How To Customise A Gretsch: The Fourth Step

The sanding took quite a while, but the body is now finished aside from a couple of cosmetic touches.

I discovered that finding the right grade of paper was a bit trial and error, and I´d assumed that beginning with a finer grade and working upwards rather than vice versa was the way to go: you can´t replace any colour you may wish you hadn´t removed after that first excited swipe with a piece of 40 Grade, I told myself.

As it happened, I couldn´t have been more wrong. Polyurethane is a hardy material to say the least and I subsequently found that starting the process with the heaviest grade (40) and working downwards all the way to 400 would be far preferable.

Getting down to the colour base took an entire day, and my arms were like boiled spaghetti at the end of the process. I stuck with 40 and 60-grade paper to get down to the bare wood and continued to attain a very smooth finish after going down the grades.

Now it may seem - as it did to me - that using what amounts to T-Cut on wood would be a foolhardy way of doing things, but I happy to report that it worked perfectly. Not only does it remove 99% of the light marks, but gives an authentic dull finish to the guitar: if you want more shine, simply rub harder! Source yours from

I´ve decided to forgo using the vintage yellow stain as I feel that it´d dye the bare maple an overly garish shade whilst leaving the original orange finish largely unaffected, but I did find time to gently widen the machine head holes to fit the Klusons.

The final steps are upon me and, to be honest, I can´t wait to see the finished article, let alone actually gig it.

Read the introduction here...

Read the first step here...

Read the second step here...

Read the third step here...

All photos by and (c) Gavin 'F11' Roberts

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Guitarist magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.