The Paulownia Project

dean

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
2,634
Location
Twin Cities, Minnesota
A few weeks ago, I posted some questions about building up a guitar from a paulownia body blank that I got on sale from GuitarFetish (I got the paulownia Strat body and a Les Paul body for a total of $54). Here's a list of what I've done so far and what I'll get to next:

- My initial concern was the softness of the paulownia wood, so I ended up using Minnwax Wood Hardener to see if that might toughen things up - it did harden the surface somewhat, so I pressed on.
- I also wanted to make this Strat a hardtail (that's the Tele influence), so I filled in the trem cavities with various pieces of hardwood I had laying around, and that seems to have worked out OK.
- The thing with the paulownia (besides the softness) is the coarseness of the grain. I wanted to do a decent job filling the grain, so I diluted my wood filler a bit and laid on a couple applications of filler. It seems to have worked pretty well, so I'll probably go to the sander/sealer next.
- The blank had a couple flaws that needed to be fixed (for a $30 body, I assumed there might be some issues). The main one was the holes that were drilled in the neck pocket - they were off-center and in the wrong spot. I followed the recommendation of a member here and filled the original holes with dowels and will drill new holes.
- As far as drilling all the holes, I wanted to use a drill press, but there wasn't enough room to get the drill bit in the correct spot, so I built (jury-rigged) a guitar-friendly press stand. I can get a 17-inch wide guitar under the drill now.
- I decided on a color similar to Fender's Ocean Turquoise and found a color that I really like called Metallic Caribbean. It's a nice color, and I'll also do the headstock in the same color. It will have a white pearloid pick guard.

So far, I've got $86 into this project - $30 for the body, $25 for the neck (Chinese neck that I had to cut the headstock shape), $15 for paint, and $16 for tuners. Everything else was laying around in my parts bin. I'm having a blast with this project, and when I finish it, I'll move on to the LP project (and the tweed Vibrolux amp kit sitting on the shelf). Here are a few pics of the project, so far:
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Ronkirn

Doctor of Teleocity
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Jacksonville, FL
let me to encourage ya to drill out the neck bolt holes and fill them with at least ⅜" d dowels.. this will give you considerably more support as you tighten the neck mounts on assembly day... fail to do this and the possibility of crushing the paulownia is a possibility.. the small dowels you have already inserted would be eliminated when ya drill the new neck bolt holes leaving little to no hardwood to support the pressure of the neck screws

r
 

dean

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
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Location
Twin Cities, Minnesota
let me to encourage ya to drill out the neck bolt holes and fill them with at least ⅜" d dowels..

Ron, that's exactly what I did! Maybe you're the one who mentioned it in a different thread. Unfortunately, after getting the neck on the body to do some measurements, I found that the neck had too much bow (up bow?) to it and could not be adjusted for it to work. So I'm looking at other alternatives (I have another old, ugly neck that I could use).

Thanks for the advice!
 

Ronkirn

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the neck had too much bow (up bow?)
do ya mean the middle section of the neck is higher than the ends? that's a problem that may negate using that neck.. if it has a dual acting truss rod.. good.. if not, unless the tension of the strings can pull it flat or better, a slight degree of bow, it's toast...
 

Leonardocoate

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Nov 16, 2015
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957
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Ohio
I have made several Guitars with the Paulownia (from GFS). My finishes are distressed in nature so it works out. I believe the wood is more durable than it gets credit for. I prefer it over basswood and poplar. I used several layers of diluted oil base polyurethane. It seems to harden it up pretty good. Here are a couple of pics
 

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tubejockey

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Nov 25, 2015
Posts
632
Location
the bozone
I have made several Guitars with the Paulownia (from GFS). My finishes are distressed in nature so it works out. I believe the wood is more durable than it gets credit for. I prefer it over basswood and poplar. I used several layers of diluted oil base polyurethane. It seems to harden it up pretty good. Here are a couple of pics
Nice looking guitars. I like the aesthetic. I also went with wipe-on poly on mine, with CA-reinforced screw holes. My pirate strat came out great.
 

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FatKnife

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 9, 2009
Posts
159
Location
Nashville TN
I have made several Guitars with the Paulownia (from GFS). My finishes are distressed in nature so it works out. I believe the wood is more durable than it gets credit for. I prefer it over basswood and poplar. I used several layers of diluted oil base polyurethane. It seems to harden it up pretty good. Here are a couple of pics
I had some issues with neck dive using a paulownia Tele body. I had to move the strap buttons around. How about you? All of your guitars look excellent, by the way.
 

Leonardocoate

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I had some issues with neck dive using a paulownia Tele body. I had to move the strap buttons around. How about you? All of your guitars look excellent, by the way.
sorry about the slow response. Zero neck dive issues. I use the vintage style tuners that are light weight. Of course the Strat has enough weight at the bridge anyway
 

dean

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
2,634
Location
Twin Cities, Minnesota
So I’m ready to do sone priming on the body before I drill the holes for the bridge screws and strings, and I get COVID. I have about 4-5 more days of isolating (in the basement and the workshop) and I need more primer. So I gotta wait. I suppose I could try to finish off the neck which has been a huge reclamation project - scratched, weather streaked, ugly as hell. It might turn out OK though. So far, my drill press contraption is working well!
 

Telekarster

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So I’m ready to do sone priming on the body before I drill the holes for the bridge screws and strings, and I get COVID. I have about 4-5 more days of isolating (in the basement and the workshop) and I need more primer. So I gotta wait. I suppose I could try to finish off the neck which has been a huge reclamation project - scratched, weather streaked, ugly as hell. It might turn out OK though. So far, my drill press contraption is working well!

I built a 335 for a buddies birthday, over the last winter. It was a good thing I started that project months in advance because I pulled my left shoulder out about 1/2 way through the project, and was out of commission for a month! Couldn't do a darn thing, and it really sucked. Couldn't hardly put my pants on LOL!!! Really put me behind on his guitar, but I got it done with a week to spare... but I was concerned there for a bit that I wouldn't finish it in time ;) Good luck on your project man, and hope you heal up soon!
 

Ronkirn

Doctor of Teleocity
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Jacksonville, FL
I get COVID. I have about 4-5 more days of isolating (in the basement and the workshop) and I need more primer.
I didn't know primer was a cure for COVID... who knew... :p

in all seriousness, be well. and take care.. I've had several acquaintances come down with it.. it's not a pleasant experience so I'm told.. and I'm sitting here with a damn chest cold... wondering...
 

Havins

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Posts
46
Location
Glendale, Az
7 or 8 years ago the Paulowania bodies from GFS were made accurately but weren't the full thickness. They were like Squiers. Somewhere along the line the QC changed and I got 2 bodies that were simply a mess. Not even the neck holes were accurate as they didn't line up with the neck plate and the thru the body holes (Telecaster) were off by half the string spacing. They would only take one back so I had to deal with the problem. I made a cheap guitar and gave it away. I no longer get Paulowania bodies from them. I switched to Eden and found the two that I bought to be perfect and full thickness. The only problem with Paulowania bodies thru Eden (Allen Eden now) is availability. For necks I've found Chinese necks to be a crap shoot. Some are ok some aren't. Even Mighty Mite have problems. I bought 3 and only one turned out ok. One was made crooked and unuseable while a second one had the skunk stripe continually lifted resulting in continuous truss rod adjustment. I now will only buy a Warmoth or a Fender neck. I also now only use Fender hardware if available (some gold bridges aren't available from Fender) .
 

Lotan

TDPRI Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2017
Posts
27
Age
69
Location
Essex
A few weeks ago, I posted some questions about building up a guitar from a paulownia body blank that I got on sale from GuitarFetish (I got the paulownia Strat body and a Les Paul body for a total of $54). Here's a list of what I've done so far and what I'll get to next:

- My initial concern was the softness of the paulownia wood, so I ended up using Minnwax Wood Hardener to see if that might toughen things up - it did harden the surface somewhat, so I pressed on.
- I also wanted to make this Strat a hardtail (that's the Tele influence), so I filled in the trem cavities with various pieces of hardwood I had laying around, and that seems to have worked out OK.
- The thing with the paulownia (besides the softness) is the coarseness of the grain. I wanted to do a decent job filling the grain, so I diluted my wood filler a bit and laid on a couple applications of filler. It seems to have worked pretty well, so I'll probably go to the sander/sealer next.
- The blank had a couple flaws that needed to be fixed (for a $30 body, I assumed there might be some issues). The main one was the holes that were drilled in the neck pocket - they were off-center and in the wrong spot. I followed the recommendation of a member here and filled the original holes with dowels and will drill new holes.
- As far as drilling all the holes, I wanted to use a drill press, but there wasn't enough room to get the drill bit in the correct spot, so I built (jury-rigged) a guitar-friendly press stand. I can get a 17-inch wide guitar under the drill now.
- I decided on a color similar to Fender's Ocean Turquoise and found a color that I really like called Metallic Caribbean. It's a nice color, and I'll also do the headstock in the same color. It will have a white pearloid pick guard.

So far, I've got $86 into this project - $30 for the body, $25 for the neck (Chinese neck that I had to cut the headstock shape), $15 for paint, and $16 for tuners. Everything else was laying around in my parts bin. I'm having a blast with this project, and when I finish it, I'll move on to the LP project (and the tweed Vibrolux amp kit sitting on the shelf). Here are a few pics of the project, so far: View attachment 993675
View attachment 993676
View attachment 993678
View attachment 993680
Hi, I have a Paulownia Telecaster, had it made to my spec from a guy on Facebook, it’s my lightest Tele’ so nice to gig with as it’s so light! It has a Humbucker in the neck and single coil in the bridge, 9.5 fingerboard, with a Canadian rock neck, hothouse 6 saddle bridge unit and it plays great !
 

Fretting out

Doctor of Teleocity
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Joined
Jun 13, 2019
Posts
11,877
Age
30
Location
Land of Mary
I have made several Guitars with the Paulownia (from GFS). My finishes are distressed in nature so it works out. I believe the wood is more durable than it gets credit for. I prefer it over basswood and poplar. I used several layers of diluted oil base polyurethane. It seems to harden it up pretty good. Here are a couple of pics
Woe! Don’t want to derail the thread but your cat’s rear looks a lot my Lois’s rear half!
AF1D0DED-2CBA-466C-B9A8-82E3C50E13C8.jpeg

Sorry OP I couldn’t help myself…
 

4pickupguy

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
May 12, 2013
Posts
12,474
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
I’ve had the crap Guitar Fetish tele body experience as well. It literally took 3 times the effort to build a guitar from them. Never again!! I too switched to Allen Eden bodies. They are very accurately cut and nicely finished.
 
Last edited:

nojazzhere

Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Posts
18,383
Age
70
Location
Foat Wuth, Texas
A few weeks ago, I posted some questions about building up a guitar from a paulownia body blank that I got on sale from GuitarFetish (I got the paulownia Strat body and a Les Paul body for a total of $54). Here's a list of what I've done so far and what I'll get to next:

- My initial concern was the softness of the paulownia wood, so I ended up using Minnwax Wood Hardener to see if that might toughen things up - it did harden the surface somewhat, so I pressed on.
- I also wanted to make this Strat a hardtail (that's the Tele influence), so I filled in the trem cavities with various pieces of hardwood I had laying around, and that seems to have worked out OK.
- The thing with the paulownia (besides the softness) is the coarseness of the grain. I wanted to do a decent job filling the grain, so I diluted my wood filler a bit and laid on a couple applications of filler. It seems to have worked pretty well, so I'll probably go to the sander/sealer next.
- The blank had a couple flaws that needed to be fixed (for a $30 body, I assumed there might be some issues). The main one was the holes that were drilled in the neck pocket - they were off-center and in the wrong spot. I followed the recommendation of a member here and filled the original holes with dowels and will drill new holes.
- As far as drilling all the holes, I wanted to use a drill press, but there wasn't enough room to get the drill bit in the correct spot, so I built (jury-rigged) a guitar-friendly press stand. I can get a 17-inch wide guitar under the drill now.
- I decided on a color similar to Fender's Ocean Turquoise and found a color that I really like called Metallic Caribbean. It's a nice color, and I'll also do the headstock in the same color. It will have a white pearloid pick guard.

So far, I've got $86 into this project - $30 for the body, $25 for the neck (Chinese neck that I had to cut the headstock shape), $15 for paint, and $16 for tuners. Everything else was laying around in my parts bin. I'm having a blast with this project, and when I finish it, I'll move on to the LP project (and the tweed Vibrolux amp kit sitting on the shelf). Here are a few pics of the project, so far: View attachment 993675
View attachment 993676
View attachment 993678
View attachment 993680
I respect everyone's opinion on Paulownia as a body wood, and my personal experience is limited to exactly ONE guitar.....but my experience has been very favorable. I, too, bought a blank Tele-shaped body from GFS, routed for pickups, neck and bridge, but not drilled for bridge screws or string-through. That was fine, because I intended all along to use a Wilkinson "left-hand" bridge, (for the reverse pickup slant) and top-load. I sanded it well, and finished with many coats of Tru-Oil, and I'm very happy with it. Yes, it does dent if you look at it hard, but with the natural finish, it doesn't show, and it's just honest "use" wear. I've shown here many times, (built in 2019) but what the heck.....I feel it demonstrates a good example of the possibilities of Paulownia. And BTW.....in three years, I've had zero issues of screws tearing loose or anything! ;)
1657913607776.jpeg
 

Peegoo

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Posts
13,433
Location
Beast of Bourbon
Ron, that's exactly what I did! Maybe you're the one who mentioned it in a different thread. Unfortunately, after getting the neck on the body to do some measurements, I found that the neck had too much bow (up bow?) to it and could not be adjusted for it to work. So I'm looking at other alternatives (I have another old, ugly neck that I could use).

Thanks for the advice!

Look here for pics:

 




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