Jolana Graziela Special II repair

Here's the Jolana Graziella Special II that I bought from Konstantin (studio1525) and restored. IMHO, whoever hosed the Smurf-colored "Bleu Cheese" finish over everything - covering all the binding, etc. - should be hunted down and beaten senseless with a large chunk of gorgonzola. Even the pickup mounting rings were sprayed with some weird purple-ish metallic paint. This poor guitar deserved better. Here's what I did to fix it.

- with the fine bubbly Smurf-Blue finish (courtesy of some Russian psycho)
- with a transparent red finish and cleaned-up binding that matches the body, and a set of new Gotoh Kluson clone tuners.

The neck
A one-piece quartersawn beech back with a 24-3/4" (630 mm) scale, with 21 medium-jumbo frets (22 if you count the zero fret) in a 12" (310 mm) radius Indian rosewood fingerboard, and an aluminum nut/string spacer.

The back contour of the neck is very comfortable, much like a 60's Fender. The frets had pretty bad "wagon ruts" in them when the neck arrived, but they leveled out just fine at a finished height of just under 1 mm high. Low, but perfectly playable.

The Bleu Cheese finish had been sprayed over the tuner bushings, all the binding and even the string tree. What a @#$%^&* mess! Under all the blue goop I found remnants of the original urethane finish, but it was totally unsalvageable, so I sanded the entire neck down to bare wood, patched a few extra tuner mounting holes, and sealed it with two coats of clear lacquer.

Then I masked off the fingerboard and all that binding and sprayed the tinted red lacquer, followed by 4 or 5 clear coats. Originally I was going to spray the peghead black and work out some sort of Graziella Special II decal, but it looked so nice in the transparent red that I decided to leave it that way. The tuners that came on the neck were crappy Soviet units, so I replaced them with a set of Gotoh Kluson clones with white buttons that look almost identical to the originals, but actually function as tuners. For anyone who's interested, the Gotoh Kluson clones (spaced to fit Fender pegheads) fit perfectly into the original Jolana tuner hole spacing, and hide the original mounting screw holes.

The body
When the body arrived it was sprayed in the same Smurf-inspired "Bleu Cheese" color as the neck, right over the top of the original urethane finish. Like the neck, the finish on the body wasn't salvageable, so I decided to sand it down to bare wood. What I discovered was that the sunburst finishes on both the neck and body had been sprayed over a totally opaque flesh-colored urethane primer, so it's impossible to see the wood grain at all. What the hell?

Anyway, that old primer was as tough as nails, and I wore out FOUR 120x sanding discs cleaning up the top alone: tons of sanding dust. I wouldn't recommend the process to anyone. It took a further six 120x sanding discs to get the finish off the sides and back, but there was a nice laminated beech top/back/sides body (with lots of binding) under all that Bleu Cheese. No real figure to the wood, but definitely nice enough to do a transparent red finish to match the neck. Scraping all that binding clean after spraying the color coats took a long time, but it was well worth it. It looks pretty good now.

The hardware
I wanted to preserve as many of the original components as possible, so I de-Smurfed the pickup mounting rings and string tree, and saved the original pickups and potentiometers. No original switch though, so I used a generic 3-position rotary switch instead. It works just fine, and preserves the original concept. The trem unit's roller bearings were totally dry, so it barely functioned at all: like driving a car with four flat tires. I removed the silver sparkle plastic caps from each end of the string bar, packed the bearings with white lithium grease, and replaced the caps. After that, the trem functioned as smoothly as any Bigsby I've ever played; I even put a Bigsby arm (from Allparts) on that fit perfectly. Finding the right size spring has proven to be more difficult.

The biggest challenge to making any Jolana with this particular bridge play well is fixing the damn bridge. Trying to set accurate intonation using the original slotted set-screws is an exercise in futility. The solution I came up with was to replace each of the original set-screws with two shorter 4 mm set-screws that "pinch" a 1.5 mm square x 10 mm piece of steel between them (in any position). These steel saddles have angled tops and rest on the bottom of the string slots in the bridge casting, allowing perfect intonation. It's a pretty neat trick that doesn't compromise the originality of the bridge casting at all. I also replace the original goofy bridge posts with two 5 mm machine screws that fit snuggly into the original bridge base without wobbling. At least that's how I fixed the bridge. There are probably other ways.

I still want to make a more accurate pickguard and switch plate, but at least the guitar is fully functional now. It plays and sounds great! Does that mean it's not cheesy anymore?

This wonderfull article is written by Jamie Chivers -

Guitartech Jamie Chivers,
Over 30 years of quality repair experience
Kettle Falls, WA
Monday - Friday
10am - 6pm
Set Up * Wiring * Refrets * Customizing

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