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Guitar Build – Color has more components?

Posted by is9582 on June 4, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

I decided it would be a good idea to write some additional information regarding some of the things that contribute to the complete “color” of a guitar (or potentially similar for most woodworking projects), as someone pointed out some questions that many others may also have. Before I get into this article, understand I’m not a finishing pro nor am I trying to portray myself as one. These are just my personal thoughts.

The first couple of attempts I made towards preparing a dye/stain that would produce a pleasing look, seemed to be total failures. When I’d first apply the dye/stain, I’d think I was at least in the ballpark, but shortly afterwards (when it dried) I felt like I’d better stick with natural colored woods.

What I was missing at that time, was the fact that finishes over the added-color can completely change the final “color”. From my perspective, a quick overview would be that the color will be influenced by the wood (assuming a non-opaque color), the dye/stain and the film/non-film finish. So, when I went back to some of the earlier perceived “hiccups”, and applied some lacquer or shellac, the results weren’t so bad after all.

Since my last article was relating to my guitar, I thought I’d also include some photos that I’d posted earlier, along with the same unfinished sections, so you don’t need to bounce between two articles to compare.

Here is the first of three for comparison:

#1 no lacquer
#1 with lacquer

Here is the second set:

#2 no lacquer
#2 with lacquer

And finally, the last set:

#3 no lacquer
#3 with lacquer


Hopefully these photos will make it easy to see just how much difference the clear film finish plays into the total “color” of a piece. The clear film finish can really make the figure in your wood pop, giving it that 3D look of depth. (As information, the lacquer I used on these test pieces, was a clear gloss brush-applied version. )

***Please be safe and read all of the provided information on product packaging, as some finishes can be harmful to the body as well as potentially flammable. If you don’t understand some aspect of these warnings, check with your local finishing expert.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Guitar Build – what’s this, color on my guitar? Already??

Posted by is9582 on June 3, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, for anyone that has either been following my blog or may have just read a few of my posts relating to me building a copy of a Les Paul, you’ll probably think this is an April Fool’s entry. I’ve been trying to make a decision as to what color(s) I might use on my Les Paul, and maybe it’s one of those things that I had too much invested emotionally, to apply something only to hate it later.

Ok, so what happened to change my scenario? Strangely enough, I had laid down at the end of the day, a couple of weeks ago, and while I was trying to get to sleep, I had a couple of thoughts relating to the coloring process, that just wouldn’t get out of my head. I figured I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep until I did something with these thoughts, so I got back up and mixed up some color(s) and documented what I’d used, just in case it turned out to be what I was looking for. One of the first mix of colors was really looking like I might have hit it out of the park, so I put some on a test board (always super important to use wood that is very similar to what is in your project) along with the options others I’d just put together. The next morning I was a little less upbeat about what I was seeing. I knew part of what was going on, and I’ll share that with you, so you don’t think you totally suck, when you try some staining. When the colors are first applied, it’s sitting on top of the wood, and it’s really not too dissimilar to having a coat of clear film finish on top. As the stain dries, the dies both sink into the wood and that lack of wetness, removes that enhancing feature, where the eye sees it as if it had a film finish overlay.

I applied some clear brushing lacquer, so I’d get a feel for what the colors would look like on the guitar, after the lacquer is applied.

Well, I was back to thinking one of the mixes was pretty danged good. I applied some of the same mix to some spare mahogany (same as the back of the guitar) and it looked like crap! So I mixed up another batch while adding in a missing color, and applied it to the mahogany. It looked decent. Since I already had this new mix prepped, I thought I’d go ahead and apply some to the earlier test board (curly maple) to see what it looked like there. Well, it turned out the maple seemed to like this new mix even better than the first.

 I also tried some blending between the two “winners”, and all three had merit to my eyes, which on this guitar is all that truly matters.

I repeated the application of colors and brushing lacquer a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke when it worked well. Gladly, I had the same results again. Ok, so now it was just a matter of choosing one of my “mixes”.

I know it’s hard to believe, but I did decide what I was going to apply, and I applied it a couple of days ago.

Color applied and waiting for lacquer; photo taken with flash
Same color as above applied no lacquer; taken without flash

I won’t be using the brushing lacquer on the guitar, but instead will spray a thinner version of lacquer that is made for that type of application.

I guess now is the time for everyone around to start taking bets as to whether it’ll be another year or so before I actually get the lacquer onto my guitar. I know it would seem like a strong bet, voting against me spraying before the Winter arrives, but you never know!

Thanks for checking out my blog. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.