The Body

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Guys, wood is wood, and as I stated in the diatribe about necks, it doesn’t matter what wood you choose, a Strat is still going to sound Strat-like and a Tele will always sound like the Telecaster. Harrison’s Rosewood Tele sounded like a Tele, and in ’62 and ’63, Leo introduced Mahogany bodied Teles, Strats and a few other models. Nobody ever screams, “That’s a Mahogany Strat, I can hear it.” Nope, it still sounds like a Strat. Therefore my recommendation is if it ain’t broke. . . well you know the rest. An Ash, Alder or Mahogany Strat or Tele produce the most duplicated and sought after sounds in the world of electric guitars, so why redesign success. While Mahogany will sound slightly different than Ash, and Ash sounds slightly different than Alder, the differences are so subtle as to be inconsequential. Each style guitar will retain its characteristic sound.

That said, to play at your best you have to placate your subconscious, thus if you think Pink Spotted Worm filled wonder wood will give you the best tone, I strongly urge you to go with it. However I ask you to consider the previous paragraph again.

You can use a very ugly knot filled piece of whatever, or a beautifully figured hunk of something else and not much is going to change except the price. So since it really comes down to parts and quality of construction, let’s continue exploring my typical guitar.

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Unless you specify something different, all my bodies are hand shaped by me about like they did in the 50’s. Pin routers, templates, sweat and sawdust is how they were made then and how I make them now. No computer controlled anything gets close to my bodies. The shape is made from templates I made from original vintage Strats or Teles as I had the opportunity to do so, so no guess work here.

Once shaped and sanded, if a transparent finish has been ordered, the wood is dyed with aniline dyes, thus the wood becomes the correct color. The color isn’t laying on top of the wood, the wood itself assumes the color. It is then locked in with a nitrocellulose sealer. A light sanding begins the lacquering process. Multiple coats are applied. 

Many get antsy when they see the term “Multiple Coats”. This is because many subscribe to the notion that only thin coats of a finish can produce the most desirable “tone”. A coat of nitrocellulose lacquer is much thinner than other finishes used on guitars such as poly urethanes. Also, during the lacquering process, 10 coats may be applied, but then 9 will be wet sanded back off, thus a 100 coat lacquer finish, typical for my guitars, will have a finish thinner than the poly finishes used on most custom production guitars made today.

So after spraying, waiting, spraying and waiting, the body is set aside for about a month to harden fully. It is now that the various recesses are cut for the hardware, the Neck plate on both the Strat and Tele, and the Back Tremolo cover and Jack plate on the Strat. They must be hand cut for each piece since there are slight variations in size during the manufacturing process. The recesses are stained and a coat of sealer is applied, then after a final wet sanding it is polished to a superb finish. I will give it a light hand buffing to give it that New Old Stock appearance. Then it’s on to the electronics treatment.