The "Hex-Caster" Begins...

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by SquierTap, Feb 22, 2020.

  1. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    I'm super excited about this one... I got this crazy idea a while back to make a Voodoo themed guitar... I played a crazy Cajun Bokor (Voodoo priest) named "Rufus Justice" at Monster Mountain (my family ran one of the biggest and longest running haunted attractions in Tennessee) for a few years, and so I thought a "Hex-Caster" would be a really fun project...

    But what does a "Hex-Caster" look like? So, I just asked myself, W.W.R.J.P.? ;
    What would Rufus Justice play? Lol...

    I used green and black leather dye with great results for that S.E. that I completely re-did a while back... So I decided to do the same thing with purple dye... A trans purple "burst" that fades to black around the edges...

    I've been thinkin alot about necks here lately, and it seems that EVERYONE just LOVES that amber, CV-ish color... And I do too, but after you've got a couple like that, why not do somethin different? The amber color is SO popular, it's starting to get dangerously close to "pedestrian" in my book... Just like a 3 color sunburst Strat... Yeah, it's classic, and beautimous, lol... Just a lil too common for me...
    I just used "Golden Pecan" stain on that Tele build neck, AND the Bullet Mustang neck that I just re-did, and I really liked it, but I started thinkin, (Everybody- "Uh Oh!") Why don't people stain necks dark? You never see a dark colored neck unless it's made of some "exotic" wood like ebony or walnut...
    Well, I found out why, lol... Maple is NOTORIOUS for bein blotchy and not takin stain very well... I had some small blotching/streaking issues even with the "Golden Pecan", so a dark stain probably wouldn't work great on a maple neck...
    But... Evidently you can DYE maple... I thought about dying the neck the same purple as the body... For about 30 seconds, lol... But then I thought, "Ya know, a DARK walnut type color would look awesome"... Especially with gold hardware and tuners... Now, normally I'm not a gold guy... Just to be honest, I've always thought gold hardware looks kinda tacky... It's either cheap lookin, or too flashy... BUT... Again, WWRJP? And I thought a trans purple burst Strat with a walnut neck and gold hardware would be perfect for an old Cajun Voodoo Bluesman...

    Speakin of necks, I got ahold of a great one thanks to forum "SuperGuy" @Kenneth Mountain... Ken hooked me up (yet again!) with a super nice M.I.K. '95 Squier Stratocaster neck... The only "problem" was that it was in AMAZING shape! Yeah, big problem, huh? Lol, truth be told, it was in better shape than the neck on my "Number One" M.I.M. '97 Squier Strat... Takin somethin that's been around since 95 and is still in such great shape, and stripping it and re-finishing it makes me EXTREMELY nervous... But I messaged Ken with my plans, and like the great guy he is, he told me "Look, everything that you plan on doin is purely cosmetic, and that neck will play great on whatever you put it on", and kind of gave me his "blessing"... Or at least the "go ahead", lol... But before we get into that, let's talk bodies...

    I decided to go lightweight on this one... The older I get, the more I appreciate lighter guitars, lol... My current favorite is my Bullet Mustang and it's ridiculously light... So, light I didn't like it at first, lol... But hey, tastes change over time, and this build is ALL about doin things different...
    So, I took a chance and ordered one of the lightweight paulownia bodies from Guitar Fetish... When it arrived, I couldn't believe HOW light the box was... I'll say that the average guitar body (to me) weighs between 6 to 8 pounds, these are supposed to weigh between 2-3 pounds! I handed the box to my wife, and she said "Uhhh... Okay... Here's the box... Where's the body?" I told her it was IN the box, lol... She literally didn't believe me til she opened it...

    I knew it was gonna be light, but I hoped that since I'm plannin on doin a see through finish, that I'd get one with decent grain... Paulownia isn't exactly known for its amazing grain, lol... But when I pulled her outta the box, I think I just might've lucked out, lol...
    IMG_20200219_163851141.jpg
    IMG_20200219_163844198.jpg

    So, now that've I got the so-called "bones", it's time to start castin' this Hex! And I dropped a line to Scott @ GuitaRestore on Etsy to see if he could design me a bone themed waterslide decal for this baby, and he said that he's got me covered... Can't wait to see it...

    I went ahead and ordered my Walnut TransTint dye, and my purple leather dye for the body... Still waitin on the purple... And I went ahead and ordered a set of those "Pro" Musiclilly vintage tuners (not the "standard" with so-so reviews, lol, the "Pro" ones, lol) in gold, since they work great on the two guitars I have them on...

    So stay tuned... My next post will be on the transformation of the neck... And you wanna see some hillbilly idget totally wreck a fine vintage neck, don't ya?

    Lol, just playin... It turned out great!

    Chris
     
  2. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    50
    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Take pictures of the progress. Keep us updated.
     
    Kenneth Mountain and SquierTap like this.
  3. IronSchef

    IronSchef Dr. Squier

    Age:
    57
    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    eagerly awaiting this one!!
     
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  4. Ricky3Fingerd

    Ricky3Fingerd Squier-Nut

    Age:
    32
    776
    Nov 26, 2019
    Canda
    I remember when you were tossin this build concept around. And I loved it. I think purple and dark colors are perfect for voodoo vibe. Go with your gut Tap cuz that green and black dye job is about my fave finish I have seen on here so far. And I dig the walnut neck. Do this. Whatever you do though I think it would be absolutely boss if you could recreate that reflective photo in the finish of your fam. And keep doing that with your builds. Have like a collection of them gettin older.

    Cheers
     
  5. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    So, for step one, I decided I'd see if I could pull this neck off... Like I said, there's a reason that you don't see a lot of dark stained maple necks... But that's why they make TransTint! And boy, was that an "episode", lol...

    TransTint is great cause you can mix it into basically whatever solvent (or even water) you like... You can use denatured alcohol, distilled water, tap water... Hell, I've even seen people use rubbing alcohol, lol!

    But I'm gettin a lil ahead if myself... Step ONE was to check and see if the amazing vintage neck that Ken sent me would would be able to fit the new gold tuners...

    Lol, of course it didn't! Lol, but hey, kinda fitting (pun fully intended)... The ONLY time I've ever had to enlarge tuning holes was on "Pinky"... That First Act that I bought off Ken... It had a black headstock and I just used a 3/8 bit with my lil drill... Turned out just fine... Just had one TINY lil chip out of the black paint, so I was hoping I could get similar results...
    I was SUPER careful and slow... I took my time, but I knew; After I started this, there isn't any turning back... So, I BETTER do a good job! Lol... No pressure, right? Well, like I said, I took my time, and got 'em reamed out, with no major problems, thank God, lol...
    IMG_20200219_172252406.jpg IMG_20200219_172208153.jpg

    So, I ALMOST relaxed a lil... But now I had to completely strip this beautiful vintage neck, lol, so more nail biting anxiety it is, lol...

    I actually got it stripped with no major surprises, too... I just used some 120 and 150 grit, sanded WITH the grain (after learning WHY on my last couple projects, leaves scratches that higher grits don't get out for you noobs) and it turned out great.. Kinda weird, but it actually helped me relax a little, because with it back to bare maple, it looked the same as any, brand new neck... Not an amazing "vintage" one a buddy sent me, lol... I didn't think to take any pictures of it totally stripped, but hey, we've all seen a bare maple neck, lol...

    Now for some chemistry! Lol, you wanna talk about a pain?!? Try findin a recipe for makin TransTint in small batches! Lol... They DO exist, but I couldn't "read" the chart, so I had to do some good ol' fashioned math, lol... I decided to go with water over the denatured alcohol I bought... Water is supposed to be more forgiving for people new to staining and dying... And there was a list of warnings as long as my leg on the denatured alcohol... Probably not a great idea to use it in my tiny kitchen in my small house with kids runnin around, lol... So, you're supposed to mix one OUNCE of TransTint with one QUART of solvent or water... But that makes a QUART of dye, and the WHOLE bottle of TransTint is ONLY two ounces... I don't need ANYWHERE NEAR that much! I needed like, a cup... So, math says, lol, there are 32 ounces in a quart, so I figured it was 1 part dye to 32 parts water... So I Googled how much is 1/32 of a cup (8oz) and I got half a tablespoon, right? So then I Googled how many milliliters in a tablespoon, and figured out that I'd need about 7 and a half milliliters of dye for a cup... So that's what I did...

    And a well known industry "secret" that guitar manufacturers use to color guitars is to use 2 different colors... You "pop" the grain with one color (usually the darker one) and go over it with another color... Since I was just using ONE color, "Walnut", I mixed it up according to my kockamammy Google math, and applied it... It turned out AMAZING! It was BEAUTIFUL! And DARK... Really dark... Perfect! I was SO nervous, but despite that, NOW I can relax a little, and actually ENJOY this build!

    So after I applied it, it was time for a lil "magic", so I started sanding it back with 320 grain, but decided to stick with the highest grain in my "method" and used 220... I was careful, and successfully "popped" the grain, by sanding it back and leaving just the grain... Now time for my "magic", lol... I cut the dye strength in half by adding another cup of water... Then I went back over the entire thing...

    Even at half strength, that "Walnut" TransTint is some DARK stuff, lol... But it turned out GREAT! I'm thoroughly happy with the color so far, and THAT'S what matters... I might be the only cat on the block that digs it, but hey, I dig it!

    Now that I've got the neck the color I want, it's time to finish it... I keep goin back and forth on different ways to do it... Actually after the dark color went on successfully, I told my wife that I was thinkin of doin a matte or satin finish over the dark, and she thought it was a great idea... BUT, then I started thinkin about how a matte neck would FEEL to play, and NOW I'm thinkin "Hey, I've gotten some GREAT results with TruOil here lately, and dark walnut gun stocks do
    look just gorgeous with TruOil over 'em..."

    So, that's where we stand currently... I'm still waitin on my purple dye to come in so I can start the body... Actually, the first step is to apply black leather dye and sand it back to pop the grain... So I might go ahead and get started on that... Then, next payday it'll be time to start ordering the hardware... The Gooooold hardware ala "Goldmember", lol...

    Here's a few pics of the neck as it is now, BUT... The pictures absolutely do NOT do it justice... In person it's way prettier... IMG_20200221_175342845.jpg IMG_20200221_175408981.jpg IMG_20200221_175440866.jpg
     
  6. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Thanks for bein "an enabler", hoss! Lol, I REALLY appreciate the kind words about the green S.E. ... It's a looong way from perfect, cause it's the very FIRST thing that I ever did... It's got a ton of flaws, but it definitely served it's purpose of teaching me how to mod... I learned SO much doin that and listening to y'all's advice on here... And with THIS guitar, I get to "fix" a lot of the stuff I messed up on the first one... So, fingers crossed, I hope this one turns out even better!
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  7. Ricky3Fingerd

    Ricky3Fingerd Squier-Nut

    Age:
    32
    776
    Nov 26, 2019
    Canda
    Reflective pic on the back of the new one!
     
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  8. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Oh, and even though it LOOKS a lil messed up in the first pics, the heel turned out just fine, lol...
    IMG_20200222_154553791.jpg
     
  9. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    For sure! That's definitely gonna be a "thing" I do from now on! Lol, might even do one permanently like that, lol!
     
  10. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Annnd WE'RE BACK! Had a bit of a delay since my 3 year old decided my phone would be way better with a hole in the screen, lol... So, I was about 5 days without a phone at all... So, I can't give ya ALL the gory details, lol... But most, anyway, lol...
    So, here's where we stand;

    I still can't believe that I "got away" with this neck, lol... I had no idea that it would turn out this well... It's hard to look at it and think that it's your standard, (although, VERY NICE feeling) MAPLE neck, lol... I definitely learned a nice trick to keep in my back pocket...
    Here's a few more pics, but again, the pics absolutely don't do it justice... It SO gorgeous, and deep in person... IMG_20200229_235608305.jpg IMG_20200301_034613017.jpg IMG_20200301_034646658.jpg IMG_20200301_034552179.jpg

    I'm on probably my 10th or 12th coat of TruOil at this point... Startin to get good and shiny... Many times I've bragged that even people with no experience finishing can get get great results with it, but on my last few projects I've learned that your results can be even better with a lil practice and a few lil "tricks"... I'm SO proud of how that Bullet Mustang neck turned out, and it's even what I'd consider a gloss... And the best "trick" I've picked up so far are those Scotch Brite pads... Had the wife pick me up a couple sheets of the gray (equivalent of 0000 steel wool) and the white (even finer)...
    I mentioned that on the stuffier corksniffer-y forums that people recommend a whole day, and buffing with steel wool between every coat... I think that's a bit excessive, but smoothin everything out about every 3 coats has had GREAT results... And I have been guilty of bein impatient and not waitin long enough between coats in the past, that's yet another lesson that I've learned... If you try to sand, wet sand, or even buff somethin before it's had time to properly dry and cure, you're just messin up everything that you just did so carefully, lol... Sounds like day one stuff, but I know I can't be the only inpatient cat on the block, lol...

    So, so far, so good... I'm plannin on doin quite a few more coats, cause I'm a gloss guy, as unpopular as that seems nowadays, lol...


    Which will lead us right into my next post... Let's talk bodies, lol...
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  11. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Now with the neck comin along SO nicely, I REALLY don't wanna mess this up, lol... But again, so far, so good... I figured with this paulownia, it'd be so light I could sand it with my breath, lol, or at least steel wool, but surprisingly that wasn't the case...

    It was already pretty danged smooth from the factory, but when I look at my green S.E. that I re-did, I'll ALWAYS see those big ugly sanding scratches, and I wanted to make SURE that I prevented that from happenin with The Hexcaster... I gave it a good once over with 120 and then 150 grit sandpaper... Which was a good thing, because it DID have some sideways scratches from stacking, I assume... But they came out easy enough...
    Then I applied black leather dye with a sponge... There's somethin SO DANG satisfying about dying a body... The way the wood just drinks up the color... Really cool... And satisfying, lol... So I dyed the whole thing completely black, then sanded it back to "pop" the grain... I was gonna use 320 grit or so, but I decided to stick with the highest grit in my "routine" so I went with 220... I used to get all hung up about just how smooth and shiny I could make a piece of wood, but evidently that's a total noob mistake, lol... If you go much higher than 220 it can cause problems with staining, finishing, painting, just all kinds of problems, and besides, what's the point of goin higher as long as it looks good, IF it's gonna have a glossy smooth finish OVER it anyway? But, either way, I wound up havin to go back "down" to 150 grit anyway to get the black off... Like I said, I figured wrong about the paulownia, lol... So, I got most of the black off, but I left it around the sides and back... Turned out lookin sharp, but alas, no pics of that action thanks to my 3 year old "helper", lol...

    The next step was to apply the purple... I ordered some of the Angelus purple off Amazon and it even came with a dauber, makin things A LOT easier... So, more SUPER satisfying coloring action... But when the purple went on and was still wet, it looked DARK... Like REALLY dark... And when it dries, it has a tendency to REALLY lighten up, but this didn't brighten up a lot... So, I employed another lil "trick" I learned, and sanded it back a bit... Not too much, but just to lighten it up... Then I took some of the purple dye and watered it down, again, not too much, and re-applied... It was almost like watchin a magic trick as it dried... It changed to a beautiful, slightly lighter shade of purple and it's just absolutely GORGEOUS... A real show stopper...

    I thought about not doin the "burst", and just leavin it as it without the fade, but I think I'm gonna meet in the middle and just do a small fade and leave as much of that beautiful purple as possible... My wife actually paints, so I had her do the fade on my last one, but when she went to fade this one, when the dye dried, it was gone, lol... She usually just takes the black dye, mixes it with water and does it... But after two attempts, you literally can't see a BIT of it... Might be a sign, lol... Either way, we'll give it another shot later today, but that bring up another thing;

    I've been SO blessed throughout this build, that at times it's felt like a trick, or a trap, lol... First, the neck I got from @Kenneth Mountain was SO danged nice... Way nicer than I thought I'd be able to find... And everything is goin so well I REALLY hope that I can get through finishing it without screwin it up, lol...

    I swear, clear coating is like my arch nemesis right now, lol... I've got MINIMAL painting experience, but where I screw up is the VERY last step... I'm always feels like I'm walkin a tightrope between "did I get it smooth enough" and sandin through... I've been watchin wood working videos (guess that comes with bein almost 40, lol) and I recently came across a video called "How To Get A Glass-Smooth Finish With Poly" and his big "trick" was the exact same synthetic steel wool sheets that Mrs. Tap got me... He took his orbital sander without any paper on it, and attached the Scotch Brite pads... He buffed his sample piece out, and it did look good... He said "Now it ISN'T very reflective, but it IS really smooth..." Then he attached the same, white, ultra-fine Scotch Brite as I've got and hit it with that... That brought on the reflections, lol... So, maybe that'll be a good solution for me... Wet sanding poly is a nightmare for me... Speakin of which, Scott at GuitaRestore said he's got me covered on a bone style font for my decal, but this time I might get a lil help from a buddy... One of my buddies is a damned whiz when it comes to painting and clear coating cars, and I'm gonna see if he can't give me some pointers for gettin it nice and smooth without sandin through...

    So, that's about where she stands, fellers... Here's some pics of the body so far, but again, it looks WAY different, and better, in person...
    IMG_20200229_235338794.jpg IMG_20200229_235542417.jpg IMG_20200229_235522170.jpg IMG_20200229_235458490.jpg

    Oh, and I almost forgot the parts, too! I wound up lookin for some pickups on Amazon since I had such good luck with those last Belcat Alnicos... And evidently The Fretwire actually sell their pups on there... Since "different" is the whole theme with this one, I decided early on that I wanted P-90s... For the most part, I'm a clean, single coil, Fender-y type guy, but I'm in LOVE with the P-90s in my Harley Benton Tele... So, I grabbed myself a set of the black and gold P-90s... And I ordered a lot of my stuff off eBay this time, which is kinda odd for me, I'm normally an Amazon kinda guy... I went ahead and ordered a full size MIM trem, in gold of course, and grabbed a set of gold string trees... Mrs. Tap found a beautiful purple pearl pickguard for SUPER cheap for me, but I don't know, that may be a lil TOO much purple, lol... Actually, since it's gonna be a Voodoo themed guitar, I've been thinkin that a black leather pickguard may be just the thing... I could stud it, or add lil voodooish touches, or even tool it with some symbols or whatever, really... Mrs. Tap has SOME experience with leather working, so maybe we can get that together... In the meantime, if any of you guys do leather work, or know anyone that does, that could help me out for cheapish, that'd REALLY help... Really thrilled with how things are goin so far...

    Still gotta order my skull knobs (not the metal ones, but ones that look like real bone) and my Voodoo doll neck plate, and as always, if anybody has any suggestions, I'd LOVE to hear 'em...
     

    Attached Files:

  12. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    And here's the Fretwire pickups;
    41cl5isE6xL._AC_SY200_.jpg 31jZ33KlHUL._AC_SY400_.jpg
     
  13. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Thanks, man... Here's hoping the finish goes as well as the start!
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  14. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Well, well, well... Looky what came in the mail today! My golden Fender bridge, my gold output jack, and my purple pearl pickguard...

    Now the purple pickguard isn't written in stone... Truth be told, I'd REALLY like a black leather pickguard, but that might be tricky, and I'm certainly NOT payin a hundred bucks for one, lol... So, if anybody does leather work and could help me out for a reasonable price, pm me!
    Couldn't resist a lil mock up; IMG_20200302_225407436~2.jpg IMG_20200302_225429247.jpg

    Oh... And my Fretwire P-90's are supposedly in the mailbox, right now... I'm startin to get excited about gettin everything together...

    Oh, and I went ahead and started a CKSquare Guitars YouTube channel so I'm not postin guitar stuff all over "The Paranatural Podcast"'s channel like I normally do... And I started a CKSquare Guitars Facebook page too, so folks can stay updated...

    So if you're on Facebook and you want, add me... So far, SquierTalk is the only place I've posted so far, but that's about to change... You can find my FB profile here;https://www.facebook.com/cksquare.guitars

    Hope yo see ya there...

    And stay tuned for the rest of the Hexcaster build... Gettin close now!
     
  15. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    That gold and purple takes some gettin used to, lol... Like I said, normally I do NOT dig gold hardware on most guitars... It's hard to pull off and not look TOO flashy, or TOO cheap, lol... But I'm beginnin to really dig it for THIS guitar anyway...
     
  16. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Oh, and before I forget, I actually found a picture of the ol' Bokor hisself, Rufus Justice... The hex castin, Crazy Cajun Voodoo man that I played that inspired this build... I wasn't in full costume, cause this was taken at an after-party with a bunch of us Monster Mountain cast and actors, just the makeup, contacts, and hat, but you get the idea, lol...
    FB_IMG_1583208346862.jpg FB_IMG_1583208364368.jpg FB_IMG_1583208684113.jpg
     
  17. Ricky3Fingerd

    Ricky3Fingerd Squier-Nut

    Age:
    32
    776
    Nov 26, 2019
    Canda
    Holy fyckin **** Tap. That looks unreal. Wtf. So good.
     
  18. Ricky3Fingerd

    Ricky3Fingerd Squier-Nut

    Age:
    32
    776
    Nov 26, 2019
    Canda
    Gokd n purple is rad. The purple on purple I'm not as sure about. Or like a daarrrrrk purple. Good god that body looks amazing though.
     
    SquierTap and Kenneth Mountain like this.
  19. Ricky3Fingerd

    Ricky3Fingerd Squier-Nut

    Age:
    32
    776
    Nov 26, 2019
    Canda
    I just love this build the neck turned out stellar. Like wow! Rufus Justice would be damn proud.
     
    SquierTap and Kenneth Mountain like this.
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