Criminal Resurrection

This is my first major foray into the luthier arts to restore a solid body guitar. The guitar was once owned by a character named Brazilian Joe, carried caseless and left for dead after a walk-in tryout for my cousin’s band. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity to strip, repaint and restore it.

In the early to mid 1970s Ibanez of Japan was copying many of the popular guitar designs of Gibson USA, including the SG model. Gibson eventually sued over the use of the “open book” style headstock, claiming trademark infringement. These guitars are now referred to as lawsuit guitars. Go here for a short history.

Crusty ol’ bastard!

I began by stripping the paint, filling the mahogany grain, and spray applying a clear vinyl sealer coat. I decided to use a transparent black nitrocellulose lacquer for the top and opaque black for the sides and back. All in all approximately ten coats of clear lacquer were applied.

At first my intention was to keep the original inlay, until I discovered through sanding the headstock that it was a very thin piece of pearloid and not a true inlay. I saw my mistake as an opportunity and redid the “inlay”, carving a new sheet of paper-thin pearloid with a Dremel. I also took the liberty of fattening up the type from the original a bit.

The pickguard was remade by streamlining the original curves, sharpening the points, and routing the edges with a chamfer bit. All the electronics were replaced and I swapped that ghetto neck humbucker with a new Gibson model. Other mods include a new bridge, Bigsby vibrato, black knobs and a new nut.

After initial setup I discovered it could use a set of locking tuning machines and a bit of fretwork in the upper register. New strap buttons need to be installed as well. Oh, and the tone… It’s a monster.

Posted by on June 10, 2009