Thursday, February 25, 2016

1984 Ibanez RoadstarII RS130BK - [5] Rewiring

This post is the last of a five-part series on a gloss black Ibanez RoadstarII RS130 strat-styled guitar. In this post, I shall focus on what was done to get this guitar's electronics up to snuff.

For starters, allow me to opine that Ibanez of old really had the inside scoop on vintage "strat tone," so to speak. I tell you, even through my crappy 10W practice amp, the Super 5 single coils chimed and quacked their way into my heart. I mean, bell tones by the truckload!

I've played too many old strats to remember, and this unassuming RoadstarII would've given any one of them a run for their money. The icing on the cake was that the middle pickup was (I presume) RWRP, as positions 2 and 4 were hum-cancelling. All this in 1984? Bravo, Ibanez!

On the downside, I have to admit that this guitar exuded loads of hum and noise in positions 1, 3, and 5; more so in high-gain settings. To make matters worse, the master tone control was behaving weirdly: 0 was full treble while 10 cut off all the highs. Besides this, the pots and switch were scratchy and/or noisy, even after servicing.

It was definitely time to look at the innards, and what I discovered was not pleasing. Someone had replaced the full-sized master volume pot with a smaller one, and while rewiring, hooked up the master tone pot backwards. On the whole, the wiring was rather gnarly and needed to go. Thus said, I ended up doing a complete rewire, which included replacing all the components; save the original pickups. I also had to replace the Sure Grip II control knobs, as they could not fit the CTS pots.

I'm thankful to report that the rewiring job took care of the pre-existing hum and noise problem; much to the owner's delight.

1984 Ibanez RoadstarII RS130BK - [4] Bodywork

This post is the fourth of a five-part series on a gloss black Ibanez RoadstarII RS130 strat-styled guitar. In this post, I shall focus on the work done to repair finish damage on the body of the guitar. As you can see from the pics, the body had been finished in black poly, and whole chunks of had chipped off in two major locations: the rear of the lower horn and the area below the output jack. There were also other areas that had suffered dents, cracks and chips; but they aren't really visible in the pics.

To repair the damage, I started out by sanding the edges of the affected areas and roughening up any exposed wood surfaces. Devcon 2-part epoxy was then applied to these areas, and after sufficient hardening time, sanded down. The process was repeated several times until the epoxy layer was flush with the existing finish. Following this, the entire body was roughened with sandpaper to improve paint adhesion.

I then sprayed on three coats of black, wetsanding in between coats. This was followed by three coats of clear, with the mandatory wetsanding in between. Wetsanding is a real chore (especially when you accidentally burn-through and have to respray), but well worth the effort. Finally, after two weeks, the new finish was waxed and polished, and hand-buffed to as lustrous a shine as I could manage.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

1984 Ibanez RoadstarII RS130BK - [3] Neck Refinish

This post is the third of a five-part series on a gloss black Ibanez RoadstarII RS130 strat-styled guitar. In this post, I will focus on the neck refinish job I had to carry out. Readers might remember that my last post was about refretting the neck. Well, having done that, it was time to remove the masking tape I had used to protect the fingerboard from files and such.

So I carefully peeled off the tape segment by segment. Mind you, I'd previously "de-tacked" the tape by sticking it onto my t-shirt. But, as luck would have it, I'd seriously underestimated the fragility of the lacquer. It just peeled off in strips along with the tape. It was a total disaster, with finish flaking off the fingerboard face, edges, and even the back of the neck. I'd worked on old guitars before, but this was the first time something like this had happened.

Resigning myself to my fate, I gingerly removed all the tape and cleaned up any glue residue with lighter fluid. Then I realized that tiny slivers of semi-decayed maple had come off with the lacquer. "Way to go," I thought to myself. That settled it. I'd have to refinish the whole neck, and here comes more scraping and sanding!

Subsequently, the fingerboard was scraped clean with a razor blade, while the back of the neck was sanded down to bare wood (I stopped at 600 grit). The face of the headstock was left untouched, to avoid removing the patina or damaging the decals. I decided on a superglue finish for the fingerboard face and edges because it would soak into the wood, halt the decay, and fill up the numerous craters that had appeared.

Thus began the tedious process of applying a thin layer of superglue (trying my best not to get any on the frets), waiting for it to dry, wetsanding, applying the next layer, wetsanding, ... you get the picture. As I had feared, superglue did get onto the frets. It was a total PITA removing it and repolishing the frets without scratching the fresh fingerboard finish. For the back of the neck and headstock, I decided on a teak oil finish, which gave it a smooth, sensuous feel IMHO.

In retrospect, I should have been more thorough in assessing the condition of the fingerboard before refretting the neck. I should have scraped off all the lacquer, refinished the fingerboard, and then only carried out the refret. This is one painful lesson I'm not likely to forget!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

1984 Ibanez RoadstarII RS130BK - [2] Refret

This post is the second of a five-part series on a gloss black Ibanez RoadstarII RS130 strat-styled guitar. In this post, I will focus on the full refret carried out. To start off, this guitar's frets appeared to be original, and as expected, were terribly worn and in need of replacement. The back of the neck, as well as the fingerboard face and edges; were scarred and pitted.

To compound the situation, the original lacquer had chipped off in several places, and the exposed maple there had become blackened; a sure sign that decay was setting in. After removing the original frets, I sanded the whole neck lightly and cleaned the fret slots of gunk and other debris. In the process, I also smoothed out the chipped finish, and sanded off any decayed wood I found.

I then ran water-thin superglue under the edges of the cracked finish to seal them. Superglue was also used to even out the pitted and scarred wood surface, especially along the fingerboard edges. Having taken care of that, I refretted the neck as I usually do, using Fender "Jumbo Guitar" fret wire.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

1984 Ibanez RoadstarII RS130BK - [1] Overview

This is the first of a five-part series on a gloss black Ibanez RoadstarII RS130 strat-styled guitar. As such, this post will only focus on its main features. In subsequent posts, I will share details of the various repairs carried out, namely the [2] refret, [3] neck refinishing, [4] bodywork; and [5] rewiring. Now, let's look at the main features of this Japanese beauty.

Series: Roadstar II Standard
Serial No: C843679
Place of Manufacture: Terada Plant, Japan
Year: 1984
Body: Basswood/Birch
Neck: 22 frets, 1 piece maple
Nut: Graphite
Machine Heads: Smooth Tuner II
Scale: 25.5"
Pickups: Three Super 5 (SSS)
Controls: Master volume, Master tone, 5 way pup selector switch
Bridge: Brass I (fixed, top loading)
Control Knobs: Sure Grip II
Strap Buttons: Ibanez Dead End
Hardware: Chrome
Finish: BK (Gloss Black)

The Guitar Dater Project
Ibanez Roadstar II Standard Catalog No.1 - 1984
Ibanez Roadstar II Standard Catalog No.2 - 1984

Jack & Danny Brothers JDL380

Here's a 24 fret rosewood board strat-style guitar by Jack & Danny Brothers. It had been lying unused, cold and naked in a dark corner of a rehearsal studio for quite awhile. The whole instrument was covered in a layer of dust and grime, which I had to painstakingly remove with naphta (Zippo lighter fluid). I really wish that people would take better care of their guitars, and not leave them naked and exposed to the elements. Even a cheap gig bag would be sufficient, you know.

Continuing our tale, the twin pivoted tremolo bridge showed signs of serious corrosion. That being the case, it took lots of elbow grease, steel wool, sandpaper, plus Autosol to get it looking presentable again. Luckily for me, the 12 saddle height adjustment and 6 intonation screws had not yet frozen in place, and a little WD40 had them turning smoothly again. The tremolo arm was also missing, so I went with a fixed bridge setup by adding another spring, screwing the trem claw flush with the body, and lowering the twin pivot posts. The electronics were pretty straightforward: two humbuckers, pup selector switch, master volume and tone controls.

Amongst the features I really liked about this guitar, besides the recessed bolt-on neck joint, was the thin dark brown body finish. It was velvety smooth and you could even see/feel the wood grain. Nice touch. Finally, as the truss rod was working, I managed to straighten the neck, and after action/intonation adjustment and a string change (009s); returned this JDL380 to its owner. But not before giving him a stern reminder to keep it in a gig bag when not in use. 'Nuff said, let's look at some pics.