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ESP M-II type "Invaders" Superstrat


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Well it seems that the clearcoat (Car Rep 2k PU gloss) doesn't like spraying dust coats and comes out designed for thick layers. Attempting a dust coat to seal the decals results in a distribution of droplets rather than a fine mist. This might be user error, so warming up the can and the workpiece might have differing results. Still, a couple of "light" applications in this manner provides sufficient coverage that it isn't swimming in clearcoat and solvents enough to dissolve or damage the decal, which is the main objective. Subsequent coats should level out enough that the final clearcoating is more even. This is about as thick as I dare apply the first coat, and even then I would have chosen to do less. I might shoot a quick second coat so that what's laid down is thick enough to level sand. By tomorrow it'll be too late to apply coats over the top without keying, so I best do a sacrificial layer thick enough so this won't be a problem.

Damn, this is thick stuff. At the very least this indicates to me that it isn't chock full of solvents but I can smell the butanone in it. Phew.

20211121_162214.jpg

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Alright, so I decided to put on a third coat before the PU starts to cure too far for chemical layer adhesion. I'm leaving this one overnight. Having done a little homework on the paint, it seems that it's moisture curing rather than atmospheric pressure curing. I may have gotten the wrong end of the stick when discussing this with the (Finnish) manufacturers back when this was a new idea. Polyurethane paint in a can is not new though, so I'm wondering what the improvement is. Maybe I should casually read the patent....

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I like the decal too.  Creates a very 3D vibe and is stiking against the black.

How are you planning to flatten after the final coat?  Watching with interest - I struggle with can-spray but it would be very useful in certain circumstances.

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Thanks Andy! I think that flattening should be relatively easy. The clearcoat has pooled slightly within the decal area. as that was marginally lower than the rest of the surface thanks to being masked from the black layer. Whilst I still don't want to cut through to the level that the decal resides within, the main part is at least lower than everything else.

My first plan of action is to cut it back with 600-800 grit paper by block sanding slightly wet. Enough that the waste doesn't corn up on the paper. Once it's adequately flat but not polished through, I'm going to leave it. The rest of the neck needs completing first now this hurdle is out of the way. and at that point the whole neck will get a basic clearcoat.

The spray was far from perfect, and it does seem to create more work for flatting back than is necessary compared to paint off a gun. The advantage of the can be usable over several sessions has been the clincher.

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On 11/21/2021 at 2:30 AM, Prostheta said:

Well, that paint seems to work well enough! This morning it was hard enough to support simple flatting back and the stage where the decals could be applied.

The colour looks incorrect here, plus the paint is far from flat. I might regret having rushed this without fully flatting the black paint, however the presence of the masking makes this a difficult thing to do. Essentially, I would need to remove the mask after paint, flat the black back, apply a new mask to shoot a new layer, remove that mask and flat back again. All while the masked areas sit lower by the paint thickness. Best to bury it in clear I think. Time to do a mist coat to seal those decals....

20211121_095710.jpg

 

Aside from a couple of slight cold spots in the glowing areas, this is exactly what I was aiming for.

20211121_095720.jpg

 

that looks really amazing.  nice work!!

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1 hour ago, Prostheta said:

The headstock face only needed flatting with 600 grit to remove almost all of the orange peel. The decals are absolutely buried, which is great. I gave it another coat, and that's currently curing....

nothing a little elbow action can't fix... so... pics of it leveled?

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It's drying in the storeroom at the moment. I'll get you pics tomorrow. I also masked the perimeter of the body and shot the top of that with black. Once that's dry enough, the binding can be scraped and given an initial coat of clear.

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Clearly (no joke intended) the final coat of clear went on too heavily. That's not too much of a problem since it will be cut back, but it creates more work. I was half not wanted to post this photo, because it looks terrible.

20211123_125054.jpg

 

It seems that this paint likes to build up on edges, so I concentrated on knocking those back with a combination of 600 and 800 grit. There's a couple of minor low spots, however I'm going to let this harden up fully. The remaining work on the neck can be completed, and the whole neck shot with clear, including the face.

20211123_130310.jpg

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Thanks Andy. It's getting there. I'm not too happy with my scraping at the moment, but then against this is the first time I've had to do it with paint, especially with high contrast. Everything is always practice for the next time of course.

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6 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Clearly (no joke intended) the final coat of clear went on too heavily. That's not too much of a problem since it will be cut back, but it creates more work. I was half not wanted to post this photo, because it looks terrible.

20211123_125054.jpg

 

It seems that this paint likes to build up on edges, so I concentrated on knocking those back with a combination of 600 and 800 grit. There's a couple of minor low spots, however I'm going to let this harden up fully. The remaining work on the neck can be completed, and the whole neck shot with clear, including the face.

20211123_130310.jpg

looks great once you cleaned it up.  

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A bit of an update on neck profiling. I have defined thicknesses that I want to be hitting for both the 1th and the 12st (firfth and twelvst) frets, so in the absence of having a neck profiling jig or time to do this with a CNC I went back to the good ol' hand shaping methods.

The first objective was to reduce the thickness of the neck from the line around from the 1th fret towards the 2rd (secird) fret. The profile from 1th increases towards the volute (voluteth) and the same happens from 12st to the heel (heelst). Using the flat face on the back of my trusty cabinet maker's rasp, I created a flat channel slightly wider than the blade until I reached a couple of mm larger than the target. This allows for the increase from 1th towards the 2rd fret position to be sanded in later. The channel at 12st is flat towards the 13rd (thirteenird) fret position. After these were dialled in, I faceted each channel similar to how @asgeirogm worked his Explorer neck. Once in a rough shape, the profile is rounded to remove sharp edges from the facets. The back of the neck is about a mm and a half from the target size, which is about as close as I want to do with my rasp. The teeth cut deeply to the point of it needing maybe a mm of sanding/scraping to remove. It's still pretty close.

Once these two profiles are roughed in, I used a spokeshave in full passes to "join the dots". I tie a sock around the volute to prevent the spokeshave knocking up the profile in that location as it exits each cut.

After doing this, I took my card scraper and refined the shape where I felt high spots. This can be done by scribbling around the neck with a pencil and lightly block sanding to reveal high spots using a ~10cm piece of plywood.

The neck is still in what I would call a U-to-D profile. Still fat feeling with heavier shoulders. Once the rest of the profile and transitioning is completed, this will progressively be scraped/sanded into a D profile and then refined out to a smoother-feeling C by easing the shoulders. This part of the work is all feel, and I will likely take a hair more off the treble side in the "D to C" stage whilst leaving the bass side erring more towards a D profile. Not so much that it is heavily asymmetrical, but smoother feeling with how the hand sites.

The headstock has a tiny low spot (marked) where the flat plane meets the transition. I think this came off the spindle sander. The back of the headstock will just be block sanded to take off a fraction of a mm to account for this. The location of the volute and locking nut bolting holes feels weirdly-long, which is consistent with examples of 80s ESP in this configuration. I think that they quickly moved towards the screw-down versions between '87-'88, and I can understand why. It allows for movement of the volute to a more aesthetically-pleasing and practical location under the rod access point. I still have some fine-tuning to do, moving this shape closer to the holes....

20211130_121308.jpg

 

....plus it looks like I could bring the headstock profile itself back a little....in a future build of course....

137-8.jpg

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25 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

A bit of an update on neck profiling. I have defined thicknesses that I want to be hitting for both the 1th and the 12st (firfth and twelvst) frets, so in the absence of having a neck profiling jig or time to do this with a CNC I went back to the good ol' hand shaping methods.

The first objective was to reduce the thickness of the neck from the line around from the 1th fret towards the 2rd (secird) fret. The profile from 1th increases towards the volute (voluteth) and the same happens from 12st to the heel (heelst). Using the flat face on the back of my trusty cabinet maker's rasp, I created a flat channel slightly wider than the blade until I reached a couple of mm larger than the target. This allows for the increase from 1th towards the 2rd fret position to be sanded in later. The channel at 12st is flat towards the 13rd (thirteenird) fret position. After these were dialled in, I faceted each channel similar to how @asgeirogm worked his Explorer neck. Once in a rough shape, the profile is rounded to remove sharp edges from the facets. The back of the neck is about a mm and a half from the target size, which is about as close as I want to do with my rasp. The teeth cut deeply to the point of it needing maybe a mm of sanding/scraping to remove. It's still pretty close.

Once these two profiles are roughed in, I used a spokeshave in full passes to "join the dots". I tie a sock around the volute to prevent the spokeshave knocking up the profile in that location as it exits each cut.

After doing this, I took my card scraper and refined the shape where I felt high spots. This can be done by scribbling around the neck with a pencil and lightly block sanding to reveal high spots using a ~10cm piece of plywood.

The neck is still in what I would call a U-to-D profile. Still fat feeling with heavier shoulders. Once the rest of the profile and transitioning is completed, this will progressively be scraped/sanded into a D profile and then refined out to a smoother-feeling C by easing the shoulders. This part of the work is all feel, and I will likely take a hair more off the treble side in the "D to C" stage whilst leaving the bass side erring more towards a D profile. Not so much that it is heavily asymmetrical, but smoother feeling with how the hand sites.

The headstock has a tiny low spot (marked) where the flat plane meets the transition. I think this came off the spindle sander. The back of the headstock will just be block sanded to take off a fraction of a mm to account for this. The location of the volute and locking nut bolting holes feels weirdly-long, which is consistent with examples of 80s ESP in this configuration. I think that they quickly moved towards the screw-down versions between '87-'88, and I can understand why. It allows for movement of the volute to a more aesthetically-pleasing and practical location under the rod access point. I still have some fine-tuning to do, moving this shape closer to the holes....

20211130_121308.jpg

 

....plus it looks like I could bring the headstock profile itself back a little....in a future build of course....

137-8.jpg

if I may... I'm just curious of your source on the actual profile cross sections you used?  honestly, for a long time, on both basses and guitars, esp has been one of my fav profiles but terribly hard to track down info online.  ime it's generally a pretty thin/wide profile, sort of a shredder feel and similar a bit to the wizard... but I'd love to see actual specs to zero in on what it is that I actually am feeling.  I have one set of cross sections I've found online... but they don't have any dimensions associated.  totally understand if that's too much of an ask.  it IS a very personal thing.

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I don't use anybody else's profiles as a rule, or at least I don't since I don't have a repeatable way of dialling them in simply. This is entirely why I wanted to put together a neck profile jig so that I could develop a set of profile templates that produce profiles reliably. I've made profile templates to check progress before, however I still ended up working from the basics of two profile thicknesses, rough profiling them in, joining them up and finally tuning the thing to comfort.

Thin-flat is sort of where my 2001 Ibanez S1540FM's Wizard Prestige neck is. That measures 43mm at the nut, 56mm at 22nd. Thicknesses are 19mm at the first fret and 22mm at the 12th. All this is over a 400mm/15,75" radius. I am aiming for a marginally weightier 20mm through 23mm which is based off those specs. Again, keeping the rough profile with heavy shoulders means I can then dial that back out towards a C as it feels to me. This has always produced the nicest-feeling necks, the best of which have been my 5-string '51 P-bass which is super comfortable, the 5-string Aria Pro II SB, an Explorer many moons back (which ended up being a bit more D-ish; much more Gibson-y).

I guess that if I did have a set of profiles from a source, they could be analysed for feel and applicability over the period of many builds. The method I currently use requires sanding from coarse (80 grit Abranet) which involves a lot of the final shaping work in removing rasp marks. A router-based shaping jig would leave me somewhere in the region of 120-150 grit which is medium, and far less in the region of any real shaping.

It is a very personal thing. Perhaps a lot of my shaping preferences have been themselves shaped by method. At this stage I still have a distinct flat edge either side of the neck set about 3-4mm away from the binding. This is part of that "erring towards a D profile" that I use, but also a safety net to protect that binding face. I've screwed up necks before by getting a bevel that leads up to the binding that can't be dialled out unless the binding absorbs that transition, which it shouldn't.

Method and technique first, dialling in preferences later when the dust has settled.

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Man, you know what the worst thing is? It's the fact that I wouldn't ever be able to get ESP to make me a repro of that original Mirage for love nor money thanks to the Jackson type headstock. I'm sure they'd reproduce the warts-and-all details like the square heel, non-recessed tremolo and zero neck angle. Even the bolt-through locking nut. You're right though; the neck profile would be just right. They do nail those religiously.

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25 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

In a quiet moment where I felt like I needed distraction from daily noise, I put together a final render of the pearl white model:

render_301121_1421.png

hard to tell that's not a real guitar.  lovely.

profiles - I appreciate the info.  have been compiling a folder myself... of what I can find on the net, and a curve gauge traces from my fav guitars.  there is almost no neck profile I don't necc like at this point... but certain ones seem to resonate and they are so different from each other.  the wizard, an all parts vintage style tele, this prs knock off I have... looking at them on paper you wouldn't think they have anything in common!

sorry for the slight derail.  

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No worries, all conversation is good conversation. In between we may or may not build guitars also 😉

Profiles are the beginning really. Look at the sum of parts that your hand holds when playing, include stance and even the style of music and you've got a series of factors that make a "one size fits all" look increasingly-difficult to attain. Thin-flat is a very narrow subsection of applicability, as is a U or even a D shape. I've never tried a V or hard profile. String spacing and radius make a difference. My Frankenstrat (still in relicing!) plays fasters than my Ibanez, oddly. I can tap faster and more fluidly, but the wider neck, how the strings fit under my fingers and how that translates to hand stance puts it into a very different place for me. I like it, and I love that it represents a useful variation in my instruments. It's neither the same nor so different that it is unusable. Even the difference in apparent tension is a factor that changes feel and how I respond to the neck. My Explorers are heavy and slow due to the grippier profile and radius that fills out the hand, changing the comfortable angle I can hold down a chord or reach around notes.

This will always be different from player to player, and to be honest I don't know whether I could recommend this or that to another person. I still agree that ESP produce many necks that have consistent and broad appeal to players. Thin necks like my Ibanez are an acquired taste, or one that perhaps takes you down a weird dark road that leaves you blinking in the light when you come across a different profile that makes you play outside of your comfort zone!

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4 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

No worries, all conversation is good conversation. In between we may or may not build guitars also 😉

Profiles are the beginning really. Look at the sum of parts that your hand holds when playing, include stance and even the style of music and you've got a series of factors that make a "one size fits all" look increasingly-difficult to attain. Thin-flat is a very narrow subsection of applicability, as is a U or even a D shape. I've never tried a V or hard profile. String spacing and radius make a difference. My Frankenstrat (still in relicing!) plays fasters than my Ibanez, oddly. I can tap faster and more fluidly, but the wider neck, how the strings fit under my fingers and how that translates to hand stance puts it into a very different place for me. I like it, and I love that it represents a useful variation in my instruments. It's neither the same nor so different that it is unusable. Even the difference in apparent tension is a factor that changes feel and how I respond to the neck. My Explorers are heavy and slow due to the grippier profile and radius that fills out the hand, changing the comfortable angle I can hold down a chord or reach around notes.

This will always be different from player to player, and to be honest I don't know whether I could recommend this or that to another person. I still agree that ESP produce many necks that have consistent and broad appeal to players. Thin necks like my Ibanez are an acquired taste, or one that perhaps takes you down a weird dark road that leaves you blinking in the light when you come across a different profile that makes you play outside of your comfort zone!

absolutely not lost on me... surprised at how much of a difference you "feel" between low/wide frets and jumbo given the numbers are so minute.  nut width, this readius vs that.  the rolled edge can make a huge dif in comfort.  that is exactly my motivation for trying to capture profiles from necks I like... so many variables!

I've had a hard v at one point, and the blonde tele I made had a soft v based on the fender docs I could find online.  both great feels but not exactly at the top of my list.  lately all that I thought I knew about what I like has been challenged over and over - the 'les flaus' for instance is based on the thicker variation of the 59lp and per spec I should hate it... but I love it!  very thick and as I've said before - feels like driving a delta 88... but for that guitar it just works.

as a kid... i had an sg 90 which had a very thin(depth) neck but very wide string spacing and very flat.  the axis profile on the most recent build is also very nice (asym).  it's hard to imagine I would dislike anything but what is right for what guitar... well I think that is what I found in the les flaus.  

tension - that is one I have seldom thought about... but def a good point.  yet so many things can effect the tension 'feel'.  scale, headstock angle, bridge type and angles... for some reason the sg 90 always felt like low tension despite being a 25.5" scale.  strats/teles seem to feel so dif.  I'm currently deficient on 24.625 scale guitars so probably something like that in my near future.  that scale length seems to really lend itself to feeling 'fast'... then again so many others that feel fast. 

explorer - that is odd... have never played one that felt fast... gonna have to go look up typical profile there.

anywho, again, sorry for rambling on!

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