Back in 2019, my son Rocco and I used Samsung toner to make two Eric Clapton tribute guitars.
Our first two “toner Fools” flank Eric Clapton playing the original Fool guitar with Cream.
Fool Me Twice
These were replicas of The Fool, the psychedelic-painted Gibson SG that Clapton played with the group Cream in the late ‘60s. Our first two Fool replicas guitars turned out okay, but they were a lot of work. I vowed to never build another.
Fool Me Again
Then came Antonello. Antonello lived in Venice, Italy, and — after seeing our Fool I and Fool II — really wanted us to make him a Fool replica. I said no. Antonio was persistent, and the idea of Rocco and I having one of our instruments make beautiful music in Venice, Italy was appealing. So we buckled down. Instead of making another Fool replica, we’d make two!
Neck set and primed white, this Fool is ready to transform!
We began by assembling the ingredients that make Gibson SG’s such fine instruments: mahogany bodies with matching necks. We set our necks in place with wood glue (Titebond III) and primed the instruments with white paint. The transformation was about to begin.
First, we printed actual-size Fool artwork on our Samsung Color Xpress laser printer. Working from a photograph, we printed artwork for the front, back, neck, sides, and headstock of the guitar. Not everything fits on standard size paper, so we split the larger images among three 8 ½” x 14“ sheets.
Fools 3 and 4 get graphics.
Art On Top
Once we trimmed the printouts to the approximate size of the guitar, we used two-part epoxy to adhere the artwork to the guitar body. The epoxy has a 15-20 minute working time, so we were able to line up all the edges of the artwork perfectly. Also, the epoxy seems to dissolve the paper backing, leaving only the waxy toner image on the surface of the guitar.
It was easy applying artwork to the flat parts of the guitar, but we ran into trouble on the rounded neck and the cutaways. But bending paper around edges can be tricky. It involves a lot of careful trimming, sanding, and even a drop or two of Krazy Glue!
Antonello’s Fool gets a fine finish!
A Fine Finish
Once we had all the surfaces adhered to the guitar body and neck, we added another thick layer of epoxy finish. The epoxy dries to a durable and shiny clear coat. However, it often dried with low spots that needed to be filled with more epoxy. Adding a second coat of epoxy while the first was still sticky seemed to produce the best results.
So we applied epoxy, sanded, added more epoxy, and sanded, sanded, sanded some more until we achieved a completely smooth top surface. We got everything level with 100- and 120-grit sanding sponges and then worked our way up to 1000-grit.
Cased up and ready for Air Italia!
Off To Italy!
We told Antonello we could have his guitar ready in eight weeks.
It took eight months.
I told you these guitars were a lot of work!
Something always comes up. An edge gets sanded through, so we have to color-match and refinish it. The epoxy-coated neck must be sanded and shaped until it feels like real wood. A blemish on the back just won’t sand out...and those double horn cutaways are never smooth enough!
Building Fools is time-consuming and tedious. We’re not making any more!
This Fool is ready to rock!
Since we encountered so many delays with this project, we treated Antonello to some special vintage pick-up Bill Lawrence pickups taken from a 1980s Gibson Invader. Hot, crunchy sweet-sounding pickups!
We also tossed in a genuine Gibson hardshell case so that Antonello’s guitar would make it safely across the seas.
We’re pleased to report that Antonello received his guitar and seems happy with it. Rocco and I are putting the finishing touches on our Fool IV. We couldn’t have done it without Samsung toner — and a lot of sandpaper — but we won’t be doing it again!
Thanks to Toner Buzz for helping make this project happen!