Published On: Wed, Apr 20th, 2011

Refinishing Workshop

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.

After this Ibanez was water-damaged the owner chose to cover the body with sticky transfer sheets, but they crinkled up badly under the clear lacquer top coats. We decided on a complete make-over, adding a bookmatched maple veneer top with a trans black finish to restore this shredder to its former glory.


Body and headstock veneer
Abrasive paper: 240 and 320 grit
Wet and dry paper: 800, 1200 & 1500 grit
Two cans of gloss black lacquer
Two cans of clear gloss lacquer
Cellulose base coat (optional)
Masking tape
Gaffer tape
Wood glue
Headstock decal

The Tools You’ll Need

10 to 15 G clamps
A craft knife with lots of fresh blades
Sanding block
Paint scraper


The guitar’s owner, Roger, had already done most of the work when he used a heat gun to remove the original poly for the first refinish. We peeled off the transfer and hit the white paint with stripper, but since the plan was to add a veneer and we needed a clean gluing surface, we put the whole body through the flat sander at our local woodworking shop. On the back, we took off just enough to get rid of the paint; the top lost 1.5mm to compensate for the thickness of the veneer. This left a sharp line where the chamfer met the top surface (Pic 2), a problem when it comes to folding a veneer, so we used a plane followed by a sanding block to reinstate the curve (Pic 3).



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