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Thread: My VHI

  1. #1
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    Default My VHI

    Ok, let me blather on about my new/first guitar build.

    I picked up one of those Kramer Focus guitars for around $80 a little while ago. I figured I could experiment and mess it up all I wanted without damaging some good wood. Besides, being a lefty didn't leave me with a lot of choices...but this was going to be my first project guitar and thus a learning experience for me. I took it apart, sanded down the body (not stripped) so that the clear coat and some of the paint was off, starting out with coarse grit and working my way down to a very fine grit. Then I primed it, sanded again with fine grit, primed again and sanded again. I taped it up ala VHI and spray painted. I used the Krylon spray paint, but I used the acrylic latex kind. This was a mistake as it came out of the spray can in little blobs rather than an even mist. This happened with the primer, the white and the black. This paint really sucks so my paint job didn't come out as good as it could have. I think my prep work was good as I did quite a bit of sanding and everything was very smooth, including my primer layer. I should have sanded my white and black coats, but I got a bit impatient and that paint was really pissing me off. Anyway, despite these problems I think it turned out pretty good for my first time...a definite learning experience. If you follow the link below you can see that the paint is not really smooth the way a pro job is. The paint went on really blotchy and I'm surprised it turned out the way it did, but still, smooth it is not, especially when you see it in person. I'll assemble the rest of the guitar over the next few months and hopefully I can turn it into a good playing guitar, but that plywood body probably won't help my tone. This project guitar stuff is kind of addicting though.

    So a couple of questions:

    1. How the hell do you post pictures on this site? Can someone explain it to me, I still haven't figured it out. Here is the flickr link...please check it out

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3234/...4e567e619b.jpg

    2. I'm really torn on whether to fully Frankenstein it or not. I like the VHI paint job, but I am awfully tempted to put the red coat of pain on it. It's like I almost can't stop myself...what do you guys think?

    3. How about advice moving forward? I plan on putting a Floyd on this. What is that process like? How about wiring and soldering...I've never done that before.

    Anyway, I would love to hear from any of you guys. I have already searched all the other threads on this subject and learned a lot, but I figured I would start a new thread..tear me a new one if I deserve it as this is probably old hat to a lot of you.

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    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Just use ImageShack or any of the other image hosting sites out there.

    Here's the link for image shack...http://imageshack.us/

    Here's your picture, using that site as a host...

    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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  3. #3
    On Fire JeppVH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vhin04 View Post
    Ok, let me blather on about my new/first guitar build.

    I picked up one of those Kramer Focus guitars for around $80 a little while ago. I figured I could experiment and mess it up all I wanted without damaging some good wood. Besides, being a lefty didn't leave me with a lot of choices...but this was going to be my first project guitar and thus a learning experience for me. I took it apart, sanded down the body (not stripped) so that the clear coat and some of the paint was off, starting out with coarse grit and working my way down to a very fine grit. Then I primed it, sanded again with fine grit, primed again and sanded again. I taped it up ala VHI and spray painted. I used the Krylon spray paint, but I used the acrylic latex kind. This was a mistake as it came out of the spray can in little blobs rather than an even mist. This happened with the primer, the white and the black. This paint really sucks so my paint job didn't come out as good as it could have. I think my prep work was good as I did quite a bit of sanding and everything was very smooth, including my primer layer. I should have sanded my white and black coats, but I got a bit impatient and that paint was really pissing me off. Anyway, despite these problems I think it turned out pretty good for my first time...a definite learning experience. If you follow the link below you can see that the paint is not really smooth the way a pro job is. The paint went on really blotchy and I'm surprised it turned out the way it did, but still, smooth it is not, especially when you see it in person. I'll assemble the rest of the guitar over the next few months and hopefully I can turn it into a good playing guitar, but that plywood body probably won't help my tone. This project guitar stuff is kind of addicting though.

    So a couple of questions:

    1. How the hell do you post pictures on this site? Can someone explain it to me, I still haven't figured it out. Here is the flickr link...please check it out

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3234/...4e567e619b.jpg

    2. I'm really torn on whether to fully Frankenstein it or not. I like the VHI paint job, but I am awfully tempted to put the red coat of pain on it. It's like I almost can't stop myself...what do you guys think?

    3. How about advice moving forward? I plan on putting a Floyd on this. What is that process like? How about wiring and soldering...I've never done that before.

    Anyway, I would love to hear from any of you guys. I have already searched all the other threads on this subject and learned a lot, but I figured I would start a new thread..tear me a new one if I deserve it as this is probably old hat to a lot of you.
    Great job so far! nice pic on flicker. u need "rights" or posting privileges inorder to upload. just email & ask.

    as far as adding the red coat, do it if you really truly want red on there. don't worry about being a follower - its your project!

    installing the Floyd? get your local shop tech guy to do it. i don't how to do that stuff either & i wouldn't want my guitar that i customized to look great but never stay in tune.

    Tip: don't get distracted as I have. I haven't finished my Franken-Kramer homemade jobby yet & its killing me

    started off w/ all cylinders firing & haven't finished the final touch-ups so i can bring it in 2 my shop & have 'em put my guitar back together.

    its been a long while since i started. oh well, last summer i bought a Dark Cherryburst Wolfgang since my fingers were gettin' itchy 2 rip up some tasty =VH= licks

    Keep us posted
    JeppVH

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeppVH View Post
    Great job so far! nice pic on flicker. u need "rights" or posting privileges inorder to upload. just email & ask.

    as far as adding the red coat, do it if you really truly want red on there. don't worry about being a follower - its your project!

    installing the Floyd? get your local shop tech guy to do it. i don't how to do that stuff either & i wouldn't want my guitar that i customized to look great but never stay in tune.

    Tip: don't get distracted as I have. I haven't finished my Franken-Kramer homemade jobby yet & its killing me

    started off w/ all cylinders firing & haven't finished the final touch-ups so i can bring it in 2 my shop & have 'em put my guitar back together.

    its been a long while since i started. oh well, last summer i bought a Dark Cherryburst Wolfgang since my fingers were gettin' itchy 2 rip up some tasty =VH= licks

    Keep us posted
    I agree with this post.
    Definitly get a tech to instal your Floyd. They are pretty complex and have to be done corectlly.
    Other then that, just wing it. Looks good so far. Cant tell you how many guitars I fucked up in the begining. You learn. What paint is good, or ones that suck, ect....ect.
    There are so many cool sites to help. Look around. The fun part is learnin.
    Take your time too. It will be worth it in the end.
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    12.14.17 @ 12:39 PM
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    Thanks guys. Are Floyds really that hard to install? I don't want a recessed one. I was hoping I could try it myself. I'm not too bad with tools and I wouldn't mind giving it a go...any advice on the installation would be great. If it really is that complicated I probably will take it to a pro, but how will I learn if I don't give it the old college try?

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    The hardest part is drilling the post holes in the right spot. Very important.
    Your scale is gonna be 25 1/2 inches. Thats the distance from the back of the nut to the saddles of the Floyd. Then you have to figure out the width of the posts. The depth, and width of the post holes. Those posts have to be tight. This all has to be dead on. A template is key.
    Installing the new nut is also a whole other ballgame. Location, height, top mount, back mount, ect. All have to be dead on.
    The string retainer has to be in the right spot.
    Sometimes, additional routing needs to be done to the body to give it more freedom. Even if its not recessed, you'll need room for the fine tuners to move.
    The bummer is, if you do happen to mess up, repair can be a bitch.
    That's the major reason Eddie had to retire the Frankenstrat. He had to move his Floyd so many times from using different necks, the wood just wore out.
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    Ok, thanks. That does seem a tad complicated. I was hoping I could drop one in to the existing spot and simply anchor the posts in. The neck I'm going to have done by Warmoth. I'll get one of their necks and have them do the prep for the nut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron4406 View Post
    The hardest part is drilling the post holes in the right spot. Very important.
    Your scale is gonna be 25 1/2 inches. Thats the distance from the back of the nut to the saddles of the Floyd. Then you have to figure out the width of the posts. The depth, and width of the post holes. Those posts have to be tight. This all has to be dead on. A template is key.
    Installing the new nut is also a whole other ballgame. Location, height, top mount, back mount, ect. All have to be dead on.
    The string retainer has to be in the right spot.
    Sometimes, additional routing needs to be done to the body to give it more freedom. Even if its not recessed, you'll need room for the fine tuners to move.
    The bummer is, if you do happen to mess up, repair can be a bitch.
    That's the major reason Eddie had to retire the Frankenstrat. He had to move his Floyd so many times from using different necks, the wood just wore out.
    Actually, a little trick I've used on loose Floyd posts is driving a small screw right beside the base so that the head holds it in place. I had to do this on an OLP Franken-Ball job. I put a Floyd on it, decided I didn't want it, and later decided to put it back on. Not to mention routing out the nut for the Floyd nut, putting the origional back on, and re-routing it. Yet somehow, it's playing and sounding better than it ever has, and the Floyd is functioning wonderfully.

  9. #9
    Eruption smme5150's Avatar
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    OK bud, looks good but let me steer you in the right direction. First Dupli-Color paint is the best to use if you are going to use a can. It can be found at most Autozone type joints for about $8 a can.

    As for the floyd, the body installation isn't that difficult. The posts need to be 25" from the nut. You can figure out spacing by getting the unit first then taking off the old trem and setting it in place. I have found that before you take the old one off, you should mark where both e strings currently reside with some small pencil lines that way you have a better idea how the strings and floyd will align with the pickups ( you need to mount the pickups first). A template is good and you can buy a floyd template here: www.stewmac.com
    This is a good sight for ordering luthier tools, templates etc. The hardest part for you is getting the correct depth and a perfect straight line for the nut. Do not install the posts at the body until the nut is done because you need the nut set for the scale length (read- you have to measure from the nut back to the posts to 25" mark) so that may change a bit if you cut to much off the fingerboard. If you order a neck, just get it cut that way and it should be easy from there since you aren't recessing the floyd. I wouldn't be afraid especially if you aren't married to the guitar. You will make mistakes but it's the only way to learn. Ideally you should dry fit the guitar and do all work prior to painting. Therefore I recommend you ad the additional red coat. Or if I were you, I would scrap the paint,make you fits, string up and make sure everything works then paint and replace.I would start over after that and use duplicolor paint from primer up through red and you will be much happier. Just go get some paint remover from Menards, it really is no biggie to strip it down, done it a million times.
    As for the wiring, it's pretty simple with one humbucker or even two. There are simple diagrams available at www.seymourduncan.com Just solder and clip here and there,again trial and error. If you wire it wrong you will know!
    A great resource for you is www.frankenstraat.com It's a bad ass VH guitar and more site. It has halped me over the years as you can post questions and get quick answers. There are some great builders here however like Dino.
    Good luck and have fun! Be patient you will make mistakes but that's part of the fun trying to figure out how to fix 'em!

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    Looking good!

    If you are not happy with the paint though, I would urge you to strip it a start over and use the Duplicolor as smme5150 recommended.
    I know it may be a little more work, but if you're really not happy with it, you will probably regret not doing it later. Besides ... you already have the guitar disassembled so it would be the perfect time to do it.

    I'm not a big fan of using spraypaint on guitars, but I will say that Duplicolor is a much better paint and the cans have better nozzels that should help in applying nice even coats.

    You did good in taking the extra time to do good prep work.
    Just make sure you don't use the finer grits in your prep stages or there won't be enough "tooth" for the paint to stick and it may flake off.
    End your sanding with around a 400 grit in your prep stages and you should be fine. Also, try to be conscience of the temperature and humidity when you spray.

    If you do decide to start over, don't feel bad ... this is how we learn.
    I've stripped more of my own paintjobs then I can even remember.
    The consolation is ... they always look better the second time around and I'm always glad I took the extra time to do it over.

    Keep us posted!

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    Hey Dino, do you use fine sand paper, or wet sand for a glossy finish and do you sand the paint with fine paper, or just the clear coats.(I don't want to scratch it up) How many coats of clear coat. Also, what can I use to buff it out? Thanks.
    ps did you get your new Wolfgang yet?

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    Man. I dont know how you guys do it. Putting years and years of perfecting something in one tread. I know I cant. I get too frustrated.
    There is just too much to mention. The steps, the tips, the right tools, agghhh.
    Is it gonna be a relic or a factory finish? Two completely different monsters.
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    Congrats on the guitar. It looks awesome.

    If you're not happy with the finish, start it again. I building one as well and my first paint job didn't work out as well as I had hoped. Actually, it wasn't too bad, but I didn't prep the guitar properly. I bought a black guitar too save painting the black coat, and I was a little too careful sanding the clear coat off it and when I striped it, the paint peeled off along with the tape. So, I'm starting over.

    Also, it looks like the think stripes on your guitar are a little too think. Try using 3/4" masking tape. The thin stripes look about right.

    Be sure to post more pictures when you're done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel67 View Post
    Hey Dino, do you use fine sand paper, or wet sand for a glossy finish and do you sand the paint with fine paper, or just the clear coats.(I don't want to scratch it up)
    IMO, the most important and most often overlooked step in achieving a nice finish is in the prep work. The more time you spend on your prep work, the nicer your paintjob. Having said that, yeah ... I do usually wetsand the clearcoat in the final stages.

    As for sanding the paint ... No, I don't.
    That's not to say I haven't had to sand out an occassional blemish, but as a general rule, no ... I don't sand basecoats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel67 View Post
    How many coats of clear coat.
    That would really depend on the type of paint you're using and whether or not you're clearing any sort of graphics, amoung other things ...
    For example, if I have to mask and cut graphics out on the guitar itself, I'll shoot clearcoat first to help prevent me from cutting through the paint with my razor. Also, If you're doing a stripe job, you may have to shoot a couple extra coats in order to level out the finish.
    As a general rule, I just follow the instructions by the manufacture.
    Allow time for the clear to "flash' before shooting additional coats, and just use a little common sense.

    Experience also helps ...
    There are alot of techniques and procedures I use that I just do as second nature and may not even think to post here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel67 View Post
    Also, what can I use to buff it out? Thanks.
    If doing it by hand, I use 3M Perfect iT II rubbing compound.
    If using a buffer wheel, I use Menzerna polishing compounds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel67 View Post
    ps did you get your new Wolfgang yet?
    I just recieved a text message from my girlfriend saying it just now arrived at my house ... and there's actually a guitar in the case!!!!

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    Ok, all this advice is pretty cool. I think I will strip the paint, measure and fit everything up, then take it apart and paint again. I'm not real happy with the paint I used and up close the stripe job doesn't look as good as it does in the pictures. I'm pretty confident with my prep work and with better paint I think I get a much better result.

    Also, I did have some difficulty with the spray paint bleeding through the tape. How do I avoid this? I think maybe I sprayed too much paint on when I started and it seeped through the masking tape in some places. Should I be spraying on a very light skim coat first just to seal up the surfaces of the tape and the edges so I get no seepage? Have any of you more experienced guys had this problem? How do I resolve it?

    I will probably get the neck from Warmoth, so I can have them do the nut. Once I have the neck attached to the body I can measure for the Floyd. If I'm measuring for the Floyd installation, where on nut do I measure from? And where on the Floyd posts do I measure? For example, do I measure from the back edge of the nut to the middle of the posts? Or do I measure from the front edge of the nut to the front edge of the post? Once I do manage to get the Floyd in, is there any problem in removing it completely for the new paint job and then re-installing it, or are the holes going to be ruined? I understand the posts have to be pretty tight and secure.

    One last thing--don't paint in cold weather! I'm sure most of you are aware of this already. It was cold in my garage when I painted. I kept the cans in the house so they were warm, but my garage was real cold and I don't think that helped my paint job. The weather here in Toronto is still pretty cold, so I think I'll source the rest of my parts, fit everything up and work out my problems with the Floyd and the electronics, strip the body, and wait for some warmer weather to paint and then re-assemble.

    It's a fun process though. I don't mind making mistakes so long as I'm learning, and like I said before, it's a junk body so if I ruin it I can junk it and keep the good parts like the Floyd and the neck for another project.

 

 

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