finishing a electric guitar

Please put your pickup/wiring discussions in the Electronics section; and put discussions about repair issues, including "disappearing" errors in new instruments, in the Repairs section.

finishing a electric guitar

Postby Jean-Philippe regnard » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:46 am

Hi,
I’m building my own guitar and I’m ready for the finish of the guitar body. I want a body stained blue but with natural wood grain visible (it’s in swamp ash). Find here some pictures for examples. I have made some research but I didn’t find exactly what I expected. So I want to have some confirmation that what I planned to do is correct.
As you can see on the pictures, the wood grain is a little black. It seems that before to stain in blue, I have to do something to enhance the visibility of the wood grain. I found different way to do it:
- Burn the surface of the wood with a blowtorch and sand after until only the grain of the wood grain remains dark. It seems that this is the most used method but for me it's very aggressive for the wood and suitable for failure (wood too much burn)
- Stain with a dark color and sand after until only the grain of the wood grain remains dark.
- Use a dark pore filler and sand after until only the grain of the wood grain remains dark. It works with wood which have open pores, which is the case with swamp ash.
Finally, I planed to apply an oil finish (tru oil or Danish oil).
So mow my questions:
1 – Which is the best technique to enhance wood grain visibility
2 – For the oil finish, I find a lot of tutorial but none when the guitar body is previously stained. So is it possible to use an oil finish on a dye?
3 – Swamp ash is wood with open pores. Am I obliged to apply a pore filler? If it’s the case, at what step of my finish process should it be made?
Thank you very much for your answers.
Image
Image
Image
Jean-Philippe regnard
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:35 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:47 pm

Whatever you do, first try it out on scraps wood from body cutoffs to see what it will look like.

Myself, I would try first the dark dye and then sand back, hopefully the dye will remain in a useful pattern. If so, then apply clear pore filler (such as epoxy) and finish with the oil.

Other forlk will have differing opinions.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it
User avatar
Peter Wilcox
 
Posts: 1065
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Jean-Philippe regnard » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:39 pm

I agree with you, I kept my scraps wood but I have really few
I have few attempts before to go.
Concerning pore wood filling, i saw on the instructions of a wood pore fillers that it's applied before to stain.
Others say that it's possible to do it before or after the stain. I guess that the effet is different.
Same thing with the oil. Some people say that the oil fill the pores...
t's hard to know what is the best process ... if there is one !!
Jean-Philippe regnard
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:35 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:26 pm

Jean-Philippe regnard wrote:I agree with you, I kept my scraps wood but I have really few
I have few attempts before to go.
Concerning pore wood filling, i saw on the instructions of a wood pore fillers that it's applied before to stain.
Others say that it's possible to do it before or after the stain. I guess that the effet is different.
Same thing with the oil. Some people say that the oil fill the pores...
t's hard to know what is the best process ... if there is one !!

Oil will fill the pores, but it will take many coats to do that. Epoxy is crystal clear and won't obscure the stain in the pores, and will seal the stain so it won't get lifted by the oil and cloud your finish.

Peter's schedule is almost exactly my first thought, though I'd try stain first ("stain pops grain - dye pops figure") to darken the open pores, followed by the epoxy and oil.

You could do two test pieces, one with dye and one with stain to see which works better for you. Be aware that oil finishes will have an ambering effect that may not play nice with your blue, but the test pieces will tell the tale on that. If it does change the color unacceptably, there are waterborne finishes that are crystal clear and can be applied by brush.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 889
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:32 pm

A few comments. The most important is to do all of your experimenting on scrap of the same kind of wood, ideally cutoffs from when you built it. The blow torch thing scares me - I know people do it, I never have, if you decide to you are on your own (but please post pictures)

I do a lot of staining, mostly on maple where I want to highlight grain. Remember that end grain absorbs stain much easier than cross grain - that will pop it (that how the fancy flamed maple tops are done). Some people seal the wood before staining it, they say they get better control, but I think that defeats the purpose. You can mix your stains using either water or alcohol and wipe it on with a rag - keep another rag wet with your solvent to help pull color back or move it around. You can apply a coat or two of stain to bare wood, then sand it back to leave more color in the the figure and end grain, but again, do the experimenting on scrap.

To get a smooth surface you do need to fill the pores and there are a bazillion products for that. I only use a finishing resin so again, my perspective is kind of limited. The stuff I use is mostly clear (slight amber cast) so I put it on after any stains, it seals the color and provides at smooth surface for the final coats.

I don't use oil finishes but my understanding is that TruOil (a gun stock oil) can be applied over stains. I don't know about any other oil finish. Frankly TruOil is the only oil type of finish I would consider for a guitar because of the way it cross links and hardens. The rule for TruOil is lots of very thin coats with ample drying time between, then a long drying time (maybe 30 days) before final polish.

I know I haven't been much help but here is a pretty good forum on finishing guitars. Go down thru the posts, these guys have tried about everything you can think of - some of it comes out pretty good

http://www.tdpri.com/forums/finely-finished.47/
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 418
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Barry Daniels » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:21 am

If you use a black tinted pore filler, you can accomplish two things at once.
MIMF Staff
Barry Daniels
 
Posts: 2360
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Eric Baack » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:04 am

Barry Daniels wrote:If you use a black tinted pore filler, you can accomplish two things at once.
^^^ This ;) ^^^
Eric Baack
 
Posts: 632
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:28 pm

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Steve Sawyer » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:38 pm

Freeman - your post is saying "stain" but your process sounds like you mean "dye". Stain is finely ground opaque pigment in a carrier. Dye is a transparent color in a water or alcohol carrier.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 889
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Jean-Philippe regnard » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:15 pm

You're right, t mean dye.
Jean-Philippe regnard
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:35 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Jean-Philippe regnard » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:23 pm

I'm not sure to use tru-oil at the end
I heard that the result is a little yellow and it go worse with time.
With the blue, it will turn to green. Not sure that i want that.
I think that i'm obliged to go thit a lacquer.
Which is the best: nitro or polyurethane (or polyester)?
Thanks a lot
Jean-Philippe regnard
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:35 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Christ Kacoyannakis » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:08 pm

I am working on an electric solid body right now, and am just about at the finish stages (need a little more time with sandpaper). It is a carved top, curly maple guitar. I have dyed the maple black, and sanded back twice. Then I dyed it blue and sanded that back several times, with different shades of blue. I put a coat of shellac on it just to seal in the blue. The picture below is of the guitar at that state (note, it is a lefty).

Here is my plan for finishing. I am going to apply two coats of Solarez I Can't Believe It's Not Lacquer Sealer (see Highline Guitars videoson YouTube). This is a UV cure epoxy sealer. Then I am going to sand those back to flat, Next, apply two coats of Brite Tone sealer and sand that flat. Finally apply about 10 coats of Brite Tone Clear Gloss top coat, let that cure for about a month, sand flat, and polish (Highline Guitars has a very detailed YouTube video of this process - Chris, from Highline, is very active on YouTube and shares everything he knows, and also responds to questions.)
Attachments
rsz_aeagean_blue-min.jpg
Christ Kacoyannakis
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Freeman Keller » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:17 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:Freeman - your post is saying "stain" but your process sounds like you mean "dye". Stain is finely ground opaque pigment in a carrier. Dye is a transparent color in a water or alcohol carrier.


I have always used the the term stain to mean coloring something like wood (or your fingers) by absorbing a colored liquid. A dye is the material that provides the color. I know it is a thin line but I put dye in alcohol to be absorbed into the wood, I also put it into clear lacquer to make a tinted finish that is not absorbed. Wiki seems to agree with me

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_stain "Pigments and/or dyes are largely used as colourants in most stains"

The description gets muddy when we talk about cloth - we dye cloth with colored dye, but we also stain it with blueberry juice.

Certainly not something I'm going to squabble about, just the way I learned the terms.
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 418
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Freeman Keller » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:44 pm

Jean-Philippe regnard wrote:I'm not sure to use tru-oil at the end
I heard that the result is a little yellow and it go worse with time.
With the blue, it will turn to green. Not sure that i want that.
I think that i'm obliged to go thit a lacquer.
Which is the best: nitro or polyurethane (or polyester)?
Thanks a lot


I've never done a blue guitar and I've never used TruOil with any colors so count me out with those. I've also never done a poly finish of any kind, so again, no comments. However if I WAS going to do a blue guitar I would do as others have suggested and either used a black pore filler if the wood was porous or I would stain the wood with a very dark blue alcohol based stain (since I am going to use lacquer). If I was going to FP it I would use a water based stain. I would sand that back to almost white which should leave a lot of color in the figure. Then I would apply a much more diluted blue stain to the entire guitar, that should color the lighter wood between the grain and figure. I would then seal the colors into the wood with vinyl sealer which I know is compatible with my lacquer. If I was not using lacquer I might seal with shellac. I then shoot 10 or 15 or 20 coats of lacquer.

If I wanted to make the blue color get darker towards the edges or if I wanted a more intense blue that I was getting with just the stain I might add a couple of drops of blue dye to my lacquer. The results would still be transparent but I could apply more of that towards the edges to create a burst or shade if thats what I wanted.

As I said, I've never done this with blue, but here is a red guitar. The owner wanted a really rich warm red color (I think he called it 'bubble gum") so I started with a red stain to pop the grain, sanded that back to white and then applied a weaker amber stain to color the wood in between the figure. He wanted a strong red finish with just a bit of the grain showing so I added red dye to the lacquer.

IMG_2661.JPG


IMG_2662.JPG


IMG_2664.JPG


IMG_2670.JPG


(never mind that StewMac calls this stuff "stain")

IMG_2675.JPG


James Condino gave an absolutely wonderful demonstration of hand applied colors at a GAL conference a few years ago. If you click on the upper video here he walks you thru applying a green shaded stain - this is basically the same process I use but he does it so much better. No reason this wouldn't work with blue

http://condino.com/skoolin/

And for Christ, that is going to look incredible. I can't wait to see it when its done.
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 418
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Jean-Philippe regnard » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:35 pm

Ok,
so i what to use a mat lacquer in the end, clear to keep the colors obtain by the dye,. It must stay clear with the time.
I search for this and there is a lot of lacquer. I guess that some of them are better than the others.
Do you have a suggestion on a particular lacquer which is perfect to do what I want to do?
I have also heard that applying a sealer before the lacquer can help to get a smooth surface in the end. Is it strongly recommended to do this?
Thank you for your answers.
Jean-Philippe regnard
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:35 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:06 am

I would use either Brite-tone (a cross-linking pre catalyzed water based lacquer) or EM6000 (non catalyzed water based lacquer). Brite-tone is designed for finishing instruments (guitars, pianos, etc) that need a very clear, very durable, very glossy finish. It has high solids so builds fast, and with practice can be brushed, or sprayed. I spray it. For brushing, simply apply a very thin coat, do NOT go back over where you've applied, let dry for an hour, brush another coat, do maybe 3 coats a day for two days, then let it set for a week and start wet sanding, polishing. Lots of internet advice about how to polish a guitar. EM6000 needs more coats, about 10 very thin coats in the same manner, let dry for a week, sand and polish. Wet sand with thinned mineral oil as the lubricant, not water. You can add tint or dye to both products, but not stain. You can apply both over sanding sealer.

When brushing never go back over and re-brush what you've applied, and do thin coats. You can always fix a thin spot on the next coat, or let it dry and fix runs later, don't try to brush them out. EM6000 is less sensitive to re-applying finish after a few days, but Brite-tone catalyzes in two or three days and needs to be sanded for a new coat to blend in. That's why you do three or four coats a day, and recoat the very next day, it won't have catalyzed and the next coats burn in to what is already applied.
Brian Evans
 
Posts: 842
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Jean-Philippe regnard » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:02 pm

Oups, sorry, i forgot to say that i'm looking for something mat, not gloss.
In addition, i'm looking for something in spray can. I don't have a spray gun.
This is my first guitar so i don't have the full equipment such as a professionnal.
So I have to deal with what is accessible to beginners.
Jean-Philippe regnard
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:35 am

Re: finishing a electric guitar

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:10 pm

Jean-Philippe regnard wrote:Oups, sorry, i forgot to say that i'm looking for something mat, not gloss.
In addition, i'm looking for something in spray can. I don't have a spray gun.
This is my first guitar so i don't have the full equipment such as a professionnal.
So I have to deal with what is accessible to beginners.


Most lacquers can be made "satin" by finishing normally, going up thru the grits of final sanding to maybe 1500, then lightly scuffing with 0000 steel wool or a scotchbrite pad. I finished my first few guitars with rattle cans of nitrocellulose lacquer - very reasonable for a beginner.
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 418
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am


Return to Solid-Body and Chambered or Semi-Solid Electric Guitars and Bass Guitars

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Your purchase from these sites helps support the MIMForum, but only if you start at the links below!!!
Amazon music     Amazon books     Amazon tools     Rockler tools     Office Depot    

The MIMF is a member-supported forum, please consider supporting us with a donation, thanks!
 • Book store • Tool store • Links • 
cron