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Tobacco burst???

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I'm building a bass guitar for a customer and he wants me to copy the finish of an old Hofner Jazz guitar.

I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some info on how to do this. I have no spray equipment so I kinda figured I'd do it with dye. This looks like a Tobacco sunburst to me...



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I agree, looks like a tobacco burst. Now, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but I'd highly suggest picking up an inexpensive airbrush (you can buy compressed air in cans...eliminating the need for a compressor).

I know that Myka has had success with a rubbed sunburst, but I imagine that's after lots of practice, and a few "sandbacker" tops...but he's getting great finishes with it - maybe he'll hop in here.

My last guitar was sunburst, and I put up a tutorial http://projectguitar.ibforums.com/index.ph...wtopic=6194&hl=

(second time I've posted that...feel like I'm trying to advertise something :D

I do suggest using dyes...I like the alcohol soluable ones. I'd suggest the Yellow, medium reddish brown, and dark chochlate brown. If you spray, which I found to be surprisingly easy for my first time - be sure to seal with Vinyal sealer!! The dye hits the surface and is almost try...using a sealer with excessive thinner in it will ruin the finish.

Keep us posted.

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Myka's 009 guitar process

At the bottom of the page Myka shows how he used wipe-on dyes to get that beautiful finish. As for clear-coating, I know that stew-mac & reranch both have spray-can laquer but I'm not sure of the compatibilty with the wipe-on dyes Myka used. If they were compatible then you wouldn't need a spray gun. Also, Stew-mac sells the preval unit. With that you can mix your dyes in a jar and screw it onto the aerosol powered can.

If I were doing alot of bodies I'd buy a nice gun & air compressor with oil/moisture traps but since I'm just doing one (for now) on a limited budget the wipe-on or Preval products seem like good alternatives. I still think if your looking for pro-quality finishes with less prep, final sanding & buffing you need the whole she-bang. :D

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careful of the prevail units - I've never come close to an acceptable finish with them. They spit and splatter all over. probably fine for painting a model car, but not for a tinted clear coat on a guitar. Used them once and tossed them the same day.

TSL: yes, dyes...I even recommended the type in my previous post!

For a finish on the cheap, use the spray lacquer. Read my sunburst thread which describes finish/dye compatability...then test on a scrap!!

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I think that with a rubbed dye finish you will not be able to get the smooth edge of color like the bass you pictured in the first post. That look is airbrush all the way. You can control the edge more easily with an airbrush. What I find is that the waterbased rubbed on dyes want to bleed irregularly into the wood grain making it hard to get a smooth faded edge. With Morben Guitars approach the wood grain does not complicate things because it is sealed. I haven't yet tried this approach but I bet it is easier to make the edge behave like you want it to.

Either way if you are going to try both techniques on scrap be sure to post the results. I would love to see how the results differ when trying to get a similar effect.

Morben Guitars, nice burst finish in your tutorial. I saw that a while back and I think I will try your technique on the spruce topped semi-hollow I am building. I am thinking of the look you have in step 4. I am building a jazzer and I think this look is perfect for it. Thanks for posting all that info!

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  • 2 months later...

I just finished reading the "Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual", and in there Siminoff applies an alcohol-based wipe-on dye directly to both flamed maple and spruce to achieve a dyed tobacco burst. He first applies a color coat to the entire body, then sands back a little, then works on the edges with darker coats. The key seems to be to apply with one rag, then blend the shades using a rag soaked with only alcohol.

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