Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

1985 Flying V Resurrection

In April of 2014, I picked up this 1985 Gibson Flying V, from my friend Jan,  for a small amount of money. It was cheap due to the fact that the guitar had been broken, repaired, then spray-painted with what appeared to have been multiple cans of paint before it was built up with non-original parts.

Still, it was a real Gibson Flying V, and I had wanted one for 40 years. So, where others saw a junk guitar, I saw potential.

You can see that the headstock had been in at least three pieces, at some point. The repair was tight, and seemed stable. So, I installed some locking tuners, and strung it up.

There is a piece of oak, under the stop tailpiece. This guitar originally was equipped with a locking Kahler tremelo unit. It had been removed, and the hole filled in with random species of wood. No attempt was made to match the woods, cosmetically.

I actually played the guitar quite a bit, over the next month, and played it at a May 5th gig, which we dubbed "Veeyo de Mayo", and everyone was surprised at how good the thing sounded. But the spray paint was rubbing off onto my clothes, so I removed it. That revealed another piece of mismatched wood on the front of the body.

I sent the V home with a friend of mine, so that he could refinish it for me. He wanted some practice working on electric guitars, and I figured this would be a good, no-pressure project to get him started. Unfortunately, he was never able to get around to my guitar. Last week, I got the guitar back from him, to test-fit it in a case I had found for it. Once I had it in hand, I decided to see if I could make some progress on the refinishing.

Here, you can see the piece I was talking about, at the neck joint. It is not only a different species of wood than the body, but the grain runs perpendicular to that of the body wood! Yet, again, it is well-fitted and seemingly stable.

(I find it amusing that all of the fittings on an electric guitar, including the strap, fit into a standard cigar box.)

The remaining factory paint was pretty much laughing at my sander. Coarse paper would barely even mark the clear-coat. So, I physically scraped the paint down to primer, then sanded the primer down to bare wood.

Six hours of work later, and I had the body and neck down to bare wood. The neck is maple, on this guitar. The mid-80s were a strange time for Gibson...

I wanted a finish similar to my 2005 Faded V, except I wanted a darker color. Basically, I wanted the guitar to look like the back of my Les Paul BFG. I started with Red Mahogany Danish Oil Finish, and applied it until I got the original wood to the color I wanted. The large patch at the neck joint was still a completely different shade.

So, off to Ace Hardware, where I found a scratch repair kit, which allowed you to "match any color finish". I went to work on the light piece, and finally got it where I was satisfied. It isn't a perfect match, but I never expected it to be. A little bit of wabi sabi is fine with me.

Once I had the finish where I was happy with it, I reassembled the guitar and plugged it in. I was curious if the change in finish had, perhaps, affected the sound of the guitar. If it did, it improved it. This thing is a beast.

The pickups are unbranded, so I have no idea where they came from, but they sure put out some sound. The tone is more aggressive than than the Faded V, and some of my harder-edged songs sound really good when played on this guitar.

As I said, the finish is not a perfect match, but it is close enough for a stage instrument.

From the floor of Herman's Hideaway, I suspect that no one will see the mismatched wood on the front of the guitar.

As near as I can figure, the guitar must have fallen (from an airplane, perhaps?) onto the headstock, which resulted in the headstock shattering and the neck pulling away from the body, along with a chunk of the body. Why the repair person removed the original wood and patched in the new piece, I don't know.

Anyway, it's a good gigging instrument, and the price was right. So, I think the work I put into it was well worth it!



At 1:06 PM , Blogger Shawn said...

I'd guess that some punk decided to smash his guitar on stage after a killer set. Then he had to put it back together since he couldn't afford a new guitar. Your refinishing looks great by the way.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home