This is an Ash bodied parts o' castemade from the leftover parts from the D.I.Y telecaster project (which turned out to be nearly all of them)  and a spare Ash body I had lying around. It also features a built in amp and speaker which is just a basic Smokey style 386 chip amp with Hi/Lo gain switch, and a 56mm paper speaker housed under the scratch plate. Made it with a CBS style big Strat headstock and an asymmetrical neck profile. The Paint is a black & white 2 tone checkerboard Sunburst with flaming skull on back.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Prep [][][] 

 

The body I am using is one of a set of 3 Ash Tele bodies I got cheap on eBay. They seemed like a massive bargain at the time until I came to use them and realised 2 out of the 3 had slightly wonky neck pocket and cavity routing rendering them pretty much fucking useless. They were all pre-panted which, even if you plan on changing the colour, saves a massive amount of time grain filling and prepping the body. Wide grain woods like ash take a lot of prep work (grain filler, sealer, primer) just to get them to the point you can spray actual paint on them so if you don't have a lot of patience and time or you are just a bit cack handed, by a pre painted body it will save you a lot of misery, and probably quite a lot of time and money.

   

The body is drilled for 'string through body' Ferrule holes, but the bridge I am using isn't set up for that so first thing to do is fill the holes with wood filler. Don't believe all the rubbish about "sting through" guitars having better sustain and tone, it's mostly bollox. Les Paul's aren't string through and we all know how they sustain. One thing it really does effect though is string tension. A guitar where the strings terminate at the bridge will have noticeably less tension, and feel much spongier than one where the strings pass through the body so it all comes own to personal taste. 

This guitar is getting and amp and speaker built into it so before I finish prepping the body for paint, I need to route a space for the circuit board, battery and speaker to fit under the scratch plate. Never used a router before so this should be fun. 

   

So... as you can see, here is my perfectly routed hole which contains absolutely no fuck ups what so ever and definitely wont require copious amounts of filler just to get everything level and paintable. Let this be a lesson to everyone that you really don't need to waste anytime making router templates or practising your technique before making a giant hole in an expensive piece of wood.  

If you have got a decent ready painted body with no chips or scratches in, all you really need to do is rub it all down with 800 grit until all the shine is gone. Hold it up to the light to check. If you can still see some shine or reflection between the sanding scratches, you need to keep at at. Take your time with this because an extra half hour spent here, will save you hours later on when the paint starts falling off as you remove the masking tape because there wasn't enough of a "key" for the paint to adhere to. If you do have any chips or dings, you're gonna need to break out the car body filler to fill the holes and the use primer over the patched up bits. 

 

  

 

 

 

 

  

Neck re-profile [][][] 

Normally I am not a big fan of chunky neck profiles. I am only short and as such don't have particularly big hands (they are normal for my size ... I haven't got a child's hands or anything ... alright)  so have always preferred a skinnier neck profile ... or so I thought. That was until I tried my friends Strat which has a V profile neck which I totally fell in love with. It's skinny enough on the edges that I can get my thumb over the top to play the bass notes on Jimi Hendrix Chords, or widdle away on the high notes like it was a wizard II but without getting cramp trying fret a an F bar Chord. It was a bit of a revelation. 

   

Anyway this got me thinking and reading about different neck profiles which led me to the idea of the asymmetrical neck profile as apparently favoured by SRV and EVH. The principle is really simple, get a chunky neck and make the treble side thinner so the fattest part of the neck is no longer down the centre line,  giving you the best of both worlds. Enough chunk for lazy 'Thumb over the top' blues playing and yet thin enough to get you thump behind the neck for some impossible 'Dimebag Stretches'..... SOLD ... to the fat man in the corner with the small hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filler Primer [][][]  

If you are not a pleb like me, you really don't need to use primer on a guitar that is painted already(unless its either really scratched, or a really bright colour that will take a lot of covering). As stated above, all you really need do is give it a rub down with 800 grit. If you have used filler, you really need to cover those area with "Filler Primer" and rub em flat other wise the texture of the filler will show through the paint. I went a little bit overboard and ended up priming most of the guitar which in this case, was probably the right thing to do given that I am spraying a white base coat over a brown sunburst. What I could have saved in primer, I would have spent on the white base to get a good even coverage. As with an un primed body, this all needs knocking back with 800 grit to get a nice smooth finish.

   

 

 

 


 

 

 

Base Coat [][][]

I have got a load of spray equipment but setting up and cleaning spray gear can be a fucking nightmare, particularly if you are doing it at home. For stuff like this... i.e a flat base coat in a standard, boring colour. You are probably much better off using Spray cans. Provided you take your time, and don't load too much paint on at once, there is absolutely no reason at all you cant get a really professional finish with rattle cans. Spray the coats on light, don't get too close with the can nozzle (or you will get runs). Give it plenty of time to dry in between coats (preferably over night) and give it a rub down with a fine sanding sponge  to de-nib the surface before you start the next layer. When it's all done, sand it all back with 800 grit until it's smooth like the bonnet of a porsche.

   

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint mask [][][]

   

Next step is to mask off the checks for the 2 tone pattern. I have seen people do this with tape before, but I haven't got the time or the temperament to be fucking about with masking tape and a craft knife for 3 days just to get a checkerboard. Luckily I have a little Cutting machine designed for menopausal women to make greetings cards which also cuts paint mask film like a fucking champ.... (as long as you don't need anything more than 20cm wide)

Cutting and applying paint mask works exactly the same as Vinyl decals. The design is cut into a sheet of sticky back vinyl on a wax paper backing. The cutting machine is set up so it only cuts deep enough to cut the Vinyl, but not the the paper backing (getting the blade set up to do this is an art in itself). Once the design is cut, it needs to be weeded to remove the unwanted bits of vinyl. To apply the design we need to get the floating bits of vinyl of the backing paper, without them moving around or distorting. In order to do this we use application tape which is a like a giant roll of low tack masking tape. The application tape is laid over the the top of the cut vinyl sheet and rubbed down to get it to stick. You should then be able to peel the tape off, liberating the vinyl from it's wax paper backing. To apply it, you just need to stick it to whatever you are painting and then peel off the application tape, leaving the vinyl stuck to the object... in theory anyways. In practice it's often a little bit more fiddley than I just described.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2Tone Sunburst [][][] 

Once you've got the paint mask on right, actually painting it should be a piece of piss. Just spray it black and once the paints dry, peel all the mask off ... Voila .... 2 tone chequerboard. Now we just need to paint the sides. You are going to need an airbrush for this, even if it's just a dirt cheap one. Spray cans don't create a fine enough mist to do a decent sunburst.  For a traditional  sunburst you would normally use 2 or 3 transparent colours which fade into opaque black or brown around the edge.  For this however, the the Sunburst is much simpler, Just one colour that fades out to nothing fairly quickly. When I came to spray it, I didn't have any transparent black, so I just used watered down opaque black. Using transparent black would give you a smoother, less granular fade, but I think in this instance the opaque black worked out just fine as the I wanted the burst to be fairly abrupt and confined to the edges.  

 Start by spraying the sides, as they are going to be completely black and slowly build up the fade around the edge of the body. Take it slow and try not to throw too much paint on in one go. Focus on following the outline of the body and let the overspray take care of the burst effect.

If you want a more traditional graduated sunburst, when you get to this stage just go over the whole thing again with transparent black, gradually fading it in to the centre of the guitar. Either way, when that's done, it's time for lacquer. I am going to be spraying a design on the back of this so even though I haven't done painting yet, I am going to lacquer it anyway to seal the waterbased airbrush paint I am using. You don't have to do this, but there is a good chance some of the paint could lift while masking off design that is going over the top. Think of it as creating a save file for your project. If you fuck up the next bit, you can just rub it off without affecting the paint beneath the lacquer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flaming Skull[][][] 

The hardest part of spraying the skull on the back is designing the image and creating the layered paint mask template to run through the cutting. Actually painting the image is a fucking doddle. It just needs building up in layers. Fist spray the white silhouette which makes up the base of the entire image. Next to go on is the black outline (below left), and last mask up and spray the orange sections (below middle). Now if you like a clean look (which I normally do), you can leave it there. If you want to make it pop and show off your airbrush skills, now's the time to add some shading and  shadows. I actually went a bit too far when I was doing this and the whole thing ended up a lot darker than I really would have liked ... so take note, when it comes to shading and shadows, a little goes a long way and sometimes things look a lot darker than they appear once the paint mask is removed.

      

      

 


 

 

 


 

 

Etched Scratchplate[][][] 


While cutting the speaker hole, I had the idea of trying to create a ghosted image on the scratchplate, something subtle that you could only see from certain angles. All I did to get this effect was to sand the the face of the scratch plate until it was completely matt. Don't use heavy grit sand paper, 800-1000 grit should do. Then mask off the design with paint mask or tape and spray the whole link with lacquer. 

   

    


 

 

 

 


 

Amp circuit [][][]    

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished Guitar [][][] 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Fin]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TwoTone Telecaster [][][]