How could I achieve a butterscotch tele colour?


Senior Member
What would you say is the best way to achieve the traditional butterscotch blonde seen on vintage telecasters? Obviously Id be using a swamp ash tele body and am going for appearence rather than feel (I can't see me ever finishing a body in anything other than pure tung oil, I love the stuff). Heres the look i mean as if you didn't know!!

Would it just be a case of dying or filling the grain with a blondish stained filler than adding the tung oil coats?

Does Swamp ash need to be filled like Mahogany does?
Here in the states, sells nitro laquer in that Butterscotch color, but I'm unsure if they can ship the aerosol cans internationally.

Swamp or any other flavor of ash DEFINITELY needs serious grain filling or the finish will "sink" down into the grain.
Building in the UK is hard work!!! You normally find that a lot of the stuff available in the US does exist here, its just under a different name and hard to locate. I doubt they would ship aerosol too.

I suppose I could just try and find a similar filler colour to the butterscotch and use that. I'm not being too picky mainly because I've seen so many variants over the years of THAT colour. Even the one I've posted from is very pale, almost a natural ash finish, not particularly amber at all.
I don't know that Neck Amber would turn out the exact butterscotch color, found this UK website:

Their Clear Amber Yellow looks closer, but shows "temporarily unavailable" on the website...
If you want a true early 50's butterscotch check my post under Blackguard and it show the steps.  Any other way will give you the look but  will not be accurate to the old ones.  When you look at the Blackguards I have posted you will find that they seem to be Mary Kaye White, but after the lacquer yellows they are dead on to an old tele.  The nice thing about this finish is as they begin to wear or relic you see the white pickling under the yellowed nitro like you would on a vintage guitar.  By the way one of the best butterscotch relic's I  ever saw came from the UK so all the goodies needed to do it are there.

A great referance book for the old teles is "THE BLACKGUARD" by Nacho Banos.  It has lots of pictures of the Tele's taken apart so you can see the way the colors have changed in UV since the color under the hardware and guards is protected from UV.  The only way to get that is to Pickle them and then use nitro lacquer and let the nito yellow naturally or under UV lights.

If you are going after the look of the guitar from your link you can get that by puting oil base paste filler on the ash and finishing right over that.

One other trick that I like using to age a finish is to put Zinsser's Amber Shellac on it.  It works great to age tweed or maple necks, and I have used it to fake a butterscotch blond with sucess.  I just prefer to do it the old way and let the lacquer do its thing.