EGR's Great Tele Relic Experiment: And So The Work Begins…

Welcome To EGR Labs  OK, so here’s a little look behind the scenes at EGR Labs (aka, my spare room.) Obviously, the Baja Tele we purchased has been taken apart, with great care given to photographing the wiring (it’s an S1 system) since we don’t want to run into difficulties putting it back together.


All parts were put into separate containers and labeled with blue sticky notes, just to be on the safe side and to keep everything as organized as possible. The tear-down actually took longer than expected, but with a little luck we managed to get all necessary hardware removed from the body without undue difficulty.

Tele-Relic-Body-Sanding-1Sanding The Body  Much to our surprise, sanding of the poly finish wasn’t nearly as difficult as expected––while Fender’s site doesn’t list it in their official specs, many online retailers claim the Baja Tele has a “thin” poly finish, and it’s likely that this explains the ease of sanding.

Starting with coarse 60 grit paper we managed to take off a good amount of poly in just over an hour of heavy dry sanding (by hand.) Perhaps we could have used an electric sander, but as you can probably guess, the sanding was a great way to get out some of my pent-up aggression!

By that time we had already hit bare wood on many of the corners and edges, and it was at this point that I switched up to 100 grit for about a half-hour, and then on to 200 and 400 grit for detail work. While some resources recommend wet sanding, we stuck with the dry stuff, and were quite happy with our progress.

The plan is for our final instrument to be topped with a thin coat of Olympic White nitrocellulose finish, so there were two main goals to this first sanding––1.) generally prepare the body for nitro by roughing up that shiny coat, and 2.) strategically expose some bare wood to emulate the natural wear and tear of many years of hard playing.

Tele-Relic-Sanded-InsetThe idea is that we will sand the Tele’s body down yet again once we’ve got a coat or two of white nitro and clear top coat applied. At that point we will further expose these bare areas, and with a little luck I think we can get a few different layers of color coming through––white on top, the Baja’s sanded-down Blonde underneath, and below that the natural Ash.

It’s my assumption that exposing these bare areas now will make it a lot easier to produce the very natural worn-in look we are hoping for.

Tackling The Pickguard  If you were paying attention you may have noticed in the top photo that our mint green pickguard came in as well this week. So, following the many great suggestions over at Relic Deluxe, I began to sand that piece too.

Unlike the heavy-handed sanding of the body, sanding the pickguard requires a much lighter touch, and I can already see my own tendency to over-relic… luckily, it’s just a pickguard and it can be easily replaced if I screw it up.

I will post photos and detailed explanations of what I did to relic the pickguard in another post, but for now, let’s just say I’m having a lot of fun with this part of the process.

Aging The Hardware  After reading through a number of online “relic” resources, we finally accepted Relic Deluxe as our main bible, and so far they haven’t let us down.
In keeping with their recommendations we decided to age our guitar’s hardware via .

Tumbler-Hardware-Relic-1Yep, we managed to purchase a brand new 6-lb capacity rock tumbler on eBay for about $50 US, and late last night I loaded it about 3/4-full with rough gravel (Home Depot) and a few guinea pig pieces of hardware for testing purposes (neck plate, strap buttons, and their respective screws.)

In the photo here you can see all these pieces loaded into one of the tumbler’s heavy rubber cylinders. After taking this photo I popped the top on, sealed it down good, and started the whole thing tumbling.

recommends just a few hours, but for giggles I left it running all night. G and I were quite happy with the results… but you’ll have to wait for the next post to see ’em.