if a painted rod will make your friend happy I say get new friends. Bamboo fly rods are beautiful. That said bamboo should be reserved for fly rods. But this is america you can do what you want, sometimes.
After rough planing most of all my strips are not perfect 60 Degree equilateral triangles. This is because I do NOT straighten strips at all until AFTER they have been baked in the oven. That said once the strips are straight through the nodes they all come out equal during final planing. Of course just pay attention during final planing to get it right.