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From Concept to Completion

This is the story of one custom finish project on a unique custom built bamboo telecaster style guitar.  Bamboo has not been used very much in guitar building. It has become very poplular in other wood working proects. The builder of this guitar felt it was time to take the plunge into something different.

There were a lot of change of directions in the finishing of this. We felt this would be a good example of how the proper collaberation between the builder and the finisher will produce a very superior end product. A well thought out finish can actually make the guitar a piece of art.

This page will take you through all the thought processes and the steps of the finish from beginning to end.

The Bare "boo-CASTER"

The solid bamboo body has white binding. The edge has a very interesting pattern from the glue up.  The top and back have a very pale straight grain pattern. We did not want to lose the grain pattern in the finish but wanted to highlight the binding.

Chosing the Color Scheme

The builder included  a few pieces of scrap with the body and neck that color samples could be made on.  

It really showed how interesting the edge could be. It also showed very little color could be applied to the top without losing the grain pattern. It became pretty obvious the color palet should stay in the golds, browns, and rust tones. 

Plan A

A very interesting pick guard was purchased and was to be the insperation for the color design. A transparent ice tea color was picked for the front and back and a rusty color from the pickguard and headstock logo seemed perfect for the sides. 

The pickguard had dark accents and those accents were carried over on to the body. 

While the side color was stunning, the front and back just did not seem right.  The horizontal pattern of the pick guard just did not feel right with the verticle pattern of the bamboo.

Plan B

The builder had sent a pick guard he had made out of bamboo, for “just in case” the original pick guard did not work out. 

The bamboo pick guard was finished with the rusty red and amber tones of the middle of the top. This was an improvement.  The dark accents were removed from the top and a soft burst was applied. 

So much better…………..But…………………  It still didn’t seem quite right. It COULD be better. After a little discussion, we decided a plan C was in order.

Plan C

The guitar just seemed “drab”.  The color did not seem to “add” anything to the bamboo. Plan C removed the front and back color and replaced it with a very thin honey color. This was just what it needed. This color became the perfect back drop for the custom pickguard, the patterned side color, and the electronics. The binding was still well highlighted. This was the winning design.

Head Stock

The last decisson was the placement of the head stock logos. 

The logo was the insperation for the rusty red on the body and pick guard. There were two options for the “boo-CASTER”, under the Cooke name or on the end of the head stock. With the very refined size, there was very little room.

It was decided to move the Cooke name up under the strings, making sure it was in line with them, and the place “boo-CASTER” out on the end lined up with the bottom of the name.


It took a lot of trial, error, and effort to reach the final product. I am glad the owner was willing to keep his options open through the entire design process. Any of the first designs would have been acceptable, but why settle for acceptable when you can have spectacular? 

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