I'm sure this is already a given for everyone but I'll say it anyway... If one of the left two black, the right two burst.. I just couldn't bare to cover that beautiful wood and I love both finishes.. . So I'd say choose which one fits best sonically, then finish it based on the above..
If all of the stars in our little galaxy line up and I somehow am fortunate enough to be the lucky winner I would not want it aged.. If anything I'd say just lightly age the metals; take the shine off a bit.. Other than that I would want it fresh and let the work of art age on it's own.. I would play it just like my other guitars.. Most likely more so and it would see shows, jam sessions, etc... Don't get me wrong, if it's aged I would be just as thrilled to win it as I would having it not.. Just sayin..
Alright guys! After much deliberation and discussing it with a few folks who have seen the tops in person and tapping and listening and all sorts of general fussing, it has been decided to go with this top:
And with a bit of lacquer thinner to highlight the grain a bit.. Keep in mind this top is unsanded, and still quite rough.
Now here is the top and the clamping caul - and how they fit together:
The next step, now that we have the top picked out is to match a body blank to it. I've tapped out the top and decided how I think its going to sound in the end, and now I need to choose a body blank to go with it. I want to complement the top and work with what it has going on, tone wise. In the end I want a guitar that sounds crisp and articulate without getting even close to muddy sounding. Starting with high quality old growth lumber is a great way to narrow the odds of finding a good blank.
I start by laying out the bodies within the board. I use this template and just trace out the body blanks.
Now its time to wheel out the beast again. I keep this 36" bandsaw on wheels so that I can wheel it out to make room for larger boards. it does not roll easily at all, but its better than nothing.
I saw them up two at a time at first.
Then I go back and cut each individual body blank out.