Jay Scott Guitar

Private guitar and bass lessons, jam camps, guitar building and repairs in West Chester, PA

A Mahogany Tele With Humbuckers, Part 1

Mahogany Tele frontMahogany Tele back
This body is a single piece of African mahogany, and weighs a bit over four pounds. As you can see, it has belly and arm cuts similar to a Strat’s, and is routed for two humbuckers. I got it from Larry Robinson at Clearfork Designs.

Finishing this thing really made me step up my game. I like to use Tru-Oil on my guitars, because it looks amazing, and is easy to use…or was, before this.

Usually I take 0000 steel wool and rub out the finish until I get a nice satin gloss. On my swamp ash Tele and Strat and my catalpa Tele (check out my earlier blog posts for pictures), there was still plenty of grain pop with the satin gloss. Rubbed out, the mahogany still looked nice, but after I saw the striped grain with a gloss finish, I couldn’t go back.

The problem is, getting a good-looking gloss finish takes a lot more skill with this stuff. Even applying it with my fingers looked a bit “brushy” when it dried. It looked pretty good at a distance, but up close there were problems. It doesn’t flow out much when drying, and successive coats sit on top of each other, rather than blending like lacquer.

I didn’t want a thick finish, and I didn’t want a shiny, buffed-out gloss. I was hoping for the right blend of gloss and satin. The pores still show, since I didn’t want to fill them, and I like that, but I just couldn’t find the right look…until I found out Tru-Oil comes in a spray can.

I sanded the existing finish pretty hard with 400 to get it really flat, and then very lightly between coats with 600. Three or four spray coats later…DONE, and looking just the way I wanted. I did no sanding or rubbing out on the last coat, and I really like it!

It’s pretty straightforward in the telling, but I did a lot of experimenting and sanding to get to the point where I figured this all out. The internet helped. And now, time to start assembly!