Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Talk about modding or building your own guitar from scratch.
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epizootics
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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:29 pm

solfege wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:42 am
Oh wow!

I feel as if, had I a set of chrome pickup rings lying around, I might try them, but the black coordinates nicely with the knobs and switch tip.
I thought about that, but I'm afraid this guitar will end up burning the eyes of people in the audience if I keep adding reflective metal to the front of the body ::)

OK Solfege, this one is for you. I took pictures of the finishing process as I went along, because I wasn't too sure where I was going with this, but some of the steps seemed relevant to the finish you want on your pine Tele.

First, here's the back with the steel wool/pence solution and a little sanding:

Image

As you can see, it's easy to get the natural orange/pink of the hard growth rings back with a little bit of sanding, since the vinegar penetrates deeper in the softer wood in between. I could have stopped there, but I wanted the back to be darker, like I did for my brother's guitar.

I wanted something more subtle for the front. I filtered a bit from the original solution (which was two modern English pence and a full ball of steel wool) and diluted it with water, about 1:1. Here are the two jars and my test piece. Note that the darker bit on the right has black shellac on top, and I hammered the sides of a large washer onto the wood to see if I could get a fish-scale effect. This is best achieved by doing the hammering AFTER the wood has been dyed, because the dye has a tendency to blotch out when going into the severed grain.
Anyway, the blue portion on the left is the straight diluted solution applied to bare wood:

Image

That blue in the picture is pretty much what it looks like in real life. It might be an option for your build, bearing in mind your wood might react differently. Make sure you practice on scrap, as those chemical dyes penetrate a lot deeper than aniline stains do and you're in for a lot of sanding if you don't like what you see.

Here's the same diluted solution applied to the top of the body:
Image

Nice and subtle (and definitely blue), but I wanted something a bit darker to get the binding to pop. This is where things got messy. I started rubbing a black shellac burst into the body. That shellac + India ink combination works great at darkening the stain. Problem is - the yellow in the shellac counteracts the blue of the dye. Here we are, mid-process (applying coats of black shellac/sanding/starting again), with a view of the Rorschach cavity under the bridge plate:

Image

It looked close to what I wanted, but I wanted a slightly warmer tint. I think that's thing with that steel wool/pence blue - it definitely feels like a cold color. I applied a bit of the cherry stain I used on my brother's guitar's top, then used regular shellac to get a bit of gold back into the wood.

I'll take more pictures of the top as it is now later today. I put a thin coat of laminating epoxy on the top yesterday, to harden it a little bit and get some shine going. I also applied it liberally to the controls cavity, because that body is still pretty thin and there wasn't much wood left between the bottom of the cavity and the back of the guitar.

I hope this helps!

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by solfege » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:55 am

Thank you for all this. Filing away now.

One question, are you using relatively light shellac like super blonde or something more amber? I know I have to try with what I have but I’m curious about the degree of shellac counteracting bluing to expect? I’m also clearly going to be investing in some India ink here.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:58 am

solfege wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:55 am
I’m also clearly going to be investing in some India ink here.
India ink for calligraphy is amazing on wood. It's the truest black I've ever seen and comes out incredible looking.
Pickup Switching Mad Scientist
http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=104282&p=1438384#p1438384

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by marqueemoon » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:09 am

That burst looks amazing. Great work.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:12 pm

Rightsy...As of today, this one is officially finished!

Image

I will try and take some better pictures tomorrow if the sun dares show its nose. I'm still a bit unsure about the that finish (I'll go into details at some point but for now I'm too ashamed of everything that went on in the process to talk about it) but in terms of feel and sound it's pretty much there.

Before putting the original t body to rest I recorded some samples to do some compare and contrast. I'll try and put a video together doing some A/B of the two. My preliminary tests indicate it was a good thing to ditch the MDF thing altogether. It either sounds better or feels a lot nicer to play, which yields some better sounds of it. I'll do my best to 'control all the foreseeable biases'.

Thankfully, ain't no rest for the wicked - here's the next project (which has already started...more soon!)

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Rgand » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:43 pm

That looks good. Nice work. Don't stop there,though. Make more of these. It's a pleasing design.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by solfege » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:22 pm

I think it *looks* fantastic. I'd love to see further iterations of this design too, and I'm of course very curious about sound.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Amon 7.L » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:27 am

I fucking love the outcome, much better than I was even expecting! I don't know what you're have to be ashamed of but judging by the result, I think it must have been nothing more than a happy accident. Nevertheless, I'm curious about it :D

The incoming project is wicked too! I guess this time you're going for a bass counterpart, am I right?

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:41 am

Well, let's say I ran into some problems with the cheap nitro rattle can I used for the topcoat. It sputtered and spat like a like an old elephant with TB. Some places started flaking off straight away. The French sun might have been a bit too hot for a spraying session (although, to be faire, I am almost entirely clueless as to how to spray finish). I thought I was either in for complete refinishing of the guitar, so I figured I might try and do what I always do when something goes wrong with finish - reach for the jar of shellac . I gave the surface a bit of careful sanding to remove the excess pools of nitro, then proceeded to dab the places where the finish had separated with the body. Something interested happened: none of the shellac would stick to the nitro, but the alcohol vapors seemed to dissolve and smooth out the finish. I rubbed the whole body this way, and it seemed to stabilized the nitro into place, turning what was a disastrous mess of crags and valleys into a very decent aged nitro finish.

Yeah, I have no idea what happened here.

It remains to be seen how this thing ages, but I have a feeling it won't move much. I wouldn't recommend anyone tries that as a finishing process though :)

Here are a few more cheesy pictures:

Two shades of the same...

Image

Top (I ended up adding a washer under the tone pot to give the control plate a more balanced look)

Image

...and back

Image

Note the aluminum shims under the tuners. I thought I'd try that before adding string trees to compensate for the shallow break angle. It worked out pretty well - I'll see how it holds up in practice, though.

Just realized I completely forgot to mount the strap buttons :fp:

So, yup, a bass is up next. My wife started to learn the instrument, but she struggles with the long-scale neck on my old Jazz Bass. I told her I'd make her a short-scale...
A few days ago, a friend of ours asked us if I'd be interested in some high-end gold counter-top laminate. Someone had screwep up a big piece at his place of work and the leftovers couldn't be used for anything else. That thing retails at 400€ per square meter. I said 'yeah, sure' - and he's going to get a few handmade tools for that :) Anyway, that thing looks great and I have enough for three or four body tops + matching heastocks. Neck will be some very pink padauk I scored from the lumber yard two years ago (sold as outdoor flooring material). It is now pretty dry and ready for use. Anyhow, I'll start a separate thread for it. Summer rocks :whistle:
Last edited by epizootics on Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Rgand » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:51 am

Yep, that one is a winner. Interesting about the shellac, though. I'd not have expected that interaction.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by solfege » Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:32 pm

Sounds like the alcohol carrier of the shellac reacting with the nitro somehow.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:42 pm

Yes indeed. The strange thing is that the shellac itself stayed in the pad. The one thing I can think of is that most of the acetone (which is a solvent for shellac) would have gassed off the nitro already, but the alcohol somehow forced some of the other, non-shellac friendly solvents out. Can't be sure. But there might be something there to fix a nitro finish going south.
solfege wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:55 am
Thank you for all this. Filing away now.

One question, are you using relatively light shellac like super blonde or something more amber? I know I have to try with what I have but I’m curious about the degree of shellac counteracting bluing to expect? I’m also clearly going to be investing in some India ink here.
That reminds me I forgot to answer this. I use two types of flakes - one is the standard 'orange' shellac, standard for French polishing over here, and the other is 'lemon', which is a bit darker and found in art supplies stores. I used quotation marks because those denominations for shellac are misleading and somewhat silly.

Here's what the 'orange' stuff looks like:

Image

and here's the 'lemon':

Image

In my book, an orange is darker than a lemon, but not in the weird world of shellac it seems. Things muddy up further once they are mixed and applied to wood. In spite of the darker color of the lemon flakes, the difference is really subtle. If anything, lemon's less yellow and more orange than the orange flakes. This is quite confusing to write, something like a literary Stroop effect.

I used Lemon only on this build, and I think my brother's guitar got Orange only. It's hard to see in the pictures, but the back of the new body kept more of its blue tone than the other.

Make sure you get shellac-based India ink, I know they come in a variety of binders. The bottles don't always state what's in there. In doubt, apply a bit of ink to your skin, let it dry out, and try to rinse it off with water. If it doesn't move, try alcohol. If it gets washed away by alcohol, it's probably shellac-based. If not...God knows what the binder is :) This actually used to be a medical test for scabies - cover the skin in ink then rub it down with alcohol. It would highlight any galleries dug by the parasites. If they showed, you'd be in for the stinky ointment. Dunno if that test is still in use. :-X

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by antisymmetric » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:17 am

Whether intended or not, I love the way that's ended up. I've bookmarked this thread. 8) 8)
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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by solfege » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:05 pm

Gotcha re: Shellac colors. My approach has been to use very light stuff and tint it with transtint dyes until I get the tone I want.

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