Monday, 30 September 2013

The Antique 'Woodland' Telecaster

I'm going for a more organic 'earthy' feel for my next Telecaster build as you can see from the picture. I've always loved 'broken and distressed colour'. Whether it's the weathered planks on an old garden shed, the crumbling soot-stained brickwork on an old Victorian railway bridge, or the wind-burnt flakey paint on an ancient signboard, it's a total feast for the eye and the imagination as far as I'm concerned.

I think wood is such a beautiful thing, that it's a shame to imprison it in fifty layers of nitro or poly paint; all that natural woody magic suffocated in a thick shroud of rock hard chemicals. I love to see objects (whether that be walls, guitars or whatever) that have reclaimed their original identity somewhat, but have almost purposely 'allowed' some of the former patina or paint to stay, to enhance themselves.

I know, this sounds a bit weird - anthropomorphizing an inanimate object - but it's the only way I can kind of articulate my approach to colour and design. When I was signwriter I used to be fascinated by those old brewery names painted on the ends of buildings, the ghostly signatures of bygone days and mysterious lives.

This is the vibe I draw upon when it comes to guitar bodies. With most of them I try and enhance the natural grain and character of the wood using layers of stains, letting one colour dry, gently sanding and scraping it back in parts, putting another colour over it and then the same again ... and again.

I know a lot of people would say that this is artificial, 'fake' enhancement and aging, and yes, of course I'm helping the process on a bit, but I'm also trying to stay true to the nature of the wood and letting chance and the happy accident take a significant role in the process too. It's very difficult to create a finished body that was like the one in your head at the beginning believe me! The materials (both wood and stain) have a life of their own, ... and now we're back to that metaphysical question again, or maybe Chaos theory.

The painted bodies I've done follow that old weathered signboard riff from my younger days: hand-painted folk art from another era, the spirit of the wood (or woods) manifesting and merging itself through and with the painted skin - the bone beneath the flesh. In a way, the painted bodies attempt to recall a period (back in the 60's and 70's) when customizing your axe with a paint brush and some masking tape was more widespread and in-tune with the Hippie/Counterculture/DIY times than in our more slick and airbrushed world of today.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the adventure of experimenting with all the various wood grains, colours and textures, the rich glassy stains, the scratchings and scrapings. I don't believe I actually create a certain look for a guitar body, I think it's a process of discovery and revelation, the materials are working with me, guiding me all the way until they say its time to stop.

~ H-Allen