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Another Sunburst Tutorial


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There has been some discussion about wiping on dyes for a sunburst effect lately so I thought I would photograph and post the latest project. This guitar has wood binding that I wanted to remain unstained but the back, neck, sides, and top would be. After prepping the guitar by sanding every sinlge little scratch out of it by going from 150 grit up to 800 grit I was ready to prep it again. Wipe the guitar down with a damp rag, let it dry and sand it out from 600 to 800 grit. Do this at least once more, twice is better. Now you are redy to begin masking.

EDIT: I haven't found that going to 800 makes any real difference and now only go to 400 grit when finish sanding.

Here is a pic of the body masked off only exposing the binding:

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Don't use cheap tape here get the 3M stuff. The green stuff is better for lacquer but the blue will work if you let the lacquer dry thoroughly before unmasking. Once masked I use a small brush to apply the lacquer. 2-3 coats will seal it up good:

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(Look at the resin from the cocobolo wood binding).

Next I unmaksed the body and neck portion. Go over all the edges of the binding and make sure you don't have any areas that leaked. If you do clean them up by scraping with a razor blade and/or some sandpaper (600 or 800 grit). Go slow and clean it up carefully. Take your time and make it perfect. Next apply the dye. I used amber dye with some brown accents around the headstock, neck joint, and sides:

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Once this is where you want it let it dry and seal it with 2-3 coats of lacquer.

Next comes the top. Unmask it and clean the edges like before. Once it is prepped (yet again) you are ready to start bursting it.

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I never did this color before so I started with some amber:

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Then I went over it with brown:

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Next I sanded back to lighten it up a bit:

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The next part is actually the recipe for the next several steps depending on how much of an effect you want. I started with brown around the edges, red in the middle, and yellow in the center all the while blending the colors as I applied them. I use cotton rags wrapped in sticks for handles to apply the dye. They work like paint brushes but can hold more dye. The first application of red, brown, and yellow:

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Keep going until the colors are as dark and deep as you want. Make the amounts of the colors look balanced to you interms of how much lighter dye to how much darker dye. One approach is to apply the brown and red heavily over the entire top and let it soak for a minute or two. Then take a full dose of yellow and start applying it in the middle slowly working your way out. The brown and red areas will now have yellow highlights. I repeated this part about 6 times before the dye was as dark as I wanted. Here is the result:

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Here is a pic with some lacquer as a sealer. I will lightly sand it prior to spraying the rest of the finish tomorrow:

25.jpg

Enjoy!

~David

Edited by Myka Guitars
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whoaaa. Small yet veryyy educational. Also it makes a great picture tutorial if you're not in the mood to read. Looks great. When you're done sanding and that things ready, itll be flawless. Love that style of les paul, would take it over gibsons anyday. Great job, just makes me wanna use my quilted maple to be able to take a shot at that

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Holy insane-control-caivities Batman! Any chance of some details on what all the bells and whistles will do?

The burst looks great, nice tigereye effect. You've really got the wiped on technique down to an art, I'm particularly impressed given how muddy and dissapointing my attempts at wipe on burst have been.

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Yeah, I know: control cavities from hell. This guitar is going to be a digital studio recording guitar. It has the regular control cavity with 2 volume, 2 tone, a 3 way, and output jack. There is a tremolo cavity in the middle. The other is for the GraphTech piezo and hexaphonic system. And lastly a battery cavity. The additional knobs are the piezo volume, the hexaphonic volume, piezo/guitar switch, hex/guitar switch, and function momentary. Basically I have added a piezo system that also works like a Roland synth pickup. You can then blend piezo and magnetic signals into your guitar amp and still have the synth out work independantly. Or you can use a Y-cable and have 3 separate outs: magnetic, piezo, and synth. Pretty cool if you are into that sort of thing (like I am).

The biggest trick I have for keeping the wipe on dyed finishes clear is to go over with the lighter dyes after the darker ones are applied to brighten it up. For example; when I apply brown and red all over the top I can then rub in the yellow. It will push the darker color out and leave the yellow. So you get the yellow highlights over the reddish brown background on the quilt. This technique also lends itslef to the heavily dyed, almost dark look to my finishes. I like it since they look almost like solid colors from certain angles but pen up to some awesome color in the light.

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The biggest trick I have for keeping the wipe on dyed finishes clear is to go over with the lighter dyes after the darker ones are applied to brighten it up. For example; when I apply brown and red all over the top I can then rub in the yellow. It will push the darker color out and leave the yellow. So you get the yellow highlights over the reddish brown background on the quilt. This technique also lends itslef to the heavily dyed, almost dark look to my finishes. I like it since they look almost like solid colors from certain angles but pen up to some awesome color in the light.

That's really interesting, and entirely the opposite of what i would have expected. When i was in art school and learning painting techniques, it was always stressed that you should start with your lighter colours first, and then add darker colours. But i guess paint mixes in ways that dyes perhaps don't. I'll have to try this stuff myself one of these days!

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Man I've been looking for this. I havent been able to find anythign about this anywhere, and man It turned out GREAT! I love it

Hold on one more thing, I am going to add a lr baggs T-bridge (loaded with peizos) and am trying to figure out how to use it like the roland pickup... SO basicly, how the hell are you gonna wire it up to work like you said? because that is EXATLY the setup that I wanted.

btw I just checked out your site and WOW, you have a great talent there :DB)

Edited by Godin SD
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Hold on one more thing, I am going to add a lr baggs T-bridge (loaded with peizos) and am trying to figure out how to use it like the roland pickup... SO basicly, how the hell are you gonna wire it up to work like you said? because that is EXATLY the setup that I wanted.

The bad news is that you can't with the LR Baggs system. It is strictly piezo. That is why I went with the GraphTech system They have a module you add onto the piezo preamp which adds hexaphonic capacity to it.

Check out: http://www.graphtech.com/ See their Ghost system. You may be able to use the LR Baggs saddles. Give them a call.

...it was always stressed that you should start with your lighter colours first, and then add darker colours. But i guess paint mixes in ways that dyes perhaps don't.

That is exactly it, the dye being waterbased will displace the dye already on the top by pushing it out of the way. It is important for the best effect to do this with the dyes still wet. It is a dynamic process and I go over it several times before getting it where I want it.

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Dave, I've always been a fan of your Stain work, like the one that Perry did that got GOTM too. Is there a possibility, and I know that this is asking for a lot of work, to make a video clip of the process, even if it's on a small piece of scrap, or on your next guitar? I got the concept, but I really don't have the hang of it.

BTW, I just saw the link to your neck profiler (back) and I think that I'm sold on it for my 1st neck, great tut.

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Dave, I've always been a fan of your Stain work, like the one that Perry did that got GOTM too. Is there a possibility, and I know that this is asking for a lot of work, to make a video clip of the process, even if it's on a small piece of scrap, or on your next guitar? I got the concept, but I really don't have the hang of it.

BTW, I just saw the link to your neck profiler (back) and I think that I'm sold on it for my 1st neck, great tut.

I could do something like that. I have a little recording feature on my camera that might work out. I am going to do the next guitar in a couple of weeks but if I get inspired I'll grab some scrap and do it sooner.

Glad you like the neck carver. It's a cool jig. Just make sure you use a variable speed router so you can slow it down a bit. It's a big bit in there.

~David

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I think that for now I'm out of luck, I got the bit, but my router is 1 speed and all the ones at the wood shop I go to are 1 speed too.

That will be great, I always learn a lot more by seeing things than just reading, even in college, I managed a & B just by attending class and discussing with the professors, now I take classes on line and it sucks having to read everything and then try to put your self in the prof shoes and see the way he might think about it in order to give the best answer... Here like I say, I know what you are saying, I can picture it in my mind, but how much it enough wetness on the colors, how well to separate them, that can only be apreciated when seeing somebody doing it.

Thanks, Francisco

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  • 4 weeks later...

Interesting how your #009 guitar was dyed using the same colors and technique but with red dye as the base instead of amber & brown like this one. Just different ratios of each color.

Is that correct?

These pics and tutorial give me confidence that I can get the effect I want with practice.

Thanks again!

:D

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Crazy Carl, I think the technique would work with any wood (test it first to be sure). Mahogany does dye well but of course it won't get as intese of colors as with maple which is the best for bright color bursts since it is white (a blank canvas so to speak). You will get some great effects with mahogany but I think I would pore fill first so you can get that material dyed as well. I am not sure since i don't usually fill the grain on my guitars. My thoughts are along the lines of 'what does pore filler add to tone?' I came up with 'nothing' so I don't use it unless my clients want it. Besides I like the look of wood grain!~

VanKirk, you're welcome! Yes, both #007 and #009 were done using the same techniques but different ratios of dye. I would suggest just playing with the dyes on scrap. A good experiment to try is wipe dark brown and red together on a piece of wood (darker edges). Then wipe in yellow right over the still wet dye. You can brighten up the red and brown and get some great blended golden tones. It is easier to do than it looks and practicing and experimenting on scrap will tell you all you need to know about it. Just don't hesitate to mix and blend until you get what you want.

~David

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Dave, I've always been a fan of your Stain work, like the one that Perry did that got GOTM too. Is there a possibility, and I know that this is asking for a lot of work, to make a video clip of the process, even if it's on a small piece of scrap, or on your next guitar? I got the concept, but I really don't have the hang of it.

BTW, I just saw the link to your neck profiler (back) and I think that I'm sold on it for my 1st neck, great tut.

I could do something like that. I have a little recording feature on my camera that might work out. I am going to do the next guitar in a couple of weeks but if I get inspired I'll grab some scrap and do it sooner.

That would be awesome. Can't wait to see it

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Hey David, whatever hapen to that little clip about you rubbing that nice stain on?  I bet there aer a lot of us waiting here!!

I tried the video feature of my digital camera and the results were not good. It's not made for it apparently. I might try again on another guitar and see if I can get better results.

Have you tried any experiments on scrap wood yet? Post back with what you've got and maybe I can help you that way. This is the best way to get a feel for it anyway. Each piece of wood reacts differently and requires a slightly different approach.

~David

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I'm waiting, I got no scrap figured maple all I got is ash and mahogany. It will arrive here on the 1st, after I cut the shape I will use the scraps to test the stain. I'm going for a blue stain. with either the black sand method or just mix a few different batches and then rub them in, like I said, I don't know but as soon as I get the wood I will try and PM you!

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