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Thread: New Franky

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    Default New Franky

    Well, as I think stated some time ago, I decided to do another Franky. I also decided to get as close as possible. That means that I’d try my best to get the aesthetic as realistic as I could. Of course there were some setbacks like the inexistence of the correct tuners.

    Some things to consider: whenever one makes a Franky, one captures a moment in time. There are several versions of Franky, as we all know, and I decided to do the Fender version, which is the 1997 version… I also have a picture from 2004 and two from 2007 (I think). These latter were used as for the finishing and relicing references.

    So, here’s the development.

    First I gathered some information…







    You can see my Musikraft neck in there. That was the first, first thing I did, since I knew it’d take quite some time. Turned out it took less than I anticipated and the body (which I thought would be a walk in the park) took quite a while to get alright.

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    Like I said, the first thing I ordered was a neck from Musikraft. The neck took 5 weeks to make, I guess. When it came, it came out great but with the heel wrong. It’s too long, different from the original. The major issue, aside from the aesthetics is that the thumb blocks there when you try to reach the higher frets. That makes it a bit uncomfortable on that spot.






    Still... Take a look at these Fenders:




    Maybe it’s the perspective, but it seems like the profile is different from one another. The upper one resembles mine. I’ll get to that later…

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    Next I ordered the body from KNE … The KNE Frank body was not correct to this project. Besides the control cavity angle being different, the pickup cavity was too small. Hopefully Mitch will correct it on future versions. I’ll certainly use KNE’s bodies for other projects, but for this particular task, it’s not the most accurate. Some people do okay with it, but as I said before, there are some levels of inaccuracy that I believe to be too flagrant.

    As you can see, the pickup cavity doesn’t match a template made from a real-sized photo.


    In here, we can see that the jack plate doesn’t match. I put some pencils (high technology!) to measure where the baseplate of the Floyd ends and the jackplate begins.

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    So, I decided that I had to get another body. Correcting this one would be too much of a task. Iid have to set pieces of wood all over and that could change the sound, or could end up just a mess. I’m a curious, not a wood worker! Who could I order from? Musikraft has a Franky body, but something about it bugs me… Frankenstraat was inaccessible to me and with all the stories going around… well, the options were narrow. So, I turned to Kyle at Divebomb Inc.

    Now, I have to say that communication with Kyle was fantastic right from the start. Some other people have said the same and it’s true. He is quite helpful, responds to emails and gets in touch with the client to know what he wants. As an example, Kyle asked me if I wanted the holes on the body, mentioning that he haven’t done that because I could later make those myself and get them to match the stripes or vice versa. Which is exactly what I had in mind. He could just take the “take-it-or-leave-it” route, but didn’t. So, here’s the body next to KNE’s and a pic of Franky.


    Here’s a close up. Here’s the famous ghost routes.


    Kyle’s body was much lighter that KNE’s. That first struck me when I received KNE’s Frank, how heavy that sucker was! I have no opinion on that. I like heavy bodies because they seem sturdy, I like light bodies because they are easier to carry around and jive. It’s all good I guess. Tone wise, I haven’t compared both.

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    Now, one important note. Kyle has made this body based on a Fender replica. The Fender replicas are what we can (or at least should) consider the closest to the real deal. So, we can consider Kyle’s as close as possible to the real deal. Makes sense? I had my doubts at first, but check this out.

    I noticed that the Floyd baseplate had underneath a bit of the cavity showing up. I mentioned that to Kyle. He replied “Check out the Fender’s”. Here’s Kyle’s:


    And here’s the Fender replica:


    Still, I decided to glue a piece of wood, just an aesthetic preference. Next, another important detail!

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    Here’s Kyle’s neck pocket:


    I thought: “the man has made a mistake. It can happen, he works with his hands, not a CNC, so that is the price you pay for actually doing you work by hand. It’s ok, I can fix it” and I said that to Kyle. So, he said….. “Check out the Fender” And so I did…


    In fact I did more than that! I remember that, whenever I saw the real deal with this neck, there was always a white line in there.


    I then re-checked the fenders and realised that they have done that detail, although not very consistently. In fact, the consistence of details is very low!


    This is a very important detail as far as Kyle’s accuracy goes. Two extra points for him! He also has the six holes for the neckplate. We have never seen the real deal without the neckplate, so, once again, all we have is the replica. Let’s presume that, if they did it, then that is what the real deal is like. Why else would they do it? So, make that three extra points.

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    Painting the body

    So, as usual, first I laid a nice coat of sealer. I wet-sanded it, to get it as smooth as possible.





    Then, I painted the black…









    Now, this time I tried a different brand of paint. I’ve searched for Duplicolor here, but the “Duplicolor” that shows up in the shelves is not the most adequate kind. I contacted them and they replied and said Duplicolor is not available in my country. And that I should use Motip. I used Motip on my previous Franky and liked it a lot. Still, I decided to take some chances, so I tried some other brand. No need to mention it, since it’s a national brand, made for domestic use. This thing dries really quickly. I don’t know if it’ll end up looking good or if it will be too thick and ruin the natural resonance of the body… It was all on a trial basis. Let’s let it dry a bit, shall we?

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    The neck

    Ok, so as I said before, the heel on my Musikraft Franky neck was wrong. It was too long as, as so, I couldn’t reach the higher frets comfortably. For accuracy’s sake, I decided to “correct” it myself. After all, it was just a $402 guitar neck (I ordered it with stainless steel frets and the Floyd nut).

    So, this is what I would have to do:






    Before hitting it, I practiced on an older neck.

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    And so, like a Viking striking on an innocent village, I set myself to work. After removing the shellac from the neck with denatured alcohol…


    You can see the highly technological environment. The downside of those who live in apartments and don’t have a workspace.




    I hit the neck with a file and several grades of sandpaper. In the end I used steel wool to get it as smooth as possible. After all was done, I realized that it could have turned up a bit better, but I’m always to anxious and I’m always in a hurry. So, the whole thing took about two hours. In the end, for the finish I used this:



    This is pure wax, or bee wax. You rub it across the neck all over to get it… well, kinda sticky. This thing is hard, but won’t scratch the neck. You just rub it on the neck over and over, to cover it all (the back). The, with a hair dryer, I melt it. Next, slide a piece of cloth over the neck to get it smooth. To end the performance, a little piece of cotton wet with white spirits, rub it on the neck and…

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    Like I said, it could have been better. But I’m always impatient. Besides, I know that I can later get another go at it. The bee wax is smoother than the shellac. The shellac is nice, if it hadn’t been for the heel, I’d have kept the neck as it was, But it was tough on the thumb to grab the neck on the higher frets, so this “mod” had to be done. I tested it out later (attached to an older body) and I could reach those frets with no effort, so… mission accomplished! All in all, I think it was not that bad for a “first” time in shaping a neck heel (not considering my previous trial - practice).

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    Adding the white…

    And now comes what most folks consider the most important thing on Franky. The stripes… In order to get the relic correct, I also taped the pieces that will show wood. I’d rather scrap the black alone than the black plus the white… It took extra time because there’s nowhere available the exact width of tape (the unavailability of some items is appalling!). I figured it didn’t make sense ordering it online internationally. So I just had to cut it and shape it and trim it as I needed.






    I tried my best to cover all the little things, but I know it will be impossible to be dead on. The idea was to get as close as possible. A fine example is a stripe missing under the upper horn. A black stripe that slides down along the curve to the neck cavity. I later corrected that, but at the time the pictures were taken I didn’t notice that.

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    I must be kinda rusty. I almost forgot an important detail. You should remove the tape while the paint is still tacky. I trick I learned from Frankenstraat. This was the result.





    This is a detail of something I am going to see it it will work. I believe that the back of Franky is a quite disregarded part of the guitar. People replicating it all the time forget that or, at least, neglect that part.



    Next, will be red (obviously). This is the part where you need special care. Not only you need to set the stripes in its correct place, you also need to make them match the previous black stripes! I must confess that what’s really worrying me is how to get the transparency effect! But for now, let’s let the white get completely dry.

    Maybe I’ll hit this while I wait.


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    Didn’t wait. One day (less than that, actually) was enough to get the paint dry. Besides, did Ed wait days and days? I think not. So I started striping the white lines for the red coat. This is a very painful task. Everyone who has done it knows that there are two ways to do it: either you don’t care and place the stripes randomly (and do your own thing) or you try to get as close to the original as possible. Now, we all share enthusiasm for this hypnotic guitar… why not set them in the correct place? That was my intention. I’m sure some will be misaligned; it’s really hard to make them match. I tried to be careful to place them in order to show the exact amount of black underneath, but sometimes it’s too tough. Either you get it right the first time (with the black stripes) or you are doomed. The hardest part for me was the elbow contour area. Since that area is not plain, the perspective of the stripes was… mischievous. I took a while to look at the photos I had from that area (I collected a big collection of every angle as possible from the real thing), but it was still hard to do. In fact looking back at these pictures, I realised that the leaf in the elbow contour is wrong. Besides, if you look closely to the previous photos with the black stripes, it’s clear that those stripes were wrongly placed. Nothing to worry, since I re-sprayed that part (dried in one hour!!). So, more tweaking, more printing on self adhesive paper…




    These are just a preview, corrections are in order. They are obviously not completed. I haven’t decided if I should relic the black stripes and then paint the red, or should I paint the red and then relic? Those pieces of wood showing up are there because the paint stuck to the tape and when Ed lifted it, the pain came along with the tape. So, I guess it makes sense if I should do it after the red. On the other hand, most people do it before with amazing results (think of Steve). The red coat part is scaring me, particularly the transparency effect. If the paint gets too thick, there will be no transparency. If I do it too lightly, it may end up pink.

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    What is the hardest thing about the stripes? Everything! It’s a test on patience. I tried to be as accurate as possible, but due to my impatient nature, there some pieces that went off. I’d like to think that those are not way off, but I realized that they are… off.


    The back. A pain in the butt. The belt area is really hard to get accurate. Also the stripes are not exactly straight, some make some sort of slight curve. Fortunately, I had a picture of the 1979 version of Franky, without the current reflectors, just the reds and a big round orange.


    Here you can see the dilemma of making the white stripes match the previous black ones.


    The front. Even though I tried to get as close as possible to the original, there were some parts that got out of hand. Oh, and because of my impatience and enthusiasm, I forgot to add a stripe! I only noticed after I laid the red coat!

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    Ok, the red coat went on. Now, this is only the fourth and a half guitar I paint. I say fourth and a half because my first one (some sort of bad taste Franky) was a messy job. I didn’t know what I was doing, I mixed the wrong paints (acrylic and synthetic), I didn’t respect any stripe pattern. Ok, so that was a half experience. The second time was on that same guitar, turning it into a VH1. That counts as a whole guitar… but since it was only black and white, there was no way to experience the importance of adding the red. When I painted my (really first – for real) Franky, I made the mistake of overdoing the red. The coats were thin, but not transparent, meaning that you could not see the black stripes underneath. With the 5150 there were no such details to work with, obviously, but with this project here, that problem arose again.

    When I was painting I noticed that the transparency was too obvious, or too transparent. I gave another very, very, very thin coat to cover that up. Now, from what I can tell is this: while the paint is still wet, the transparency is too visible. When it dries, the paint gets thick and that transparency effect fades and what lies underneath stays covered. Fortunately, I didn’t overdo. The black stripes underneath can be seen, but that last very, very, very thin coat was unnecessary and uncalled for. Maybe that is too obvious for more experienced folks, you’re probably saying “Dah?”, but I figured I may mention this for those who want to paint a replica (or any guitar of a sort). Of course this is what happened to me twice, maybe it was my choice of spray cans, brands, whatever, but I guess that this applies as a general rule, come to think of it. Either way, the best way to paint is to lay nice, thin coats. Never overdoing it.


    Here you can see that the transparency is not so obvious. Standing in front of the guitar, you can clearly see the black stripes, so I guess it will be a matter of photography.






    After I painted it, I though the exact same thing that I though after I painted my previous Franky: “It looks so nice like this, next time I’ll do a factory finish Franky”. Yeah, right.

    There will be a heavy amount of relicing to do. That will keep me busy for a week or so.

 

 

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