Re-painting My Sunburst Tele to Natural

Sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone… my mates think I am mad, but what the hey, when money is tight and you got a itch for a new guitar sometimes you gotta scratch it with what you got.

The idea for this project started when I first saw Tommy Emanuel play his Tele in the following vid…

Fender One-of-a-Kind Kirsten Easthope Hand-Painted Tele & Pro Jr

$22,000.00
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There was something about his Telecaster, the natural body with a rosewood neck that just did it for me. So since seeing that video, I have been eagerly searching for a “Cheap” Tele that I could mod and fix up. Something that had a natural wood grain body and a rosewood fretboard, but due to the lack of funds and no luck finding something that suited, I decided to re-paint my trusty old USA made 1999 Fender Telecaster.

This old girl has been in my possession for about three years now, and since I have owned it she’s had a Truss rod repair, a humbucker routed for the neck position and the pickups replaced. I put a Seymour Duncan P-Rails in the neck and a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder in the bridge. Here is a video of how she sounds…

This is how she looked before I started the re-painting process… I took the strings off before taking the pic.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster

Repainting my Fender Telecaster

Sadowsky Guitars TYO Classic Edge Tele Used Guitar F/S from Japan #ng492

$2,997.00
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As you can see, the old girl has had a couple of mods and is definitely a good ol’ work horse, so the idea of stripping the paint and having a go at changing how she looked wasn’t that scary.

In this next pic, you will notice there are a few bumps and bruises in the old girl.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body

Here’s a close up…

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body - Chips

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body – Chips

Sadowsky Guitars TYO Classic Edge Tele Used Guitar F/S from Japan #ng492

$2,997.00
End Date: Thursday Sep-21-2017 4:29:10 PDT
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Here’s how she looked at the back. You can see the light coloration along the length of the skunk stripe, that was where the lacquer was removed to take out the skunk stripe to repair the truss rod.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Back

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Back

The back of the body had a couple of small chips in the paint, but nothing major.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Back

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Back

Fender '72 Telecaster Thinline 3 Color Sunburst 2012, Electric Guitar, u1015

$2,467.00
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So once I made the decision to repaint her it was time to strip her down… first step was to take the neck off.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body the Stripdown

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body the Stripdown

Then the electrics and the remaining hardware…

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body the Stripdown 2

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body the Stripdown 2

Vintage Fender Telecaster Custom 1969, 3 Tone Burst. with Bigsby and Hard Case

$12,500.00
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Once all of the hardware was taken from the front I had to remove the string ferrules from the back, this was a lot easier than I thought it would be. They were only pressed in, so all I needed was a small flat head screw driver that I could fit through the front of the guitar down into the string hole and gently knock them out.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body the Stripdown String Ferrules

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body the Stripdown String Ferrules

So once all of the hardware had been removed, I then had to set to work on removing the poly finish. I really wanted to try using a paint stripper for this job, as I have already used a heat gun to remove paint from a guitar body before and I wanted to see if using a paint stripper was a better method, but I couldn’t find any decent proof that a paint stripper, that was readily available from a hardware store, was capable of doing the job.

I searched Hi and low online looking for videos that showed the process of removing poly with a paint stripper that you could buy here in Australia and my search was in vain, so I ended up getting the old heat gun out and using it again.

The results were pretty good, except I did put a burn mark in it though, which you can see in the next pic. I used a thin scraper, so I was only taking a little bite each time I went to scrape off the heated poly. I did notice that the burst finish was a thin layer of paint covering a clear poly finish, I think it might have been a top coat of nitro, but I’m guessing.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Removing the Poly

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Removing the Poly

1968 Fender Telecaster Thinline Semi-Solid Natural Ash Electric Guitar #158701

$7,200.00
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So once the poly was removed, I had to clean up the body with some sandpaper. To remove the small scratches left by the scraper, I started out with an 80 grit wet and dry. I didn’t want to go too course and end up with more scratches than I started with so the 80 grit was a good starting point.

Once I had removed all of the poly residue and scratches, I did a quick sand with a 120 grit wet and dry. All up I probably spent about 4 hours sanding the body before it was ready to paint. All of the sanding was done dry.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get all of that burn mark out with the 80 grit wet and dry sand paper.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body - Sanding

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body – Sanding

Once I was happy with my sanding efforts it was time to paint. I was thinking of trying to find some nitro, but I just couldn’t have been bothered, plus being on such a tight budget I just wanted to get something that was cheap and easily available so I didn’t have to spend any money on fuel shopping around looking for paint. The paint I used was a can of acrylic lacquer from my local Auto Barn.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body - Acrylic Lacquer

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body – Acrylic Lacquer

Fender Tele Classic Series 72 Thinline Telecaster Electric Guitar Natural

$879.99
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Once I purchased my paint, prepped the body as best I could, made sure I masked up the neck pocket, it was time to spray. I decided I would spray outside, it was a beautiful day outside with only a slight breeze, so I made up a small wire hook that fit through the neck screw hole and hung it from my kids swing set.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Outside

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Outside

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Outside Back

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Outside Back


But I soon realized, that a slight breeze when your painting means your paint aint gonna hit its mark, so I set up my ladder in the garden shed and hung the body from it. Once I had the body in the shed I had a wind free environment and I could happily start laying on the paint.

I only did very light coats. Spraying about every five to ten minutes with the can about 20cm from the guitar body. I reckon I did between twelve to eighteen coats all up. I wanted to use the whole can, so I made sure I did very light even coats that would build on each other and give me a nice even finish when done.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body First Coat

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body First Coat

So once I had spent a full can of paint, doing lots and lots of very light coats, I left it to dry for 24 hours before I started to cut the paint back.

Starting out using a 1500 grit wet and dry paper with a little bit of water, I started to cut the paint back. I then went onto using a 3000 grit paper to finish. This process probably took me just under an hour.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Cutting Back

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body Cutting Back

FENDER USA1 1968 Telecaster w/Factory Bigsby vintage fr JAPAN

$8,888.00
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The finished result was pretty good I thought, a nice gloss with a very even coat of paint, with no runs and beautifully showcasing the lovely grain of the Alder timber.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body - Finished

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body – Finished

So the next thing to do was start putting her back together… First the neck.

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body - Neck On

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body – Neck On

Then the rest of the hardware…

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body - Almost Done

Repainting my Fender Telecaster Body – Almost Done

Fender USA Telecaster 1998

$1,299.00
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So all in all I am pretty stoked with how she came up. The following pics are how she now looks, all of the wiring is done and the strings on ready to rock on once more.

US Telecaster Natural Finish

US Telecaster Natural Finish

US Telecaster Natural Finish Body

US Telecaster Natural Finish Body

US Telecaster Natural Finish Bottom E Neck Joint

US Telecaster Natural Finish Bottom E Neck Joint

Fender USA Telecaster 1998

$1,299.00
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US Telecaster Natural Finish Top e Neck Joint

US Telecaster Natural Finish Top e Neck Joint

US Telecaster Natural Finish Neck Plate

US Telecaster Natural Finish Back

US Telecaster Natural Finish Neck Plate Close Up

US Telecaster Natural Finish Neck Plate Close Up

2017 NAMM Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt PrestigeTele 24K Gold - Yuriy Shishkov

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US Telecaster Natural Finish Back

US Telecaster Natural Finish Back

US Telecaster Natural Finished

US Telecaster Natural Finished

US Telecaster Natural Finish Project Complete

US Telecaster Natural Finish Project Complete

FENDER 1955 Precision Bass in Fullerton Red. Ultra Rare & Highly Collectible.

$50,000.00
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Vintage Fender USA Telecaster with bigsby 1968 Electric Guitar Excellect++

$8,063.10
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Only 30pcs World Fender Custom Shop Ltd Fullerton Proto Strat 2011 Unused Mint

$4,999.99
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Vintage 1970 Fender USA Telecaster Natural Ultra Light 6.4 lbs Original Guitar

$4,469.50
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'62 FENDER STRATOCASTER 1984 Fullerton Reissue - 100% Orig + Excellent Cond

$4,500.00
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