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Reverse headstock Stratocaster

I’m putting together a Stratocaster for a friend. It’s to match a Telecaster he has so will be painted in a creamy colour. This is the look we are going to achieve:

20289_69_Stratocaster_Heavy_Relic_Aged_Vintage_White_R76559_a

The body, as is usual, is from Guitarbuild and it’s a beauty. Made from alder, it arrived really well sanded so virtually no preparation was required before I could start painting.

Alder-strat-in-box Alder-strat-on-box

Spraying the sanding sealer

No grain filling is required with alder so the first step is always to seal the wood. This is essential to give a smooth base for following layers. Here is the body attached to my trusty painting stick. This is 1″ square section tube with two tapped holes to accept M4 machine screws.

Ready-for-painting

It’s important to get lots of sealer onto the body, especially as alder tends to soak it up.

Applying-the-sanding-sealer

I applied two or three heavy coats, concentrating especially on the end and inside the cutaways as the end grain soaks up more sealer. You can see how wet it is here.

Sanding-sealer-nice-and-wet

You’ll find that the sanding sealer raises the grain slightly. This isn’t a problem as we are going to sand back.

Raising-the-grain

Once the sealer has dried, preferably overnight but a few hours in warm conditions is fine, it can be sanded flat. Use a sandpaper over block on the flat faces and sandpaper held in cupped fingers for the rounded areas such as the sides and corners. You can see how easily the sealer sands, giving a white dusty residue.

Block-sanding-the-sealer

Wipe the dust off using a tack cloth or blow it clean with an air line. Any shiny spots are dips (I had none) and any whiter areas are where you’ve sanded through to the wood. Sand again if necessary until no shiny spots remain.

Rub-through-is-okay

Once everything is flat you can spray another coat of sanding sealer and repeat the process. Spray less heavily now as you just want an even coat for the next step. One more coat is all it took to have this body looking nice and smooth.

Second-coat-of-sealer-is-perfect

Spraying the primer coat

Once the primer is on is when you notice any imperfections masked by the grain. I’m happy to report that there were none.

Starting to Spray the Primer Coats

Here I’m starting to spray the primer, making sure I get good coverage on the edges and in the cutaways.

First Coat of Primer Sprayed

First coat of primer is on but I can still see a bit of grain though it.

Second and Last Coat of Primer Sprayed

After the second coat it’s looking nice and opaque so time for the colour coats!

Colour and Clear coats

Colour and clear sprayed

Here’s the body with the colour and clear coats sprayed. Sorry there are no pictures of the process.

You can see from the reflections that the surface is a little uneven and needs to be flat sanded.

Assembled guitar

Well the guy whose guitar this is wanted it assembled quickly for a video shoot so I didn’t get time to distress it.

RHS-body

He’s going to bring it back soon and we’ll give it the treatment!

Post Script

Powell Morgan never did bring it back to be distressed. He still owes me £300 for the build and also took my Fender gig bag. That was over a year ago now. If you are reading Powell, can I have what’s owed please?

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