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Les Paul Top Refinish


Mike Doyle
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Hey guys...some of you might remember my old thread on stripping this sucker. I got the body done during the day, and its pretty clean now. The tutorial Brian made says to clean it with acetone to get leftover paint...I bought some, so I'll give it a wash tonight, and probably sand it down with 320/400/800/1500 so get it ready for the next steps.

Here's pictures so far:

lespaulstrip3.jpglespaulstrip4.jpglespaulstrip1.jpg

I still want to keep it very woody, and not finish anything else in paint. I might strip the headstock though, but I'm leaving the neck black for sentimental issues :D

I'm gonna finish the sides and back in tung oil, thats it. So I got that planned out. I need help on the top. Here is my plan...but John Suhr from Suhr guitars told me using water based stain might not be the best choice?

1. Sand it with a little 400 to get the grain ready

2. Apply wood conditioner for an even stain

3. Apply a few coats of Minwax wood stain in Oriental Ginger:

oriental_ginger.jpg

4. Apply more coats of Minwax wood stain in Mustard (to mix the colors for a more brilliant type of gold):

mustard.jpg

5. Finish with either tung oil, or a light satin clearcoat.

I'm just doing the top, leaving the natural binding on the sides. My objective isn't to bring out the 'beauty' in the top...because it doesn't really have much beauty. I just want it to look like that...but in a different color.

Are those steps sounds...or should I get that stained color another way? Your help is SO much appreciated!!!!

As for the rest...I'm finishing in Black hardware...I think black/gold looks SO slick, especially with a natural wood look to it!

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Are those steps sounds...or should I get that stained color another way?

Looks and sounds good to me and to make sure take a dab (with a small artist brush or Q-tip) and try it out in the exposed areas of the eletronics cavity, that way your testing on the very wood you'll be staining.

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Well...went ahead and decided something totally random on the fly. I REALLY didn't want to bring out the grain...if anything make it fade away under coats while keeping a 'woody' look to it. In addition, that oriental ginger color is like....a THICK, bright orange...which just sucks for what I wanted to do with it. Now I gotta think of a way to return a can of orange paint that was custom shaken for me. I'll say I ordered black pearl :D

So what I wanted was like a nice goldish stain over the maple, without bringing out the grain, so I figured why not try stain over a totally handsealed maple cap? I sanded 320/400/800/1500/2000 and then #0000 steel wool, and it felt like gliding over ice. Then I stained twice with oil based antique golden oak....and it didn't sink into the grain at all!!! Just colored it like I wanted...thank God! It's unorthodox, but I really didn't like the 3-piece look of the top, and the uneven grain patterns. Hopefully after 4 or so more coats, they will be close to invisible.

lespaulstain1.jpglespaulstain2.jpg

lespaulstain3.jpglespaulstain4.jpg

Anyway, it looks brown in those pictures...but its really a nice yellowish goldy brown...which I'd imagine will continue to get more rich as I keep applying coats. I might finish with a brilliant yellow stain if I can't get the color I want. So far so good though!

Dean...so you think after I've got the top done, and the mahogany ready, a complete tung oil will work good? I bet it would...I don't want a clear coat on this guitar, just a little protectant, while looking like its still a tree B)

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Thanks for the advice Litch. Here is my next question:

I have just finished my last stain of gold, and after it dries, I want to create a really 'budget' type of burst, that looks like its part of the wood. I have a walnut color of stain which I'd like to use...to make the transition from gold to brownish.

I know I should have done the walnut first, but is there a way to apply a decent gradient now around the edges? I can't use the foam brush, it won't be a subtle gradient. Litch said thinner would work...but how would I go ahead and make it work?

I also thought maybe start with the brown around the edges, then after that mix a bit of the gold and the brown to get an in between...and then just blotch it on there with a rag...and kinda 'smudge' it up the edges to even out the change in color.

KEEP IN MIND, I'm not going for this perfect burst...just a little darker around the edges, which works its way into the gold. I'm sure theres a simple method!

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