Jeph Jacques's comics discussion forums

Fun Stuff => MAKE => Topic started by: AdrianVW on 18 Aug 2017, 13:11

Title: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 18 Aug 2017, 13:11
I was rather surprised to find nothing on this subject in the MAKE category... since guitars are a legitimate focus of the comic, along with a great many idea-inspiring characters and moments.

Just a few of the ideas I've had:
1. On the back of an SG kit, trace and color a dialogue-free blowup of Marten's ridiculous rock pose when the guitar took control.
2. Refinish a Les Paul Pee Wee, mostly in pastel blue, but with a creepy white grin hogging most of the lower front curve, and a severely-damaged USB port embedded in the rear bay cover.
3. Bubbles.  This is the one I'm actually building, just sprayed on her armor-color today.  Burgundy and berry pink, with black comic-esque border lines, on a triple-humbucker LP-style.  Big, powerful, but with gold hardware to reflect her hea--uh, coolant pump.  Since I don't have any external host for images (and do NOT tell me 'just sign up for an account with <service>') I won't be posting any pictures here on the forum, just on my FB timeline and one DIY guitars group.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 18 Aug 2017, 13:28 ( Maybe this'll work.  Inconvenient pictures are better than text-only descriptions, I guess.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 22 Aug 2017, 07:15
The Bubbles guitar project is coming along very nicely, but very slowly.  To make absolutely sure the newest paint is dry enough to survive masking tape being put on and pulled off, often more than once, I'm doing a section every other day.  Today is the second of the three parts of the black lines pattern; due to the width of my masking tape, the pattern needs to be constructed in three sections and painted over six days, then four more days for the remaining two colors, with one additional day in between to glue on the neck before doing the rear color, so there's no break in that shade between body and neck.  I'll post another pic-link once the black pattern is complete, because when dealing with lines that thin, the front of the guitar appears to be an almost solid mass of blue masking tape, with black spraypaint on most of it, so pics now would be rather dull.  The results should be much more interesting than the procedure, and I'll update as soon as it's worth looking at. :)
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 25 Aug 2017, 10:22
One QC AI I'd been having trouble thinking up a guitar for was May.  My continuing work with Bubbles, and some amazing, smooth finishes a little old lunch room lady has been doing on Strats lately, finally offered an idea...  I'd base her on a double-cutaway body (if she had an SG's horns she'd just damage things, possibly herself, with them), then go for a solid, glossy finish in her skin tone, then add a few articulation seams, front and back, with tape-masked black... but the tape-work will be a bit trickier than just those.  The main pattern would be simpler than Bubbles' double borders, but here and there, finely enough to miss at a long-distance glance, I'd add patterns of cracks to the black spray's masking, in much thinner lines than the seams themselves.  The headstock should be carved into a butt, of course.

I'm also still considering details for Momo.  All I have so far is that I'd use a Tele-style base with a maple fingerboard, the body would be pink, and the headstock face would be metallic glitter magenta.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 28 Aug 2017, 08:03
Given the total lack of replies other than my own updates, I can't exactly claim a crowd has been eagerly awaiting the big reveal... but here it is anyway.  Bubbles' front (rough; still needs detail work) armor.  Those two blocks next to the body are something I whipped up last night, padded buffers for the clamps for tomorrow's neck-gluing. (
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: celticgeek on 28 Aug 2017, 08:17
I actually think that they are pretty cool.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 29 Aug 2017, 08:30
Another pic-update: (

This one is more of technical interest than artistic.  If anyone else is interested in building their own guitars, this demonstrates the trickiest (not actually difficult, but if you get it wrong you no longer have a guitar project) step in making a good one.  Guitar necks come in three major varieties.  1. Bolt-on, the cheapest and easiest to work with, and if you make a mistake, or need to fine-tune the angle of the neck for a perfect action, you can make changes.  2. Set-in (glued), where you get only one shot at it, but it's considered a mark of higher quality.  3. Neck-thru, where the neck and the central portion of the body, all the way to the strap peg, are the same piece of wood, normally seen only on the most expensive of guitars.

For my first kit, an SG, I picked the bolt-on as one of many details that acknowledged my own inexperience.  Bubbles deserves better, though, so here she is, with the checklist complete.
1. Make sure, in advance, that your clamps can extend wide enough to get around everything they need to, and deep enough to reach the center of the neck from the available angles.
2. Have a two-level rest ready, the relative levels depending on your guitar (this LP's body is thicker than an SG's, for example, so the neck curves up a larger distance from the bottom of the body, and its support needs a slightly higher elevation), WITH a gap for the clamps to extend into.
3. Have hot water and rags handy, one of those rags already wet to wipe off your finger after slathering the glue, the others there to clean up whatever squeezes out before it can permanently affect the wood.
4. Work out the sequence of events in your head before taking any step that cannot be taken back.
5. Make sure you're caffeinated, but save the cannabis for celebrating afterwards.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 31 Aug 2017, 17:52
Bubbles, semi-final version as far as the finish is concerned, and the project is also officially on hiatus at this point.  We've got a place confirmed to move to, now, but I'll be ordering a hardshell case tomorrow to keep Bubbles safe until I can resume work in earnest.  None of the progress shots really did the plan justice, since tape had to hide the whole from view.  The upper middle will look... a little less bare, later on; the pickup mounting rings are painted the same shade/finish as the black lines and will act as a continuation there. (
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 01 Sep 2017, 08:42
With Bubbles on hiatus for a bare minimum of three weeks, I can turn my mind (and maybe this thread) toward other ideas.  Those mentioned above still apply, but none of them have grabbed my interest hard enough to invest in yet.  Conversely, I have a hankering for the next style of kit I build, but no character or other theme to match it with.  Working with an HHH carved LP has been interesting, but the other thing to catch my eye was a flat-topped, very THIN LP kit.  Bubbles Lite, in the current project's terms.  Who, or what, in the QCverse would best match that style?
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 04 Sep 2017, 07:14
Looks like the Bubbles project is canceled again.  A bad stain-job on raw wood, I could correct.  Faint gaps in the lines of mask-and-spray patterns, I thought could correct, and my first step in doing so was yesterday.  This morning, though, I peeled off the tape and found out that brushed-on spraypaint was doing the same thing the water-based stain was, creeping under the masking tape and causing blotchy stains, but this time of black paint on top of pink, somewhat less correctable.  Anyone need some firewood?
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: celticgeek on 04 Sep 2017, 08:05
Sorry to hear that.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 05 Sep 2017, 07:28
'Bubbles,' as a guitar project at this time, is dead.  I may, at some future point, do some research into how Van Halen fanatics get those crisp, even lines on their tape-job Frankenstrats and try again, but each individual kit can only be salvaged so many times if mistakes are made.  To save the kit enough to at least have a guitar in the end, I'm sanding off the armor pattern.  I considered basic matte black for the front, but another fellow's kit Les Paul had an interesting front paint job, while discussing spray paints and options in a D.I.Y. guitar FB group.  Automotive metallic glitter paint.  I've got an errand today that will take me past an Autozone, and I'll check their stock.  The gold front I saw was quite nice, but I'll be looking for a shade of red compatible with the apple red on the back/neck of ex-Bubbles, since that simpler job's flaws are ones I can live with and there's no cause to erase it.

I still haven't made up my mind whether I want to put the same hardware on the basic, sparkly, two-tone red final guitar that I'd planned for Bubbles, as these things are more expensive than they seem at first glance.  Yeah, the kit itself is $100-175, or a bit more for specialty lines, but if you want to improve on the stock hardware it adds up.  Fast.  For anyone considering one of these kits, hopefully to use their own, or one of my, QC AI theme ideas, the total price is something to keep in mind, though a kit can also be a multi-month project, letting you spread out the expense.  I added things up, and I've spent about $310 on this project so far, and fully outfitting it with a shadow tuner, a string butler, and a kick-ass set of pickups will add at least another $200.  You could get a Gibson (pre-owned, Tribute series, but still a Gibson) for the price a well-built kit adds up to... but it can be worth it if you consider a project's value as an adventure.  This adventure didn't lead where I expected, but at least I didn't get eaten by a grue.
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 07 Sep 2017, 16:07 (

The last shot of the Guitar Formerly Known as Bubbles, whose case arrived today to keep that unlacquered finish safe during the hiatus.  After sanding down the 'armor' pattern, and keeping the apple red rear, I applied a full can of automotive dark red glitter paint to the front.  Depending on lighting, it looks black, dark purple, dark red, dried blood, fresh blood, bright red, or purplish magenta.  Fun stuff.  I may start another project after the move, but it'll be a toss-up whether it's QC-themed or I follow up naming my SG Argetlam by building Brisingr.  :-)
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: AdrianVW on 07 Jan 2018, 09:43
Been a while.  With that move and the additional complication of winter weather, it took me a few months to get back to work on the guitar formerly known as Bubbles, and I finally finished her yesterday morning.  The name I'm leaning toward now is 'The Ugly Gibson,' because I screwed up the front finish yet again, being ignorant of the fact that poly won't bond to automotive glitter paint, the three coats peeling off as a flexible sheet once they'd dried.  There's still patches waiting to flake or peel off the front, and the surface of the back is far from mirror-like, but for all her flaws, the neck-twist issue was a false alarm and she plays wonderfully.  The pickups were also a pleasant surprise, since I used the stock ones from the kit and they have a bad reputation.

The final pic for this particular project: (
Title: Re: QC-themed guitars
Post by: Welu on 10 Jan 2018, 14:32
I don't know anything about guitars but it looks great to me. Amazing colour. Glad she plays well.