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Pauwlonia.... balasa

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by dogmeat, Nov 21, 2020 at 2:35 AM.

  1. dogmeat

    dogmeat Friend of Leo's

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    OK, I just got this asian body with a fantastic veneer top but it's on top of Pau-weenie wood (or something). this stuff is like balsa... not quite as soft but close. I know I could gouge it big time with fingernails easy. even the end grain. so... is there something to put on it to make it strong enough to have confidence, or am I on a fool's errand?
     
  2. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't know.... but Fender and Brad Paisley are marketing it as a tonewood feature.

     
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  3. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    If I was working with it, I would try a two-component polyurethane clear floor coating. These are chemically designed to provide protection against impact and abrasion - as you can imagine, since the product is intend for wood floors.

    Even then, there is not much you can do for the soft wood underneath.

    Well, wait - I just thought of this: I use a very thin penetrating epoxy when I am repairing rotted wood. It is diluted with acetone, I think. I buy it from a boat-supply shop. It makes the soft wood around the area to be repaired very hard. That sort of thing might be a good first coat. The brushes I use to apply it dry up as hard as rock.

    I have never actually tried it on a guitar, but I probably would in a situation like yours.

    But - for the record - I have not used this finish combination, so I can't guarantee it.
     
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  4. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Friend of Leo's

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    Pawlonia is so soft that many have reported problems with stripped screws over time.

    One often-recommended precaution is to inject a little glue into the screwholes for strap buttons and neck & bridge mounting, to harden up the surrounding wood a bit.

    Some have even done this for pickguard screws.


    I can see how poly floor coating could be good for protecting the outside.
    Kind of defeats the purpose of having a superlight lively body though.

    I'd rather have it show some dings and dents eventually myself.
    But that's just me.
     
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  5. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Afflicted

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    I have 2 Paulownia body guitars, that I put together and they are my faves.
    .
    IMG_20200831_104727.jpg
    IMG_20200831_104653.jpg
     
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  6. Weazel

    Weazel Tele-Holic

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    I have three at the moment, and have given away four Paulownia teles. I have also sold a few.
    No problems whatsoever, but then I know how to use a screwdriver.
     
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  7. stratisfied

    stratisfied Tele-Meister

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    A thick polyurethane or catalyzed finish is typically used for a finish and provides a hard shell to minimize dents and dings. I suspect many who have had issues tend to overtighten and strip the screw holes or hog the wood out installing screws with no pilot holes drilled first. The only critical screws requiring holding power are bridge and tremolo claw (Strat) screws anyway. You can always wick some CA glue in those holes first and allow it to cure before installing the screws for additional holding power if concerned.

    There are wide and close growth ring planks of the wood, with the close growth ring variety being more durable while the wide growth ring variety has more pulpwood and is more like balsa. Unfortunately, when you buy a low cost Paulownia (Empress) body, you really don't know which you are getting. Alder, poplar and ash are definitely preferable woods.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020 at 10:34 PM
  8. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had one, and they are definitely softer wood than most other guitars. But they are also very light. That's the trade-off.
     
  9. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yes, sand it completely through until there is none left, then "put on" an Alder body!
     
  10. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    I agree; dings and dents don't bother me much.

    I'm not sure about the 'lively' body thing. I am not convinced that the finish applied to a light-weight wood would affect anything at all in terms of playability and response.

    And the treatment I have suggested won't add much to the weight of the guitar.

    But again - this is just a suggestion, and I have not tried it (yet) myself.

    I did in fact finish a Telecaster 12-string kit guitar with water-based polyurethane. And the final finish was a water-based urethane floor-finish. These were not high-quality two-component finishes; rather they were inexpensive hardware-store weekend-warrior products (similar to USA Minwax)
     
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  11. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I built this guitar earlier this year using a GFS clearance paulownia body. I did a thin nitro finish on it. It's essentially "self-relicing"

    20200410_180448.jpg
     
  12. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Paulownia for me thank you! I have 4 and counting!

    9FBB444E-E3D8-494A-BB21-1932E43F1653.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020 at 3:44 PM
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  13. drumtime

    drumtime Tele-Holic

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    Never use a powered screwdriver on any guitar. If it's Pawlonia or basswood or whatever other soft stuff, do as suggested above - strengthen the screw holes. You'll be fine.
     
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  14. dogmeat

    dogmeat Friend of Leo's

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    so... my thinking is along the lines some of you suggest. the top has a maple veneer so it's prolly OK. I think I will trim the back and cover it with .1" birch ply. maybe chamber the body (I've done this before on others). the sides get resin coat. top will be a burst with clear topcoat, sides & back will be black
     
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  15. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    regarding chambering the body:

    the Paulownia body is very light already, I think. If you chamber it, it will be even lighter.

    You might end up with a wonderfully light guitar - a dream come true for many of us.

    But you might also end up with a guitar that suffers from serious neck-dive, as the weight distribution could be out-of-balance.
     
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  16. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Holic

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    I have build a guitar from a Paulownia body. Although it is pretty decent, it is almost too light. You would definitely not need to chamber it. It actually resonates pretty well so you shouldn't rule it out. However, all bodies are different and should be judged by their individual merits and not of any particular wood it might be made from.
     
  17. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've put together two Paulownia guitars. Both bodies came from GFS. They came out nice; super, super lightweight too. I have no doubt the wood is softer than my other guitars. Just gotta baby them.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. archiemax

    archiemax Tele-Meister

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    Bought this body from GFS and when the mailman delivered the box it was so light I thought they'd forgotten to enclose the body. I made a James Burton clone for the Elvis tribute shows I do....and it's a great guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I think, like basswood, there's all sorts of grades of Paulownia. Some is strong and stable enough - other samples are just made of fizz and are going to let you down.

    I do a bit of hiking, with the dog, in the woods and trails around The Cabin in far western North Carolina by the TN and GA lines. I find more and more full sized Paulownia trees with their signature blue flowers and you may even find them blooming out of season. Anyway, cut some of the branches off of these trees and let the wood lay on the ground. It turns to compost in less than a quarter of the time some Eastern White Pine would, and also clearly much faster than pulp Tulip Poplar.

    I wish we could find spruce fairly cheaply. Strong, stiff and light.
     
  20. WalthamMoosical

    WalthamMoosical Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    That's my experience the first time I used it. I'm now partway though my second go; I expect neck-dive again. Since I'm painting this second one (instead of natural finish) I tried to harden up the surface by applying thin coats of wood glue, wood filler, or Minwax bondo. It does seem harder (and smoother), ... but if there is ever a third build it won't be with paulownia.
     
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