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Taping off sides for a colored top Les Paul

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So I'm planning on painting the top of my next guitar kit and staining the sides and back (like a gold top Les Paul). I want to order the kit with an unbound body so the lighter colored maple top  will give a fake binding look to the sides.

Do y'all have any tips for how to tape the sides off? Is there a better alternative than tape? I'll need a reasonably good seal since any runoffs could ruin my plans.

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Use the best tape available to prevent runoffs under the tape. Heavy glue is not a must, an even grip is more important. Car painters may know the best tapes.

One trick would be to apply either shellac or lacquer on the sides before staining the top. You can then scrape  or sand it off for staining or finishing.

You can also stain the top without protecting the sides at all. Fold an industrial grade paper towel to a flat tool and use the stain sparsely. The main trick is to only wipe the stain from the inside out especially around the edges. That will throw any droplets and mist away from the sides. 


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I was just staining and sealing the top of one of my builds (with maple cap and faux binding) over the weekend. See the pic below, I didn't tape off the side when staining, that is because I'm going to scrape back the edge with a razor blade so that it naked maple along the edge just overlaps the top slightly, so there is a tiny amount of overspill on the maple, but that will all be removed during scraping. The trick is to wipe the stain outwards at the edge, if you wipe inwards from the edge - it will drag the dye down the side which you don't want.


I did however have to tape off the lower horn. This is a massive PITA on PRS style builds but it is much easier with good quality Scotch tape or Frog tape than it is with cheap masking tape. Note in the first pic at the horn where the tape was removed, there is a still a tiny bit of bleed where the maple meets the mahog, even with good quality tape that is well burnished down there is still a tiny bit of bleed - it can easily be sorted with careful scraping, but I hope it goes to show that you can't rely on tape to give a perfect line.


I'm planning to scrape the faux binding tonight so I'll show you a pic of the scraped version later as the scraping is what males it look like a proper job. Oh one last thing, I find it's best to spray sanding sealer after staining but prior to scraping as it stops any colour running. Then I seal the sides once the top is dry and scraped.

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