This 1990 Japanese-made Ibanez RG550, originally metallic red, was badly damaged in a bizarre plumbing incident. What better subject for a complete transformation? Huw Price rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.
Steve Robinson (www.manchesterguitartech.co.uk) supplied two cans of black gloss and two of clear gloss nitrocellulose. The maple top was first protected with a few coats of clear gloss. Once dry, I masked off the front of the body and sprayed satin black into the bridge and pickup routs. Next I brushed high-density cellulose base coat from Fiddes (www.fiddes.co.uk) onto the back and sides and sanded everything smooth. The mask for the front was only secured loosely; firmly fixed masking tape leaves sharp edges in the lacquer when it’s peeled off, so I left the edges loose and placed the body face down on two risers to spray the back and sides black.
We decided on a thin black burst around the edges to ‘blend’ in the veneer top. After removing the front mask and laying the body on its back, we carefully sprayed the burst, holding the spray can over the centre of the body and directing the spray outwards. Start by spraying beyond the edge then gradually bring it towards the body until you see the edges of the body picking up the colour. Be patient and build up the burst slowly. If you end up with splutters or overspray, you can sand off the excess because there are clear coats underneath.
Next I covered the whole guitar with several coats of clear gloss and set the guitar aside for a week. The finish was then cut back using 800, 1200 and 1500 grit wet and dry abrasive paper in the usual way. After buffing to a deep gloss with Farecla G3 and 3M Machine Polish and sticking an Ibanez logo from eBay on the headstock, the guitar was ready for reassembly.
If you fancy doing a project like this, remember that you don’t have to use black dye – the procedure would be the same if you wanted your guitar to be trans blue, trans red or transanything. It involved quite a lot of work, but we’re delighted with the results. I’ve never done a job like this before, but if I can do it then you can too. Ibanez RGs must be amongst the most undervalued guitars on the secondhand market; you could score one like this for less than £300, and with some time and around £100 in materials you could end up with a superb maple-topped guitar. What are you waiting for?