Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

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Jason Rodgers
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Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Ok, lads and lasses, I need some advice on finishing my second (er, first) electric. On my 7-string, I went for a very rustic and tactile finish, but now I want to try some a little more "real."

The big leaf maple top has some very nice figure that I want to "pop" with a black burst (maybe a little red in there, too). The back is some plain alder, with a rather incongruous poplar (green!) and maple strip up the middle (the alder was originally planned for wings of a neck-through), so I'd like to go solid black over the back and sides.

I have no spray equipment, nor do I wish to go down that road. It would be great if this could be done with wipe- or brush-on products, but I'd do rattle-can if it's the best option.

Right now, I'm thinking ColorTone or TransTint for the top, doing a hand-rubbed and sanded-back burst. For the back/sides, I've read on the interwebs about folks using acrylic lacquer. Over the whole thing, maybe Tru-Oil?

I'm not going for a super-plastic-blinged-out finish, just something that looks good across a dim room (or at 50 yards from the back of a running horse).

Your advice is most appreciated.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Rodger Knox
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Rodger Knox »

Jason Rodgers wrote:I have no spray equipment, nor do I wish to go down that road.
It's pretty difficult to get a good burst without spraying, but you don't need a spray rig, a cheap airbrush works fine. You can get an airbrush & compressor for less than $100, maybe less than $50. I use the cheapest Badger airbrush with an entry level airbrush compressor. It will not spray lacquer, but I mix the tint with water or alcohol and spray directly on bare wood.
I'll post more if you're interested in going down that road.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

I'm having a hard time finding the video I'm thinking of, but this is a good one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u49jCIRNnmk
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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Anybody tried Duplicolor's acrylic lacquer for guitar bodies?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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John Kingma
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by John Kingma »

I've used Duplicolor once or twice a long time ago. Seems to me it went on fairly well... but if I recall I had a hard time finding a clearcoat that would work with it. Duplicolor probably makes a clear but if so, it wasn't available at my local supplier. I don't recall what I ended up using for the clearcoats. I'll have to check my notebook and see it I made a record of if.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Barry Daniels »

Reranch has sunburst lacquer in spray cans.
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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Thanks for jumping in, John. Yes, the NAPA store had several clear coats available from Duplicolor.

As I'm reading more about acrylic lacquer, I see that it's very similar to nitrocellulose lacquer: different solids, but same solvents. Actually, Fender used readily available auto finishes early on.

So, it looks like Duplicolor would work just fine ($6 a can is just fine, too), and I need to read up on general lacquer use and technique. If anything, I will need to carefully consider my top sunbursting technique: TransTint or ColorTone applied with water might not jive with lacquer. If I did use this hand-rubbed burst technique, I'd have to do it first, let it dry well, and then do the back with a good plan of transition areas around the top edge. Test on scrap!
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John Sonksen
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by John Sonksen »

Jason if you want, I can show you how to spray a burst and you could come out to my shop and use the booth to spray it. I've got an airbrush I can set up for you, and I could mix some black lacquer or toner for you if you provide the lacquer. You'd have to make arrangements to store it while it's curing, as I wouldn't be around my shop full time and I'd hate to see it get dinged, but it is an option for you.

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

I'll keep that in mind, John. Thanks!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

I was in Michael's today, looking for some Halloween decorations with the family, and walked down the paint aisle. Here is something I've not seen in there before http://www.liquitex.com/spraypaintfeatures/

This is a water-based acrylic spray paint. It was a bit pricey, at about $12 a can. Do any artist folk have experience with this product?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Robert Smallwood
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Robert Smallwood »

I think this is the 'holy grail for non spray bursts with solid on back:

http://www.projectguitar.com/topic/1291 ... -tutorial/

Also Big D vids on you tube are good to watch.

Robert Smallwood
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Thanks for that, Robert! I'm feeling more confident with the idea of the burst. The solid back is still under consideration. Might just go with hardware store rattle cans.
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Michael Lewis
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Michael Lewis »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gzhgEXlkac
Here is an example of hand rubbing a vintage sunburst on an old Gibson mandolin. John Hamlett is the master luthier applying the color in the time tested method of the industry years ago.

Notice he doesn't flood the surfaces with liquid color, and doesn't let the blending color go on a dry surface and it is quickly blended before it sets a hard line in the color. This fellow is a professional and very good at his job, so watch closely and learn how it is done. You can add your own twists and turns as you see fit once you learn how to do this but it will pay you to get the basics as shown here.

The problem with flooding liquid color onto the wood is that it gets taken into the wood through the capillary tubes in the wood, and those are not evenly distributed. So the color is added less wet so it stays mostly on the surface where you can see it. It will soak in slightly in end grain and darken that area but it should not be flooded and allowed to soak as this creates a blotchy and uneven appearance. You can only see the color that is on the surface, so it does not help to soak it deep into the wood.

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Thanks, Michael. Is that a water or alcohol base?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Eric Baack
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Eric Baack »

I've used black alcohol based dye in shellac to spray a black burst on my baritone. It leaves it a bit transparent still all of the way to the edge.

Michael Lewis
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Re: Burst on top, solid on back: simple solid-body finish?

Post by Michael Lewis »

John was using alcohol based dyes in that video, but the 'system' works for water based dyes much the same.

The main point no matter which type of dye you use is to NOT soak the stuff into the wood because it makes a blotchy appearance. Obviously the pad has to be wet enough to leave the dye on the surface of the wood, and when you are putting another color over a base color the base needs to be damp so the 'new' color doesn't create a distinct edge but blends with the base color. You need to work fairly quickly to blend the colors when you put them on or the dye can settle in unevenly along the blend edge. Just practice on some scrap wood to get the feel for the process and you will do well shortly. One pad for each color you use and keep a clean one at hand for the solvent (water or alcohol) to push back color if you get too much where you don't want it. Try to get it all done quickly and not be pushing color around too long or you get the blotchy muddy effect.

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