Right then, look what turned up this week….a 1978 Guild S60…right up my strasse…it’s old, it’s a weird shape, you don’t see many of them about…oh but wait…someone has done this to it!!!
As you probably can’t really tell from the photos this super cool 70’s post punk oddity has lived through one of the worst periods for guitar manufacture and modification….the 1980’s! For some reason it became uber fashionable to strip the finish from a guitar…not a problem in itself, other than removing original finishes, as most timbers will improve tonally from having less finish “stuck” to it. However the problem i have with this fad is that the people who seem to do this always seem to be the most technically inept people on earth! I see this time and time again on collectible guitars from all eras prior to the 80’s…finishes chemically stripped…poorly and then varnished….with a brush!!!! Why the f**k go to all the trouble of stripping a guitars finish then apply fence paint with a decorators brush?!?!? I have never figured it out but trust me it is very common to see! So this guitar probably started life as a sunburst, black, white or cherry finish but here is where we are at…
…everything on this guitar has been smothered with horrible thick sticky varnish…yes that’s right including the entire fretboard and frets AND the scratchplate….thats right the SCRATCHPLATE…seriously people who do this sort of thing need punching very hard in the face! So judging from the over..err..brushed scratchplate then I’m guessing…
…yep, off comes the scratchplate and there you go…the original cherry finish!!! Looks like this donut could take the lid off some varnish but couldn’t remove a scratchplate from a guitar!
Any how that’s what we are up against. Now considering this is a well made USA Guild guitar and has some collectability value we could shoot for an original spec restoration back to the way things were, however, as the customer has no concern over its “vintage” value and he also picked it up for almost nothing due to its condition coupled with various, seemingly random holes throughout the body i think an original trans-cherry finish would be out of the question so i think this one’s gonna get some hot rod treatment!
Taking this thing apart gives me the surprise of….no more surprises! This little beauty is rare for two reasons a) apart from the finish and weird holes everything else has been left alone and not 80’s’d up…original Guild USA pickup and harness and b) no headstock/neck fracture…rare for a guitar such as this!
One of its coolest features is this very nice “space control” style roller bridge:
Kind of looks like the offspring of a Gretsch SC and Mastery bridge…would be a shame not to have a Bigsby on the other end!!!
Regardless of what’s going to go on it we first need to get stuff off it! Starting with that horrible gloopy varnish…
After carving through the “finish” we reveal a tidy looking headstock complete with serial number stamp.
…as you can see things are already getting better for this guitar…and as the body is returned to the way it started its life you can really see how horrible the varnish custom job on the fretboard is!
Realistically if we are going to the effort of re-finishing the body then the only way to clean the fretboard properly is to pull the frets sand out the sh**y finish and re-fret with slightly less 70’s super low profile frets…
…after having removed frets from guitars like this before i made sure i made use of my valved spraying mask when heating the frets for removal as the smoke kicked-up by varnish is pretty horrible stuff! Other than filling my workshop with nerve gas the fret removal was pretty smooth…now to sort out that mess of a board…
…there we go…i knew there was a nice guitar in there somewhere…and actually a lovely bit of rosewood under all that slime! The neck on this thing is actually in great shape and straight as a die so sanding and cleaning was fairly straight forward.
Well that’s it for now on this baby…she’s definitely looking better now! Next we will be plugging some of those random holes and giving her some new frets!!