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Tools Of The Trade


Used Guitar Primer - Cleanup To Setup

Ever have a used guitar shipped to you? I'm never surprised at how absolutely grunged people will sell and ship a guitar. Only once have I recieved one I didn't have to touch, Mark Schloe take a bow for the GMC, I couldn't find anything to do besides fine tune. If they all came that way my life would be so much easier! This long tutorial is typically what I deal with on every used guitar that comes in the door, granted this particular guitar is one of my babies so it did get some extra time and just a little extra special attention.

I've had this guitar for over a year and it's finally getting done. Terrible, I know, but I also have 2 Donnies I haven't done yet either!! I'm too busy working on all YOUR guitars! ;-) I actually took this (and 1 of the untouched Donnies) to Jemfest this year! Shameful, I did want to have them 'show-worthy' by then. Then again, there weren't any *cleaner* guitars there!! LOL (yes, Kev, your RG Gear was clean, sit down) Why am I doing it now? I noticed it never made the Gallery and got it out to take high res pics of it. That's when I realized I never took pics of it because I never cleaned it. I was in the mood to take pics, and had planned on doing this exact tutorial, so off we go!

Even though this is a UVMC the principles are the same for all Ibanez Floyd equiped models. Hopefully you'll find some informative tips and tricks, there's alot of information here. Those of you with advanced skills probably have your own way of doing things, these are mine. If you know a trick share it with me, we can never have enough! To see what tools I'll be using click here.

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There she is, my 91' Fretwear Catalog cover UVMC also featured in the 93' catalog on the accessories page and in other numerous Pocket Titan adds. It sure isn't the dirtiest that's walked in the door, it's actually pretty decent, comparatively, but grungy none the less!! Let's get to work!

1 note - PUT EVERYTHING YOU TAKE OFF IN AN ORDER SO YOU PUT THEM BACK ON THE SAME WAY!! Nut pads used on the high E shouldn't be used on the low! Pickguard screws from the bass side always have more finish wear, the ones over the single and bridge has the most. Guitars just don't look right if the wear patterns don't add up, these are picky details, but I'm PICKY! If you're not don't even bother reading further ;-}

First things first, remove the strings. I use a few different blocking methods for the trem and on this I used 2 - 2litre bottlecaps and a piece I made of very dense cardboard that's thick enough to wedge the trem close to as high as it will go. Put them under the back of the trem and just cut the strings with your snips or loosen the string clamps at the saddle and pull them out [you'll have to anyway].

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This is how I would block a Jem trem, notice the bottlecap wedged into the crushed styrofoam that's conformed to the claw.

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But if I'm just doing someting quick I'll more than likely grab my clamp. Throw the bar in the trem and clamp it to the body. Notice the cloth over the body to prevent dents or scuffs, and the styro wrap around the clamp shaft to prevent anything else. The red feet of the clamp accessorize this DNA well, and are rubber for soft grip and stick.

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Back to getting these ancient strings off. Good time to tell you your allen wrench for both the nut pads and saddle blocks is 3mm. Starting with the nut unlock them all, remove all the pads, keeping them in order for when they go back on.  At this time I'm also going to remove the string tree using a #1 Phillips. Careful, you can flec the black around the holes if you aren't careful while unscrewing, many times the screws are at an angle and under tension. Pull the truss rod cover while you have the screwdriver in your hands. Begin removing the strings from the trem, I'll remove them all at the same time and keep them bunched in my left hand.. I snug the saddle blocks back up after pulling each string out since I'll be working on the guitar at many angles and I don't want the blocks to fall out and get lost. You can now pull the strings off the tuners and you didn't have to scratch the headstock by dragging them out from under the string tree! Strings scratch, scuff, wear, and stab, always be careful and only work under adult supervision. ;) Here's what we have now.

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Alot of work I'll be doing will require the neck off and there's no time like right now. Support the neck while you remove the neck screws using a #2 Phillips. Remember they have a distinctive wear pattern that corresponds to the plate, put them back in the same holes or just leave the plate on with the screws in the holes like I do. I'll use my DeWalt, you use whatever you want. After I've unscrewed the plate the body should just slip right off the neck. If it's a tight fit I will usually grab the neck body joint quite firmly and turn the guitar back over so I have more control. To remove the neck you want to carefully slip it straight up and out of the pocket [the neck will not come out if you try slipping it out toward the headstock, straight up and away from the body is how to remove it], being careful not to let it twist or cock in an angle on any plane.  It should slip right out but some will be a hair snug or even tight and for these you want to just *slightly* wiggle it in all planes to slowly work it out. Careful, slow, and steady is the key. If your neck does not budge, STOP, and take it to a professional tech if it must be removed.

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How can you tell if your MC is faded? Look under the plate.

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Is that sweet or what?!?! [Note - Japanese swirled UVMC's do not fade,  I can't swear they won't if you leave them out in the sun for 10 years, but typically only ATD swirls will fade.]

Here's a weak example of the typical Bohemia address ATD stamp in pink/purple (also in black) and the factory UV77MC markings A-typical with an extra U. Normal large red H line or inspectors mark.

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Enough show and tell, I've got a guitar to clean.

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Revised: January 06, 2016.