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My IB'64 on a new tune....


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I don't write many autobiographical tunes anymore -- it's not like the world needs another folksinger singing about his issues -- but this one came out a couple of days ago. It seemed perfect for the Texan, and the way it rings on hammer-ons.


The lyrics may still need some editing, but here is the current version of "Town of Faded Signs." Constructive criticism is always welcome....




Here are the lyrics:



© 2015 by David Hanners


Head down Central, turn left on Main

Take the first right and the house is straight ahead

Just across the tracks was once a sharp two-story stucco

But whoever owns it now leaves it like an unmade bed


This is where I grew up with a smarter older brother

More space between us than the 10 years of age

We were characters borne of the same author

'Though I never felt we were ever on the same page


We both left here, both had our reasons

Rarely wandered back to this Illinois town

Now we are here and I cannot say I'm happy

There's so much I'd say to you if you were still around


I have heard it said we all die alone

But that's not really true;

One day, we all come home


Ruffner Cemetery lies 4 miles west of town

Just off Old 40 near a stand of dogwood trees

Rows of listing granite on a sea of ancestry

You can hear yourself think if you listen to the breeze


A few final words and farewell

Try to hold to a feeling that logic undermines

Then I turn around, go back the way I came

Drive slow down the Main Street of this town of faded signs

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So good, so good, so dang good!


It makes me laugh out loud when guitar snobs try to claim the IB64 isn't a pro grade instrument.


David...you did a lot relic treatment to yours, removing a bunch of the poly finish. Did you do anything else? I know yours is an older Chinese made model with a different bridge, but yours and mine (made in Indonesia February 2014) sound remarkably similar.

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Thanks for the kind words. The town in question is Casey, in Clark County in East Central Illinois. It is 32 miles west of Terre Haute, and a couple of hundred miles south of Chicago as the crow flies.


Thinning the poly finish was the big sound-improvement mod on the guitar. I also had a new bone nut installed and substituted the stock bridge pins with camel bone pins. I think the saddle may have been tweaked a bit, too.


When the guitar was new, I ran it on a Tone-Rite for a couple of days and that opened it up some. Thinning the finish was the big improvement, though.

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Like any production-line guitar, the IB'64 Texan benefits from some tweaking to make it better. Don't get me wrong; the ones I've seen and played have been really good guitars out of the box -- especially when you consider the price. It is just a matter of figuring out what to do to let the guitar reach its full potential. When you get into guitars, you find people going to various lengths to achieve that. Head over to the Unofficial Martin Guitar website sometime and read all the discussions/debates over bridge pins.


Anyway, here is my original post from 2011 when I had the work done. Knocking down the finish is definitely NOT a job for a novice. It is one hell of a lot of work.


The backstory: Last year, I bought an Epiphone "Inspired by 1964" Texan. Always had the jones for a Texan but didn't really want to spend the dough for a vintage one. The IB'64 Texan I wound up getting sounded very good and I really liked it. The Shadow Sonic NanoFlex pickup system was an added touch and it makes it a very good stage guitar; I've gigged with it several times.


The only thing that bugged me about the guitar was its poly finish. While it didn't seem as thick as most Asian polyurethane finsihes, it still just seemed too damn glossy for a guitar that sounded as good as this one. So I thought, "Hey, why not relic the guitar, ala Fender or even Huss & Dalton?" (There's even a guitar shop in Nashville that relics acoustics; in fact, their website features some Gibsons that they've made to look older for some Nashville stars.)


A good friend of mine, Leo, is enrolled in the nationally renown guitar building and repair school at Southeast Technical College in Red Wing, Minn., so I asked him to see if he'd be interested in doing the job as some sort of class project. He's crazy enough (in a lovable way...) to try it. Even though their classes deal with making instruments look better, not worse, he was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a try.


My basic instruction to him was to not just knock off the poly gloss, but, if he could, buff it back up to a vintage patina. I also told him that just to make the guitar look older, he could add a few nicks and scratches. He said he also would try to age the binding and the tuners.


I got the guitar back Sunday and was floored. It looks great, he nailed the vintage patina thing and he was very tasteful in the aging. It looks like a guitar that is a few decades old, has been played a lot, but has been taken care of by its owner. More importantly -- and I wondered if something like this might happen -- it sounds even better. Thinning out the finish seemed to loosen the top, as well as the back and sides, and the guitar seems much more "alive" now and the tone is also improved.


Yeah, I know some people will think I'm vain and crazy, but hey, it's my guitar. I can do with it what I want.


I'm not the best guitar photographer around, but some shots are here:



Thinking you folks might be interested in what work was involved, Leo wrote out the work he did:


Rough material removal was done with a combination of cabinet scrapers, 3M scrubbies and copper pot scouring pads, steel wool (#000-0000,)sandpaper of varying grits (100, 220, 400 and so on) depending on the amount of finish to be removed and the type of contour desired. There were some areas where wood was exposed where a wire brush was used along with water to raise the grain a bit.


-- Surface dings and chips, etc. were accomplished by a number of means- flogging with a set of keys, light taps with a jeweler's hammer and screwdrivers,etc.( The round shaft of a screwdriver does very nicely for the little binding chips) and the belt buckle marks were etched in with the ball hex-head of a truss-rod wrench. I dropped a few coins from 3 feet or so for random top dings as well.


-- Most of the initial sanding with the rougher grits was done dry, but at the 400-grit level I switched to wet sanding up to this point the work was only being done on areas where specific wear patterns were desired based on the player's style and handling of the instrument. Form the 400 grit onward, the entire instrument was wet-sanded with 400, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500,and 2000 grits. I frequently revisited heavier grits in some areas as the final wear patterns became evident. Once the 2000 grit was very thoroughly applied to the entire suface with some touch-ups from larger grits and steel wool here and there, I began buffing with a soft rotary wheel and Tripolish compound. This was rather time-consuming but paid off. Note, it is VERY important to have good lighting from several angles at this point -- the really fine scratches will disappear at certain angles and you need to be very vigilant. After this step a thorough hand buffing with a soft flannel and a very light polishing compound was applied before a final polish/wax coat.


-- Bindings and plastic parts were sanded with 400 grit on down (special care was taken to remove molding lines and soften corners consistent with playing wear) and colorized with Letraset permanent art marker (primrose) and vintage Amber lacquer pencil (Stew-Mac #6091).


-- Tuners were bathed in distilled vinegar and salt for five days while other work was taking place.


Anyway, that's about it in a nutshell (big nut). The only advice I would give to anyone attempting this is go slow and evaluate your progress constantly. I cannot stress the importance of adequate light, and I wore actual magnifier glasses for a lot of the finer work.

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Thanks very interesting . I used to do some wood working but have no shop at the moment . I got chuckle when the keys part I use to use various objects for what we called it antiquing . I liked using 3/8' chain but maybe not a good idea on guitars lol

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Thanks very interesting . I used to do some wood working but have no shop at the moment . I got chuckle when the keys part I use to use various objects for what we called it antiquing . I liked using 3/8' chain but maybe not a good idea on guitars lol


Hmmm link ain't working for me :(

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