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GuitarMan686

Staining an alder Strat

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Hey guys, 

I just picked up this 1997 USA Fender. I think the body is alder. Previous owner did a lot of damage that Im trying to reverse. I have scrapped the frets to remove a stain that the old owner put on. Next, I will polish the frets as stain also got on it. Im thinking of staining the body as I have never sprayed a guitar before. I do own a compressor but I don't have a spray gun. I was thinking about using a minwax water based stain. Either an black or maybe a white stain. What are the steps to take before staining? I know i need to do some more sanding. Im thinking 220, then finish with 300-400 grit. Also what kind of finish should go on after the stain? I don't think a regular polycyrlic would work well. Any suggestions?

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It's quite likely that you won't get to stain it properly; bodies like this have a thick layer of chemical sealer on the wood which penetrates slightly. Sanding that back is awful (the dust is terrible) work and usually the contours end up wrecked before you know it. I'd sand back the colour coats to the sealer and use that to my advantage, shellac over that and spray whatever you wanted. If you want natural wood, I'd suggest using this body as a template and copying into new wood. Not sure if you're wanting to go down that road though....

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I'm a relative novice myself, but I'd go down to 600 grit aluminium oxide paper before staining. The better your preparation, the better the results :)

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Not direct experience, however they are an old name in guitar-maker and repair circles. Off that recommendation, I would say they are a good bet.

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On 6/19/2017 at 7:17 AM, Norris said:

I'm a relative novice myself, but I'd go down to 600 grit aluminium oxide paper before staining. The better your preparation, the better the results :)

600 is waaaay to fine for staining. even 220. I rarely go finer than 180. You want to keep the pores open. 

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You'd be surprised how many people wouldn't believe you on that! :)

You can't beat good patient sanding through the lower grits properly. It makes all the difference.

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1 hour ago, guitar2005 said:

600 is waaaay to fine for staining. even 220. I rarely go finer than 180. You want to keep the pores open. 

I'm assuming that varies by species as well.  I closed-pore species like maple probably has more trouble taking stain after a fine sand than a more open species like mahogany.  True?  Still, 600 is probably too far either way.

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I tend to go the other way. I suppose it all depends on what look you are after. For actually staining wood, I stop at 220. If I want more color. Often I want the natural wood color to remain close to natural and the pores to get darker. Then I'll go to 400-800. Compressed air cleans the pores enough for my needs. And I I'm dyeing wood, which is most of the time, I'll put the first coat on at 600 or 800 and sand with the next grit add some more, go another coat etc. and end up with a highly burnished dyed piece.

Dif'rent strokes.

SR

 

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7 hours ago, eubie said:

I'm assuming that varies by species as well.  I closed-pore species like maple probably has more trouble taking stain after a fine sand than a more open species like mahogany.  True?  Still, 600 is probably too far either way.

It does depends. On tight, closed grain wood, 180 is what you need to really get that color in. 
On something like Korina or Mahogany, 220 works well. 

Sanding to 500 or 600 is a waste of time and the stain or dye will not take as well.

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Update: I got some fender locking tuners which were made in germany. Threw them on and strung up the guitar. The guy I bought it from said it wasn't wired up. I checked it out and worked perfectly! Score for me! I started playing her last night. Paint will be down the line but atlas she is fun to play for now.

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