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Another Fabric Finish


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Awhile back I posted a link with another Ibanez JS/Radius style material finish. Admittedly, that one was pretty ugly material (couch-like), but it was just for fun. This one is a little nicer. It's built around a JS700 body (basswood, fixed bridge) and a Roadstar neck with a modified headstock. This is the first one I've done for which I didn't strip it all the way down to raw wood. Instead I only stipped through the primer but left the Fullerplast type sealer that they use under the primer. That stuff is supposedly very toxic and I don't like inhaling it. Consequently, instead of TiteBond for adhering the fabric, I used a good contact cement plus some spot-repairs with Super Glue. This actually worked well and if I ever do another one, I doubt I'll bother stripping the paint but will only rough it up with coarse grit sandpaper to give it some bite. I sealed with regular MinWax sanding sealer (4 coats I think) and clear-coated with rattle can semi-gloss polyurethane. I did some pre-testing to be sure I had compatible products.

Doing a fabric refin on a body with all these strange contours is a challenge, but doable. The contact cement actually has some advantages over wood glue in this respect because it forms an instant bond, unlike wood glue that takes awhile to do its thing.

Here it is:





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That looks great. Any kind of how-to for doing this?

I pretty much followed the "Material Finish" tutorial here at Project Guitar, except I didn't sand all the way down to bare wood, opting for contact cement instead of wood glue. As in the tutorial, I used 2 primary pieces of fabric for the front and rear. I stretched it as tight as possible by hand and then held it in place using lots of painters tape.

The tutorial describes how to do a burst for the edges, but on this curvy JS body I didn't want to burst the edges -- I wanted a nice clean seam. That was the tricky part. I did the back first, and after that dried overnight, I applied one coat of sanding sealer, and then taped a very precise line of painters tape over the fabric where the front-to-rear seam would lie. I then trimmed the rear section along the edge of the tape. Leaving the tape on, I then applied the contact cement for the front piece, trying to avoid slopping it over the tape along the seam. After the front section dried overnight, I applied one coat of sanding sealer, and let it dry overnight. I carefully trimmed it along the edge of the tape and made some small repairs with Super Glue to get a nice tight line along the seam where the front and back now meet.

Finally, it's pretty impossible to get the fabric to lay nicely with no wrinkles or bubbles inside the horns. Tnerefore I left a gap between the front and rear pieces (about 1/2") and later glued a separate piece in there.

After all the fabric was glued on, I did minor touchup with small artist brushes and enamel paint that was reasonably close to some of the colors in the fabric. That did a good job of disguising any boo-boos or exposed wood.

Finish was 4-5 coats (?) of MinWax sanding sealer and many, many coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.

I'm not sure there's ever a way to get one of theses fabric finishes perfect on a heavily contoured guitar. But I'm pleased with the result and I'm really enjoying it.

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