Fender introduced the Modern Player series at the tail end of 2011.  An entry level Telecaster made in China from pine wood.  These guitars are solid and heavy!

I would imagine that most guitar players dream of owning a top of the range custom shop guitar and ambition is undoubtably a good thing, but it goes without saying that should we suddenly refuse to eat until our budget affords us caviar then we may never eat again.

Retailing below £500 at the time of their introduction, the Modern Player Plus was an accessible, quirky, Fender Telecaster, sporting a standard tele pick up at the neck, a strat style pickup in the middle and a humbucker at the bridge.  Coil splitting and a 5 way switch means numerous tonal options.

The Challenge

Now, the project that I have embarked upon and the subject of my next couple of posts is to restore a Modern Player Plus dating from around 2014.  The guitar has met with some trauma in its short history.

One may be tempted to ask why anyone would personalise a new guitar in this way?  I would simply reply with a question, why not?  Blues legend John Mayall regularly took a saw, a drilling machine and whatever tools of destruction he could find to make his guitars unique.

It is most improbable that John’s Stratocaster in the photograph below has ever been mistaken for another!

John Mayall playing a modified Strat

Returning our focus to the task at hand, the owner of this Modern Player Plus Telecaster wants to make some changes. These shall result in a slightly more traditional look but nevertheless it shall remain unique and reflect his wonderfully gregarious personality.  Our cunning plan is to refinish the body in seafoam green with a white scratchplate and to add a Vibramate V5-TEV-HB ashtray bridge as further on up the road he plans to fit the Bigsby B5 tremolo.  The bridge pickup will be replaced with a TV Jones Classic Humbucker.


After carefully dismantling the guitar into its component parts and safely packing away the neck, the electronics and the hardware our first task was to to strip the existing finish from the body.  This proved to be no mean feat.  Fender seemingly encapsulate these guitars in an epoxy resin finish and I feel no shame after rummaging deep within my vocabulary grab bag to produce none other than the word ‘tough’ to describe it.

StewMac have a post in the Trade Secrets section of their excellent web site detailing precisely how to tackle this task,  utilising a moderate helping of elbow grease and an electric heat gun.  In the absence of any other suggestion I followed their guide which proved to be a laborious but ultimately successful process as is testified in the photograph below. 

Although some unwelcome scorching of the wood occurred it is clear that a wood stain had been applied to the pine wood prior to the original spray finish, so that too had to be removed.   My weapon of choice for this duel was the random orbital sander and a 120 grit disc.  It didn’t take long to strike the pine below and the clean wood revealed a few blemishes which needed to be dealt with before proceeding.  A small deep crack became visible at the top edge of the lower bout of the guitar, this was glued and clamped before the various dents, holes and carvings were filled with a decent quality wood filler.

Allowing the filler to dry over night the whole surface was sanded again next day  with the random orbital sander, this time using a 320 grit disc.  The surface was dampened slightly to raise the grain before sanding.

I then cleaned the surface with a tack cloth and applied a grain filler which also was required to dry over night.  A final run over with the 320 grit disc and tack cloth meant that we were ready to begin spraying.

First out of the can was a heavy coat of nitrocellulose based sanding sealer.  This is by no means the most satisfying part of the finishing process but it is a necessary step.  The good news is that whilst this was going on the lacquer arrived from Steve at Manchester Guitar Tech.  The sanding sealer will now be allowed to harden overnight before sanding by hand to a smooth finish before we are ready to move to the primer.

Come back soon to see how we got on!


Andrew clarke · 11th August 2018 at 10:09

I was into that come on give me more 🎸

    John · 11th August 2018 at 10:30

    I will very soon. Just waiting for the sanding sealer to dry!

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