December Guitar of the Month

December 08, 2017

Congratulations to John Chando from Chando Guitars on being our December Guitar of the Month winner! Let's find out how he created this beautiful electric guitar.

Guitar of the Month December 1

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to introduce The Chando Reverse Bamboo Blender Stratic Electric guitar. It's a Fender Stratocaster inspired guitar and it's one of my favorite guitar designs. I won't bore you with all the details. So in short, the guitar body and neck is completely handmade from locally procured hardwood boards. The neck is flat-sawn hard maple with a laminated Indian Rosewood fretboard. The guitar body is half Sapele and half laminated bamboo.  The "Reverse" part of the guitar's name is due to the left-handed neck design on a right-handed body. The other reason for the Reverse in the name is, compared to the typical Stratocaster bridge pickup, the bridge pickup on my guitar is offsite in the opposite direction. The "Blender" part of the name is to identify the unique wiring of the guitar pickups using a blender potentiometer to achieve multiple pickup configurations and tones. 

The finish on the Chando Reverse Bamboo Blender Stratic Electric guitar is in a clear Mohawk Nitrocellulose Lacquer. The guitar's neck has about 8 coats of lacquer, not including 2 coats of vinyl sealer. The "Chando" logo on the headstock is a screen print and a couple coats of lacquer is sprayed over that to help seal and protect it. The guitar body was lacquered in the same manner except for the addition of multiple coats of lacquer over the "Chando" decal located under the bridge to give the decal a seamless look.

Guitar of the Month December 3

I start the finishing process by prepping the wood. The maple and bamboo needed to be sand smooth starting with an 80 grit sandpaper, then moving to a 150 grit, and final sanding using a 220 grit sandpaper. The sapele wood was treated in the same manner. However, it's a very porous wood, so it needed to be grain filled to eliminate holes and pits. I usually spray a coat of sealer prior to grain filling. And I usually grain fill and sand, then repeat the grain filling step, one more time or multiple times, if needed. Once all the grain is filled and sanded smooth with 220 sandpaper, a 50/50 mix of vinyl sealer and lacquer thinner mix was sprayed on using my trusty Ingersoll Rand 270 gravity feed spray gun, which is powered by a 6HP, 25 gallon Craftsman Professional air compressor. The first coat of vinyl sealer is allowed to dry for one hour. Then it is scuffed sanded with 320 grit sandpaper. A second coat of sealer is then sprayed on. As I said earlier, the maple wood grain is so tightly closed, that a couple coats of sealer is plenty. Sapele, on the other hand, requires 3 to 4 coats of vinyl sealer to achieve a nice flat surface.

Once the final coats of vinyl sealer are sprayed on, it is lightly scuff sanded with 320 grit sandpaper. The next step in the finishing process is applying the nitrocellulose lacquer build. I like to start with a lightly mist coat of 50/50 mix of lacquer and lacquer thinner. I wait about 5 to 10 minutes before spraying the next coat, which will be a nice thick wet coat of lacquer. I let these 2 coats of lacquer dry for one hour and then I repeat this process again with 2 more wet lacquer coats. Afterwards, I wait 24 to 48 hours before I spray more lacquer. The next lacquer coats will be a 3:1 mix of lacquer/ lacquer thinner. Again, I spray one wet coat. I let it dry 5 to 10 minutes and then a second thick wet coat is applied. 


 Guitar of the Month December 2

I wait one hour before spraying the third wet coat. The third coat sits up for 5 to 10 minutes and the forth wet coat is sprayed on. I let all these coats dry and melt together for one week before I level sand using 320 grit sandpaper. I sand smooth the lacquer until I remove most of the shiny spots. The next step is to spray 4 more coats of a 3:1 lacquer mix. I wait another week until I level sand the lacquer using 320 grit sandpaper. Lastly, depending on how I feel, I will spray the final 2 or 4 lacquer coats, full strength, with no thinning and depending on how hot and/or humid it might be, I might add a few ounces of retarder to delay the dry time to avoid blushing.

Now that all the lacquer is sprayed on the guitar, I let it cure for about 2 to 3 weeks before I decide to wet-sand and buff the finish. Most of the time I skip this process because my spraying technique produces little to no orange peel. But, when I do polish and buff, it's only the guitar tops. In this case, I had a decal located under the bridge that was still showing its edges. The only way to eliminate the decal edges from showing is by wet sanding and polishing the area. I start with 1000 grit wet and dry sandpaper and work my way up to 2500 grit. Next, I buff and polish the body using a hand held electric rotary polisher with a soft foam cutting buff pad. I use Meguiar's Swirl Remover compound to remove the sanding marks and to bring the lacquer to a high shine. Additionally, I use a microfiber towel to remove any polishing compound haze. 

 Guitar of the Month December 4

That's about it. Protecting a project with nitrocellulose lacquer is a tedious and time intense process. However, if done correctly, the end result is a stunning and beautiful finish."

 Thanks for sharing this with us John! If you have any questions about the guitar, our products, or anything touch up related, feel free to reach out. If you would like to be considered for our Guitar of the Month for January, submit your before and after photos on our Facebook page or group, or tag us on Instagram. See you next week!

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