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Building a EBMM Axis copy completely out of ash. I am torn between a black top, faux binding, and natural back and sides or a simply natural finish. Headstock will match either way. Any advice is appreciated.


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38 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

Now that's a good start already, very nice wood!

I'm feeling that it might be a crime to cover up the interesting grain patterns, even though my original intention wasn't a natural finish.

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So this is what I've got, since you allowed my mind to wander and choose whatever it wanted. These are two different treatments done to a Black Limba body. Depending on the piece, Black Limba can stand on its own, or sometimes it can use a little help to set it off. I see your piece as that, attractive, but could use some help, tho I would not cover it up with a solid black. Its attractive enough to keep it cleared and show it off.

One is a natural clearcoat with a black edgeburst, the other a beautiful green shader coat. Both are applied after the body has been clearcoated and sanded level, then the toners are shot over top of that, then more clear. Neither of these are done straight onto the wood, they are done over a cleared and sanded finish, then more clear to lock it in. If that body were mine, that is what I would do with it. You can clearly see the Black Limba wood in both examples, yet you can also see the added effects really helped set the piece off.

Its a nice way to keep the natural look of the wood, yet color it to taste.

You can dye straight onto the wood to augment both of these effects before you add them, but its really, really light.

Say, you were going to do a black edgeburst but wanted to dye the body to match it. I would use a Silver Gray dye mixed WAAY down, like 10%, 15% max. Like a super-diluted washcoat, nothing more. If you go too far, you ruin the effect, these are all very light and delicate treatments, nothing heavy-handed. In this way you are keeping the natural look of the wood itself. If you use a heavy-handed dye right onto the wood, you'll take away the natural look. Unless that's exactly what you're looking for in the first place, just straight-up dying the wood although with that piece, it would not be my first choice.

If you are prepared to do a faux binding job (I wouldn't, but I'm not you), then you are already prepared to do shader coats, as both require the body to be clearcoated first. The procedures share a lot of the same steps in the process is all I'm saying, so if you're prepared to do one, you can choose to do the other too as both require similar equipment and techniques.

That's what I got.

Natural Black Limba with black edgeburst:

d97379a457bad1792a9f0e139a7849b9.jpg

 

Natural Black Limba with Green edgeburst/shader coat:

CmdUyO8.jpg

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1 hour ago, mattharris75 said:

You could also just grainfill black for a cool look as well that combines black and natural, like the back of this bass I built:

459740_10151166292399325_622948164_o.thumb.jpg.947387eeb3d135a3eb3c20b72cd1404a.jpg

I like that look, but im afraid the dark grain will overcome the subtle color variations in throughout the wood. 

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1 hour ago, Drak said:

So this is what I've got, since you allowed my mind to wander and choose whatever it wanted. These are two different treatments done to a Black Limba body. Depending on the piece, Black Limba can stand on its own, or sometimes it can use a little help to set it off. I see your piece as that, attractive, but could use some help, tho I would not cover it up with a solid black. Its attractive enough to keep it cleared and show it off.

One is a natural clearcoat with a black edgeburst, the other a beautiful green shader coat. Both are applied after the body has been clearcoated and sanded level, then the toners are shot over top of that, then more clear. Neither of these are done straight onto the wood, they are done over a cleared and sanded finish, then more clear to lock it in. If that body were mine, that is what I would do with it. You can clearly see the Black Limba wood in both examples, yet you can also see the added effects really helped set the piece off.

Its a nice way to keep the natural look of the wood, yet color it to taste.

You can dye straight onto the wood to augment both of these effects before you add them, but its really, really light.

Say, you were going to do a black edgeburst but wanted to dye the body to match it. I would use a Silver Gray dye mixed WAAY down, like 10%, 15% max. Like a super-diluted washcoat, nothing more. If you go too far, you ruin the effect, these are all very light and delicate treatments, nothing heavy-handed. In this way you are keeping the natural look of the wood itself. If you use a heavy-handed dye right onto the wood, you'll take away the natural look. Unless that's exactly what you're looking for in the first place, just straight-up dying the wood although with that piece, it would not be my first choice.

If you are prepared to do a faux binding job (I wouldn't, but I'm not you), then you are already prepared to do shader coats, as both require the body to be clearcoated first. The procedures share a lot of the same steps in the process is all I'm saying, so if you're prepared to do one, you can choose to do the other too as both require similar equipment and techniques.

That's what I got.

Natural Black Limba with black edgeburst:

d97379a457bad1792a9f0e139a7849b9.jpg

 

Natural Black Limba with Green edgeburst/shader coat:

CmdUyO8.jpg

Thank you for so much good information. Those finishes look outrageous! I think with my low experience level, I will have to test out some of your ideas on a scrap piece I have with the same grain.

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48 minutes ago, jowilmei said:

Those finishes look outrageous! I think with my low experience level, I will have to test out some of your ideas on a scrap piece I have with the same grain.

Absolutely practice on scrap, I do, to this very day. And I have made hundreds of mistakes I've had to go back and fix, and I hate it as much now as I ever did in the early years. So from those experiences, there is good news for a fallback strategy doing it this way. If you do the method of clearcoating the body, then level-sanding, then applying a shader coat (even if its just an edgeburst) You can always sand back to your clearcoat start point for recovery, you don't have to sand everything back to raw wood. As long as you know how to gently sand back a finish, and shader coats are generally very thin and very light anyway. So its really not that hard to sand it all off and go right back to your clearcoat recovery point. W/o all the work of having to go back to dead-stop zero raw wood again. The basecoat clearcoats are a 'hold space', or a 'page marker', if you follow.

Also, another lesson I've learned the hard way...Once you touch that wood with a cloth dipped in dye, there is rarely an easy recovery point. Sanding a guitar back to raw, clean wood after you've dyed it is never fun or easy, if you get it clean again at all. That is why I still practice on scrap first, I've learned the hard way once I touch that pretty raw wood with dye, there's no 100% recovery, or usually not an easy one.

I certainly do a lot of straight-to-raw-wood dye finishes, I actually prefer them for the right job.

I'm just sure before I touch it with dye that its what I want, no guessing at it, its too much time spent in recovery.

I hate doing that, and I'm super-picky, I never settle for 'just OK'. If it doesn't blow my mind, it gets the axe or it gets fixed.

And I really detest time wasted fixing mistakes.

The goal is to spend more time moving and advancing forward and enjoying the build than time spent in recovery going backwards to fix mistakes. So you take care of that as much as you possibly can on the Front End, by testing on scrap and having fallback points, its all strategy and strategic thinking.

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To give you another example from my own files of this same technique.

This is a Spalted Maple (top and back) job. I have yet to put this thing together, its been done for 3-4 years, haha!

This was done basically the same way that green one I posted was.

Clearcoat to level-sand, very light shader coats on whole thing, with an edge-burst.

Those two aren't mine, this one is.

cJ7gEnZ.jpg

iI8QPg4.jpg

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17 minutes ago, Drak said:

Absolutely practice on scrap, I do, to this very day. And I have made hundreds of mistakes I've had to go back and fix, and I hate it as much now as I ever did in the early years. So from those experiences, there is good news for a fallback strategy doing it this way. If you do the method of clearcoating the body, then level-sanding, then applying a shader coat (even if its just an edgeburst) You can always sand back to your clearcoat start point for recovery, you don't have to sand everything back to raw wood. As long as you know how to gently sand back a finish, and shader coats are generally very thin and very light anyway. So its really not that hard to sand it all off and go right back to your clearcoat recovery point. W/o all the work of having to go back to dead-stop zero raw wood again. The basecoat clearcoats are a 'hold space', or a 'page marker', if you follow.

Also, another lesson I've learned the hard way...Once you touch that wood with a cloth dipped in dye, there is rarely an easy recovery point. Sanding a guitar back to raw, clean wood after you've dyed it is never fun or easy, if you get it clean again at all. That is why I still practice on scrap first, I've learned the hard way once I touch that pretty raw wood with dye, there's no 100% recovery, or usually not an easy one.

I certainly do a lot of straight-to-raw-wood dye finishes, I actually prefer them for the right job.

I'm just sure before I touch it with dye that its what I want, no guessing at it, its too much time spent in recovery.

I hate doing that, and I'm super-picky, I never settle for 'just OK'. If it doesn't blow my mind, it gets the axe or it gets fixed.

And I really detest time wasted fixing mistakes.

The goal is to spend more time moving and advancing forward and enjoying the build than time spent in recovery going backwards to fix mistakes. So you take care of that as much as you possibly can on the Front End, by testing on scrap and having fallback points, its all strategy and strategic thinking.

I like the idea of a base clear coat to fall back on. What do you recommend as a clear coat? I was thinking of BLO or tru-oil that I have laying around. 

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16 minutes ago, Drak said:

there is good news for a fallback strategy doing it this way

When I used that method for the first time the burst was going to be wayyy too deep and since I noticed it already during the spraying I simply took a rag and thinner and wiped the dye and the shader coat off. That is, if by shader coat you meant the thin layer of wet lacquer to act as sort of an adhesive for the dye.

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2 minutes ago, jowilmei said:

What do you recommend as a clear coat?

I always do lacquer (sprayed). You can get aerosol cans of it.

BLO and Tru-Oil takes too long, too many coats to build, and are both OIL finishes, which don't get along well with nearly anything else.

If you're asking me, I'd recommend aerosol lacquer spray bombs w/o question.

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5 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

When I used that method for the first time the burst was going to be wayyy too deep and since I noticed it already during the spraying I simply took a rag and thinner and wiped the dye and the shader coat off. That is, if by shader coat you meant the thin layer of wet lacquer to act as sort of an adhesive for the dye.

The way I do it, I couldn't do that since its all lacquer, if I tried to wipe anything off with thinner, the whole entire job would come off.

Sanding shader coats off is actually pretty easy since they're so thin usually, IME.

Its gotta be totally level sanded tho, if you have dips and bumps in it, that makes recovery harder. So take care of that on the front end by making sure its all nice and level sanded before any shader coats go on.

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As Drak said, you definitely do not want to use BLO or Tru Oil (which is BLO plus some other stuff) as your clear coat. Spraying lacquer is a great option, but if you're not comfortable with it you could also do a few coats of shellac, which you can wipe on. Mix it up yourself though, it needs to be dewaxed shellac. It's compatible with darn near anything.

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12 hours ago, Drak said:
12 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

took a rag and thinner and wiped the dye and the shader coat off. That is, if by shader coat you meant the thin layer of wet lacquer to act as sort of an adhesive for the dye.

The way I do it, I couldn't do that since its all lacquer, if I tried to wipe anything off with thinner, the whole entire job would come off.

Note that there was a properly dried layer of lacquer (actually 2k) over which I sprayed a thin mist of the same and while that was still wet, sprayed the alcohol based dye. And wiped it all off when it was still wet. I can't remember if I actually  had already sprayed the sealing clear coat over the dye, anyhow all of it was still wet when I wiped it off.

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On 4/9/2021 at 9:46 AM, jowilmei said:

I'm feeling that it might be a crime to cover up the interesting grain patterns, even though my original intention wasn't a natural finish.

Trust that feeling! Save the paint for 2/3 piece bodies. I'd kill (well not really) for a slab of ash that wide. Where does one find that??

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4 minutes ago, JayT said:

Where does one find that??

I scoured Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp and Craigslist looking for guys who basically made a hobby of milling trees. I was fortunate enough to find a person close by who was liquidating his collection of slabs for very cheap because of an upcoming move. He didn't have exotic stuff, mostly ash, maple and oak, but I as able to get a 23"x60x3" ash slab for ~$40. I was very fortunate to get three neck blanks and a body out of it so far.

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