Two Refinished Strats
Last year, we had a few strats come into the shop to be refinished, the first was this '61 strat belonging to Jeff Foss. The finish on the guitar was not original and had been poorly done so, Jeff wanted to have it changed.
Jeff wanted to have a look that fit the age of the guitar so, we started by finishing it in aged olympic white.
Part of the process of making this finish look authentic will be recreating wear marks that one might see on older instruments. This is typically refered to as a relic finish.
Working on a fully assembled guitar helps to make the wear look more natural as it will also effect the pickguard and various bits of hardware, just like a guitar would be subject to in normal conditions
There are a lot of different way to fabricate the damage and wear that a guitar may see over the years. We find that using a bit of variety helps achieve a more authentic look. Here, we are using a heavy set of keys to create some dents and dings in the finish.
One of the tricks we use is rubbing brown dye into the dents, dings and scratches we have made. This simulates the dirt and grime that would accumulate over the years in this type of damage and serves to highlight these blemishes.
There are certain types of wear that everyone expects to see on vintage instruments as well, like the finish being worn away by a player's forearm. We achieve this look with a buffing wheel. Some others are quite common but, thought of less, like a dent on the underside of the guitar, possibly the result of a broken strap.
We have seen examples of relic finishes in the past that have been overly deliberate (like trying to create each ding individually, scraping finish away with a knife, or trying to recreate a look from an image) and not only does this take much longer than necessary, it typically results in a very poor appearance as well.
Part of the process is also understanding that damage can happen anywhere on an exposed surface and is mostly random. We have to act with this in mind, which leads to more authentic looking wear.
It's a little tough to see in some of these pictures but, an important visual feature in this look is the cracked finish which we achieve by turning an air duster upside down to blast the finish with the freezing refrigerant.
We take pride in our attention to detail with this process as it really seems to come out great. On new guitars, we even go through the process of aging the hardware separately. This one had the benefit of being aged naturally though.
A final once-over and this guitar is good to go! This one really came out nice and we hope Jeff enjoys it!
This was the other strat we had in around the same time. It had been finished in fiesta red but, once again, we had the customer take some time to strip the finish before bringing it in. There was still a lot of work to get the guitar prepper but, here is is after a sealer coat has been applied.
Faded sonic blue was the color choice for this one but, not a relic finish like the previous example.