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Water Transfer

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Rick_no7, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. So I've got a few crazy ideas going around for guitars and basses alike.

    I guess its the southern blood in me, or my glorious lack of sophistication, but I love camouflage and snakeskin patterns. Especially after seeing a few of Dimebag's guitars on his home videos.

    Custom paintjobs like that are expensive, so I was thinking of other ways of doing it, when I remembered a show I saw. They used a water transfer process that involved printing anything on a special type of paper/plastic. They used it to camo guns for hunters, and other accessories that it just isn't cost effective to paint that way.

    I was wondering how feasible it would be to do this with an instrument? What would be the complications? I could see some wood being prepped for paint, then have this process to transfer a pattern, then apply a clear coat to seal it?

    The uses, if practical, would be incredible.

  2. theres a ton of sites on the internet where people used christmas wrapping paper, cereal boxes, tin foil e.t.c and clearcoated on top. in your case i would reccomend sealing the wood up really well first
  3. There is no way in the world that you can transfer a decal that large without damaging it. Either you'll have to do it in different sections - probably 10 sq. in. each at best or do it another way. The decal stuff is so difficult to work with in large doses. It will cling where you don't want it, creating wrinkles and when you go to smooth them out, you can stretch the decal.

    Perhaps you can find full size sheets of the clear label stock and go from there. I use that for my headstock decals now and it's pretty damn good. Got the idea from Bud L.
  4. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
  5. Now I see exactly what the product is.

    This is simply large format digital printing on sign vinyl. We do this all the time here at my work. It's pretty expensive as you can see but if you only need a small amount, you should check with one of the "quick" sign shops like Sign-A-Rama or Signs Tommorrow. They will print this from a file you provide in just about any quantity you need. They may not have the printer on site but these types of companies will have a centrally located machine that's used by all of the area franchise shops. They can order and have it back in a couple of days.
  6. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Actually, the company that does that process on the gun stocks is here in Greensboro, and they did several guitars and basses for us!!!! It works perfectly, however, unless you're doing THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of units, it is cost-prohibitive. We have a guitar from the early 90's here with a blue lepoard print on it in the shop. It is definitely NOT the vinyl transfer that you see on vehicles. I'll try to post a pic of it later...

    In other word, yes, it is feasible, it actually WORKS, however it is so expensive unless you're building in massive numbers that it isn't something that is very sensible.

    Looks killer though...anyone remember the "Marble" SKB 3006 that was sold through Bass Northwest? That was done with this process, they did the neck & fingerboard as well, and they even covered the pickups & bridge!
  7. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i build model cars, and i use a lot of decals. they are very hard to work with, and with decals that large you might have a lot of trouble. AND when you clearcoat it you have to be careful, because not all decals are compatible with all clearcoat. the decals will wrinkle, shrivel, and get eaten by the clearcoat.

    you could just by a dual action airbrush and learn how to paint.
  8. Goo, are you SURE he should start with a double-action? :D
  9. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Wait, there are water slide decals like for models, but is this water transfer thing different? Like a thin layer of oil paint on the top of a water tub then you dip something in there to take the pattern like an easter egg?
  10. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Scott, that's exactly what it is. I haven't seen it done, but Keith went with several guitars & basses and said that it was all automated/mechanized, and that the "decal" was floating on top of a tub of water, the machine just carefully and precisely dipped the body of the instrument into the water.
  11. I've done that exact type of painting when I was building models. If you go with metallics and pearls, the effect can be incredible. Only the way I did it was to start with my subject completely submerged first and lift it up under the film of paint. I didn't experiment to find out what works best, I just sort of figured that way was logical.