Hesh wrote:
Dan Erlywine describes using Bondo (as did the Padma) in his excellent book available from Stew Mac on guitar refinishing so yes if you are going to paint it with solid colors Bondo could be used. It's not a great thing to use on a guitar but it's used and would be appropriate for this one.


NO, NO. NO!!! NO BONDO ON GUITARS!!! EVER!!! That is a total hack move, no apologies to Mr Erlywine either..... (and Padma? well......) Bondo is not wood filler, it will not move with wood, it is not structural, it will prevent most other types of repairs afterwards by contamination. I refer you all to this article
https://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-bondo-cutaway-or-why-i-hate-bondo.html

As you see Bondo is not an appropriate substance for guitar restoration, end of story!

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:03 am 
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I use Bondo in the shop.... for making clamps and tools. NEVER on the actual instrument.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:24 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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I'm going to stand corrected here and withdraw my suggestion that Bondo can be used. Brian and Chris make a good case that it's a poor choice and I respect both of them greatly.

It's been a while since I read Dan's book but my mind's eye (the book is in Ann Arbor I'm an hour away at home) I see pictures of it being used on a solid body electric guitar perhaps a Strat. It could be that on solid body guitars it's not so much of an issue in terms of wood movement but nonetheless I'll defer to Brian and Chris.

We've never used Bondo in our business and don't have any either. I did use it as Chris did for making contoured cauls with some wax paper to help capture the shape for say an end block or gluing neck blocks when a builder does as I did and puts a radius on their neck blocks. It's great for cauls except for the day or so for it to firm up.

I'm smiling here and a bit relieved because our friends Brian and Chris gave good, quality, non-hack advice and in both cases they justify their work. I can't recall if it's in this thread of the deeply gouged Strat thread that Chris indicates a mismatch with Bondo and nitro too. Good going guys and this forum is lucky to have you both here and sharing. Thanks too from me personally it's depressing to see all the poor advise that seems to go unchecked these days.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:51 am 
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Hesh wrote:

Good on you for trying to help a friend, my apologies for being curt and harsh prior and good luck to you Jeremy.


Hesh, I appreciate your apology, and your explanation of your passion for excellence in lutherie! When I asked my question I hadn't given any thought to the possibility that the answer, if given, would impune someone's reputation. I'm sure these forums crawl with newbies (like me) trying to do questionable things. Thank you for taking the time to explain your perspective. Some day, if I make it to Ann Arbor from GR, I'll look you up. Thanks again!



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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:31 am 
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Jeremy Vonk wrote:
Hesh wrote:

Good on you for trying to help a friend, my apologies for being curt and harsh prior and good luck to you Jeremy.


Hesh, I appreciate your apology, and your explanation of your passion for excellence in lutherie! When I asked my question I hadn't given any thought to the possibility that the answer, if given, would impune someone's reputation. I'm sure these forums crawl with newbies (like me) trying to do questionable things. Thank you for taking the time to explain your perspective. Some day, if I make it to Ann Arbor from GR, I'll look you up. Thanks again!



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Hey Jeremy thanks for letting me off the grumpy old fart hook. :). I didn't know you are a local Michigander, very cool. You have a standing invitation to visit Ann Arbor Guitars and talk shop with us whenever you wish. Also feel free to PM me here if you think that I could be helpful to you in your Lutherie journey.

Thanks too for using your name and not some fake thing. There is another thread right now that Brian started (thank You Brian again!!!) encouraging real name usage.

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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:00 pm 
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It appears this thread has taken a slight detour...

I just want to say to all you regular guys who chime in with real world advice as difficult as it may be to hear from time to time please don't stop! And thank you, thank you, thank you. If I'm doing something or considering doing something hair-brained, ineffective, and stupid I desperately want to know! I know a lot of people get into lutherie as a hobby, and therefore aren't as interested in the real-world advice. But for me, I needed an out from full time guitar teaching (almost 60 students a week) and chose to dive into this as a way to supplement income, and the plan (5 years) is to eventually have it replace most of my teaching income, the hiccup is I'm not 20 anymore, I've got three kids, and a mortgage, and no one near by to get any kind of real mentorship/apprenticeship from and a year out of real life for some kind of education just isn't in the cards, so I scour everything I can trying to learn and grow, and this place has been one of the best places I've found in that regard. So again thank you all for your generosity and patience. Don't stop grinding us!



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 Post subject: Re: Jazz box refinish
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:06 pm 
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I'm in the process of painting my house now and discovered that Bondo does indeed make a formula for wood. It's not your automobile Bondo so I'm guessing it's designed for working with wood in particular. It actually worked pretty well for filling holes and cracks after removing rotted wood. Maybe that is the stuff Erlewine is talking about?


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