Pimp my Johnson

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Pimp my Johnson

Postby songdog » Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:20 pm

As I mentioned in another post, I had stripped the green paint from my Johnson 996 only to find the brass had been severely scratched from grinding the perimeter welds during manufacture. I had some buffing compounds laying around from a previous project so I thought I'd try buffing out the scratches but they were so deep that the buffing didn't even phase them. I thought hmmm, sandpaper? So I hit the brass with some 220 grit, using a sanding block and maintaining the strokes in one direction. This worked out pretty well in that now I have a grained pattern and was able to get 90% of the scratches all going in one direction. I did the sides and back too.

I was pretty happy with the results but then I looked at the nickel plated cover and began thinking wouldn't this look sweet if the cover and tailpiece were brass too. Knowing that these parts were nickel-plated brass I hopped on the web to see what it would take to strip the nickel and I came across these guys [http://caswellplating.com] that have all kinds of DIY plating and finishing kits and sure enough they sell a nickel stripping solution. $29 for 2 gallons worth of the mix. So I ordered some and tried the tailpiece first.... the stuff works great! So in went the cover plate - it took about 2 hours for all of the nickel to be removed and it left a nice shiny brass surface.

Image

It still looked a little bit funky because the stripped parts are glossy where as the sanded body has a matt finish. So I decided to try some finer grit paper on the top surface of the guitar and have progessively worked up to 600 grit. Now some shiny "mirror-finish" spots are beginning to pop out, as can be seen in the photo, and the tone and sheen of the body is more closely matching that of the cover. It's a lot of work though and right now I'm trying to decide how much further I want to take it.

While I have the thing apart, I think I might also strip the brown finish off of the neck - take it down to the bare mahogany and then clear coat it. I've bought a National replacement cone, since this one came with the cheap asian cone, as well as a maple/ebony biscuit.

It's suppose to be cold and rainy here this weekend so this project should keep me entertained.
Last edited by songdog on Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby ricochet » Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:23 pm

Man, that looks cool!

You're a brave man to strip your Johnson!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby mickeypainless » Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:34 pm

I LIKE IT!
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby bighollowtwang » Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:51 pm

>sure enough they
>sell a nickel stripping solution. $29 for 2 gallons worth
>of the mix. So I ordered some and tried the tailpiece
>first.... the stuff works great! So in went the cover plate
>- it took about 2 hours for all of the nickel to be removed
>and it left a nice shiny brass surface.

I am going to have to try this on my "stripped" Johnson! Your guitar looks fantastic - great job!!
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby warren » Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:20 pm

>You're a brave man to strip your Johnson!

stripping your johnson doesn't sound nearly as bad as taking sandpaper to it afterwards :o
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby guitarslim101 » Fri Apr 28, 2006 5:26 pm

That looks good.
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby oleman » Fri Apr 28, 2006 5:33 pm

Beautiful, I like that much better than my chromed one!
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby songdog » Fri Apr 28, 2006 8:28 pm

>
>I am going to have to try this on my "stripped" Johnson!
>Your guitar looks fantastic - great job!!

Thanks Zak. Pictures of your Johnson inspired me to do mine.

I'll post another pic or two once I make a little more progress.
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby crowduck » Fri Apr 28, 2006 11:13 pm

SongDog,

A random orbital sander might help with that sanding, that's what I plan to use on mine. Fortunately, my stripped body isn't scrathed up too deeply, someone b4 me had started sanding it, but gave up. You might be able to rent a random orbital sander at a 'rental yard' if you don't have one, or know someone to borrow from. I plan to strip my neck and refinish too with Tru-Oil, as well as add a custom headstock veneer, and maybe a "National" sticker. I might recarve the headstock top too. I've already got a National cone, biscuit & saddle for it.
Thanks for that link for the nickle stripping, I was wondering how to do that myself.
Another thought I've had about this project is to try doing a "Duco Crystal Laquer" finish. Some old National's had it. Look like ice crystals in the finish. Done by adding old fashioned mothballs(napthaline) to Nitro Laquer and spraying heavy coats, the napthaline crystallizes as the laquer drys.

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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby allanlummox » Fri Apr 28, 2006 11:25 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-28-06 AT 07:26 PM (EST)]"maybe a "National" sticker?"
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby crowduck » Sat Apr 29, 2006 2:15 am

>"maybe a "National" sticker?"

$5 from NRP.

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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby wwpete52 » Sat Apr 29, 2006 2:50 am

If you want to age the look of the brass you might try something that I did years ago. I had some used brass cases for a 45/70 that I was going to reload. They were all gummed up so I cleaned and polished them up. I didn't have a tumbler so after I half way cleaned them up I ran some super hot water in the bathtub and threw the cases in the water. They turned kind of a "casehardened" look. It wasn't what I wanted for the cases but it would look kind of cool on your guitar body and the other parts. Just a thought.
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby ricochet » Sat Apr 29, 2006 2:52 am

Just don't get ammonia near it. It can corrode between the crystals and weaken the brass.

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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby songdog » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:55 pm

>If you want to age the look of the brass you might try
>something that I did years ago. I had some used brass cases
>for a 45/70 that I was going to reload. They were all gummed
>up so I cleaned and polished them up. I didn't have a
>tumbler so after I half way cleaned them up I ran some super
>hot water in the bathtub and threw the cases in the water.
>They turned kind of a "casehardened" look. It wasn't what I
>wanted for the cases but it would look kind of cool on your
>guitar body and the other parts. Just a thought.


Hey WWPETE - Sounds like an interesting technique. How long did you have to leave the shells in the hot water?
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RE: Pimp my Johnson

Postby songdog » Sat Apr 29, 2006 2:01 pm

>
>A random orbital sander might help with that sanding, that's
>what I plan to use on mine.
>

Hey CrowDuck

It's too late for me to go with the orbital sander as I already have most of the grain and scratches going in one direction and I'm slowly polishing away many of them. The brass is very soft and scratches VERY easily so applying the orbital sander now would just create more work for me. I'm up to 1000 grit on the top now and will probably call it quits at 1500 or 2000.

I was thinking of tung oil on the neck too, but maybe laquer. I also thought about modifying the headstock and maybe even a veneer, but I like the appearance of Mahogany so I'll wait and see what it looks like after I strip the paint.

It would be interesting to see somebody do a DIY Duco finish - I say go for it! I'm going to stick with the brass but right now it's more glossy than I really want so I may try to tone it down a bit, either with a patina of some type or WWPETE's technique of dunking the whole guitar in a bath of hot water sounds interesting... and easy.

I've got some ink jet decal paper. I was thinking of just doing the new scripted Johnson logo in gold.
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