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Finishing flamed maple

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by MNbassist, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. I have two questions.

    1. I plan on building a guitar this summer (yes i know this is talkBASS, but ive made 2 basses already though and its time for a change.) My intial thoughts are to have a Spanish Cedar body, bookmatched flamed maple top a quartersawn mahogany neck and a pau ferro fretboard. I want to give the flamed maple a deep amber almost red tone yet still see the grain clearly. What kind of finish should I use to attain this tone and how do I keep it from getting to the spanish cedar (would it be as simple as tape)?

    2. If you were to finish this project what kind of finish would you use and how would you do it?
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I would use dye to acuieve the look you are talking about. I'd probably get the colortone dyes from Stew-Mac.

    below is a LP/PRs singlecut style guitar I made for a gentleman in Texas... here's how I got that finish:

    First, I dyed the top black, then sanded it back. This leaves the dye in the more open pores of the curly grain, making it more prominant. Then I 'burst" a mixture of red and brown around the edges, then a really weak red over the whole thing (the flash of the camera obscures the burst on the near side, but you can see it on the opposite side).

    Then, I tinted nitro lacquer with amber dye, and put on several coats until it looked right to me. Then clear nitro over the top. As you can see, the curl really stands out, and the guy just loved it. That was my version of "tigereye", which is usually an amber/brown combination with some red thrown in.

  3. 6Hz


    Jul 12, 2007
    Berkeley, CA
    No matter how careful you are, dye is going to bleed from the maple to
    the cedar if you do it after the top has already been attached. But if
    you color the maple first, then glue up, you'll get a nice clear line.
  4. If I attempted to dye the wood first I can see one problem occurring. I need to sand this in the shaping process. Its a 1/4" piece of Flamed Maple, what if I dye one side, let the dye sit and dry without wiping off the excess, then flip it and dye the other side until the dye penetrates the entire piece of wood. Do you think this is possible?
  5. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    if you are going to roundover the edges, you will not like the results of dying the wood prior to attaching the top laminate to the body core

  6. 6Hz


    Jul 12, 2007
    Berkeley, CA
    Nope. Unfortunately, even if you soak the board for days the
    dye is only going to penetrate a tiny fraction of a millimeter
    (and slightly deeper at the endgrain).

    If you're just sanding, two-sided tape or hot glue would hold
    the top on tight enough and removably. But if you're going to
    hit it with a router, there might be trouble. Actually, anything
    you do along these lines is going to be more trouble than it's

    Maybe you could use a dark laminate between the top and the
    cedar that wouldn't show the stain and would give you some
    room for slop? Or just go ahead and stain the cedar too; might
    look nice that way?
  7. Wood Ascention

    Wood Ascention

    Nov 7, 2004
    SDB is right on with his method. Mixol , Transtint, or an analine dye are what your after. Mixol and transtint have the advantage of being solluable in just about any finish, such as lacquer as SDB is describing.

    To keep the dye off the cedar... mask off the maple and spray what ever you don't want dyed with a sanding sealer, lacquer, or shellac. Then mask off the sealed portion, as an extra precaution, and proceed with your dye. The only fiddly bit here is sanding back through the first black(or whatever color) coat without sanding any sealer off. Slight inconvienece but very doable.

    Deffinately buy some dyes and finishes and play around as much as possible. There are some tricks to this stuff. Checkout Bob Flexners book on wood finishing if you are new to this type of work.

    Good luck
  8. already have flexner's book. Read it back to front multiple times. Im probably going to end up dying it. I guess im gonna go practice on the piles of scrap I haev
  9. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    *Always* practive on scrap when mixing dyes, so you know what you're going to get *before* you apply it to your final workpiece.

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