An Iceman restoration…

Brendan sent me this guitar quite some time ago and I’ve only just now been able to make a start on it.

It would seem that the Ibanez IC210 is a bit iconic in that the guitar- well one like it it- was used by Steve Miller to record a number of his big hits back in the 70s.

And it also seems that there weren’t that many produced. Supposedly, only 68 were made in 1978, 47 made in 1979 and then the Iceman in this form was discontinued.

This guitar, one of the 68 made in 1978, however has seen better days and Brendan wants me to make a new body to replace the existing one which has been stripped of its binding and is a bit out of shape.

He’s already had the triple coil pickup remade by Lindy Fralin but the rest of the hardware is all good.

Interestingly, the body is made up of several pieces of wood glued together horizontally with just a thin cap- only a couple of millimetres- of better quality American mahogany.

I’m going to make the new body solid mahogany, though.

I decided that I’d remove the neck from the body rather than cut the body away from the neck and that’s proved to be a bit of a challenge. I thought that perhaps I could heat the neck out but no, the glue was resistant to just being warmed up and I’ve had to resort to steam and the neck press.

Steam injected into the neck joint comes out all around the neck…

…but the neck won’t budge.

The next option is to remove the fret board…

…and now I can clearly see where the edges of the neck pocket are and I can direct steam into the small holes drilled around the neck.

When the screw is tightened against the heel of the neck…

…out comes the neck.

The replacement body is glued up…

…and when dry, it’s roughly cut to shape and thicknessed to match the old body’s original thickness of 38mm.

The neck tenon is not symmetrical and now that the neck has been removed, I can see how it needs to work…

…and on the new body blank, I can mark out the neck pocket and then rout it out by hand.

So far, so good…

Before the neck is glued into the as yet-to-be-made mahogany body, the fret board needs to be reglued in place, and the fairly ordinary looking original binding is to be replaced.

The binding wasn’t difficult to remove but before the new binding is done, the fret board needs to be reglued in place because the binding doesn’t finish level with the fret board edge, but rather sits a millimetre or so lower.

So to replace the fret board in its right position, I’ve done this…

…I’ve temporarily glued some pieces of binding to allow correct alignment. And then I’ve done this…

and drilled corresponding holes in the underside of the board so that no movement can happen as the fret board is glued back onto the neck.

When the glue is dried, the “spacers” are peeled off, the binding channels cleaned and the new binding glued in place.

And again, when the glue’s dried, the tape and clamps are removed.

The binding has been left a little oversize because of what has to be done next…

The back guitar is a Gibson 335 and this is the usual treatment given to Gibson’s bound fretboards- a “nib” covers the ends of the frets. I’m not sure that it actually serves any purpose other than it looks a bit cool but that’s how the Iceman’s fretboard is done too, so that’s what I’ve got to replicate.

Now the completed- almost- neck can be checked for how it sits into the new body.

Looks promising. Next, I have to determine the rout for the pickup and the placement of the bridge and tail piece.

The bridge on the Iceman is a very substantial item…

as is the three coil pickup.

Perhaps the place to start is to remake the tortoise shell pickup surround which has fallen apart .

It is made from two thicknesses of tortoise shell scratch plate material and I’ve managed to source some of the right plastic from StewMac…

Because this project is very much a one-off, there’s no point in making up jigs for pickup surrounds or routs, so each of these I’ll do by hand…

And the top arching can now be done.

Next- the binding…

The binding on the Iceman isn’t something that can be bought in and consequently, I’ve had to make the binding by laminating together three lengths of individual pieces of the appropriate thickness.

With the binding made, the binding channel is cut.

And the next complication- because the binding is made up of three separate pieces of binding, the binding isn’t as compliant as one would like and therefore has to be done in sections and has to be pre-bent around those extreme bends.

There’s two mitre joints to do= the point at the back and the lower horn…

…and when the acetate cement is dry, the binding is levelled.

I don’t have any reference for the rounding of the back edges but I’ve decided to do this and it looks right…

The wiring hole is now drilled between the pickup cavity and the control cavity and the earth wire hole between the tail piece hole and the control cavity.

And then- the neck can be glued in.

It’s starting to look like an Iceman again.

Time to start painting and first the “new” Iceman is sanded appropriately…

…and then sanding sealer is applied and rubbed back until all timber pores are filled and the surface is level.

Then the colour is applied.

There is considerable variation in the colours that were used on the IC210s and they seem to have varied from really pale to quite dark but I’m opting for a “mahogany sunburst” and hoping that that’s what will appeal to Brendan…

And when I’m satisfied with the new colour and the binding has been “aged” so that it looks as though it’s been there since 1978, the guitar is given several clear coats and allowed to harden for a few days.

And then the Iceman is rubbed back until the new paint is “matted”…

…and then it’s buffed to the final finish.

While taking a break, I noticed that the truss rod cover had a split in it and I repaired it using superglue and then repolished it…

Now to start on the re-assembly.

The neck binding is given some attention because I need the new white binding to look as though it’s meant to be 36 years old…

Looks convincing but it will be cleaned up a bit…and the body binding looks as though it’s been there since the late Seventies as well.

Now, before I tackle what will be an interesting wiring job, the control cavity and pickup cavity is shielded. (The wire is the earth wire from the bridge)…

The Iceman uses a rotary switch to select which part of the pickup is operating and wiring information is non-existent, but with some assistance from David of SWD fame, I think that it’s sorted…

With all controls installed, the Iceman is all but done.

I’ve fitted a new set of strings and plugged the guitar into an amp.

However, because the fret board has been removed and replaced, the neck needs to be adjusted and the frets need to be re-levelled and repolished.

The strings are re-installed and the guitar is again test played.

And this time, everything is good!