Sometimes… Where we end up, isn’t quite where we originally thought we were going.

I’ve had a couple of months to review progress on projects which were sort of half done – before the Covid restrictions made everything a little stranger. Gilding a Stratocaster body was a great exercise, and I’m sort of really pleased the way it came out. The thing is – I’m just not 100% sure. There’s something that doesn’t quite do it for me, and I think it’s all mostly down to the “feel” of the body. The protective gilding lacquer I used, just feels sort of “plasticky”. Not in the way a polyester coat feels – that’s usually smooth and glossy. The thin gilding coat is satin, and sort of feels thin and papery. It’s, somehow,  just not what you’d expect – judging by the look of the finish. It’s just not right, and since the “feel” of a guitar is an important factor, I just can’t quite settle on it.

I could try and rub the finish down – but it’s already very thin, and I’d probably risk rubbing through to the gold, and beyond. I could try and build up a gloss clearcoat over the top – but I think it’d take too much fire away from the gold – and it’d just end up looking like cheap gold paint. Plus – there’s always been a nagging doubt in the back of my mind… “Isn’t an all gold guitar, just way too much bling anyway?”

Looks like my gilding project might just become one of those that goes “missing in action” along the way. Not everything works out to a satisfying conclusion, and I have a small, but growing, collection of “misfits”, that didn’t make the cut. The thing is – there’s all that gold hardware to find a use for.

Then – one evening, on Lockdown TV – there’s a welcome documentary on the career of Hank Marvin. Say what you like about Hank. I know I thought “The Theme from the Deer Hunter” was a bit pants when I was younger – but he’s the original British Guitar Hero. Hank doesn’t do shred. However, technically – he’s an inspiration. His tone and intonation is always faultless. It’s the way his fingers just modulate each note ever so slightly – but just enough. The way the length of each note is just perfect. Some of the early Shadows stuff is great to learn to play – the tunes are simple and well paced. It’s an extra education though – to study the way the notes are held, bent – and the way little slides are timed in. Lessons too, on how to use a whammy bar with subtlety. Hank’s OK in my book.

And there it is – Hank’s iconic late 50’s Stratocaster. In fact – the very first Stratocaster to hit these shores, in the late 50’s. Red, with gold hardware. Conicidentally – I just happen to have a red Strat body on the go. Coincidentally – it’s a Fender “Classic 50’s” body. Coincidentally – I’ve just bought a set of Bareknuckle, “Apache”, single-coil pickups. Too many coincidences. Plans just fall into place.

OK – Hank’s original, and the Fender Custom Shop, Limited Edition version were done out in Fiesta Red. The “Classic 50’s” body on the workbench is in Dakota Red. That said – personally, I always felt the Fiesta Red ws a bit too pink. I prefer the “lipstick-like” Dakota, and it seems to show off the gold hardware even better, in my opinion. I should be able to use the neck from my Gold-leafed Stratocaster project to fit my Classic 50’s body, and then fit all the 50’s style, gold body hardware. Using the Fender Custom Shop, Hank Marvin guitar as an inspiration.

So that leaves me with an all gold Stratocaster body. I’m still not decided – but I might try and rub the finish down again and try to use the body as a base for another relicing project. I really like the look of Fender Custom Shop, “Black Over Gold” Stratocasters. I’d been thinking about doing another relicing project. I just have to convince myself that spraying over a unique, 24ct gold finish is a good idea – no matter what faults I can find with it. It still seems a bit irrational, but I don’t think an all gold guitar will get out of the case, so much. I’m getting closer to a decision. Either way – the gilded body is routed for a Clapton MDX, active circuit, and might, therefore use some Vintage Noiseless pickups I’ve already got in the project box. You never know. Watch this space.

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