Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

TEST ON SCRAP FIRST! If your question is about repair work, either regluing or refinishing, please post it in our Repair Section.
Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

I am doing an electric solid body with a curly maple top. I saw an awesome finish on a beautiful Robert de la Garza archtop (picture attached) and want to do something similar. I tried contacting Mr. de la Garza, and he did respond, but I don't think his English is that good, because his responses were very short and not detailed. He said the finish he used was nitro, and he "activates" the curl before he applies finish. I asked him if he dyes the maple with black stain first, and he said yes, but I would like more detail. Has anybody done something similar and can you give some detailed explanation on how you did it. I will be using some kind of waterborne finish. Thanks.

Image

https://www.facebook.com/DelaGarzaGuita ... =3&theater

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2754
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Barry Daniels »

The picture doesn't show up. This may be a dye and sand-back type of finish.
MIMF Staff

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

Sorry, didn't follow the correct procedure for adding a picture. I think I got it right now. Thanks.

Here is the picture of the back.
garza back.jpg

Aaron Helt
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 9:19 am

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Aaron Helt »

I don't know what he did but MAN does it look awesome!

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

I know. Just look at that! I could stare at it all day.

User avatar
Randolph Rhett
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:19 pm
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Randolph Rhett »

No way of being sure, but most likely a black or mission brown (or combo) transtint dye applied directly to the bare wood. You apply it dissolved in either alcohol or water, but I prefer alcohol. Wipe it on VERY dark. Let sit and then sand back. Sand until the surface is not tinted and only the figure has tint. It will look ugly until you apply the garnet shellac or a tinted amber base coat of nitro. That is when it really pops. It also pops odd swirls or defects, so make sure the wood is really clear.

Of course, practice on scrap first.

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2754
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Barry Daniels »

The finish in the photo not only has the stain process described by Randolph, but also includes a sunburst of amber/red that was sprayed on in the top coats.
MIMF Staff

David King
Posts: 2689
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by David King »

What looks best in a photo often doesn't look as interesting in person and vis versa. The dark stain embedded in the grain often locks some of the chatoyance so the wood will have less of a 3-D quality in person. Most people seem fine with this so if that's the effect you want then by all means run with it.

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

I am not seeing the sunburst at all. Maybe I am not as attuned to that, though. I am find with not as much chatoyance. I will probably give it a try, and will post pictures of the results. Thanks for all the great advice folks!

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2754
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Barry Daniels »

The sunburst is subtle but it's definitely there. It is most obvious on the heel of the neck.
MIMF Staff

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

I see that now. Wow, good call. Thanks for all your responses, Barry. Do you think the initial stain is black or a dark brown? The top of the guitar is black, and he said black, but it looks more brown to me.

User avatar
Bryan Bear
Posts: 1272
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:05 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Bryan Bear »

I'm with David. I prefer the natural chatoyance of maple to the stain and sand back look. To my eye, staining and sanding is much more dramatic but seems less 3 dimensional. Maple with finish alone seems to dance more or have more of a firery appearance when you move it. At least that has been my experience with my experiments. Others may have better results than I for sure.

This is not to say that the guitar in the picture is not beautiful; it certainly is a work of art!
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

Gordon Bellerose
Posts: 1186
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Gordon Bellerose »

I have done finishes on curly, or flamed maple, both ways.
On one of my guitars I used black first, and then red second. After the clear coats it really popped, and had that beautiful 3D look.
Red Maple Rear 3.jpg
On another guitar, this one with quilted maple, I simply used a custom color stain before clear coats.
Both have their own beauty. It is quite hard to get a good picture of this one. It is actually more gold than it appears in this picture.
Quilt Map for Cert.jpg
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!

David King
Posts: 2689
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by David King »

Whatever you decide it always helps to start with a stunning piece of wood.

Andrew Mowry
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:52 pm

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Andrew Mowry »

I do a lot of stained figured maple, and in addition sanding back the first application of dye, it helps to really wet the wood with dye a few times during the process so it soaks into the areas of end grain. Then "scrub" it with a rag wetted with whatever solvent you're using (alcohol or water) to remove as much dye as possible (it won't get removed from the end grain). You can repeat that process a number of times. It's amazing the difference between dye that's applied this way as opposed to just sprayed on.
Attachments
IMG_4394.jpg

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1216
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Andrew Mowry wrote:I do a lot of stained figured maple, and in addition sanding back the first application of dye, it helps to really wet the wood with dye a few times during the process so it soaks into the areas of end grain. Then "scrub" it with a rag wetted with whatever solvent you're using (alcohol or water) to remove as much dye as possible (it won't get removed from the end grain). You can repeat that process a number of times. It's amazing the difference between dye that's applied this way as opposed to just sprayed on.
Does applying it this way preserve the chatoyance of the figure?
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

So do you wet it and let it dry, and then scrub it with the solvent? You said wet it a few times. Does this mean wet it and let it soak in and dry and then scrub it? Lots of variables. Thanks for all your advice.

User avatar
Steve Sawyer
Posts: 947
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Steve Sawyer »

Peter Wilcox wrote:Does applying it this way preserve the chatoyance of the figure?
Peter - my experience (limited as it is) with figured woods is that stains (that contain pigment) would have a negative effect on chatoyance because as David mentions above, the finely ground pigments actually fill some of the grain. Dyes on the other hand have no solids, and therefore should have no effect on chatoyance.
==Steve==

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2754
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Barry Daniels »

I disagree. Chatoyance is an effect of reflected light. Looking at figured maple from different angles to the light makes areas reflect light differently. Turn the wood around and the light reflection jumps to the other side of curls which makes the wood come alive.

Dyes used directly on wood soak into the end grain predominantly on one side of the curl and sanding back increases this. It makes a dramatic effect but this is not chatoyance. Only one side of the curl is highlighted, no matter which way you turn it. However, dyes used as tint in the finish do not reduce the chatoyance but actually enhance the movement of light reflections and the depth of chatoyance.
MIMF Staff

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1216
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Advice on getting dark curly maple to pop

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Thanks for the brief and lucid explanation, Barry. This reflects :lol: my own experience. The more dye that enters the wood (the more you increase the contrast - "pop" the figure), the more destructive to the chatoyance. So it looks like they are mutually exclusive - unfortunate. Tinting the finish doesn't increase the contrast - only adds a color wash to the whole surface.

I love watching a guitar with great chatoyance being played. As the guitarist plays and moves the guitar, dark areas become light and light areas become dark in a dance of reflections off the instrument.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Post Reply