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The swamp Precision - Oil painting a swamp ash P body

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Kikegg, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    I asked for advice in this thread

    Painting a swamp ash body with oil paints - Artistic advice needed

    and after some delay with the Tru-Oil finally, today I was able to test it against the artist oil paints. Fantastic, almost no pigment residue on the rag I used to cover the oil paints (not thinned as it was a test in a piece of wood).

    Following GrantR's suggestion I've used burnt umber as base color and then burnt sienna to get a redish hue. This is just the front. I'm still thinking if I will do a black burst w/black rear or all the same as the front. Doubts :)

    Before (1500 grain sanded):

    Now (just painted front):

    What do you think? Black burst? No burst?


    Thanks for watching!
    SpyderX and Matt Liebenau like this.
  2. I’m glad that method is working out. I wasn’t sure.

    I’d go for the burst, but I like bursts, sooo....
    Lammchop93 and Kikegg like this.
  3. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Thanks Matt! I applied the artist oil paints straight from the tube with an old cotton t-shirt rag and then I dampen it with turpentine to thin and pop up the wood streaks. I did this twice, first with the burnt umber which left a very dark brown streaks and then with with the burnt sienna. Doing this left a very thin paint layer. In a couple of hours I was able to touch the paint. Anyway as I have to paint sides and rear it will have enough time to properly dry, I hope.
  4. Cool. I was actually wondering if the TruOil was going to smear or pickup the paint when you applied it since it is the same or very similar to the solvent for oil paints but it sounds like it didn’t in your test.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    nice! i'm impressed with what you are doing, so: i'm thinking you can't go wrong with whatever you decide! looks great --- congrats on a neat idea! :thumbsup:
  6. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Personally, I'd go for a burst, but that's gonna look absolutely beautiful either way. Love that grain!
  7. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    That was one of my main concerns about using two products that share the same carrier. From my old plastic modelling days I still remember the rule of using a different carrier for different layers using alcohol thinned acrylic paint and tupermine thinned varnish for a gloss finish, i.e.

    I suppose that as raw wood, I didn't use filler just sanded, absorbs the pigment and "melts" into it it's unlikely to happen.

    I'll post progress
  8. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Thanks. Visiting Warmoth's website I've found two bodies with a black to brown burst that look awesome, so I'm really really decided to try. There are few chances of doing it wrong. As I posted oil paint is very "user friendly".

    These are the two bodies (links to Warmoth):
    Warmoth Custom Guitar Products - Short Scale J-Style Replacement Bass Body
    Warmoth Custom Guitar Products - Soloist Guitar Body
    JRA likes this.
  9. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    I personally favor a red burst, but I'm not you....
  10. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    A little update, a big mistake.

    Trying to do a burst with oils and a rag was a total failure o_O Impossible to control pigment quantity neither blending it correctly. Thanks god cleaning the mess I did was easy with a clear rag and tupermine and no trace of it :thumbsup:

    I'm sure that to use highly thinned acrylic paint with an airbrush is the way to go as when I painted model kits. For a work like this it seems to be the only way to control transparency, blending and burst width. Low airflow and highly thinned paint to build up a nice border.

    Well, a reddish black brown or reddish black are very good options too for me, not plain red. I take it into consideration. Thanks.
  11. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Mini update after a weekend rest. Nothing done on painting. I only did a couple of things.

    First thing done was to gather surplus electronics and solder/test them. As I wanted to keep costs low I'm reusing my Highway One's P pickup, one GZR J I didn't used and a mix of Highway's pots & jack and GZR's solderless pot left. It looks a bit weird but it works. Missing in the photo is the J pickup to pot wire. I could not use the H-O's CTS tone pot due to its size. Thanks god I had a little Alpha pot with its 0.47uF cap.


    Second was to draw the burst template for the airbrushing reusing Amazon's cardboard for LPs. First "dotted" mark is (pictured) 3cm within border but it was too much. I reduced it to 2cm, not pictured. Once cut It will help to airbrush a soft border (I hope).


    More to come
  12. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Today's update. Check gallery if you want to see full size photos and colour detail: Swampy — Postimage.org

    I cut the cardboard template and attached some leftovers to rise it over the body.


    I airbrushed very thinned (50% isopropylic alcohol) aqueous Gunze black using the template (2cm width) at low airflow to do the borders both front and rear and filled the edges. Then with a more thinned mix (around 70% alcohol) I corrected some areas and airbrushed freehand over the inner edge to soften it.

    There's a huge lighting difference between these two photos as you can see taken in different rooms :)






    If you look closely at full size photos you can see that the border color is not plain black but a very dark brown, almost a burnt wood hue.
    At this point I ran out of black paint so I stopped. This is how it looks with neck and pickguard.



    It's close to my desired finish although here is a little area below the bridge holes that is a bit off that I have to correct.

    This morning I dicovered a bottle of "tire black" paint I was not aware I had. It's been a long time since I painted my last model kit so it was forgotten. I'm going to test in the neck plate area to widen (a little) the inner border with heavily thinned tire black to achieve a little more subtle burst effect. In any case it looks pretty and if the test goes bad I'll pass to the next step: Tru-Oil

    Thanks for reading!
    Matt Liebenau likes this.
  13. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    I discarded the "tire black" idea and I went the hobby shop for the same gloss black I did use before to do the little burst I wanted to do.
    Meanwhile I found some information about airbrushing Tru-Oil in a weapon's forum. 100% safe to airbrush Tru-Oil thinned with white/mineral spirits or tupermine and it starts to shine (not gloss but satin) from layer one. Six layers after it looks pretty good but I'm worried about the swamp ash deep streaks won't be "fully" filled (the airbrushed layers are ultra thin) and polish compound will stay there. From here I'm using the wet rag method to build a thicker and glossy finish.

    Matt Liebenau likes this.

  14. This guy did a cool burst with oil paints. I'm working on a strat body and I am going to try this approach.

    Yours looks great!

  15. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Yeah, this guy was who inspired me after watching the same video to oil paint the body. But honestly, I entered in panic mode when I first tried it afraid of ruin the base color. As I feel comfy with acrylics and airbrush I choose that way, so here we are, 2 more layers left bafore buffing, and very satisfied with the results so far.

    Thanks so much and all the best on your paint work! Please post pics as you progress.
  16. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Final steps:

    Polishing and finish
    As I feared some polishing compound went into the deepest streaks. Too bad.
    I started to remove that compound residue with a wet hard bristle brush and I swapped to a microfiber cloth and finished polishing with it. It was really a soft polishing as the body was already shiny but a bit rough. There are some areas to fix yet, but I'll be doing it later. Yesterday I was tired and a bit angry.

    Despite all that, it looks pretty as a whole.

    Putting all together
    to be honest I was a bit anxious to put it all together and check how it sounded. All previous work measuring hole position for pickups, output jack & pickguard was worth it and every bit went into position flawlessly. I adjusted the bridge intonation a bit (with some old strings that I'd laying around) and soldered the P pickup. The J is the EMG GZR solderless. All ok.

    The sound
    The P pickup alone, from a Highway One Precision, sounds bland... I don't like its tone. An EMG GZR P is already ordered.
    The J pickup alone, EMG GZR, sounds really nice. Sweet and growly. I'd tried it in an alder PJ body but didn't like it. This time it sounds very different and way better!!
    With both pickups and tone closed 1/4 the bass starts to sound the way I like, but anyway I rather prefer the EMG set sound.

    Things to do
    I'll use the pickup swap to disassemble the body, fix those white compound bits and apply some more Tru-Oil. The current finish is too thin, which in part is not bad (natural relic), but some more layers don't hurt and protect the finishing better.

    I'd also like to kill the bridge's bright to match the tuning machines, but I don't know how this can be achieved. Any help?



    If you take a look at the full size photo (IMG_20180301_214740 — Postimage.org) you can see those ugly white compound dots.

    And that's all, folks! Thanks for reading and your comments.
  17. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    @SamanthaCay (and possibly others) was doing some sort of acid fume treatment to age chrome on one of her builds, IIRC.

    Here we go: Setting them over, not in, hydrochloric acid for a while.

    The hamster wheel of my brain.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018

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