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Hawaiian Backpacker Overhaul

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This is the projects subject.


This thing was 23 dollars on ebay and I was curious...for the record that was AFTER shipping.

It just arrived and it certainly...is a ...guitar?

Lets see strings are crap. Tuners fail to hold guitar in tune after ONE strum and the thing on the body that elevates the strings (curse you terminology!) is a piece of REALLY light wood...also the string thingy at the bottom is kinda crappy too.(terminal terminology)

And NO place for it to use a guitar strap and it REEEEEEEEALLY needs one.

So now Im wondering...can it be made into a REAL sounding guitar?

I had already planned on disassembly to sand and custom paint the little thing but really...can it happen?

What parts in particular would you all suggest for this piece?

Go time!

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So now Im wondering...can it be made into a REAL sounding guitar?
Can't see why not. And would it really matter if you somehow screw it up?

You paid 23 bucks for it, it sounds like crap and it has no sentimental value to you.

Let's see... The tuners can be replaced if they're really that shitty, but I'd check the nut befre buying new tuners.

The slots could be too tight so that the strings get stuck. Try unstringing the guitar and 'filing' the nut slots with the strings.

If that doesn't help the tuning, check that the tailpiece doesn't move when you play. (also check the intonation)

And I guess you're talking about the bridge when you say "the thing on the body that elevates the strings" ( :D)?

You could try to make a copy of it out of some nice rosewood or ebony. It would be a lot more durable.

Also the tailpiece can be replaced with a similar one. Or you could make one out of ebony (complete artistic freedom :D )

I had already planned on disassembly to sand and custom paint the little thing but really...can it happen?

The video game theme? Go for it. Refinishing the guitar will affect the tone, but since it sounds like crap anyway...

Also while you're at it check the fretjob for nicks and bumps and level if necessary.

About the strap issue, you could install one on the tail end (if it doesn't have on already). Put the other end of the strap to the headstock.

After all this, it should be a very playable little guitar. (did I miss something?)

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Wow thanks jester that was very informative.

I just started taking it apart and found some odd things.

The bridge fell right off because it was not mounted with anything to the guitarbody and the neck...well is it NORMAL for the fretboard to only have 15 frets and to have no metal dividing pieces?

Looks like I might be replacing the neck entirely at this rate.

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You know the scale length of the guitar? I'm guessing it is shorter than normal since it is a travel guitar.

well is it NORMAL for the fretboard to only have 15 frets
Well, no. It's not 'normal' for a guitar to have only 15 frets, but that doesn't make it worse in any way.

I think it's due to the guitar having shorter scale length.

and to have no metal dividing pieces?

Not really sure what you mean by this... You mean the blank space at the end of the fretboard?

Replacing the neck would be (imo) a waste of time. First of all, the guitar is definitely not worth it.

Second, I'm fairly sure that you won't find a replacement neck for a guitar like that. And even if you did, it would probably be the same.

Third, if you're planning on making a neck on your own you might as well make a new body for it. Just my opinion though.

And seriously, what's REALLY wrong with the neck anyway?

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And seriously, what's REALLY wrong with the neck anyway?

Not really certain if its wrong or not. You know how the fretboard usually has little raised pieces of metal dividing it up ...this thing is a a solid piece of wood with raised areas painted metallic. If nothing else Im worried about string wear shaving up that fake metal. May have to brush coat some varnish up there...

Yeah im so new to this junk. All ive ever done is fiberglass cast molding for art pieces.

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I don't truly think (or more accurately, I just don't know) that this is a lap guitar, but it's worth mentioning that "Hawaiian" guitar is often played lap-style with a tonebar of some sort, rather than fretted. A lap guitar will have high action and no need of proper frets. Maybe it doesn't need "fixing". :D


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Its NOT a lap guitar its simply a hawaiian made backpacker. I got a few decent pics out of my camera (things viewfinder is crushed so its guess work to photograph things.

This is the guitar in question. Im beginning to think that the pieces in the fretboard may simply feel wrong because they are painted gold. If the maker airbrushed the completed fretboard black AFTER he had inserted the metal that means he probably just painted them gold again. We'll know for sure after sanding the thing lightly if theres metal under there.

The Guitar


The archtop Bridge


The Tuners


The Fretboard (sideview of the possibly solid piece fretboard)


The Fretboard (topview )


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Okay played with it some this morning and there is definately metal under there so the maker actually PAINTED OVER THE FRETS. No wonder it felt odd. It scratched off pretty easily though so it was stupid of them to paint these to begin with because the strings wouldve definately stripped these. I intend to start sanding the whole thing after I do some college work later. Ill scan my rough sketches of body designs then too.

EDIT: SANDING IS A GO! Itsa lookin good!

Edited by shaowebb
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  • 1 month later...

Whew. Been awhile since I worked on this thing. I had college kick into high gear for awhile so I havent even touched this in awhile.

The theme has been decided on. Its going to have a Mario 3 theme based off of something grand achieved only a few times in this game through the use of a game genie. Hammer bros mario inside Kuribo's shoe....WITH A STAR!

The boot killed all and allowed you to move on spikes or squash invincible enemies, the hammers killed ALL and the star made me invincible.

The guitar will have a black body with a mario's sky color of blue freboard with clouds from mario on it to mark the fret positions.

Here is the image thats going on the body .


Im adding text to the outside of the body to commemorate the unstoppable nature of this situation. Im also going to sculpt either more clouds onto the tuning keys when they arrive or mario coins onto them. Simply clump bondo on key, smooth top and bottom flat, print and stick on pics of item, file off sides and paint then top coat.

Im deciding between


"What now bitches."

"Yeah. What now."

"Kuribo DOOM!"

Heres pics of the progress so far. Black painting in progress.


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Very cool, I'd like to see more progress done on this one! I plan on building a bass around a game theme in the distant future.

Sweet! Id love to see more game themed guitars and bass. Cant wait to sculpt custom tuning keys on this with bondo.

Okay the body is now painted black and designs are on the sides and front as well as base. I have also got an INCREDIBLE clear coat job im working on using multiple layers of Krylon crystal clear glaze. In the past one coat of this gave me a glass polished look. Im on about coat 4 now.

I have nothing on the guitar's back or fretboard yet. I was going to put clouds on more blue to mark the frets


ALL pics are pre clear coat so far.






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