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To color or not to color?


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Hi there, I am new and decided to join as I have a question to discuss. 

I had the chance to get a spalted maple body, which looks really great. I plan to work on it with my daughter as a little project together during summer holidays. Currently I am overthinking different colir options. Should I use a classical cherry/sundown burst or a blue or green based? I‘ve seen bursts going to natural in the middle, which looked interesting or sinply 1 color? I don‘t want to go all natural. 

and should I dye brown or black first and sand it down to increase patterns?


I‘ll attach sone pics of the body. 






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Hi and welcome to the addiction!

First, that's a stunning piece of wood on that top! The bottom doesn't look too bad either - is it a two piece with the only seam across the control cavity?

I share your opinion about not going all natural although a clear finish, especially with some penetrating oil, would deepen the figuration. You can test that with some evaporating liquid like alcohol, naphta or even water. Most likely you'll have to lightly sand the raised grain after that but that's something you should do in any case.

A burst would emphasize the carving but in my humble opinion on that top a multi-coloured burst would be too much. A dark brown fading towards the center like this  maybe? Note that the natural center will get some ambery hue with the clearcoat:


And a couple of colouring options:




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21 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

You can test that with some evaporating liquid like alcohol, naphta or even water

But don’t use acetone as that will melt the ABS binding. Mineral spirits or water is good. I would start with that and see how the color changes. 

The color choice is subjective. Personally I wouldn’t go with greens, blues or any other unnatural wood color. Others seem to like them a lot.

While I’m not a big fan of strong bursts, the pronounced figure on the hips would probably make me lean towards a burst. Or a solid translucent dark color. I don’t know about your experience level but would suggest doing the burst by hand instead of spraying it. Hand dying with alcohol soluble pigment is a more forgiving process. A burst can be sprayed, off course, but it takes a steady hand and a lot of experience. They tend to look awkward even in well known commercial products. With proper technique and equipment a sprayed burst can be really nice though.

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Yeah it‘s a teo piece body. 

I planned to start with water to get an impression how it looks wet/deepened. My daughter is three and already into guitars, so I promissed her to do this during summer holiday. As I am satisfied with clou here in Germany, I planned to use their dye. 

I asked my daughter and she said cherry dark (175) in the bottem left. This might go towards the suggestion of Bizman62, although I like their mahagoni (156). 

But cherry around the body and natural in the middle, not sprayed might be my decision. 

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You don't have any offcuts for testing, do you? Your photos look somewhat bluish on my monitor based on the pine underneath the body so it's a bit difficult to figure out the end result. Just FYI, I used some cherry red for the bottom of my poplar build and it made the wood look like #170. Compared to the bottom and for what I know about mahogany the top looks almost like a greyscale without too much yellow/red which may reproduce the colour of the dye close to the sample pictures.

If you don't have any scrap pieces for testing, below the overhang of the fretboard or the corners of the pickup cavities might do, given you can hide potentially miscoloured areas under pickup rings or the fretboard end.

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Right, I don’t have any offcuts. Just was kucky enough to find this body for a good value. I also thought about testing it at the neck position. 

I‘ll upload some pictures of the watered body abd try to make them more „natural“. But might be sonewhen next week, the weekend is full with kids events. 

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As expected the red and yellow popped. Or, if it makes more sense, the colour got warmer. Bear that in mind when you apply any other colour as that base will mix with the dyes. With bad luck that "Kirschbaum dunkel" may turn either to shit-brown or rotten-orange. Test that in an invisible place like under the pickup ring corners.

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