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Drak Build: Sean Costello Double-Cut w/ P-90's


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So this is one of the upcoming burst jobs looming on my horizon. About the title: I honestly can't really explain it, I just sometimes get messages or intuitions about things, and I pay attention. And for some reason, this guitar wants to be leaned into something Sean Costello would play. Although as many would know, Sean passed away many years ago. I've got nothing beyond that, so it is my Sean Costello double-cut P-90 build.

What that means (to me) is nothing crazy lunatic fringe finish-wise or sound wise. Something more delicate and traditional. Sean tended to play a goldtop P-90 Les Paul that was pretty well worn-in.

Jason Lollar actually rewound his pickups for him once and named a Lollar P-90 model after him (w/o his approval, as the story goes).

And his music was traditional gutsy bluesy-soul influenced. So the P-90's I'm going to use are along that vein, right down the middle, no heavy-duty overwound stuff.

Yet, I'm not going to copy anything I've done so far finish-wise, I'm thinking a 'Lightly Toasted Almond' color is my working model at the moment.

I was working on it today actually, it's nearing dye stage now.

This pic is from February 2015, it is sitting in the back, in the corner, the double-cut, this is the oldest pic I can find of it.

You can't see much of it but more pics will be coming as it's getting ready for heavy rotation now.

It's very light, and I can't even remember the name of the core wood now, but if you throw a bunch of light hardwoods at me, I might remember. Looks a lot like Mahogany but its not, and the color is a little bit lighter and more pinkish than Mahogany. Dents with a fingernail super-easy.

But it's really light, which everything about this build is going to be, light and delicate, nothing heavy-handed or dark or weirdo-metal sticky.

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15 hours ago, Drak said:

It's very light, and I can't even remember the name of the core wood now, but if you throw a bunch of light hardwoods at me, I might remember. Looks a lot like Mahogany but its not, and the color is a little bit lighter and more pinkish than Mahogany. Dents with a fingernail super-easy.

One of my early builds was Spanish Cedar, and your description nailed it. Super light, super easy to work, super easy to damage. Smells good when you sand it. I sealed it with Z-poxy and that toughened it up like nobody's business.

I'm a Sean Costello fan and a P-90 fan, so consider me subscribed. I really like watching videos of him playing, really like his sound.

Whatever you are using to host your pics is blocked by my company, so I have to wait till I get home and remember to check your threads to see the pics. Since I keep PG up in the background all day at work, I often don;t think to check again when I get home. Bottom line my responses may be sporadic since I want to see the pics first. :)

But I'm watching this one.

(all the others too)

SR

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5 hours ago, ScottR said:

One of my early builds was Spanish Cedar, and your description nailed it. Super light, super easy to work, super easy to damage. Smells good when you sand it. I sealed it with Z-poxy and that toughened it up like nobody's business.

I'm a Sean Costello fan and a P-90 fan, so consider me subscribed. I really like watching videos of him playing, really like his sound.

Whatever you are using to host your pics is blocked by my company, so I have to wait till I get home and remember to check your threads to see the pics. Since I keep PG up in the background all day at work, I often don;t think to check again when I get home. Bottom line my responses may be sporadic since I want to see the pics first. :)

But I'm watching this one.

(all the others too)

SR

Thanks Mr. Scott. I use Imgur for pic hosting, which I thought everyone and his brother uses now, so I don't know what's up there...Yes, forgot the smell, smells a bit like cinnamon but not quite, but 'spicy' like that (not as spicy as Camphor Burl tho, I love that smell).

Ha, you just never know...I also listen to Sean reasonably often and am a fan of all that type of music. But I'm not a massive fanboi to the extent of building a guitar after him in some kind of hero-worship thing, it's not 'that'. I just heard what I heard, and I tend to follow my intuitions when they speak to me.

About another 1/2 hour of sanding and shaping and it'll be ready for dye and finish, might get there by tomorrow.

I'm still not 100% on the color scheme yet, still culling through my collection of pics I've accumulated over the years. It will be hard for me to hold back and not go full-on quilt-crazy on it, its going to be personally challenging to have some reserve. But I do know I want to use creme colored P-90 covers so it has to match up with that.

I keep telling myself all 'cowboy sunset' colors are OUT, don't even go near them, haha.

This caught my eye as a possible color contender, and goes well with gold hardware too:

in-stock-electric-guitar-quilted-maple-t

 

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So here's a pic of it from yesterday, it's a bit more cleaned up now, almost ready.

I think the quilt will be great for what I have in mind, its not a super-bling piece, but kind of nice and calm quilting.

xKfkSQH.jpg

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5 hours ago, Drak said:

Imgur for pic hosting, which I thought everyone and his brother uses now,

I don't know about my sister to whom you may refer as "everyone" if she uses Imgur. Being her brother I may be the mandatory exception of the rule as I'm not an Imgur user.

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12 hours ago, Drak said:

Thanks Mr. Scott. I use Imgur for pic hosting, which I thought everyone and his brother uses now, so I don't know what's up there

Oh, it's not you. My company blocks a number of social media type sites in an effort to lesson the temptation of employees to get lost in those sites as opposed to actually working. So Imgur is not available on the computer I spend my day on.

Cream P-90s ought to look nice against that color top.

SR

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On 4/5/2021 at 10:18 PM, Drak said:

So here's a pic of it from yesterday, it's a bit more cleaned up now, almost ready.

I think the quilt will be great for what I have in mind, its not a super-bling piece, but kind of nice and calm quilting.

xKfkSQH.jpg

Nice quilt. I love the way it appears to create scooped out areas as well as rolling humps. Does that illusion flip as you rotate it in the light?

SR

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So I started my usual pre-burst process. I gather about 50 pics of the kind of burst I want to do, a general collection. Then I start sorting them out into file piles, It is absolutely imperative to me to find the ones I don't want and answer 'why not that'. Because I chose them as possible contenders to begin with, so what took them out of play? Too this, too that, not enough this, OK, but I would quickly get bored with it etc. The crucial first step in narrowing down what I want as it helps my brain start to really energize and zero in on the target.

Then I collect the number of ones that made the cut and start whittling it down until I have my answer, 'the one'. Or the closest rendition to 'the one' I can find. The one that literally freaks me out I love it so much, I'm always looking for that emotional 'jolt' that says HELL YES, THAT!  If it doesn't excite me to that level, it's not worth the time pursuing it. It's really gotta move me in a big way.

Then I stare at it for quite awhile discerning the exact colors (and I seriously do mean exact), how they blended it, how much sandback (a lot or a little), how pale or deep the colors are, all the very particular information.

The whole time my brain is getting on board during all this scrutiny, it's analyzing and processing so it knows where I want to go.

Last night I Googled PRS Private Stock and downloaded a ton of pics, although I already have, probably thousands, its always fun to see new stuff.

So, when I do this, it's not about anything other than a color scheme, that's it. No ogling pretty guitars, its not about that. A particular guitar means nothing to me since all figuring is different, all woods are different, and the basic wood coloring itself is different for every single piece. So its not about copying, since you can't. It's about color schemes and combinations. Is it just one color? Is there a sandback color? Edge color? Did they shoot it over finish or does it look like it's all on the wood? I look for all of this information and compile it.

When I go into a burst, I'm not guessing or fooling around, I've done my homework long before I pick up a cloth or spray gun.

On the multicolored Prism PRS, it's literally the very very tip edge of the upper horn, that's all I'm looking at, but that color is in the ballpark.

Here are a few that made the short list besides the one I already posted, so you can see the range I'm looking at.

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So, to cut to the chase, I decided on the yellow-ish one in the middle.

The figuring on that is completely different than mine, but so what, I LOVE the color scheme.

Totally rocks my world, and I need that, it has to completely knock me off my chair.

So, I notice that center section looks an awful lot like one I already did, my Rising Sun Tele.

Notice the similarity of the center sections.

So I've got that one piece of the puzzle covered, I know how to get 'there' at least that section.

Just gotta cut out all the other cowboy sunset colors involving red and focus on the brown.

zj1WH8w.jpg

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18 hours ago, ScottR said:

Does that illusion flip as you rotate it in the light?

Mmmm...yes and no. It does have some movement, but as I said, it's not a high-bling piece, so not a massive solar refractory chatoyance experience thing. I would believe by the time I'm done with it it should be reasonably attractive tho.

So next stage is finding the colors I need based on what I see in the pic. I started testing some browns on scrap and found a massive hit. I tend to keep all the 'cowboy sunset' colors up front, simply because I tend to use them more often. But I have many, many colors in many packages, some that I have never even used in all these years. So I was looking for all the browns that I never use, which generally means 'real' browns, not varieties of red-tinged browns that I tend to gravitate towards.

And I found a water-soluble powder, a small bottle of Transfast Extra Dark Walnut, that Blew The Doors off of My Mind. I cannot believe I've never discovered this gem of a brown sitting in my dye box, it is Magnificent! Like walking through a forest in the evening, at dusk, when everything is growing darker yet you can still see around you. Simply Gorgeous, dark, rich, deep brown, the Brown of The Forest Gods, oh yes!

I'm guessing the secondary color is primarily yellow, tinted with another, lighter brown to a tan or gold thing. I'll suss that one out tomorrow. I'm nearly there now. I've found the look I want, I've identified the particulars of the colors and the application, and I've hunted down the colors in my dye box (mostly).

Only thing left to do is ID the secondary color, then do a dry run shoot on a scrap piece of Maple (I have tons of small cutoff pieces of figured Maple).

I also hunted down a piece of flamed Maple veneer for the headstock which I need to get applied so I can do the body and headstock at the same time to make sure they match, since I'm custom-mixing colors.

This extra dark Walnut is really blowing my mind, it very well may be my primary go-to brown from now on.

 

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So I made a new 'spray shield' last night for this job.

Here is a pic of all my spray shields I've made over the years.

The new one is obviously the white one in the middle.

Its primary purpose is to protect the center and keep the center light and bright and protect it from overspray when doing the outer 'bits'.

I don't always use them, just depends on the job at hand.

I seriously cannot spray a round circle (unaided, by eye alone) if my very life depended on it.

I would die a horrific and tragic death if I had to depend on shooting a round circle unaided.

They're not a crutch, you still have to blend everything together after its removed, but they help me when I need them.

And they keep the center section from becoming too dark from accidental overspray, which I've done many times and become very pissed off at.

uVGH6Pl.jpg

 

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Color Testing.

First pic, Basecoat color:

Extra Dark Walnut. No finish, no sand-back yet, just wipe-n-dry, this test piece will be sand-backed in graded stages later on. Under lacquer, its gorgeous!

Second Pic, Top to Bottom, with pure lacquer poured on  the piece right out of the can, and fingered on (it is just scrap-test, after all):

Lemon Yellow, Lemon Yellow/Tobacco Brown Mix, Tobacco Brown, Cherry (the wood, not cherry red), Medium Brown Mahogany

Surprised again, the Cherry (for me) is Killing It. Never used it before, that I remember.

From here, I sand back the EDW in stages, and start mixing Lemon Yellow and Cherry to find the mix I want.

I may very well do a mix of EDW and Cherry for the basecoat.

The Cherry just brings a certain warmth and beauty to the game.

BUT, using creme P-90 covers, I cannot let it go red, I personally think that looks hideous.

It has to be a 'background' thing, just to bring some warmth, not obvious in your face.

PS, the LemonYellow/Tobacco Brown mix made me want to vomit, I detest that color...this is why we do scrap testing!

I think the (background) Cherry mixed with the (prominent) EDW will be delicious and super-tasty.

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Lemon Yellow with Cherry (the wood, not cherry red) added 3 drops at a time.

All these colors are right in my boathouse, I could use any of them and be happy.

PS, for anyone who doesn't know, Yellow does not enhance figure, at all.

If you have a figured wood and want it yellow with the figure enhanced, you always have to add some other color to it.

Look at the top, straight yellow, no figure enhancement at all, and as more cherry is added, the figure is getting enhanced more and more.

That's the only pitfall of using a straight-yellow...if you want to enhance the figure, anyway.

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So I used the spray shield in a whole new way tonight. I laid it on the body and lightly traced around it with a pencil. That made the dye job super fast and super easy.

OMG it was pure cake and took less than 5 minutes. Took longer to mix the dyes than to actually lay them down. I used about 80% EDW to 20% Cherry for the outside. And the exact opposite for the inside, 80% Cherry to 20% EDW. Took two runs around the houses to blend them together and done.

Yes, I know about the tearout around the 3-way switch, I patched it up long ago, it just stands out now there's dye on it. Thank the Baby Jesus it happened on the 3-way where I can cover it up with a switchplate, no one need ever know. A-OK so far, more to come.

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Since I used Cherry as in integral part of the basecoat, there's no need to add it to the yellow now, its 'in there'.

Probably just lay down pure yellow after sandback, the yellow will suck up the Cherry into itself.

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So you rubbed the walnut first and then similarly rubbed the cherry, mixed with the same solvent? And the transition just came that smooth? Or did you apply the cherry all over the top as the edge looks much darker in the lower picture?

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7 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

So you rubbed the walnut first and then similarly rubbed the cherry, mixed with the same solvent? And the transition just came that smooth? Or did you apply the cherry all over the top as the edge looks much darker in the lower picture?

Both mixes were pre-mixed in the little plastic cups I use.

I did use a new clean cloth to do the second interior coat, and used that cloth to do the blend.

Which didn't take more than 30 seconds to go round the perimeter twice to blend them together.

The whole thing still being wet and activated as it went down so quickly, this was a very fast dye job, the whole thing was done and over in about 3 minutes.

Both dyes are water-soluble and compatible with each other, no thinner/alcohol/water funny business here, all water.

Having that barely visible perimeter outline in pencil made such a Huge difference, can't believe I've never figured that out before,

You do have to remember tho, I'm not trying to achieve a seamless blend as this is all getting sandbacked with yellow as the final color.

So I wasn't sweating a perfect transition, although it came out pretty nice like that anyway.

My philosophy with the blending thing is the more time you spend blending and fussing and playing with it, the more chances you're digging a deeper grave for yourself, with the tendency to keep playing with it, over and over till you drive yourself half-crazy.

So I tend to try and get in and out in a hurry, get it done and leave it alone.

I could have continued to mess with it after the second time around the perimeter, but that's exactly where I know trouble begins, when you're tempted to keep going after it. I looked at it and said 'its done' ...and dropped the rag.

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2 hours ago, Drak said:

My philosophy with the blending thing is the more time you spend blending and fussing and playing with it, the more chances you're digging a deeper grave for yourself, with the tendency to keep playing with it, over and over till you drive yourself half-crazy.

If I only could have read this in the morning! I resanded mine and redid it and I'm still not happy!

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Well, I know my way isn't the only way, by a long shot. There are people who are ninja-masters at the wipe-n-blend thing. I'm not, I much prefer to use a spraygun or airbrush, I'm just way more comfortable with that method. I don't have the patience to wipe and wipe and blend and wipe. But I can sit calmly with an airbrush in my hand, totally focused and tranquil-zen, for an hour and love every minute of it. I just know my limitations, what works for me and what doesn't, and I tend to stay in my lane (most days).

 

50 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

If I only could have read this in the morning! I resanded mine and redid it and I'm still not happy!

Try making an outline like I did and (lightly) trace your pattern (in pencil, really lightly).

Just enough so you have something to follow, so you can barely see it.

I can't believe how effective that was, total game changer and time saver for me.

Been using those things for years as spray shields, never as a wipe guide tool.

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5 minutes ago, Drak said:

Try making an outline like I did and (lightly) trace your pattern (in pencil, really lightly).

Well, that would actually not have helped as I only used one colour and tried to fade it. And now that I'm thinking about it, you told in another post that a drop of water in alcohol would increase the "open time". And yet another thing I noticed, I could have moistened the entire area for a smoother fade!

Most importantly, I should have stopped right after the first strokes!

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OK. I CA glued the back and sides last night (this is really light and soft wood) as a strengthener/toughener and pore-filler. Sanded all that smooth this morning and on to the next steps. I liked the 'shield' idea so much I made an 'opposite' of it to guide my sandback. I laid it down and sanded up to its edges all the way around, -just- enough to see the outline, then I removed it and kept going w/o it. It's just used to help me outline my perimeter, once I can see the perimeter, I don't need it anymore. So, there are a few stages and objectives of the sandback to hit, and they don't all happen at once.

The primary 'thing' is to get the center section light and bright enough to achieve a nice bright 'centerburst'. Once that has been achieved, I then focus on 'hitting the tops' of the quilt everywhere else. If you don't see clear wood 'quilt tops', your second color isn't going to pop out, it will only accentuate the dark color already there. So after I get the center sanded out enough to get my 'bright' factor, I go over the rest of it to 'hit the tops'. I want to see clear tops on the quilt all the way around w/o removing the nice dark accents on the outer sections. I also usually make the secondary color a little bit on the weak side, diluted, so it doesn't overpower the rest of it.

Then I applied a weakened straight yellow, wiped on the whole thing, quickly, 3-4 passes over the top and thats it. Which blended any remaining difference between inner and outer edges. So, where am I at? What's my summation so far?

It's very nearly too red, its dancing right on the edge of where I don't want it to be, a little too much Cherry. But my brain just loves red, and given the chance, will indulge itself. So, that's easy to take care of, out comes the airbrush for a nice EDW edgeburst which will add in the dark brown I need. That will be it, waiting on good weather to shoot this thing. Other than that, I love it, just need one more adjustment to skew things more toward dark brown edges. Looks very different in different light settings.

 

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14 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

Most importantly, I should have stopped right after the first strokes!

Its hard to overcome your own tendencies, I know the feeling.

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