A guide on turning an ugly old guitar thats been neglected into a beautiful instrument and spending almost nothing.
Step 1: Strip It.
This guitar was a classic Hondo II that I bought from ebay for £10. It had clearly been well used and also had travelled around europe judging by the scrawlings all over the body!
The first thing to do is to take off anything that can be taken off without breaking it!
I first removed the strings, then the broken old machine heads and tuning pegs.
If there are stickers... get them off too.
I left the bridge on but taking it off would have made the next step easier.
Step 2: Sand It.
The sanding is the main bulk of the work here.
Start by choosing the areas you want to sand and the areas, if any, that you want to leave as they are.
I decided to sand the headstock and the top of the body, leaving the sides with the original gloss finish.
Now start sanding with a low grit paper to get all the crap off it. Don't worry too much about going with the grain as you will be able to sort that out with the final sanding.
Once you are left with the bare wood, switch to a high grit paper to smooth out any lines or scratches left from the first sanding.
If you are happy with the surface now then leave it at that, or get an even higher grit paper and give it a going over with that.
You should now have a very smooth surface with no scratches against the grain.
You can now lightly brush the frets with high grit sand paper to get any rust or general grime off them. This will make them nice and shiny!
An optional extra is to sand very lightly on some areas of the fretboard to give a vintage look.
Step 3: Treat It Right.
Choose how you want your guitar to look.
The difficulty and cost of this step will depend on your choice.
You may want a high gloss finish in which case I would suggest a french polish... which requires some work.
I however wanted to bring out the wood's natural shine, so decided on an oil finish.
This is very easy to do. I used olive oil as I always have it. You could use linseed oil or something else from the hardware shop but olive oil works a treat and you only need a small amount.
Simply pour a small amount of oil onto the surface and rub it in with a dry (clean) cloth. Keep rubbing the oil in so that it works into all of the wood. The oil will soak in and protect the wood as well as darkening it and bringing out it's natural shine.
You should use lemon oil on the fretboard... if you have it.
Step 4: Dress It.
If you intend to play the guitar it will need some hardware!
You can buy good new tuning pegs for about £10, or alternatively steal some off another guitar that has been orphaned. I stole mine from my fender classical as I have bought new tuning pegs for it.
Strings will cost you about £6 from amazon or any local music shop.
It is unlikely that you will want to put a pickup in the guitar if it only cost you £10 as an average acoustic pickup will cost you over £100, and the sound you get will probably not be of a high enough quality to warrant it.
In terms of decoration you may wish to put a new rosette around the sound hole. These are not so easy to locate and unless you are prepared to paint your own I would leave it bare. Having said that there are a few websites that make stick on rosettes, but if you are not putting a gloss finish on the guitar it would look odd and 'stuck on'.
Step 5: Own It.
Now you've got a beautiful, custom, vintage guitar.
You've only spent about £25.
Go and play it like Antonio Banderas in Desperado.
Would love to know what you think so leave me comment below!