Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lamp life

I finally had to change out a set of lamps in my primary rig, which uses the 4 foot long, Solacure SG-1-40. Most of the time, I run it at 32 watts, but also run it at 60w at times, and I choke the air flow, so it is a bit rough on the lamps. I rate the SG-1-40 lamps at 1600 hours at 40-50w, but I managed to get 2200 hours out of them this time. Keep in mind, I don’t cycle the lamps on and off a lot, which is what kills lamp life. Instead they run for days or weeks at a time, which is what builds up a lot of heat.

Your mileage will vary of course, but this just further demonstrates that you should get a minimum of what rate the lamps at, and how cost effective they are.

Dennis Brown

Daphne Blue Cabronita

I had planned a beautiful spalted maple over cherry wood project, but there was an accident with the luthier, ruining the wood, so I had to go to Plan B. For this plan, I’m going kind of cheap, for a fun little project; a home made Cabronita Telecaster.

daph7I start with an XGP body from Guitar Fetish, which put me back about $85 cheap, shipping and all. It is a Telecaster style body, Daphne blue, dual humbucker. This is supposed to be one of their better bodies. Got it in, there are a couple of minor flaws, but all and all it is a pretty solid body with good cuts. The goal is to lightly sand it down and put a medium layer of nitrocellulose over the stock polyurethane finish. This is tricky, as some poly finishes will curl up and off

Next, I take a neck I bought some time back for almost $34, shipping and all, of eBay, from China. Actually, it isn’t a bad neck, although it doesn’t compare to a good US, Japanese or Mexican made neck. Here it is before we started, click for a better view:

I aged it down for around 3 days, and it looks a lot better, warmer, darker and more expensive. This was just using a low power rig, 6x 32w lamps, SG-1-40s with a lot of hours on them. Aging necks and the like is easy stuff. The thicker the finish, the slower it will age, and finishes that have the antique vintage tinting to them will likely take a very long time since the tinting obscures the UV. Personally, I hate fake tinting. It is just too easy to age it with real light.

daph5 daph6

Next, I decided to use some Gretsch pickups. Gretsch Blacktop FilterTron G5400, to be exact, the same used in the Tim Armstrong signature guitars. These are actually quite nice, and I found a great deal on them, $65 shipping and all, so I couldn’t argue. They give the guitar a twisted Cabronita sound and look. The rest of the hardware I will figure out later, I have plenty of parts in the spare parts bin for a bridge and the like.


Started putting the nitrocellulose over the urethane finish on the blue Telecaster, and there was NO curling up of the finish. That is a problem with some finishes, but I had it on good authority that I could maybe get away with it on urethane. This means that coating the necks shouldn’t be a problem either, as they always have a urethane finish. Once dried, I will try to finish check the nitro, to make it look like an old Daphne blue guitar, to age the top coat. I have to add the nitro to do this, urethane won’t age, it will just fade a bit.

Next, I will do the same with the neck, which had a light sealer or coat of urethane on it, but I want it aged before I put the nitrocellulose clear coat on. I’m thinking this will make a really interesting cheap guitar. Not sure if I will keep it or set it at cost of parts and finish materials when I’m done. I already have a couple of Cabronitas, but this has the promise of being something really unique, yet really inexpensive. Something that is worth more complete than the parts would have you believe.



A lot of people still pine for the days of nitrocellulose finishes on guitars, swearing they sound better and look better. In fact, nitrocellulose was only one kind of finish they used on 50s/60s Fenders, the other was acrylic lacquor, which is more colorfast. Some colors only came in acrylic (like Lake Placid Blue) while others only came in nitro (like Sonic Blue). They were using car paint on guitars, after all, so they ordered what was available because it was cheapest, and Leo was notoriously frugal. Acrylic is actually a better product as it resists fading, cracking and chipping, but that is exactly the opposite of what everyone wants, it seems.

Everyone wants a guitar that will soon like it is 40 years old, even dipping parts in acid to age them. Even our lamps are designed to speed up time. Just about any of our lamps will work to age a nitro finish, although the SG series are the fastest. We are going to be doing some detailed finish tests in the months to come, so stick around. We will always publish the details in the “how to” section of the main website as well, which is probably easier to search.

Those of you relic’ing guitars or just aging them down really do need to take a look. We’ve been testing and working with this for over a decade and have a pretty good idea of what can be done. See our Projects page for actual photos and examples. Wood doesn’t lie.

I’m going to test using some Deft nitrocellulose lacquer, and I’m going to take my personal 2005 US built Fender Precision Bass with factory nitro finish (Highway One model) and subject it to thousands of watt hours of ultraviolet to see if we can induce some aging, fading, cracking, or whatever else happens. I can’t think of a better way to show trust in my lamps than putting my main bass guitar through the gauntlet. It has a small ding or two plus some yellowing of the pickguard, but it has never been through what I have planned. Be sure to bookmark the Projects page (linked above) and check back.