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Ebonizing an acoustic top?


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More to the point, ebonisng timber works best if the original wood has high natural tannin content to begin with. Oak, merbau, walnut, redwood, cedar will ebonise quite strongly when exposed to the treatment, the most common of which consists of a solution made from soaking steel wool in vinegar. Adding black tea can also intensify the effect even further.

Other timbers (maple, birch) that have low tannin content will not ebonise as intensely, so it's possible you may end up with a brown or grey-ish look instead of jet black. Ideally you'd need to know what kind of wood your acoustic is made from to make a guess at how it would react, and whether it's worth risking. Ebonising also relies on the solution penetrating the top surface of the timber in order to react fully, so you'd need to be absolutely certain you can get every last bit of the old finish off the guitar first, otherwise it may end up looking blotchy.

Could you try ebonising a small unfinished patch inside the guitar first? Try a spot behind the soundhole, underneath the bridge perhaps, somewhere where it can't be seen under normal circumstances. Use a small mirror inside the guitar to see what you're doing and see how it looks. If it goes black enough for you, then you can make the decision whether or not it's worth the effort to do the whole process to the full instrument.

Beyond that, it's possible to buy jet black dyes that have a similar look (sometimes called 'Japan Black'). Again, you'll have to completely strip the existing finish to ensure consistent application of the dye without blotching.


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