How To Customise A Gretsch: The Third Step

It’s now impossible to put off the first of many irreversible steps any longer, so it’s out with the sandpaper to begin the unenviable task of removing the guitar’s polyurethane lacquer.

I discovered that finding the right grade of paper was a bit trial and error, but I suggest beginning with a finer grade and working upwards rather than vice versa: you can’t replace any dust you may wish you hadn’t removed after that first excited swipe with a piece of 40 Grade.

I gingerly began with a rather too fine 220 grade and after ten minutes of elbow grease, upped the paper to a more sensible 100. The idea here is to get down to the orange finish all over the body before setting about the various areas I want to get down to the bare wood with various implements.

So, the sanding. It did take far longer than I thought and I was careful to use a vertical rather than circular motion to ensure that no unsightly swirls had even a small chance of making it onto the finished guitar.

Also, a great tip is to wet the paper with water. This allows the paper to remain largely clog free and it also keeps the level of dust to a minimum. The only downside is that I found the paper didn’t last anywhere near as long as it did when used dry, but as sandpaper hardly breaks the bank, I couldn’t be overly concerned.

I began to sand the neck down too, which has already led to a super-smooth finish, although I am going to apply some heavier wear to this area in due course.

Finally for this step, I dug out a sturdy blade and began to mark off the areas that I wanted to get down to the bare wood. Again, this takes longer than you may think, but it’s all starting to look rather good.

Next step is to finish the body, the faux aging, the application of the decal and ultimately address the staining. Give me a couple of weeks...!

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