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Westone Cutlass

Westone Cutlass Rebuild pt 3 – Oiling The Body And Rebuilding

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481I’m fully aware of how long it  has taken me to write this update and I seem to begin virtually every post with an apology these days, but you know how it is..

Anyway, the nice clean wooden body needed some protection from the wear and tear of musical life, and as I said in the last update all those months ago, the owner agreed with me about keeping it natural looking. The previous instalments of this series are here

After investigating various varnishes and lacquers, and taking advice from friends who know about this type of thing, I went for an oiled finish rather than a painted one. The problem with varnishes is that inevitably the finish will get damaged at some point and begin to chip away, looking pretty nasty over time.

Danish OilOiling leaves a nice satin finish and brings out the grain of the wood, while giving a reasonable amount of protection. I headed off to my local DIY warehouse and bought a large tin of Danish Oil for under a tenner, which will probably be enough to refinish every Westone Cutlass in existence! Applying it couldn’t be easier…tip some sparingly onto a clean duster and stroke it into the wood, keeping the coverage as even as possible. It dries in about 15-20 minutes and then you can keep adding layers (3 or 4) until a decent covering has been built up.

It looks pretty dark when first applied, but lightens up as it dries and soaks in, leaving the colour only slightly darker than the bare wood. When it has dried for a while the finish is buffed over with another clean duster to remove any excess and give a nice satin sheen.

I left it for a few hours to be sure it was fully dried out and then began re-assembly. I screwed the neck and bridge back into place and reinstalled the springs on the trem block.

Most of the wiring was already in place as the scratchplate was fully assembled when I got the guitar, but I had dis-assembled it when I repaired the crack. I refitted the pickups and pots, and reattached the wires for the humbucking pickup which had become detached.

I did a quick test by plugging in a lead to the jack socket and my amp and tapped the pickups with a  screwdriver to check I had sound, and as all seemed ok I went ahead with re-fitting the scratchplate assembly.

After that, it was just a case of re-stringing and setting the bridge. The neck was perfect and didn’t need any truss rod tweaking so the whole re-assembly took less than an hour. A real pleasure after the hassles with the Westone Thunder 1-T rebuild.

This is a GREAT guitar. I love the feel and the sound of it, It’s beefier than a Strat, but still capable of subtle tone variations. The humbucker (by Gotoh, I believe) screams nicely and the whole package is well balanced and well made.

Rebuilt Westone Cutlass

Westone Cutlass back and front

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Westone Cutlass Rebuild pt 2 – The Body and the Scratchplate

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481As I said in part one of the Westone Cutlass rebuild, I have decided not paint this guitar, but to keep it natural looking.

The original body finish was a pale, yellowy clear lacquer which suited the look of the guitar, but now has some quite deep scratches and dents on the front, back and upper horn (see pic).

Westone Cutlass body

Unlike a painted finish, it isn’t possible just to sand back the top coat and use wood filler to fill any blemishes. As the wood will be on display under a few coats of wood oil, the base has to be as perfect as possible.

This lead to a hot sweaty Sunday afternoon with an array of different types of sandpaper and a sanding block to remove all traces of the old finish and the blemishes. I was lucky, none of the marking was so deep that it couldn’t be sanded out, and after an hour or two I had a pristine body, looking as good as the day it was cut! The grain is very attractive, with some darker marks behind the bridge area which look like scratches, but and just part of the natural colouring of the Alder body.

Westone Cutlass body

The scratchplate damage is the other main issue with this guitar, but it is fixable with no huge chunks missing; just a split below the bridge and a little piece gauged out. I have mentioned in the Westone Thunder rebuild series that my other hobby is building model cars. This comes in useful with guitar repairs too, as I am used to doing close intricate work, and I also have a large array of tools and items for manipulating plastic.

One such item is a product called microballoons, which is a filling material. It is basically a very fine white resin powder which is mixed with superglue to produce a sandable filler which sets almost instantly. I began by gluing the crack in the scratchplate with superglue, then when that had dried, I used the microballoons to build up the surface again to the previous level.

Westone Cutlass scratchplateOnce this had dried, I carefully sanded back the excess coloured the white microballoon area with a black felt tip pen. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid repair and hardly noticeable now the guitar is back together.

Westone Cutlass scratchplate

Next instalment will be about oiling the body and putting it all back together.

Westone Cutlass Rebuild pt 1 – The Background


When I first started this site, one of the reasons was to get back into restoring, customising and fiddling with guitars.

Westone Cutlass restoration project

I have played around with guitars all my playing life (30 years this month!) as most of us players do. It is always useful to know how to fix your own gear, and sooner or later a pickup will need changing, or a machine head will break and all of a sudden you find yourself up to your eyes in bits of guitars.

Last year I was browsing Ebay and I found a Westone Thunder for sale in appalling condition. It really was the worst I had seen, with virtually every piece of it broken in some way. I bought it and restored it, and the story is on this blog here.

As part of  the process during the restoration, I used my Twitter account to alert readers to new updates, and to publicise this blog. I was contacted during the build and asked if I would be interested in restoring another Westone.

It’s a Westone Cutlass, which was built in the UK, not Japan in the late 90’s and is actually a really nice guitar. I have been researching them and I’ve put togther a short history of the Westone Cutlass here.

This one was in pieces, but complete when I got it with a few scratches and marks in the clear lacquer, and a small break in the scratchplate, near the bridge. Originally it was to be painted in the same colour blue as my Thunder, but after discussion we decided it would look better natural, in keeping with its original look.

Here are a few shots of the guitar as recieved, next installment will deal with the body refurbishment.

Westone Cutlass restoration project

Westone Cutlass restoration project

Westone Cutlass restoration project

Westone Cutlass restoration project