Guitar Building: Bigsby Tele With Humbuckers, Part 2
Continuing with finishing the body! Whoever said that finishing a guitar is the hardest part of this process has it right. I used Trans Tint bright red dye concentrate to get this color, and diluted it with water for easier handling. I kept pushing the dilution until I got the shade I wanted, and it’s exactly what I hoped for. More luck and perseverance than skill here.
Once again it’s Tru-Oil for the topcoat, working up to six thin layers and scuff-sanding between each coat with 2000 grit paper. At that point I rubbed it back pretty hard with 0000 steel wool, and then applied two more coats over the next couple of days. I like to allow 12 to 24 hours between coats, and then I let the body hang for a week before another rub-out with steel wool, followed by buffing and polishing.
I don’t grain fill, and feel that the bright, responsive sound I get from the guitars I assemble has a lot to do applying a very thin finish. Tru-Oil gives great “grain pop”, and plenty of moisture protection, but very little impact protection. I’m fine with that trade-off. I also like to see the texture of the wood I’m working with. I sanded this body very smooth, raised the grain with water, and re-sanded until I was happy. Heavy applications of the dye solution re-raised the grain a tiny bit, but I liked it and decided not to re-sand.
I’m not interested in a glossy commercial finish, though I certainly appreciate the skill it takes to do that. I can get a hand-rubbed bright satin luster with Meguiar’s #7 and some buffing pads, and then a final buffing with Virtuoso polish. Looks good to me.