Jump to content

Finishing a LP Supreme

Recommended Posts

I am building a guitar in the style of a LP Supreme - flame maple on both top and bottom with mahogany in between. I say "in the style of" because my carving of the top looks more like a pot bellied pig than an LP, but what the heck, its only for my son - don't cost him nuttin... B) ). Didn't get the recurve right and didn't see Setch's beautiful work on his LP project in time (refer to In Progress Work).

Original plan was a vintage amber dye front and back with a clear finish. Unfortunately, I sanded through the top maple in two places on the edge (yes, that's right, not one but two :D ), so now I am looking at a burst finish to cover the boo boos. Original plan was also to bind the top with ivoroid and black laminated binding (7 ply) and back with the same (3 ply) - sort of like a LP Custom. If you can't have dilusions of grandeur, why build guitars? :D

Little help, please. I've included pics of front and back for reference.

If I burst the top with a primary amber leading to a mid/darker brown outer edge, should I burst the back to match or perhaps do the back in the mid/darker brown entirely?

Regardless of answer above, should I change my binding scheme given the burst top?

The back has a spalted (right term?) area I've placed at the neck join. Should I finish this "as is" or perhaps inlay something to cover it up?

Should I do anything else (besides give up)?

Thanks in advance for any advice! Perhaps this was too ambitious for my second guitar.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) I think you've done fine so far, and no reason to downplay it, I think it looks really great. You will smoke this guitar dead, it will look gorgeous.

2) We -all- make mistakes. In the art of guitar-zen, one must learn to loosen up and -roll- with one's mistakes and not act as if they are a mistake, not act as if you've tripped over something and now have lost your balance and are stumbling to recover, but treat them actually a blessing in disguise, a hidden 'gift' (or hidden opportunity) ...from the great Guitar Gods above.

But you have to LOOK for the blessing, it will not introduce itself to you, it will not ring your front doorbell, that's the 'zen' part of it. If you don't have the patience and calmness of being to accept it as a hidden gift, if you believe you've tripped, then your belief will lead your mind down one road.

If, on the other hand, you believe that this 'mistake' was actually a hidden gift that is simply forcing you past your known boundaries and is there to make your talent grow just a little more than you had in mind, then your mind will proceed down a -different- road.

It's all in your outlook, and not everyone has the calmness and patience to look at 'mistakes' in this way. Not everyone sees the hidden lessons in their own 'mistakes', the hidden opportunities that are there to be seen with the right eyes and attitude, and they get impatient and angry that they 'messed up' somewhere and try to 'force' the situation to do as they want it to. That is frustration, and is unnecessary.

Mistakes PUSH you to do more than you would have done on your own if you let them. Everyone gets mad when they make a mistake, I do, but I work past it very quickly and don't get mired in it, and quickly start to look for the opportunity hidden within the mistake.

It's a whole 'nuther world when you look at things like that.

OK with the zen stuff. :D


I would leave the spalted part as-is. It's cool, it adds character. I let the wood lead me, I don't force the wood to do what I want.

I would burst the back identical to the front except to bring the burst in just slightly moreso than on the front.

How are you planning to cut your binding channel? On the carved tops I've done, I routed the binding channel first, before any carving, so I had a flat surface to run my router on. I calculated everything out, how deep my carve would be, how deep my binding would be, etc...

What are your plans for the channel? Were you going to install the binding before finishing it or somewhere in the middle of the process?

PS, the first primary color is usually wiped on, not bursted on. Only the outer edges are bursted on with a gun of some sort.

I'm OK with the 7 on front and 3 on back.

Where I see some room for nervousness are your steps for finishing and binding and bursting, you have to know what will come when to pre-plan everything properly.

You're doing just fine and I really like it. B)

I cannot recommend the 2-video pack strongly enough, Dan Erlewine's 'Spray Finishing Basics', and 'Spray Finishing With Colors', from Stew-Mac. That's where I learned all my basics on shooting finishes, and I like watching guitar-making videos!

Those videos will answer 1000 questions (probably more)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Drak, I will "follow the middle path" to finishing this guitar. I'm definitely in the learning mode - patience; which is one of the reasons I took up this work. Thanks for the reminder.

I think I'll go with your thoughts on bursting both front and back, and I like the idea of bringing the burst in further on the back. I'll leave the spalting (need to fill in some areas there - ideas? wood putty? epoxy?). I did plan to wipe on the base vintage amber dye first, before spraying the burst. I have Stewmac's book on finishing but will take your advice and order the videos. I definitely need visuals at this point.

On the binding, I realized later that I should have cut the binding channel prior to carving. At this point, I planned to use this tool from Stewmac to cut the binding channel. I believe it will take quite careful work but seems designed to work with minimal flat surface on the top. Let me know if there is another way you think is better. My plan would be to do the binding next before proceeding with any finishing. I also need to complete the neck, which is in progress.


Glad to have any further thoughts you have, especially on sequencing from here on in.

Brian, thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, that tool will work, I have one, I use it to route binding channels on my headstocks.

It will only cut to a 5-layer depth I think, and it has a tendency to chatter, you have to really have control of it, it can get away from you if you're not concentrating solely on cutting that channel. Besides that it's fine to use.

To fill in the voids, yes, 2-part epoxy will work. You can even tint the epoxy with some pigment if you want it to be some sort of matching brownish color. Go really light on the pigment tho, I used too much once and it retarded the curing time of the epoxy back a day or so.

On the binding, you're looking at this scenario: if you use that tool, it 'rides' on the side AND top of the surface, so if your carve is uneven, the tool will follow the unevenness of your carved top, and when you go to put the binding on, you might wind up with some gaps or something rather unsavory, so you'll have to have that top in good even shape, or rig something up so that the tool rides along a bottom detente of your design. When you see the tool you'll know what I mean. :D

As far as binding, staining, bursting, there are several ways to do it. If you bind first, then you'll have to tape off the binding when you apply your basecoat dye and when you do your bursting, and it has to be taped off and sometimes scraped even afterwards with a binding scraper or a cabinet scraper.

I try to save the binding until the basecoat color is on, bursting done, and all that is left are clearcoats, but that's just my way (and probably an oddball way at that) so maybe a few other guys will chime in.

Basically, if you bind now, you tape it off later when you do the finishing until it's clearcoat time.

You will LOVE those videos, I swear it. B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would go with "natural binding" if the maple is thick enough on the top and the bottom, but I'm not a big fan of plastic binding (except on some teles).

As for the spalt, if you want it to have character, leave it. Personally, I would cover it up to give the guitar a more congruent look front and back, but that's just me.

The burst sounds beautiful, by the way. I was thinking how cool it would be to do an opaque cherry burst, with a yellow amber center fading to opaque red, like a tobacco burst, but cherry. That made very little sense, but I don't care.

Goodbye and good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is all really helpful - thanks guys B)

Drak, I already have the binding cutting guide, so I know what you mean about using it and also that I may only be able to cut sufficient depth for 5 layer binding. No biggie on how many layers just so long as it fits well. I bought the cutter expecting to use it to cut the binding channel after carving the top, not realizing there is an easier way by cutting the channels before carving. In anticipation of using the tool, I was trying to make the top edge as flat as possible, thus the sand throughs at the waist area.

I thought about natural or faux binding but there isn't sufficient maple left to do that after carving, and it isn't consistent with the vintage look I wanted. I'm also working on a PRS style for another son, so maybe will try that there. By the way, I'm also working on an SG style for third son - I'm beginning to really love that SG after all the effort/issues carving the LP. :D

On the spalting, I can get the epoxy and tint at Woodcraft, so I will do that. Is there a better (cheaper) place to buy? Plan now is to burst over it on the back so I guess it won't be very visible.

Question - how do I handle the burst over the back cavity plate cover? Should I just burst the back then install the plate cover (its dark brown), or try to make a plate cover out of leftover flame maple and match as best I can?

The videos arrive next week. :D

Thanks again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I've done both for the back cover. If the burst goes far enough in to cover most of the cavity, I'll just use a black plastic cover. But if it's a "fancy" burst, I will cut a cover myself. The choice is yours. If you cut the cover and don't like it...there's always the plastic as a backup.

When finishing, I use double stick tape to keep the covers in place so the burst matches.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...