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Refinish (adding color over natural) yea or nay and advice

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by scuzzy, Aug 1, 2020.


  1. Leave it be

    11 vote(s)
    73.3%
  2. Sand down to bare wood, apply dye or tinted clear

    3 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. rough with light grit, spray tinted poly over desired area

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  4. other- comment

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I have a DP custom that I really enjoy, but I'm a bit bored with the aesthetic and wonder about moving it in a more interesting direction. I am inspired by the Warwick Robert Trujillo sig bass pictured below....

    Warwick-Robert-Trujillo-Artist-Series-620x318.jpg

    I had it made with black wood veneer between all the layers so it should be easy to get defined lines. I already have a peacock blue water soluble wood dye I can use to tint WB clear coat (varathane). I believe the bass is currently finished with poly.

    Is this a bad idea? If I proceed, would it be best to roughen the current finish a bit, tape off, and spray tinted poly over the areas I want to color? should I sand all the finish and go there? What would be the best method to achieve this? It would only be the wing pieces and the top, not the back or neck laminations.

    20200801_092427.jpg 20200801_092443.jpg 20200801_092453.jpg 20200801_092507.jpg
     
  2. You will need to spray the entire body with clear when you're done with color to eliminate the transition line or you will have a ridge of paint buildup. Have you ever sprayed before? It's not easy and unless you are really good at it, you may be disappointed. You will not achieve that blue/clear pattern in the first pic unless you go back to raw wood and tint then sand back and then shoot tinted clear. Maybe do some more homework and then decide.
    Goodluck. Thats a nice looking bass you own.
     
    Loring likes this.
  3. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I have sprayed, I have used dye on raw wood, covered with clear.

    However, info from the WB finished thread would lead me to believe that dying the wood isn't always the best option. Bruce says to never dye the wood, only grain fill with tinted spray and sand back, with clear over the top. I'm sure there are several methods to do this, I am looking for thoughts on the best, if it's even possible or recommended.
     
  4. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    This is a guitar I have done, but it was dye on raw wood. Nitro lacquer on top.

    20191117_150523.jpg
     
    Loring likes this.
  5. Understood. I haven't had issues using a dye and sanding back then clear coating. We may be overlapping some terms. To get that effect you will have to sand back to raw wood then spray color and sand that back to expose grain (i am using this term as dying and its technically incorrect) and then start tinted clear coats then clear. Results will depend on how well that grain is filled originally. Goodluck.
     
    Loring and scuzzy like this.
  6. Yeah very nice . killer color combo nice work. Didnt mean to insult your capabilities.
     
    Bikeguy57 likes this.
  7. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    No problem at all. I'm still learning a lot more than I know.
     
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    If you were starting with bare, unfinished wood, then true dye will give you the most dramatic colorful grain pop. I personally prefer using thinned tinted Varathane for grain popping, to keep it more controllable, but that's me.

    In this case, this bass already has a finish on it. You're never really going to be able sand all the finish off and get it back to bare wood. Too much of the old finish will be down deep in the grain. It would interfere with dye, and make it blotchy and uneven.

    I would clean and lightly sand the surface of the existing finish, just to make sure it's smooth and overcoats will stick to it. Then spray it with a transparent blue polyurethane. I recommend Varathane Ultimate Water-Base Poly for a lot of reasons, but you can use oil-base or other brands if you choose. Mix in just a small amount of the dye, so that you build up the blue color that you want in 6-10 coats. That will build up a depth of the color and emphasize the wood figuring down underneath in the the original finish. It'll get you real close to the look of that blue Warwick.
     
    scuzzy likes this.
  9. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    Thanks for the detailed response. This should be good practice for the telecaster I'm finishing for a friend that we talked about in the other thread. Taping off to get clean lines between natural and colored finish. When I get some spare time I might take this bass apart and get going.
     
  10. Do it. 20200320_092931.jpg 20200409_193331.jpg 20200321_140001.jpg 20200406_203119.jpg 20200418_115515.jpg 20200402_190710.jpg 20200403_175319.jpg 20200418_115508.jpg
     
    Beej likes this.
  11. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    My .02

    as a novice in this space, I’ll assert that I understand where you are right now-

    you want a little fun spark for a favorite bass that’s feeling bland right now.. and the allure of the craft of modding, building, and otherwise tinkering is staring you in the face.

    my advice is to compartmentalize these two feelings! Get into finishing and modding etc... rescue some pawn shop junk, buy some cheap bodies-only in the classifieds, etc. spend some time reallllly learning about this stuff, because if you haphazardly ruin a nice bass, you’re not going to scratch EITHER of your itches.. but if you accept that if you wait, develope a skill over time that will pass anyway, you may be able to do something you’re really REALLY proud of
     
  12. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    i appreciate the response. i'm trying to be patient on it and see if the desire for change passes.

    i have built 4 instruments, finishing each in a variety of ways. I am currently getting parts to build a cabronita tele for a friend, which will incorporate many of the finishing skills I am hoping to hone on my own instrument. it's practical as well as mixing it up.

    ruin is a strong word. worst case, I will have a lot of sanding ahead. i'm ok with that.

    i'm fairly pleased with my completed projects.

    20200701_182928.jpg IMG_0768.JPG 20191117_150326.jpg

    that being said, I can't hold a candle to the likes of many on this LC side of the forum and their finishing skills. I read more than I post, as I have a lot to still learn.
     
    eddododo and T_Bone_TL like this.

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