Saturday, July 24, 2010


The last time I bought a Greven/Turtleworks/Tortis guard, I went direct to Turtleworks and they sold me one. Since then, they've adopted a minimum order policy. So I went shopping elsewhere. And I finally located someone that had a 00 Tortis guard.

Jon at My Favorite Guitars sells high end guitars all the time, but here he was, talking to me on the phone, emailing with me, and getting out a 00-21 and matching guards to it, to see which was identical. I recommend this guy highly! He really values customer service and no sale is too small.

So, how does it look?

Update, 7/27/2010

In the above pictures I just slapped the pickguard on to fit the rosette. When I did so, it covered the larger inner black/white circle. At first I thought it was fine, but increasingly it began to really bug me. I removed the pickguard and replaced it so that it doesn't obscure the rosette.


  1. I don't know about you, but for me I can spend weeks picking out the pick-guard. Its almost as important as the wood because it is so visible. The one you chose compliments the wood very nicely. Looking great! How's it playing? Do you have a date for your final polishing? Looks like it is curing very nicely.

  2. Thanks for the compliment! And thanks again for visiting, I really value your input. Yeah, I agree the pickguard is very important. But, I like the Greven Tortis guards so much that it kinda hasn't mattered which particular one it is, I like all of those that I've seen so far.

    The guard was pretty thick, and I thought I would be able to thin it down by scraping it with a razor blade. Then I wet-sanded it. It looks good but it is not as shiny as it once was. What can I use to buff that out?

    I'm actually having the same kinda problem with the finish. I think it really has cured quite nicely, and it would look great (for a first effort), if I could let myself settle for a satin finish. When I gloss it up with Meguiar plastic polish, along with shining it up, it also reveals the little rough areas and imperfections in my surface. How can I get those out? When I work on it with a felt pad, oil, and pumice, it seems I can only go so makes it look really sorta pretty good, but never great. Is that just the way a french polish finish is? Never quite as perfect as sprayed lacquer?

    The guitar plays wonderful, and sounds strong and vibrant. There's a little issue with intonation that I will fix next. Stay tuned (haha)...

  3. I am having some issues myself. This is where I am so far...

    Bodying - usually not a problem, I have got most of the process down. I usually don't stiff at this point since I am just trying to put down a base to work with.

    Leveling - also not a problem. Will usually start with 400-600 grit for the first time working up to 1000-1500 grit when I am really just using the 1# cut and trying to get a shine

    Once I am at the 1# cut mark I stiff with alcohol with the intent of smoothing it out as much as possible. If it's really wavy or uneven I will level. Then I let set for 20 min and apply the shellac in a brushing motion really trying to get it to shine as much as I can.

    Obviously using a muncea it will not be 100% smooth and not 100% shiny but a little brighter than a matte finish. I THINK that polishing will shine it up but you already have to have some shine there. So I am thinking try to get as high gloss as possible and then let dry.

    Issues I am coming up with are:
    -small bumps. not enough to call orange peel but maybe a precursor. They are probably dust bunnies and sometimes foreign matter, my garage is not very clean and I do woodworking there also. Leveling seems to be the easiest way to deal with them right now.

    -Dull spots. These normally appear when I am polishing with Shellac and the pad becomes sticky. They have also shown up in the stiffing process but I don't think stiffing is the cause. They are difficult to get rid of but using oil does help. The oil itself creates a 'dulling' in it's own until it's fully dried. I have tried alcohol but this seems to aggravate the problem. The only thing that seems to help is leveling but even then I have a couple spots in between the electric pickups that have just not responded to anything. I did have a shine to them at one point, now they just look 'dry'. They are covered with shellac, but it is dull and very noticeable. Not sure whether or not this will come out in the end.

    Once I am to the point where it is as glossy as I can get it and the finish is as smooth as I can get it, then I will let it cure for about a month. I did a test board (see my blog) and I definitely noticed some shrinkage as the shellac dried. Mostly during the 1st week, but some was noticeable in the 2nd week as well. I did some testing with seeing if I could dent it, the first week was very soft still (I was surprised). End of the month it was much harder. So I think you are right, aging is part of the process.

    So to answer your question about the rough areas, I am thinking these do need to be worked out as much as possible using the process at hand (pad, alcohol, shellac, pumice and sand paper)... I think with experience you will start to be able to get a better finish each time? But I am in the same boat as you, doing test boards have taught me quite a lot thought. I have purchased a spray gun but haven't really used it yet.

    If you find a solution let me know and I will do the same! So is your acoustic done at this point outside or you intonation issue?

  4. Thanks again, it's great to hear from you. Maybe together we can figure this out!

    This was only the first guitar I ever FP'd. So I'm no expert.

    As I was working on it, I applied body sessions to everything, but I futzed more with the top and back trying to make them look good as I progressed. As a result, wouldn't you know it, the sides wound up looking great, and the top and back wound up looking worse. I should've left the top and back alone and not messed with the swirl remover/polish or the felt pad at all.

    I've discovered that a good hard rubbing is all you need. I just didn't realize how much.

    I tried to make my surface look good using a felt pad, pumice, and walnut oil. It helped level things, but having too much oil on my surface has then been a problem. In some places I let the oil rest on the surface too long.

    Now that I've got everything pretty level, but have dull spots and slight orange peel (which sounds like where you are at) ... this is what has been working for me. I've just been rubbing it and getting it finalized that way. If I have a dull spot, or rather, a haze, I take a new cover, put 3 drops of alcohol on my inner gauze in a triangle shape, then cover it, squeeze, and dab the muneca on a cloth to make sure it's not too wet. if it's not too wet, I very light rub it on the surface. I keep the motion going, within a min or two, the alcohol will begin to evaporate and i'll start to press harder. within another minute or so, i'll be pressing as hard as i can, working on a small area. after the haze is gone from that small area (a few inches across), i'll add 3 more drops and move to the next area. figure out the amount of alcohol that works for you. sometimes, what happens for me on one day, will not work the next. maybe for drops is what you need, or maybe two.

    in a few of my shellac sessions, I got small hard bumps that developed, almost like a teeny zit-shaped thing. i scratched those off with a razor blade.

    so i just told you what I am doing for the haze. for the orange peel, and scratches or surface imperfections, I do the hard rubbing just like I did with alcohol on the haze, but I use 3 drops of 1-lb-cut shellac, and do it the same way, starting out slow and then gradually rubbing harder.

    I'm slowly working over the whole guitar this way, then I'll call it done.

    I just don't know what is wrong with me, but I couldn't make spiriting work. I'd always get a pad that was too wet or too dry, and consequently either make it worse, or, I'd be doing nothing with a dry pad.

    I also have had this problem where I'd wet my pad, and only one spot would seep thru the cover and that one spot would drag on my surface and I wouldn't get a smooth consistent coverage. Oil would always help, but I'm trying to avoid using oil now. I suspect much of my haze is coming from too much oil.

    Sand paper and pumice were helping me in the middle of the process to get things smooth but now at the end, I think you just have to rub.

    I'm now finalizing my finish with hard rubbing this week, then I'll let the guitar set until the end of august. I've built a saddle slot jig and purchased a new 1/8" spiral downcut router bit. I'm going to widen the saddle slot just before I give the guitar to Don. I'll make a blog post here with pics of that getting done. I think you'll like my jig. Stew mac's is $150. Mine cost $0.30!

  5. Would love to see the jig! Thanks for your comments, I will have to read and re-read as I am with several sites. I imagine eventually it will just work and I won't know why but then I have my highly guarded process lol!

    Where I am is I have a spot about 2-3 inches wide and an inch tall. When I first started it seemed to take the shellac just fine. I can see where it has filled in the pores nicely but the wood portion is dull. I actually have this on three sections, 2 in between the three pickups (H-S-S)and one space in between the bridge and the humbucker. It has occurred to me that it could actually be the wood. It almost looks and feels like the wood is just sucking it in. It is a butcher blocked body and the middle board is the issue though I don't see any issue with the area around or on the other side. Since it is in an awkward place it was difficult to sand and to apply the brushing technique with the pad.

    I tried
    -continue working (basically ignore it :-)
    -specialized attention with extra rubbing.
    -leveling, leveling and more leveling
    -even tried 'floating shellac' on top of it then leveling.

    When I apply extra pressure it seems ok for a just a few seconds then rubbing just seems to aggravate whether I am using just alcohol or 1# cut. I am thinking about sanding it back in just these areas and see if I can rebuild it. The rest of the guitar has come out just gorgeous, nice deep color, 3D effect and very smooth and glassy top.

    Tell me a little more about the rubbing process. So you body/level maybe a few times. Then I stiff out with alcohol if there are ridges. Then to polish you are saying you are using the process you describe above? How long are your sessions in say a 1'x1' area? 1-3min, 5-10 or greater? Are you rubbing in a back/forth motion or the on/off technique? Continuous or intermittent? What do you see as you rub? For me it usually starts with the dull spot getting a little smaller but then another dull spot popping up or then the spot grows dramatically...

    For me it is becoming a play off between the prep (Sanding etc) and learning the polishing process...

    It is hard to tell if I have a shellac build on it. If I look at it from an angle it actually looks fine but get a 80-110 angle and it pops right out at you and just looks dull/different.

    I am thinking your haze is oil also. Like I said, I use it very sparingly but have not had an issue with haze at all. I also live in a climate where 10% humidity is the norm (Denver, CO).

  6. I need to thank you!!! I think that I figured out what a major part of the problem was. I would rub (with alcohol or 1#) while it was damp. As it began to become sticky I would either recharge the pad, stop or apply a dab of oil, but even after the oil is applied the duration and pressure needed to be increased by a lot. It is still a little 'touch and go' but I am finally seeing the area take on shellac!!!

    I have done two 15 min focused sessions and I would say it is about a 70-80% improvement! So I just need to stick with it.

    For your spiriting what is the inside of your muncea? Or are you using a cloth folded up? I have found the cloth to be unusable with just alcohol. It evaporates far too quickly.

    I use cotton cloth (t-shirt) for the outside and inside I use gauze. Just the sterile gauze you would find in a grocery market's pharmacy section. I get about 10 pads for a couple bucks. Don't get non-stick or treated ones.

    I cut these up with scissors into strips then cut the strips up so I am left with a bunch of small squarish pieces of gauze. I use about 6 pads for a med-small muncea. Then I put this in about a 2 1/2 or 3 inch square of cotton fabric.

    I then apply the alcohol (from an old plastic ketchup bottle) to the gauze inside the fabric, twist the top, squeeze once or twice into a different cloth to get the right moisture level and go for it. It seems to discharge fairly consistently and has the added advantage of being able to 'shape' it for those hard spots...

    hope that helps and thank you so much your comments. You got some good karma coming your way! :-)

  7. Sorry about being absent from the blog. I got busy.

    I can't take credit for anything I've told you. I just read things, and then try them out for myself, and then recommend the stuff that has worked for me. The stuff I read about that hasn't worked for me is probably just on account of my own shortcomings.

    For spiriting, I have tried both: a pad that has shellac from earlier sessions, and a pad that is new and has nothing. Both have worked. But it's hit and miss. When I start a session and it isn't working for me, then I give up and try the next day. Lots of factors seem to have caused havoc with my process. Temperature, RH, hardness of a pre-used pad, my own lack of patience, etc. I started a session last night with a hard pad, and then gave up. I then saturated the pad with shellac. I left it overnight, so I can wring it out tonight and try again.

    I have had good results with a pad that has only alcohol. I just use one drop, inside the pad. I put a cover on it, then wipe it on a clean rag to get rid of excess wetness, and then take it to my surface. You're right, it evaporates quickly, but you'll still have time to work on a 4"x4" area. Then, you repeat. Go over the whole surface this way. It has worked for me to remove dullness.

    I like the gauze too, but I use a great big white sheet. I cut a new cover for every session.