Monthly Archives: September 2015

Oops #97 or so

I’m not sure if I’ve shown this body yet, I’ve been curing it a very long time, getting it really dark. Half this dark is normal oxidation, to be honest, but the other half was mainly from testing the Universal UV. I put thin coat on, but it was lumpy (I am a rookie), but in sanding, I got too aggressive and bit way into the guitar, passed the aged section. This kind of ruins the whole prefect aging thing I had planned. (click on the photo for a much better closeup)


I did learn a lesson though. Aging, whether it is from the natural sun or UV lights, is still only skin deep and easy to ruin a finish if you get in too big of a rush. Thankfully, I learned this on a pine body Tele that I got cheap. If I had done this on a $500 Warmoth custom body, I would be crying in my beer right now, because all I could do is strip and sand and start over, which isn’t easy with wood darkening because it does penetrate deeper than regular finish.

I have a couple of different pickguards to mask it after I age some of that back in, or and I can just consider it a relic piece, so again, no biggie for me. Your project is probably a lot nicer than a $50 pine body bought off eBay, however, so be careful! It was amazingly easy to make this mistake, at least for me.


Curing through an existing finish

As you know, I’m working on my own version of the 1964 Fender Telecaster, and have baked the body to a golden brown thanks to the SG-1-40 lamps. When I got the new neck in, I loved everything about it, except it looks too new. The problem is, it already has a thin finish on on, and I’m really not up to stripping it down because the neck feels great like it is. I know from experience that thick finishes are really difficult to age through, but was hopeful this thin finish would be easy. And it seems it is. I’ve aged the back of this neck about 20 hours at low power with the Solacure SG-1-40 lamps, then pealed back the sticker that covers the burned in logo you can see what a difference it makes.


Suffice it to say, this is very doable for anyone. The neck doesn’t have a gloss finish, just a base finish, so remember that a gloss finish will take a lot longer. I’ve got less than a day invested and getting this kind of result, so I expect to put 4 or 5 days into both sides, just to knock the frosty white off of it so it will match the swamp ash body.

I’m funny about necks, I don’t care for super white or “too new” looking, but I’m also lazy enough to find the easiest way, and I’m pretty sure this is it. I would imagine the Universal UV lamps would accomplish similar results, although not quite as fast. Anyway, I literally just left the studio and wanted to share this.

UV aging a guitar neck
(Note that I do not usually put the rig on it’s side, but it was already like that for another project, so I decided to test it that way. After a day, I put it back level with the table. Easier that way.)


The 1964 Telecaster sticks its neck out

neckFirst things first, under no circumstances have I been paid by or discounted by Atlantic Custom Guitars, but I wanted to give credit where it is due. I’ve been debating back and forth, about using a Fender Mexican Tele neck. They are good necks, but the nut is slightly narrower than the US guitars, so I did some research about necks, and glad I did. This is how I found Atlantic. He’s been doing this forever, getting out of building custom guitars but still selling parts. But not before he upgrades them.

You can buy basic necks for $100 to $150 (cheaper if you don’t mind Chinese boomerangs) but for less than $150, I got a neck that had the frets leveled and polished, and was ready to go. It already looks perfectly straight, or will with just a little string tension. Edges polished, everything. It is a WD neck, American, and has the 1 11/16ths nut width. He even installed a nice nut and cut it down a bit, although I will have to trim it down just a hair after it is installed, that is pretty standard.

Clicking the photo gives you a high res, I just have it setting there, no staging, but I think the rosewood will look better than maple for this project. Thanks again to James, who delivered one hell of a neck at one hell of a value. I hope you keep selling necks and parts for many years to come, friend.


Sealed up tighter than a drum


Finally got the 1964 Telecaster sealed. In my defense, it has been a crazy year. Used the Solarez wood sealer, which ended up being a big easier than I thought. I kind of did it the wrong way (as usual) by applying with a lint free cloth as thin as I could get it, but it worked like a charm. Used two layers per the instructions by Gary, although one was almost enough by itself. Thick stuff, I didn’t heat it, and literally put in on with a lint free cloth. I don’t recommend you do this method, but I always do it the wrong way for testing.

If you remember from the posts before, this particular piece of wood started out white as a ghost. After a number of days of aging, plus sealing, now it has a beautiful, warm glow to it. Looks worn in yet never played, and I’ve still yet to put on the actual finish, which should gloss it up nicely. I expect to use a very thin couple of coats, I don’t mind if this one ages with some wear and tear, like you would expect from nitrocellulose, although this finish is so hard, it probably would take years to get it to thin. For both the aging and the curing, I used the SG-1-40 (SG4) 4 foot lamps. They worked flawlessly, and I’m quite happy with the result. Cure times for each thin coat was under 10 minutes, and that was using a really ancient rig and old lamps.

Click on the picture for a very large closeup. The flaws still show, which is fine. We are aiming for a raw but finished look, not something that looks stamped out of a factory. I think we will achieve it with this combination. I bought yet another neck, and will post something on it soon.

You might notice the lack of sealer in the pickup cavities, I just gave it a swipe. This is because they will be sealed off with copper foil anyway, no need to make the hidden parts pretty. It also shows the difference between sealed and not sealed, as the sealer is part of why it takes on a golden hue (I swear I did this on purpose, particularly in the neck slot). I’m good about shielding the entire guitar, and this one will be tricky due to the parts that I’m planning on using. All this has nothing to do with UV curing, but it is still part of the job, and a pretty guitar that squeals is useless. I’m a complete idiot when it comes to finishing, but I do know how to shield a guitar against all but military radar 😉