Sunburst Telecaster

How To Choose The Best Sunburst Telecaster

What Is The Purpose Of A Sunburst Telecaster?

Sunburst guitars are generally considered by many players to be among the most desirable models available today. Their distinctive appearance has been copied by other manufacturers, leading to confusion amongst collectors and musicians alike. In fact, there are several different types of sunbursts which vary widely in terms of shape, size, and finish. Some of these variations include double-cutaways, single cutaway, flat tops, and more.

The History Behind The Sunburst Telecaster

In the early days of the 20th century, Gibson was known primarily for its acoustic instruments. However, during World War II, demand for quality musical instruments skyrocketed. As a result, Gibson began producing electric guitars with solid bodies and necks. One of these models was the "Telecaster, " named after the company's trademark logo. Although the original model featured a maple body and neck, later versions included mahogany bodies and necks.

How Does A Sunburst Telecaster Differ From Other Models?

There are two main differences between a sunburst Telecaster and other models. First, the top of the instrument is covered in a thin coat of lacquer. Second, the back side of the headstock features a large amount of wood grain. Both of these characteristics give the instrument a unique appearance.

Why Are Sunbursts So Popular Today?

Today, sunburst guitars remain popular because of their distinct visual appeal. Many players prefer the look of a sunburst guitar because it gives the instrument a vintage vibe. Others enjoy the way the sunburst looks against dark backgrounds. Still others appreciate the way the sunburst shines brightly in direct sunlight. Whatever the reason, sunburst guitars continue to sell well.

Where Can You Find Them Nowadays?

Although sunburst guitars are still produced today, they're no longer manufactured exclusively by Gibson. Several companies now produce sunburst guitars including Fender, Gretsch, Jackson, Martin, Rickenbacker, Schecter, Squier, Taylor, and Yamaha.

Are There Any Differences Between Different Types Of Sunbursts?

One of the biggest differences between sunburst guitars is the type of wood used. Most sunburst guitars feature either alder or mahogany bodies and necks. Mahogany tends to provide a warmer tone while alder produces a brighter sound. Another common variation is the number of frets on the fingerboard. Single-cutaway models typically have 24 frets while double-cutaway models have 22 frets.

Which Style Is Right For Me?

As mentioned above, sunburst guitars come in numerous styles. If you're interested in purchasing a sunburst guitar, you might want to take into account the style you'd like best. For example, if you play blues music, you might opt for a single-cutaway design. Alternatively, if you play rock or country music, you could go for a double-cutaway version.

The Importance of Purchasing a Quality Sunburst Telecaster

Sunbursts are generally considered by many players to be the best type of finish available for guitars. However, there are other factors to take into consideration before making a purchase. In fact, there are several different types of finishes that fall under the general category of "sunbursts." Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Some are more durable while others are easier to maintain. There are also differences between finishes with respect to tone and playability. For example, a satin finish tends to produce a brighter sound than a gloss finish. Satin finishes are typically softer and warmer sounding whereas glosses tend to be crisper and clearer.

Factors To Consider Before Buying a Sunburst Guitar

Before spending money on a sunburst guitar, you must decide which features matter most to you. If you're interested in playing music professionally, you might want to invest in a guitar that offers good sustain and volume. If you plan to perform only occasionally, you might choose something that sounds great but doesn't require too much maintenance. Regardless of whether you intend to play regularly or sporadically, you should always pay attention to the following factors when selecting a sunburst instrument.


As mentioned above, each type of finish has its pros and cons. One of the major benefits of a sunburst finish is durability. As long as you care for your guitar properly, you shouldn't have problems maintaining the finish. Even though a sunburst finish is relatively soft, it still retains its original appearance longer than other finishes. That being said, you should never neglect routine upkeep. Regular oiling and polishing will ensure that your guitar stays in top shape for years to come.


Another important factor to consider when choosing a sunburst guitar is playability. Although a sunburst finish makes a guitar easier to hold and maneuver, it does so at the expense of clarity and definition. Many players prefer a gloss finish because it produces a crisp, bright sound. Others enjoy the warm, mellow tones produced by a satin finish. Whatever style suits you best, you should know that you'll sacrifice certain aspects of performance when opting for a sunburst finish.


Finally, you should think carefully about how you'd like your guitar to appear. While a sunburst finish looks great, it isn't necessarily easy to achieve. Most manufacturers recommend using a special polish specifically designed for sunburst instruments. This process involves applying multiple layers of wax and oils to the wood in order to create a rich, glossy sheen. Once the final coat is applied, the guitar is buffed to remove excess material. Unfortunately, this process takes considerable skill and patience. If you aren't willing to put forth the effort required to obtain a beautiful sunburst finish, you should opt for another option.

Features To Look For When Buying A Sunburst Telecaster

Sunbursts are known for being more affordable guitars than other models. However, there are many features to be aware of before purchasing a sunburst model. The most important thing to remember is that these instruments are typically built with cheaper materials. Therefore, expect lower quality construction and finish. If you're willing to put up with the rough edges and imperfections, however, you'll end up with a great instrument. Here are some key features to look for when shopping for a sunburst telecaster.

Body Construction

The body of a sunburst telecaster tends to be constructed using thinner wood. As a result, the neck joint is prone to cracking and splitting. In addition, the bridge saddle can crack due to the thinness of the material. Another problem with sunbursts is that the fretboard itself is prone to warping. This happens because the strings pull too hard against the frets. As a result, the frets become loose and eventually fall off. Fortunately, this issue can be remedied by replacing the frets.


Another common problem with sunbursts is the finish. Many sunbursts are finished with a dark stain. While this looks good initially, it fades quickly. Over time, the finish becomes dull and lifeless. Some sunbursts are finished with a lacquer coating which lasts longer. However, this type of finish has its drawbacks. First, it takes several coats to achieve a glossy shine. Second, it doesn't hold up well to heat and humidity. Lastly, the lacquer finishes fade very fast. Other sunbursts are finished with a polyurethane top coat. This gives the instrument a long-lasting gloss. Unfortunately, this finish comes at a price. Polyurethanes require multiple applications and take days to dry. Also, the finish isn't waterproof so you must avoid getting water on the instrument. Finally, the finish wears down over time. All in all, the best way to ensure longevity is to choose a sunburst telecaster that has been professionally refretted.

Pickups & Electronics

Sunbursts are notorious for having poor electronics. Most sunbursts lack humbucking pickups. Instead, they rely on single coil designs. Single coils sound muddy and unbalanced. Because of this, you'll likely need to upgrade to a higher quality pickup. Additionally, many sunbursts have no tone control knobs. This makes adjusting the volume level difficult. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available today. With modern technology, you can now purchase a sunburst telecaster with active electronics. Active electronics allow you to adjust the output levels of each string independently. This lets you fine tune the tonal balance of the instrument. Furthermore, active electronics provide a wider range of tones.


Many sunbursts come equipped with standard accessories. However, you might want to invest in additional gear. One example is a strap button. Straps buttons let you attach straps to the headstock. This makes transporting the instrument easier. Also, many sunbursts come with a pickguard.

Different Types of Sunburst Telecasters

Sunbursts are a popular finish on guitars because of its unique appearance. The term "sunburst" refers to the way light reflects off the wood grain. In fact, there are many different finishes available for guitars. There are other finishes too, including oiled, waxed, and painted finishes. All of these finishes give a distinctive look to the instrument. However, none of them compare with the appeal of a sunburst finish.

The History of Sunbursts

In the early days of the 20th century, most instruments were finished with natural oils. As technology advanced, manufacturers began using synthetic materials to create more durable products. One of the earliest examples was the introduction of nitrocellulose lacquer. Lacquers were applied by dipping the instrument into a vat of liquid paint. Nitrocellulose was introduced later and allowed artists to apply multiple coats of lacquer. Artists found that the resulting product looked very appealing.

Types of Sunbursts

There are two main types of sunburst finishes: single stage and double stage. Single stage sunbursts are created by applying several layers of lacquer. Each coat takes longer to dry than the previous one. Double stage sunbursts require fewer coats of lacquer. Instead of waiting for each coat to dry before adding another, the second coat dries while the first coat is still wet.

Double stage sunbursts are generally considered superior to single stage ones. Not only does it take fewer coats to achieve the desired result, but it also results in a smoother finish. Most players prefer double stage sunbursts because they produce a brighter tone.

How To Apply Sunbursts

Applying a sunburst finish isn't difficult. First, you must prepare the instrument. Remove all hardware and set aside. Next, sand down the top edge of the body where the neck meets the headstock. Sanding removes the rough edges so that the final coating adheres properly. Finally, wipe away any dust or dirt that might interfere with the process.

Tools Needed For Sunbursts

To apply a sunburst finish, you'll need a variety of tools. If you're working on a flat piece of wood, you'll probably be able to use a soft cloth or rag. If you're working on a curved object, however, you'll need something stronger. An old toothbrush works well for smoothing out small areas. Larger sections will require a fine brush. Once you've prepared the instrument, you'll need a spray gun. Spray guns allow you to control the amount of pressure being applied. Too little pressure and the finish won't adhere properly; too much and the finish could crack.

Final Thoughts

Sunbursts aren't limited to acoustic guitars. Electric guitars, bass guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, etc.