Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

How to apply pattern on bass (like paisley P)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Keef, Aug 18, 2005.


  1. Keef

    Keef

    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Hi folks, I hope I'm placing this in the correct forum category –

    I'm interested in making a bass body with a pattern or photograph underneath the finish, like on a paisley P-Bass:

    [​IMG]

    1. Are there any special concerns I should have about doing this?
    2. Am I correct in assuming that one would simply apply a clear finish over the design?
    3. What would one use to adhere the pattern to the body?
    4. Would a special kind of paper or sealer need to be used so that the clear finish wouldn't make the design bleed or fall apart?
    Of course, this practice is still relatively common, i.e., on "photo-flame" instruments.

    I know that this idea will undoubtedly spur cries of "TACKY!", but I am a professional photographer and graphic artist so I'd like to believe (hope?) I could come up with something cool. I'd also like to be the owner of a one-of-a-kind instrument.

    Many thanks, and apologies for the somewhat off-the-wall question,

    ~ Keef

    •
     
  2. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I've heard of plenty of people who use overhead transparencies to do decals, and I assume the process would be the same for you. So far as I can recall, the big hitch is that you can't use a bubble jet printer since the solvents in the finish will dissolve the printing. Laser jet seems to work, though.

    Tacky or no, I say experiment. If it looks awesome we may well be coming to you for some sort of "image embedding" tutorial.

    -Nate
     
  3. Keef

    Keef

    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Thanks Nate, that's a huge (though totally undeserved) vote of confidence! I've been wanting to create a bass for as long as I've been playing (about 20 years) and I think/wish/hope that this will be the year I finally do so! I have a neighbor who moved across the street from me in 2001, who is a professional composer and keyboard player (he has also become a good friend). Turns out, he's also a very talented woodworker who designs, builds and finishes some great pieces of furniture, in mahogany, purpleheart, etc. I help him build his pieces and pick up a little bit here, a little bit there.

    Man, the raw skill and artistry possessed by you folks in this luthiers forum is mindboggling! I am a habitual old-thread reader, and some of the work here is astounding. I've been tempted to post compliments in many of the old threads but feared that would border on spamming. I can see the moderator warning now:

    • user Keef: you have floated 37 old threads to the top of the forum with the words "OMG! AMAZING!!!" – stop now or you will be banned.
    Looking at some of the artwork here is enough to make you give up before you even start – but at the same time it is remarkably inspirational. I don't think I will ever try to make my own neck, though. Just the thought of installing a truss rod terrifies me.

    Thanks for the words of inspiration, Nate –

    ~ Keef

    •
     
  4. You can use any inkjet printer for making decals for use under clear coats. Remember - the inks used in these printers is water soluble while the clear coats used over them are oil based - the perfect combination. That's what I use for my headstock decals. The best example to back up my claim is that the manufacturers recommend Krylon clear acrylic as a sealer to be used over the raw printed decal before you cut them apart for application.

    Overhead transparencies on the other hand ARE a problem. The toner used in color copiers is a thermoplastic powder designed to be heatset into (onto) the paper. These powders can be dissolved in the potent solvents found in the usual coatings used in guitar finishes. Besides, overhead transparencies are quite thick compared to a waterslide decal. I would estimate somewhere in the 3 mil range where as I couldn't begin to estimate the thickness of the much thinner decal stock. The added thickness would make ti much more difficult to float a coating thick enough to make the edges of the print disappear under the clearcoat and appear to be one with finish. It's also pretty stiff and that can be a problem when you try to get it to conform to compound curves.

    The problem you will find with the waterslide decals is that they aren't too suited for use in large areas. They can be difficult to apply in sizes much bigger than, say, 4" x 4". The stock is a bit delicate and that lends to tearing and stretching. I've done an embedded graphic on a Cort Curbow for a refinish for a client and had to do it twice because of these inherent problems. I would recommend you seek out a vendor with the capability to print large format outdoor graphics on clear adhesive backed vinyl. The machines used for this have brand names like the Gerber "Edge", Gerber "Maxx", Roland "Print/Cut" and other outdoor printers. These will take an .eps graphic file and output it onto the film using a heatset technology that lasts up to 5 years outdoors without lamination. That will last forever once sealed in a clearcoat.

    I'll dig up a pic of the Cort to show you the results you can get.
     
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Just for reference, those old fender flower power and paisley instruments were made with wallpaper. They applied the wallpaper to the face and back, then they did matching color burst finishes to cover the edges so you can't see where the paper ends. That's about as easy as it gets...just make sure your clear coats are REALLY clear.
     
  6. Keef

    Keef

    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Thank-you Hambone, I think you answered nearly every question I had in a single post. Need I add that I am printing this thread out? Actually, I've saved offline copies of a number of your posts, as usual you have offered great advice. I'd love to see the Cort too, if it's not too much trouble.

    BurningSkies, I always assumed that the paisley finishes were some sort of wallpaper, thanks for confirming that. And of course, you are correct, the pic I posted was of a flower power bass, not a paisley. Do you have a tip for keeping the clear coat clear?

    ~ Keef

    •
     
  7. edvon

    edvon

    Apr 4, 2004
    Australia
    Hi Keef, I read your thread about the paisley design, just when I was about to post a similar question about experiences re a technique. Please keep us updated about your success, I have something similar planned. Also, if wallpaper works maybe thin fabric or silk would be worth a try, don't how the clear coat would go on these though...
    edvon
     
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    I don't...I would spend some time over at the reranch message board and site. Those people discuss finishing specifically and will have a good answer for you.
     
  9. Here's the refinish I did on the Cort Curbow. It started out as one of the metallic blue finishes but the client was looking for the old Gibson color. We settled on this Matthews Nuance "Banana Souffle" and it came out pretty nice. The graphic was created by the client - that's his eye there in the center. I made the decal and embedded it under 3 coats of PPG high solids clear polyurethane.

    [​IMG]

    You might go over to the MIMF and look in the archives. Elle the sysop loves to do weird guitar finishes and she has some fabric covered ones under clear that are great - leopard prints and things.
     
  10. Keef

    Keef

    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Thanks, BurningSkies. I've been getting a lot of information/inspiration from the reranch site, but I never noticed that they had a message board – thanks for clueing me in!

    ~ K
     
  11. Keef

    Keef

    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Many thanks, Hambone – that really came out awesome! And thanks for the tip to check out the MIMF – I'm off to pester more of my bettors! ;)

    ~ Keef

    •

    PS: edvon, I will keep the board informed of my progress, but it might be a while before I even start – I've been bogged down with work (which is the main reason I've decided to try this out – the rare case of having a small amount of "extra" money!)
     
  12. Theshortlist_to

    Theshortlist_to

    Apr 20, 2005
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    unfortunatly i dont know who the luthier is and just found these images on a board i go on.
     
  13. Keef

    Keef

    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Cool, shortlist!