Kay Vanguard Rehab (part 3)
Refinishing the body took longer than I thought. Spray paint doesn't like cold weather, and I don't have a lot of extra time to mess around during the week. But I got it all done and back together. And I really like the way it plays and sounds. It's cool.
I took it apart, took all the hardware off, and removed the original finish with some furniture stripper. I was surprised to find that the top and back were a nice-looking maple veneer. The body was made from several pieces of wood (poplar? pine?). With the finish removed the neck felt nice and smooth and I decided to keep it natural.
The character of the wood changed my refinishing plan. Originally I was going to paint the top a solid color and leave the sides and back natural, but I decided I didn't want to cover the nice wood on the top. So I decided to leave the top and back natural and paint the sides and headstock.
I used enamel primer (several coats) then red enamel spray paint (Heritage Red, probably for tractors?). I put on a lot of coats and fixed some drip errors along the way. I added white enamel over the red on part of the sides for the design I had in mind. I messed up by using paint rather than primer, as the paint would not absorb the India ink I used in the design. Originally I was planning on using enamel with a small brush, but I wasn't able to get clean lines because of my unsteady hand, the curved surface, and the difficulty of using a brush so precisely. I'm sure someone with more skills could have pulled it off, but not me.
I cleaned the pickguard and truss rod cover with alcohol, buffed the bridge cover and pickup with steel wool, cleaned the tuners in an ultrasonic cleaner, attached the grounding wire to the tailpiece and soldered it to the jack, installed a new nut, new strap buttons, and my fabricated bridge, and branded the headstock with a Rusted Rabbit logo.
I really like playing this guitar. It is light and well balanced and sounds really nice on a clean tone with the reverb turned all the way up. I find it feels best to me (and stays in tune) with some gentle, slow picking. I haven't gotten the neck dialed in yet where all the strings will play past the fourteenth fret, but I know that's possible because I did it before I refinished it. Here's a video I took of some music that came out the first time I played it. It might end up being a new Rusted Rabbit song.
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