It’s been quite some time since I’ve logged a blog entry. I’ve been through quite a bit the last few years as I’ve transitioned from a gainfully employed soldier to a medically retired and disabled veteran. Still getting acclimatized to the new lifestyle, but figured it would be beneficial for me to continue doing what I enjoy as much as I am able. So here’s a new story for the blog.
As you might recall from my previous blog entries, I’ve been growing my guitar collection with the addition of some vintage guitars. My goal is to have a well rounded collection of the most iconic guitar models that span a variety of eras and genres. One gaping hole in my collection was the classic Fender Telecaster style guitar. There are many varieties to choose from, but I hadn’t been able to decide which to add to my arsenal. Then I became aware of an interesting twist on the Telecaster. One of my guitar heros, John Mayer, had been using a Fender Custom Shop La Cabronita Telecaster that was equipped with a pair of TV Jones Filtertron humbuckers a la Gretsch style. Here’s a sample:
I was quite intrigued by this guitar, but unfortunately it being a Fender Custom Shop model meant a price in the thousands of dollars. A bit out of reach for my modest collection. Fortunately Fender’s budget brand, Squier, released a couple variations of the Cabronita Telecaster that were very affordable. One, very similar to Mayer’s, had a fixed bridge and two Fideli’Tron pickups (Fender’s version of the Filtertron). The other type came with a Bigsby Vibrato, a traditional Telecaster pickup in the bridge position, and a Fideli’Tron in the neck position.
Being a big fan of Bigsby Vibratos, and seeking the versatility of having a traditional Tele pickup for that classic Telecaster twang, I decided the second model was best suited for me. I’d be able to get that bright sparkling sound similar to Mayer’s Cabronita, as well as the snarling twang that Telecasters are so famous for. So I spent a few months hunting a deal on the Squier Vintage Modified Cabronita with the Bigsby on eBay, and eventually picked one up for a fair price. My only complaint is that I didn’t care much for the color, but it was the only option for this model. I felt all that chrome hardware on the body made it look too busy, and clashed a bit with the black paint and white pickguard.
After much deliberation, I decided the best way to make the guitar look more streamlined was to repaint the body in a grey or silver color to allow the hardware to blend in some. It took even longer to finally decide on a more detailed design, which was inspired by a trip to the US Air Force National Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Rachel & I decided on a whim to make a weekend trip to the museum and booked a room for a night. She had never been to the museum before, and I had only went once before as a youngster, maybe around 10. I was on a mission to get a close look at some of the aluminum aircraft bodywork on WWII era planes such as the P-51 Mustang and B-17 Flying Fortress. Here are a few images from our trip:
Now with some inspiration from some of our nation’s finest aircraft, I sat down at the computer and worked on some design prototypes. After 7 iterations, I ended with this:
The idea was to emulate the aluminum aircraft panels and integrate the design from a P-51 tail wing onto the pickguard. I went with the number 15 since I acquired and customized this guitar in 2015. I decided to paint the guitar with PlastiDip, a spray-on rubberized coating that can be peeled off. This would allow the original paint and finish to remain intact underneath should I decide to go back to original, or if my design turned out awful. I went with the TrueMetallic Aluminum as a base coat, then had my father airbrush the panel lines, rivets, and pickguard graphic. Final finish with several coats of PlastiDip Glossifier to protect the airbrush work and give a nice sheen. Here are some pictures of the process:
I have to say, I’m very happy with the result. I think the design accomplished my plan to blend the hardware and make the guitar look more streamlined. And it’s a great ode to the many fine aircraft that have served our nation in times of conflict. It has also made a welcome addition as the first Telecaster in my guitar collection.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the story.