Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ibanez Blazer BL-300NT Super Glue Finish

The headstock proudly proclaims "Ibanez Blazer Series Custom Made." And rightly so, for this Blazer is not just another strat-wannabe. In fact, in clean mode, it's even 'strattier' than most Fender strats I've played (IMHO). Let's take a closer look. I do not know when this particular guitar (owned by my good buddy Abg Remy) was made, as the neck plate was seriously rusted (no serial number visible). However, based on the info sourced from vintage Ibanez catalogs [1] [2] [3], I'd say it's from the early 80s. 

This Blazer sports a 'Natural Matte Finish" (NT) over an ash body. The neck is a single slab of rock maple (25.5" scale, 21 frets), the machine heads are chrome-plated die cast Smooth Tuner IIs, while the bridge is a top-load solid brass 'Accu-Cast' with brass barrell saddles. As the saddles' height adjustment screws were permanently fused, despite various efforts to free them, I had no choice but to replace the entire bridge.

Stock, this guitar would have featured three Ibanez Blazer SB single coil pickups, master volume and tone controls, a 5-way pup selector switch, and also a phase switch (please refer to the first pic, courtesy of Soul Guitars). However, what arrived at my doorstep was far from stock. The pickguard had been cut and material removed from the area between the neck heel and neck pup (for reasons unknown) while the section housing the output jack had broken off completely. Meanwhile, the fretboard (from the 9th onwards) had been scalloped, leaving raw wood exposed. Needless to say, years of sweat and grime had taken their toll on the fingerboard and back of the neck, decaying and blackening the wood in several places. I would have to strip the entire neck, remove damaged wood, and refinish it. The somewhat worn frets would remain untouched, though. Abg Remy loved them to bits, divots and all, and would not hear of a refret. Case closed.

The pup configuration was S-S-H, as a previous owner had substituted the stock bridge pup with a DiMarzio humbucker. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stock pups and DiMarzio worked very well together, either clean or overdriven. It is interesting to note that according to Ibanez, their SB single coil pickups "utilize a single blade polepiece for high energy output with a minimum of string pull."

The ash body was in a sorry state, with all sorts of gunk coating it. A refinish job was in order here, no doubt about that. Abg Remy also wanted to replace the pickguard-mounted output jack with a strat-style 'boat' output jack plate. Hmmm ... the pickguard's already broken and he only wants master volume and tone controls, no phase switch needed. That being the case, I would just have to shorten and reshape the existing pickguard to as stratesque a shape as I could manage, plug the exposed control cavity, and carefully chisel out the wood to accomodate the output jack (no, I do not own, nor have access to a router).

Eventually, besides taking care of the repairs/ mods already mentioned, I replaced the pots with full sized 500K pots (thank you, Roka Dyer Maker), replaced the rusty 5-way pup selector switch, and upgraded the innards with a Sprague 'orange drop' 0.022mF tone cap. The body was refinished in super glue, an approach I'd already tried out on a Fender Prodigy II strat last year (also Abg Remy's). The back of the neck and headstock were also refinished in super glue, and now it feels really slick and smooth. For the fingerboard and headstock, I opted for a thin super glue sealer coat, followed by clear varnish.

'Nuff said. Let's look at some pics and a short video.

Last but not least, here's Abg Remy getting down and dirty through a Boss MT-2

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