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The Futurama II Deluxe

My first attempt at getting this model into some sort of desirable state...

Not the most complex transformation, but a lesson that there is always hope! You may have seen (and read) the story of this purchase, a rather crestfallen slump came over my anticipation as I opened the cardboard and egg-boxes that held the thing more or less in one or two pieces on arrival. It was at that point that one of the pu's shed a large section of plastic (which thankfully I kept), the other pu was definitely missing some plastic already. I plugged it in, and plucked the single string that purported to qualify this as being a stringed instrument!

It made a sound!

 

All was not lost, and so the search took place for some replacement pu's. This was not so easy, as these versions of the familiar black rounded single coils are different to the adjustable ones that come mounted on a metal plate. The ones here were simply glued into place by a lipped edge that protrudes around the top edge of a similar topped pu. This changed to the more common style within a year or so, maybe used intermittently on batches, and if you look closely at many examples elsewhere you'll see the adjustment screws either side of the pu's denoting the standard pu's being fitted to a modified facia.

Having confirmed some replacement NOS pu's had been found, despite the detailed description, the standard ones (referred to above, and pictured left) arrived in the post. They do not have the lipped edge, and I didn't fancy trying to disassemble them.

With the casing supplied they simply do not fit the facia, so undaunted, I considered what needed to be done with the originals.

One could be re-glued using the amazing high power cyano' glue "ROCKET Hot" (do not - repeat -  DO NOT get this stuff on anything apart from the joint you are making!!!) it sets between 1-5 seconds and that's it.

So one of these babies looks the business again, and set for another 40 yrs, the other still looks like it's done 40 yrs service in war-torn territories. Move On, we're cooking now!

Oh I forgot to tell you. The headstock looked as if it had been painted over. There was the faint trace of the logo Futurama Deluxe II to be seen in the right light...

But then when I opened up the guitar and removed the lucite front face, there inside stuck to the reflective foil was the original headstock sticker... WOW things are looking up!

A scalpel, and about twenty minutes provided me with a good condition headstock decal - better protected than if it had been where it was supposed to be!

So, lets take a look at the neck now. It's a bit grubby, but perfectly straight of course, and there isn't much wear considering what the overall condition looked like!

Maybe it had been custom strung for one string early on (Ha Ha).

 

I assume the pearloid inlays rather than black dots denoted Deluxe, but hey I'm supposed to know, not ask you say...  (LOL). Mind you this was a UK branding for Selmer.

Although they did get re-exported to the USA in small numbers, the variety of versions the PB-24-G model appeared as, and the minor changes of specs and names would leave a Cray computer confused at times - let alone the Hagstrom Blue book that lists this one as a Kent!

C'mon Dave lets get serious again here, there are people trying to see some good info...

OK, lets get a quick win and put that decal back on where it should be.

Now that's satisfying, applying some heat and a fair amount of thumb power nearly all the air bubbles disappeared without the need for any additional adhesive, we have a very respectable headstock again.

So back to the body and what can we do with that then?

The vinyl itself is not too bad. There are only two places where it has shrunk back to expose the wood underneath, yes in the two cutaways.

 

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Here's where a combination of heat (standard heat gun) some "all purpose" glue - perfect for vinyl on wood - and that special touch or should I say massage that I remember fondly using on other bodies in my dim and distant past...

There was spare vinyl tucked away under the body lipped edge in some places, so in the curves of the upper and lower bouts I cut some spare material to simply glue into the two tiny areas that would not fully stretch back.

I added more foil to the places where it had pulled away, and put this part aside for now. The wood was all in good condition, there were no splits or gouges to make me concerned about overall integrity once the unit was put back together.

In fact this was becoming a suitable result for the purpose, and the guitar was fairly easily turning into something I'd look forward to playing!

Next up an inspection of the electrics.

I mentioned earlier that when I first got this sorry example I plugged it in, and it made a sound. Well that must have been a fluke, as there was a loose connection on the jack socket. A simple solder joint which even I could tackle with with what was fast becoming a sense of confidence and pride in my achievements so far.

The switches were all functioning, and a bit of Rocket WD40 made them slide like a precision ice-skater clicking in and out of a simple routine. Italian switches and Italian volume pot... hmmm. I wonder now... what are those 'copy another model Maranello guitars' touted around today made using? I wonder if the whole forty-odd-year-old assembly was originally made in...  no, no, don't go there Dave!!! One thing is for certain, these materials harp back to the older days of Hagstrom accordion manufacture, which was also big business in other European countries...

Now to check the integrity of the lucite panel itself. There are a couple of stress cracks, but nothing that moves or would disintegrate in normal use - if we ever get that far... There were spots of clear view straight through the panel itself, which although grey inside, is clearly bright red on the outside.

Quite intriguing they put a second coat inside, but on reflection the bright red could make anyone dizzy when making those solder joints up close, after a night of calling “skål!”.

So a neutral grey was probably a democratic decision for the benefit of the electricians' eyes, as it isn't a hard coating and a scratch will go straight through both layers with ease.

My remedy for this was my son's Humbrol model paint, Ferrari red of course. A few dabs in enough thickness on the reverse and the front looked perfect again. There is quite a good effect from the lucite material, it makes a deep sheen on the colours below. It set the standard for the depth of finish found on later models made in a much more labour intensive, and frankly more professional way!

But these are fun and pretty good players when set up correctly, so it still qualifies, and should not be taken as anything less than a real guitar.

So all that remained was to put our Futurama II Deluxe back together, and fit it with some (not very expensive) 10's. All the chrome fitted back well, the facia itself went back nice and snug although one screw collar is missing. I'll find one of those hopefully soon...

All looked very promising still until I screwed the neck back on the body. The two screws went in tight. Nice!  But then it happened. The single bolt nearest the edge, used to make basic adjustment just turned... and turned.

I looked again, and there was definitely a nut buried deep inside the neck, but clearly it had become stripped. I managed to get a faint tightness from it, so carried on. Luck was on my side after all...

Then came the stringing. Yep it was all going to plan, the threading on the early version of the tremolo unit is nothing less than bl@@@y awkward, (I'm glad that was revised for later models too), but we did get six strings in place. I did not tighten it up too much, and pulled it gradually towards being in tune. But then we quickly had to back off, as the superb action was not what I remembered. Yes that all important bolt was doing nothing at all. So leaving the strings loose, I took a photo for you. Not for eBay, just for you.

I will need to sort out that bolt/nut issue before tuning up or plugging in again (shame), or before I dream of accepting an offer for it one day... maybe. Too flippin' honest that's the problem Ha Ha...

I'll keep you posted, Looks quite nice now though...

So remember to ask lots of questions when you see eBay pictures that "Look quite nice"
 - also if the seller "knows nothing about guitars"
 - or "is selling for a friends mothers uncle twice removed"

I hasten to add that was not the case here, but think on!

 


Before you go, Rob from HagstromCanada added
the perfect footnote in an email further down the page...

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My thanks go to:
Black and Decker - Hot air Gun
Rocket Hot Cyano glue - Respect!
Loctite All Purpose glue (ah the competition made them diversify backwards eh?)
Humbrol - model paint
WD40 - the "KY" of engineering bliss
Half a dozen toothpicks
an old scalpel, and an even older soldering iron.

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Subject: Re: The latest on the Red Futurama
Hi! That is a great page ... fancy finding a NOS decal in the guitar .... maybe it was an option for the importer or ?????

It is going to be a very cool guitar for sure ... I could see the old logo in the photo:
but I'm used to restorations .....,

but did you notice when you hold it up to a mirror and stand on your head,
 I think it is says "George Harrison". ... no? can't see it?

Well, never mind ..... Cheers! Rob

I'm relieved that neither of us take the poverty caused through guitar collecting too seriously!

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There's nothing like a REAL original Swedish made Hagstrom (and there are loads around), but if it 'floats your boat', or you can't find an original then who are we to say?

Plenty has been said already and
will be said forever forward probably.
Only you know what's right for you!