Guitar Construction 101

So, surviving the music scene is alot like wilderness survival, isn't it? You've got to be experienced with the tools of the trade. You've got to find ways to eliminate waste, and to work as efficiently as you can.To survive at anything you must cut out the luxuries as much as possible to make room for the necessities.

At one point, I determined that I NEEDED a personalized, handcrafted guitar. I thought that it was the only thing holding me back from all the gigs I wasn't booking. It seemed to me that I was one bad-ass guitar away from success.

I had an old guitar neck that I figured I could just attach to a personalized body. So I went to one of those builders' supply places and found some nice squares of medium density fibreboard. It was all I could afford because I wasn't gigging; my focus was on my 'image'.

I bought a dremel tool set and went to work. I cut the body from two pieces and sandwiched them together. At this point, all it needed was a nice finish.

I spray-painted the body a deep blue. It was pretty, but I wanted beautiful. A deep clear coat, it seemed, was in order.

When I was young, I had seen these countertops or tables with a thick, plastic-like coating that had been poured over the wood and allowed to dry. I figured it could only be polyurethane and they had that at the hardware store nearby.

I carefully poured the polyurethane to give the thick shine I wanted. Suddenly, an epiphany: on serious paint jobs, don't they apply heat to 'cure' the finish?

My oven was the perfect size for this. I laid my hand crafted guitar body on an old pizza box (in case the polyurethane dripped, duh) and placed it in the oven. The heat should cure the finish nicely and I would be the proud owner of one bad ass guitar!

I turned the oven to broil because it didn't make sense to me to heat it from the bottom. I also decided to leave the door open because baking polyurethane in a CLOSED oven at 500 degrees seemed unsafe, somehow.

Things were looking good. The polyurethane was hot and it had leveled out nicely.

When I noticed the polyurethane smoking, I took a piece of cardboard leftover from the box to determine if it had hardened. Nope. Still liquid. It was at this point I decided that this was a bad idea and I should remove the guitar body before....

Too late.

The guitar body burst into flames, and being a batchelor I had no pot holders or gloves. I got a beach towel and grabbed the cardboard box. The box collapsed and suddenly, I had a flaming guitar body in the middle of my kitchen floor. I tried kicking it toward the back door and found that it had already melted the linoleum. It was stuck.

I kicked harder and broke it free. All the while spraying the cabinets with flaming polyurethane with each kick. Some of this ignited the can of polyurethane sitting on the floor.

I opened the back door and kicked the blazing guitar body out into the yard. The misty rain that prevented me from doing this work outside, hopefully would put out the fire. I threw the beach towel over the fire on the kitchen floor and poured a whole box of salt into the polyurethane can ... No good. I tried baking soda from the fridge. Again, nothing. Finally, I realized that I would have to smother it. I saw an old plastic gym bag and threw it on top of the can. I thought it might smother out the flames before it melted. I was wrong. The gym bag just gave it more fuel and by this time I was able to use the beach towel to get ahold of the can and smother the flames. I took it outside.

The flaming guitar body from hell was still burning and melting the underpinning of the mobile home (could you have guessed?). I kicked it around a bit and the flames went out. Exhausted, frustrated and feeling a little stupid, I made sure all the fires were out and laid on the couch. I fell asleep.

The next morning I surveyed the damage. A small rug would cover the huge burnt linoleum in front of the oven. A little sanding would eliminate the burns in the cabinets from the flaming spray. I could wipe down the ceiling to get the soot off.

I went outside and found the guitar body. I had kicked it through all the leaves and rain and pine straw in order to put the fire out.

Some of the leaves and pine needles had stuck to the body and were encased under the polyurethane. The blue paint had blisters from the heat and the whole guitar was rock hard. Small water spots were under the dried polyurethane, too.  But the finish wasn't as deep as I wanted. So I fished the pieces of plastic out of the can and poured the remainder of polyurethane over the guitar-I had forgotten about the salt and bakingsoda that was in it.

None of that mattered- It looked REALLY cool. The finish was thick and 3D even. Leaves under the finish looked bigger than they actually were and the water droplets looked like rings of little pools.

And THAT is how you build one bad-ass guitar.
Two weeks later it was stolen.


Mscarlett11 said...

I can so see this play by play in my head! Great story!

Brandy1535 said...

I love the details! I could certainly see it all on my head.

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