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  1. #1
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    Default Fellow Builders; How to make figured maple POP

    Well, I am now building my own 'signature' guitar. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I've made plenty of guitars for myself and others, and I have played many different makes and models of guitars -- so at this point I know what things on guitars work for me, and what things don't. And being the tinkerer that I am, I'm using all of that trial and error (and trust me, there is definitely less trial, and more error ), and putting together a guitar for myself that has everything I like on it.

    The guitar is going to be basswood with a 1/4 maple cap, and I have a nice piece of flamed maple. I'm going to do a trans black finish, but I'd like to know if any of you guys have done a similar trans-dark-color finish and had the success of it looking like an Ernie Ball or similar guitar. I really want the flame to be lighter and 'pop', while having the rest of the maple very dark black (like the BFR Axis on the EB website).

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice on making figured maple 'pop' and all related techniques!

  2. #2
    Baluchitherium
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    I can't help but I just wanted to say it's not in anyway ridiculous to have your own sig or custom made "how you want it" axe. I'm really like a kid in a candy store here looking at all the EVH replicas or EVH inspired builds but really what you are doing is truly in the spirit of Ed's philosophy. Build an axe that has everything you want in a guitar.

    GL with it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by At0micPunk View Post
    I can't help but I just wanted to say it's not in anyway ridiculous to have your own sig or custom made "how you want it" axe. I'm really like a kid in a candy store here looking at all the EVH replicas or EVH inspired builds but really what you are doing is truly in the spirit of Ed's philosophy. Build an axe that has everything you want in a guitar.

    GL with it.
    Thanks man.

    Trust me, when it comes to EVH replica's I'm just as much of a kid in a candy store! (I've definitely built some replicas, and even more guitars that were more subtle 'tributes' in design to various EVH guitars...)

  4. #4
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    The first time I ever dyed a figured maple top it was a Warmoth VW body--quilt maple on basswood. I didn't seal the guitar at all, just applied the black dye directly to the top. The "deep" parts were indeed very deep, and the "light" parts were very light. I ran into trouble later when I tried to seal and sand, and I ended up bleaching out the top, sealing, then re-doing the black dye. It might be worthwhile to see if you can dye first, seal, then dye again. I'm completely guessing, but that might be a way to accomplish the depth but also prevent future fading.

  5. #5
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    I got one question doh...why on earth Basswood?...and i think it's a greath idea building your own..

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    The first time I ever dyed a figured maple top it was a Warmoth VW body--quilt maple on basswood. I didn't seal the guitar at all, just applied the black dye directly to the top. The "deep" parts were indeed very deep, and the "light" parts were very light. I ran into trouble later when I tried to seal and sand, and I ended up bleaching out the top, sealing, then re-doing the black dye. It might be worthwhile to see if you can dye first, seal, then dye again. I'm completely guessing, but that might be a way to accomplish the depth but also prevent future fading.
    Going stain right to the top is what I have been experimenting with. I was having trouble keeping the peaks really light though.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by al3d View Post
    I got one question doh...why on earth Basswood?...and i think it's a greath idea building your own..
    I actually like basswood a lot. I was considering swamp ash and some other woods, but when it comes down to it, I really like the tone of an axis or wolfgang standard best, and those are all basswood with a maple cap. The wolfgangs have a thicker carved maple cap, and the axis's have a 1/8" maple cap, so I kinda went for the middleground and went for a 1/4" maple cap.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    I actually like basswood a lot. I was considering swamp ash and some other woods, but when it comes down to it, I really like the tone of an axis or wolfgang standard best, and those are all basswood with a maple cap. The wolfgangs have a thicker carved maple cap, and the axis's have a 1/8" maple cap, so I kinda went for the middleground and went for a 1/4" maple cap.
    The flame top Wolfgang Specials have a 1/4" maple cap, and the difference in brightness from the solid basswood models is extremely noticeable. Warmoth theorized that a 1/8" cap would have little to no effect on the tone wood, which is why most (if not all) of their figured tops are 1/8". That could also be why EVH and EB decided to not put on something thicker when they developed the original EBMM; EVH really hadn't played a lot of maple capped guitars before that.

  9. #9
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    10.05.17 @ 11:44 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by al3d View Post
    I got one question doh...why on earth Basswood?...and i think it's a greath idea building your own..
    I agree... go mahogany.
    Your favorite band sucks.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by xaminer View Post
    I agree... go mahogany.
    Mahogany is a lot lower on my list. I just don't like the tone of it as much. I mean, the whole vintage Les Paul sound is something I like, but it's not my favorite at all. If I wanted a Les Paul, I'd make one...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    The flame top Wolfgang Specials have a 1/4" maple cap, and the difference in brightness from the solid basswood models is extremely noticeable. Warmoth theorized that a 1/8" cap would have little to no effect on the tone wood, which is why most (if not all) of their figured tops are 1/8". That could also be why EVH and EB decided to not put on something thicker when they developed the original EBMM; EVH really hadn't played a lot of maple capped guitars before that.
    That's good to know. I thought those Wolfs had 1/8" tops. I really like the bright tone Ed had when he was playing Music Mans, and although his rig and pickups changed after that, the Wolfgangs seem to retain some of the 'sparkle' I like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Mahogany is a lot lower on my list. I just don't like the tone of it as much. I mean, the whole vintage Les Paul sound is something I like, but it's not my favorite at all. If I wanted a Les Paul, I'd make one...
    Basswood gets a bum rap because it's a faster growing and soft wood. It is AWESOME for guitars if you like a nice warm low-mid hum and sustain, and it's balanced well all around. I don't particularly care for it for bass or drums (though it's not necessarily awful for either), but basswood suits the guitar well.

  13. #13
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    Still with basswood and all that..it's personal preference. I have guitars with basswood I love. Still my LP trumps them all in tone..and although I love my Paul and use it heavy with my bands for the more technical heavy playing especially with a trem I use other guitars.Jem's and Strats..still the LP has the best tone of the lot and sustain for days.

    I'm about to get a northern ash strat style guit with the evh relic in it so we'll see how that sounds...killer I assume but still..it's preference. Like some dudes don't like strats and single coils. For certain tunes and applications that combo kills.

    I've been a strat style guy my whole life really and many of my guits have basswood and I like them just fine. Still the tone of a LP's wood kills. IMO<- preference/opinion. I can understand why Ed wanted to make a strat style playing guitar with a LP tone. Best of both worlds right there imo.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Well, I am now building my own 'signature' guitar. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I've made plenty of guitars for myself and others, and I have played many different makes and models of guitars -- so at this point I know what things on guitars work for me, and what things don't. And being the tinkerer that I am, I'm using all of that trial and error (and trust me, there is definitely less trial, and more error ), and putting together a guitar for myself that has everything I like on it.

    The guitar is going to be basswood with a 1/4 maple cap, and I have a nice piece of flamed maple. I'm going to do a trans black finish, but I'd like to know if any of you guys have done a similar trans-dark-color finish and had the success of it looking like an Ernie Ball or similar guitar. I really want the flame to be lighter and 'pop', while having the rest of the maple very dark black (like the BFR Axis on the EB website).

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice on making figured maple 'pop' and all related techniques!



    The most important thing is to truly have a nicely figured piece of wood. If the figuring is really pronounced with no dye or finish, than a dye job is really going to turn out awesome.

    The most common technique for enhancing the figure is probably doing a 2 stage (or more) stain. If you're going trans black, mix up some pretty strong black dye and rub it in. After it's dried sand it back to nearly bare wood. The stain will remain in the exposed end grain of the figuring. (You'd have to remove quite a bit of wood to get past it). When you do a second application of dye, you can tone it down a bit, but the figuring will be much bolder because of the remaining color in the wood from the first application.

    I used that approach with this guitar:


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by wstinnett View Post
    The most important thing is to truly have a nicely figured piece of wood. If the figuring is really pronounced with no dye or finish, than a dye job is really going to turn out awesome.

    The most common technique for enhancing the figure is probably doing a 2 stage (or more) stain. If you're going trans black, mix up some pretty strong black dye and rub it in. After it's dried sand it back to nearly bare wood. The stain will remain in the exposed end grain of the figuring. (You'd have to remove quite a bit of wood to get past it). When you do a second application of dye, you can tone it down a bit, but the figuring will be much bolder because of the remaining color in the wood from the first application.

    I used that approach with this guitar:
    Very cool, thanks for the info. I was planning on doing a 3 or 4 step process, and it worked pretty well on my test piece. I don't have the best looking piece of wood, but it's got some nice subtle flame to it.

    And I'm using the minwax water based stain, so diluting the black shouldn't be hard at all.

 

 

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