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  1. #1
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Default Suggestions Requested (Guitar Build)

    Hey guys. I got a Les Paul style guitar kit for Christmas from my wife. The kit seems decent, except for the cheap hardware and electronics. Even though the figuring on the top is a veneer, the maple cap is thick, and the body/neck are mahogany. My plan is to have the original frets removed and replaced with stainless med/jumbo frets. I plan to use Gibson pots, Wolfgang pickups and switchcraft toggle and jack. The stop tail will either be the solid brass rig from Guitarfetish, or a B.B. King Lucille style with the fine tuners.

    This leaves me to the finish. I've always been partial to Black, but it seems like a shame to cover what could be a decent flame veneer with the proper staining. I was thinking a flat black would look cool, like the Stealth Wolfgang. The thing is, if I go the route of trying to dye the top and make it look classic, I'd probably pay to have someone do it, whereas if I were to go with a solid color, I'd be more apt to do it myself.

    What do I do?
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  2. #2
    Whoa, this is heavy! Jedi McFly's Avatar
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    Why not dye the top black?


  3. #3
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    Yep.
    A good grain sealer, then a black NGR dye followed by a clear or satin depending on the look you want.
    Would look great.

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    I agree, dye the top black. While you're at it, ditch the Gibson pots, I've had nothing but trouble with them over the years going scratchy every 5 minutes unless you bath them in contact cleaner everytime you look at them! I use Dimarzio pots for everything nowadays...
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommywho5150 View Post
    I agree, dye the top black. While you're at it, ditch the Gibson pots, I've had nothing but trouble with them over the years going scratchy every 5 minutes unless you bath them in contact cleaner everytime you look at them! I use Dimarzio pots for everything nowadays...
    Yes...and while discussing components, get a set of Grover tuners.
    For Strat type guitars I love Schaller's, but for 3 a side Gibson style headstocks Grover's are awesome and don't cost an arm and a leg. $40 bucks will get you a nice set. $70 will get you lockers. I put some on my Danelectro which always went out of tune, and they hold real tight.
    I'm putting some on my Gibson this weekend cuz mine are slipping so bad I can hardly bend my B and G strings anymore.

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    Be careful when dying a veneer top. If you use too much liquid it can start to peel the veneer off. Dip a cloth or sponge into the dye and wipe it over the top.

    I did a Warmoth VW quilt top body in black.


  7. #7
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    Nice lookin' top, AT...
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  8. #8
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies guys. This will be my first time finishing a guitar, and I am concerned about delaminating the veneer with the dye.

    I'm rethinking my approach to this guitar. Originally, I was going to do it up right, and make it into a real professional quality guitar, but now I think that may just be foolish. Don't get me wrong, I want it to play well and sound good, but I'm just not sure it would be worth it to do a professional finish on it. I was planning on a nitro finish, but that would be very time consuming if I did it myself, and very expensive to have someone else do it.

    I know there are alot of very talented guitar finishers here, and I need some advice. Here is what I understand that I need to do to prep the body:

    Sand with 170 grit, then 220 grit and 320 grit. Next, apply a grain filler and sand with 220 and 320. Then, apply a sanding sealer. Stain the top (if desired) sand and restain. At that point, I should apply a clear coat, or a primer if I want a solid color over the body. After a few coats of clear, I need to wet sand with 1200, 1500 and 2000 grit, then polishing compound.

    Can I achieve a semi-professional looking paintjob using this procedure using Krylon rattle can paint? If I do go on the cheap with Krylon, is it necessary to follow this procedure?

    I'm thinking about just doing the best I can on the cheap with the finish, and going all GuitarFetish on it with the electronics and hardware.

    I was doing the math on this, and to do it up right would cost as much as a real Gibson Les Paul Studio.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    Thanks for all the replies guys. This will be my first time finishing a guitar, and I am concerned about delaminating the veneer with the dye.

    I'm rethinking my approach to this guitar. Originally, I was going to do it up right, and make it into a real professional quality guitar, but now I think that may just be foolish. Don't get me wrong, I want it to play well and sound good, but I'm just not sure it would be worth it to do a professional finish on it. I was planning on a nitro finish, but that would be very time consuming if I did it myself, and very expensive to have someone else do it.

    I know there are alot of very talented guitar finishers here, and I need some advice. Here is what I understand that I need to do to prep the body:

    Sand with 170 grit, then 220 grit and 320 grit. Next, apply a grain filler and sand with 220 and 320. Then, apply a sanding sealer. Stain the top (if desired) sand and restain. At that point, I should apply a clear coat, or a primer if I want a solid color over the body. After a few coats of clear, I need to wet sand with 1200, 1500 and 2000 grit, then polishing compound.

    Can I achieve a semi-professional looking paintjob using this procedure using Krylon rattle can paint? If I do go on the cheap with Krylon, is it necessary to follow this procedure?

    I'm thinking about just doing the best I can on the cheap with the finish, and going all GuitarFetish on it with the electronics and hardware.

    I was doing the math on this, and to do it up right would cost as much as a real Gibson Les Paul Studio.
    If you go the painted route, I'd suggest Duplicolor paints. You can get a much more 'polished' and durable finish with that paint than with Krylon, and it's about the same price anyway. It's car paint, and you can get it in ANY color, as well as getting clears to go over your color if you'd like (and so you could buff the clear to perfection).

    If you go the stained top route, I'd recommend using TransTint dyes (http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/200...Tint-Dyes.aspx). They also come in a ton of different colors, or you can mix your own. You can use alcohol as your stain solvent, so that would minimize the risk of getting the top too wet and delaminating it. Avoid getting the Minwax stains you can get at the hardware store -- they are pretty much useless if you want any woodgrain to show through nicely.

    After getting the stain on the guitar the way you want it, you could go with Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane finish over the top. I swear by that stuff now, and you can get it in gloss, semi-gloss, and satin. Get even one of the medium sized cans and you could easily finish 10 guitars -- and it's not very expensive. Basically, you prepare the wood as you described, but then you hand rub on the poly with a rag instead of spraying nitro, etc. Steel wool/wetsand and repeat as desired. Very thin and durable finish, and the gloss version is SUPER glossy. I used it to repair a headstock on a factory-finished guitar, and the headstock ended up being much more reflective and glasslike than the rest of the guitar!
    Last edited by mrjstudios; 12.28.11 at 05:40 PM.

  10. #10
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Thanks Mr J.

    I was wondering if the Minwax would work. Would you need to clearcoat it at all with the minwax stuff? Can you buff it, or would you even need to?

    Now I'm thinking, stain the top, leave the neck and back natural, or maybe stain it, and paint the headstock black with Duplicolor.

    BTW: Do I have the sandpaper grits right? Should I use higher than 720 on the bare wood, or would that just be overkill?
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    Thanks Mr J.

    I was wondering if the Minwax would work. Would you need to clearcoat it at all with the minwax stuff? Can you buff it, or would you even need to?

    Now I'm thinking, stain the top, leave the neck and back natural, or maybe stain it, and paint the headstock black with Duplicolor.

    BTW: Do I have the sandpaper grits right? Should I use higher than 720 on the bare wood, or would that just be overkill?
    You mean the Minwax Wipe-On Poly? Because that is the clearcoat, and yes, it can be buffed, but you probably don't need to much at all. It's super glossy already.

    I would go up to 600 or so on the bare wood, maybe a little finer. Definitely stick to 800+ on finishing.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    You mean the Minwax Wipe-On Poly? Because that is the clearcoat, and yes, it can be buffed, but you probably don't need to much at all. It's super glossy already.

    I would go up to 600 or so on the bare wood, maybe a little finer. Definitely stick to 800+ on finishing.
    Great point. Also thought I'd mention to not make large jumps from grit to grit.
    For example's sake, if you started with say 220, many people get anxious at the thought of spending all that time re-sanding moving up through the full range or at least every second range of grit count, so they skip ahead to a much finer grit and spend their time with that making it what feels like baby butt smooth. Now you can usually get away with this on a natural unstained or solid color, but with stain you will see lots of distracting tiny dark cut lines all throughout your finish. Sealer reduces the absorption, but alcohol based NGR dyes (which are best and the most vibrant) penetrate extremely fast and deep and can be a pain to remove the cutlines after the fact without more material removal/sanding time (along with blisters and lots of blue language along the way).
    Last edited by we die young; 12.29.11 at 09:34 AM.

  13. #13
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Thanks again guys. So I should go from 170 to at least 600 grit in what increments? Also, do I apply grain filler first, then sanding sealer? Do I apply the dye before the sanding sealer?

    I think I'm going to choose the color dye I would like for the top, and stain the mahogany to darken it a bit. I'm thinking of black duplicolor for the front of the headstock, and wrapping it all up with the Minwax wipe-on poly.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    Thanks again guys. So I should go from 170 to at least 600 grit in what increments? Also, do I apply grain filler first, then sanding sealer? Do I apply the dye before the sanding sealer?

    I think I'm going to choose the color dye I would like for the top, and stain the mahogany to darken it a bit. I'm thinking of black duplicolor for the front of the headstock, and wrapping it all up with the Minwax wipe-on poly.
    I usually stay within two grit increments as I go higher, but it's more essential to go no more than two increments early on in the coarser grit stage.
    Grain filler....it depends who you ask. some prefer to seal first, but i've had great results and better bond applying the filler first, sanding to the 220 grit stage, then sealer, sand, then asses where I'm at. Sometimes you need another sealer application. The key is to make sure you don't break through the sealer before staining or you'll have blotchy dark patches.
    Everything else sounds good.
    Just speaking from my experiences. I once broke through the sealer without really noticeing on a basswood body when I was young, because at real high grit stage (almost 1000), the wood with so little grain definition looks satin like the sealer, and I used a real deep ruby red NGR dye. Where I broke through the sealer, it soaked it up like a sponge. I tried sanding back a little in the area with a foam block and feathering it out, but it never got any lighter.
    With black, it may be a bit more forgiving, but remember that with sealer, though it will be black, it will actually take on a more highlighted charcoal color, but if the sealer is broken through in any areas, those will go deep black.
    sorry to pound this message home, but that's the teacher in me. I've had students that make the sealer mistake over and over, and at the real fine grit stage, on some woods it can truly be hard to spot and NGR is real aggressive and stains almost instantly....Including your skin!
    You'll be fine though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    I think I'm going to choose the color dye I would like for the top, and stain the mahogany to darken it a bit. I'm thinking of black duplicolor for the front of the headstock, and wrapping it all up with the Minwax wipe-on poly.
    Sounds like a plan. Just make sure you don't do the wipe on poly over the duplicolor on the headstock. Not sure if that would work well. But if you want them to match in 'depth' and shine really well, just get the high gloss duplicolor clear coat for the headstock to spray over the black, and then it should match the gloss wipe on poly on your body.

 

 

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