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Should I sand this body or leave it as it is ?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by FerK, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    Issue: my Japan-made Ibanez SR800's body finish is cracked all over the place. You can't really see it from far, but up-close it's horrible. I got it online very cheap, but it's bothering me big time.

    <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_6432386391_a3345cff3b_b-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_DSC_0001-2.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_DSC_0002-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_DSC_0003-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_DSC_0004-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_DSC_0002.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    It also has a ding or two around the bottom edge:
    <a href="http://s1259.beta.photobucket.com/user/fernandokijel/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii555/fernandokijel/th_DSC_0005-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    I've been seriously thinking about sanding the clear coat off and re-applying, but I came to the realization that underneath the finish there probably is a plastic laminate/film with the blue design that blends with the black edges/back which is perhaps paint, or part of the same plastic wrap.

    So my questions are:
    1-What is most likely to happen if I start sanding carefully ? Will I hit plastic before I notice and destroy the design ?
    2- If it's impossible to sand properly (the cracks in the clear coat are fairly wide and deep...deep enough for your nail to get "stuck" in them if you run it across the surface), will sanding lightly and applying a new clear coat disguise the cracks enough ? Or will they remain blatantly visible ?
    3- Considering the J pup has gone a tad microphonic and is already quite weak...is it worth the hassle/cost repairing at all ? The fretboard, frets, machines, P-pup, electronics...everything else is in excellent shape.

    Thoughts ? Thank you !
  2. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    On an sr800 that should be actual flamed maple wood top that is dyed into the wood for the blue color. Rather then ther cheapskate route cheap basses use of pic decal glued onto the wood which is often plywood. Sanding isnt the preferred way to remove old thick poly finish. Dunno the name for the chemical remover used, but I'm sure someone will come along with that info.
  3. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    Thank you DarkStorm. Between my post and now I found the name for the "decal", which is something like fotoflame. I will try to get confirmation on whether the flamed maple is solid wood or a thin veneer...but I was quite sure the body is basswood.

    Thoughts on removing the poly off a veneer ? How thin do you think the veneer is ? Any chances of damaging it during the peeling process ?
  4. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    OK, Bill@Ibanez from the official Ibanez Forums (http://forum.ibanez.com) says that "The wood is most likely a flamed maple veneer, not solid, not foto.

    The clear coat on it would be poly. Sanding and re-applying a clear coat may help, but I wouldn't bank on it being perfect. [...] If I was trying to repair it conservatively, I would try to fill some of those with glue and sand and buff it smooth. Just to avoid the risk of sanding the stain out. This method would most likely smooth it all out without getting rid of cracked look. "

    I hope I can find out just how thick the veneer is, to gauge the risk of damaging it, removing the stain or not.
  5. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Veneers are normally available in .028" and .040" thickness.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    folks talk about stripping poly like this using a scraper and a heat gun!

    that said, chances are you'd spend a huge amount of time and effort getting that mostly bulletproof poly off of there, and even more trying to paint it yourself somehow, all to end up with something that looks hideously "homemade".

    i've never seen homebrew re-fins, and almost never seen pro paint guy refins, that look as good as the factory finish that was stripped off a run-of-the-mill $600 korean guitar.

    i'd leave it alone.
  7. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    Thank you 202 and Walter. I wasn't actually thinking about painting it myself at all. I live in Switzerland, where labor is ridiculously expensive. For my $600 (Japanese rather than Korean) I should expect to pay some $400 in labor just to remove the poly. That I would rather do myself, in whatever amount of time it takes. Painting I would leave to my local luthier, which might be just as expensive.

    Maybe not such a good idea, then. Meaning I'm stuck with my beautiful sounding, ugly looking flamed maple. :(
  8. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Ugly close up?

    From the images posted in this thread the guitar appears to be fine at "stage distance." The gentleman who posted advice on the Ibanez forum has half an idea in that sealing the cracks with CA glue will prevent moisture from damaging the body. However, even after leveling and buffing out the glue will not hide the cracks.

    Which begs the question: How deep are the cracks? Do they penetrate from the top of the finish to the wood surface? Or are these cracks merely crazing?
  9. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    You can see an "ugly close up" in the second pic. It's...well...ugly.

    Yes, and more: the bass appears fine at 6 ft. But when I'm playing it, it's only some 12" from my face. :p Oh, and by the way...the guy at the Ibanez forum seems to be either a Forum Admin only or even an Ibanez employee.

    I don't know, but it seems to me they go all the way to the wood. Most of them are hairline, and I can't think of anything I could "shove" in them to measure their depth. But some of them are thick enough for maybe a paper sheet to fit. I will measure. Gimme 45min to get home and I will check.
  10. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    I cheched every crack: no chances to measure depth...all the cracks are too thin, and most of them are visible because of the gunk accumulated in them. I will go the easy way first: toothbrush, light soap solution and we'll see how that goes. Perhaps that'll reduce the visibility of the cracks, which I could later on seal if the wood's moisture level is appropriate.

    Thanks for all your help !!!
  11. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    It does appear that the cracks are finish crazing. The poly coat on these instruments is pretty thick. Block sanding, rubbing out, and buffing would restore the gleam, albeit with a much thinner finish. The risks are two fold. The first is the chance of burning through the finish in any of the steps. Big mess that may or may not be salvageable with a lot more work. The second risk is a matter of skill. The operator must be experienced at this kind of work to pull it off. It is not a task for the faint of heart or the shaky of hand.

    Walter is right. Most of these restorations end up looking like they were dragged behind a pony cart down an old dirt road. If you don't know what you are doing, don't do it.

    Cleaning the old wax and crud out of the cracks should go a long way toward making the flaws more acceptable.
  12. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Another concern, is that the dust from that poly finish is crazy bad for your lungs.

    Keep a window open and a vacuum running to suck up the worst of the debris, lock the cat in the other room, and wear a mask.
  13. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    "Dragged behind a pony cart", an appropriate description of how this would likely end up.