Extreme Makeover: Blue Sparkle Jet Edition

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by section2, May 14, 2019.

  1. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Update: IT'S ALIVE!


    With all the newfound spare time that I have (in between homeschooling the kids, cooking three meals a day, and occasionally trying to do some actual work at my actual job), I finally managed to install the bridge, tuners, pickups, wiring harness, and Bigsby, and get it hooked up and ready to play. It sounds GORGEOUS. That's a TVJ Classic at the neck, and an HS Filtertron at the bridge. Both are amazing pickups.

    There are still a few things to be done. I sanded the headstock down to bare wood and re-lacquered it months ago; I still need to install the Gretsch logo decal and hit it with a few more clear coats, but I'll have to wait for warm and dry weather. I also need to order the custom pickguard and fix my wonky soldering job at the tone pot. But it's playable now, and let me tell you, I am in love with this guitar.

    To recap, here's the complete list of mods:
    • Routed larger pickup cavities to accommodate Filtertrons;
    • Spray-painted clear pickup bezels;
    • Added blue sparkle drum wrap;
    • Added new binding;
    • Sanded and refinished headstock;
    • Replaced G-cutout tailpiece with V-cut Bigsby;
    • Replaced mini-Gretschbuckers with TV Classic and HS Filtertron;
    • Drilled extra holes to convert two-control setup to classic four-control setup; and
    • Replaced wiring harness.
    Whew! It involved a lot of work, a lot of learning, and more mistakes than I'd like to admit—but I think it turned out pretty well for my first rebuild. I'm delighted.
  2. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    Looks awesome! How about a few more pictures?
    section2 likes this.
  3. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Wow! Stunning! You have done an amazing job!
    section2 likes this.
  4. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck Gretschified

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    That’s amazing looking, Paul! Congrats.
    section2 likes this.
  5. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Excellent work @section2 ! :cool::cool::cool:

    Congratulations... ;)

    section2 likes this.
  6. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Amazing job, well done!
    section2 likes this.
  7. Buckyboy

    Buckyboy Gretschie

    As folks may know I believe all guitars should be finished in large, metal flake style, sparkle finishes. This is stunning!
    Merc and section2 like this.
  8. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    Like mine?
  9. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Looking good!

    It's just a shame all the other pic's in this thread are grayed out,they never did get this sorted out.
    section2 and Merc like this.
  10. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    The grayed out thing drives me bonkers if looking at older threads. Especially the over fifty page Pedalboard thread. Weird thing is I’ve found pictures on Google images that were whole, then clicked to the Gretsch thread to find it grayed here.
    section2 and JC higgy like this.
  11. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Beautiful! I'm also a sucker for red sparkle guitars.

    Uncle Daddy and Merc like this.
  12. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    I didn't notice that the old photos were grayed out until now. They worked fine when the thread was new. I wonder what happened there.

    Here are some work-in-progress photos again.

    The drum wrap, cut out and ready to go:


    The guitar slathered in contact cement:


    One slow and careful gluing job later:


    After cutting into the wrap over the bridge pickup cavity and routing it out:


    The original pickup cavities were too wide to support the bezels, so I routed some dowels into crescent shapes and glued them into the corners so that the bezels would have some wood to screw into.


    I used the router to trim the edges of the wrap just about flush with the guitar. Then I used a heat gun and a roller to mold the wrap over the sides of the guitar. After that, I covered the seam with a strip of the thinnest binding I could find.


    And here's the (mostly) finished product, strung up with Rotosound 10s and ready to rock & roll.


    I need to redo some of the solder joints: the tone pot keeps shorting out, the bridge pup ground wire came loose today, and in my haste to finish the job, I forgot to ground both the Bigsby and the master volume pot. (The guitar is shockingly quiet despite these oversights. I used braided shield wire throughout, and I'm a convert.)

    One more quibble: the edge of the binding feels a little rough on my forearm. I could smooth it out by spraying the whole guitar with several coats of nitro and then sanding and buffing to a shine, but I've already put far too much time into this project. So I went with Plan B: I've ordered a Penguin armrest. What's a little more bling between friends?
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    JC higgy and Merc like this.
  13. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017

    The grayed out thing happened a while back to a lot of threads when I think they were switching or backing up servers.

    That looks really so sweet in the last photo too. Great job tackling such a difficult thing.
    JC higgy and section2 like this.
  14. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    How did you get even pressure gluing the wrap down? In woodwork class we had this huge vacuum bag for that sort of thing
  15. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    A vacuum bag would have been great here. I used contact cement and applied the wrap slowly by hand, starting from the neck pocket and working my way down using finger pressure and a roller. Contact cement bonds instantly, so I put a layer of waxed paper between the guitar and the drum wrap, and moved it down only an inch at a time as I went.

    At the waist, I gently softened the drum wrap with a heat gun, taking care not to keep the gun in one spot for too long.

    It didn't work perfectly. There are some air bubbles and wrinkling at the waist on the treble side, but luckily they'll be hidden by the pickguard.
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    Uncle Daddy likes this.
  16. Buckyboy

    Buckyboy Gretschie

    section2 likes this.
  17. capnhiho

    capnhiho Synchromatic

    Feb 16, 2013
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