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Basic Black Finish


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right well basically Im just really confused over what the standard finishes involve in regards to what is put on and how much.

Basically I want to finish a couple of guitars (poplar and mahogany) so that they have a sort od piano black colour (I think thats what its called, its not glossy or matt but a sort of shiny matt black?). So I was thinking of using spray cans. plasti-kote black satin actually, but could someone give me some basic advice,

i.e. do I need an epoxy sealer thingy? sanding sealer? will I need to put a clear laquer on top of a black coat?

Thanks alot


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that mahogany is DEFINATELY going to need epoxy filler. Go with something thin and long-curing IMO. As for poplar I'm not sure. But keep in mind that an epoxy filler is gunna make your grain pop... which you might not want if you're looking for a kinda dulled out finish...? Hopefully someone with more experiance will build on that for ya.


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Sanding seal will seal mahogany fine, but it won't do diddly about filling the pores. You need a pore filler for that, whether that's epoxy, oil-based, waterbased filler is up to you. Make sure you test on scrap.

'Popping' means it makes the figure makes it look more dramatic, which is good for clear or tinted finishes, doesn't matter if you're doing a solid colour.

Edited by mattia
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OK well I have looked in B&Q and I have a selection of cans and here is what im thinking to finish but some input would be greatly appreciated.

Its hard to explain the exact shade/tone/style of black that I want buts it the sort of black that my phone is (samsung D500). Its not really glossy black like a classic black strat and its not matt like gothic guitars, its sort of a shiny matt if thats possible, similar to that of a black piano, but not quite as glossy)

grain filler of some description...

black primer (plasticote)

black satin top coat (plasticote)

sealer (either matt, satin, gloss im thinking satin??) (plastictote)

is the sealer supposed to be a laquer?



Edited by Matt
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Sealer's seal the wood, leaving a surface that'll accept paint coats more evenly, nothing more. The topcoats will define the finish you end up with. If you go with one type (satin, matte, whatever), stick to that through and through, from the same brand, would be my guess. Also, test on scrap.

Also, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'piano black'; pretty much every single piano, upright or grand, that I've ever seen finished in black has been high-gloss finished. Satin should give you a not-quite-matte-but-not-glossy look, but will still require polishing out and buffing, so if you're doing it to save work, don't.

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  • 10 months later...

Sorry I can't answer as many questions as I'd like to, Matt, but if you're looking for a decent grain filler, I just filled my mahogany body with some stuff from Benjamin Moore.


It seemed to work out really well, although I haven't put a second coat on it yet. Turned the mahogany (and maple as well) something beautiful! Yeah, I filled the maple just to be consistant, and surprisingly, it took pretty well, and now looks a nice light amber! Just barely perceptable. If you want the grain to show through, you might want to dye the filler darker, just because it didn't really make the grain pop a great deal, but it's a nice creamy color :D

Re: Drak, I never knew about adding orange to black :D Thanks for enlightening me! I got to thinking, and I believe that a deep piano black would look awesome on my Explorer, with the candy red accents I'm planning on putting on.

So, to cut to my question: Would I be able to procure some "piano black," or perhaps make some myself? If so, how? Has this type of finish been done on a guitar before? Thanks for the comments in advance.


So I was searching the BM site I linked to /\ and found that they have poly clear stain in pints or whatever. For some reason, I was under the impression that clear, and most all finishes, should be sprayed on. Wouldn't brushing on the clear coat mean some serious sanding afterwards? You've gotta be leaving huge waves even when being careful.

[Note: I know next to nothing about finishing. When my project reaches the final stages, expect a huge thread of questions.]

Edited by Xanthus
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