Mad Cat Electric Guitar Build

Ok great, good to have another product on the arsenal😁

If you want a coloured varnish, the inks on the 3D printer shelf might be suitable. You could mix with varnish, b72 or whatever. There are enough there that you could mix to get virtually any colour (there are some good apps for colour mixing too).

Tinting the varnish/top coat rather than dying the wood, thats another route I could give a go.

Finishing is such a fiddly process and there are so many options all of which Im assuming have their own idiosyncrasies.

Ive watched a million youtube videos on the subject and they make it all look so easy.

Just getting the to the point where the water based dye went on evenly was a learning curve in its self. I did a bunch of tests on flat pieces of wood and though I had it nailed but everything changes on a complicated shape like a guitar, with all the different types of grain exposed etc.

Im thinking most of my subsequent problems would go away if I had a spray setup.

It would make the level sanding and polishing a fair bit easier too. Bring on the spray booth at SMLS :slight_smile:

You could perhaps get a cheap airbrush to use with the compressor - like this

Then could spray with varnish or whatever.

One possible advantage of b72 is it is reversible - can remove it with acetone (hence used in conservation). You could then change it should you ever want to. But of course see what it looks like on a test piece - acrylic resin might not be right. I could give you a small bottle to test - I’d be interested in seeing how it tints.

I mean anything which has a different base to the stain. Tru oil is a popular finish with guitar builders. It’s a gun stock finish which is an oil which can be built to a gloss or satin. It dries fast and cures harder than a regular oil. It’s padded on so It’s very easy to apply. Padding on oil based polyurethane is also pretty simple.
Basically oil based varnish, polyurethane, lacquer or nitro cellulose won’t lift water based stain as long as you are gentle with the first coat. If you use stain and finish with the same solvent or carrier you are going to reactivate the stain to some extent.
Depends what you want, a hard film finish or an oil or tru oil which is more of a film finish than an oil.
Most guitars these days are finished with polyurethane I think.

Your finish looked great. The issue is with the stain lifting.
If you are on Facebook there are plenty of guitar builders groups.
Many of the members make guitars for a living.
I would try that.
Explain your issues and include a few photos.
In my experience there are generally some expert advices mixed in with the ding bat responses.

Mylands make oil based stain, not sure about the colours.
What do crimson guitars suggest for finishing, or stew mac?
This must be a common issue with a straightforward solution.

That makes alot of sense re using a dye based on a different solvent to the finish.

I really like an oil based finish for the right guitar, for the flamed maple look Im thinking high gloss poly or nitro is the only real way to go:)

Im quite keen on using a water based poly just to avoid smelling out the house.

I found these leather dyes which Ive seen a few youtube luthiers using, now I look into it they are apparently alcohol based and probably fairly water resistant given they are for leather. They come in a big range of colours too.

Ill take a look at the mylands products too.

I actually used the crimson concentrated water based stains for the project, no complaints the colours are good and they go on nicely.

Looking at the instructional video he uses their High Build Guitar Finishing Oil which is a tru oil type of thing.

Anyway thanks for all the input everyone.

The aerosol nitro sanding sealer seemed to do the trick, I applied 3 coats the first one super light, gave it a light sand.

I just brushed a coat of the water based topcoat and there was almost no colour in the brush when I finished :tada:

The nitro is pretty smelly and expensive so will give the non water soluble dyes a try next time.

Oh good. Glad you have got a good result.

I tried some alcohol soluble blue dye crystals and even though the oil finish had a different solvent it still lifted quite a lot of stain.
Spraying a seal coat would have solved the problem.
The takeaway from all of this, is that the stain and the finish are a unit. The stain and the finish need to work together. So, testing needs to include both products together.
I tried some water based finishes three years ago and the British products were awful. In the states they were using far advanced water based poly but it was largely unavailable or eye wateringly expensive. Afterwards, I read a blog from a British paint industry consultant who said that the British products were way behind the products in the states. The water based varnish I tried would not flatten and I used the recommended brush filament, plus others. It also left bubbles regardless of the brush type or the care in application. It also went milky and looked exactly like plastic. I ruined my project so I stripped it and refinished.
Put me off water based finish.
I imagine that we have caught up since then and there must be good products on offer due to environmental concerns. Low voc content etc.
Your finish surprised me, it looks smooth and exactly like a regular varnish.

The Bright Tone finish is american and pretty expensive :slight_smile:

I had to be pretty patient with applying it though, the coats have to be thin to avoid brush marks. This took a bit of practice, as the thinner you apply it the quicker it drys and turns gummy.

After about 20 coats I then had to level sand it to get out all of the remaining brush marks.

This guy did a pretty good build video of finishing with water based poly:

Crystal Lac do a range of pigments and a ‘stain’ binder as well, I couldnt find any available in the uk for this project.

I was looking around for alternatives for water based poly I found this from North West Guitars, they generally do pretty good products:

They also do a water based stain which might work better than the crimson stuff in terms of dissolving into the top coat.

Also this from Nitor Lac, they look like a pretty serious finish company they do nitro finishes and 2k oil based poly, but Ive never tried their products:

I may get some to try out, they may be rubbish.

Like I said previously Ive found finishing to be by far the most difficult aspect of building guitars to get good results.

Like you say Ive just got to develop a recipe of products and techniques that work!

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I finally finished this guitar project!

I finished the ‘finishing’ of the body, it was a bit of a rigmarole as discussed above but I brushed on about 20 super thin coats of the Crystal Lac Britetone water based poly then level sanded it all and buffed up to a shine.

I still need to work on getting the figuring of the maple to really pop but Im pleased with the results.

There were a couple of other jobs, I carved a nut:

Wired the electronics:

Cut some scratch plates on the CNC machines, that came out really well, they fit all of the hardware like the bridge and the pickups super tightly, they just needed a bit of sanding and polishing to get them looking good.

Then there was just some final fret leveling and finishing.

And final assembly!

Im really pleased with the results! It plays and sounds great!

Thanks to everyone in the space whos helped, advised, inducted me to get to this point.

Im already planning my next build, its going to be a fender jazz bass style of instrument but fully carved on the CNC!


Looks amazing

That is fantastic. Thanks for sharing the process.

Looks like a really nice job. I’ve made a few guitars myself and that finish is lovely.
Did you make the neck? It looks like the truss rod adjustment hole has been filled.

I do have quite a few guitar tools like fret slot files (bass) , fret dressing files, set up tools etc if you think you might need to borrow them. Phil

Hey Phil, thanks! I did make the neck, the truss rod adjustment is at the heal, the wallnut tear drop on the headstock is just a 'flourish’:grin:

Thanks for the offer of the tools, Ive got a bunch myself ill be in touch if I’m in need!

What guitars did you make? I noticed Howard was making some sort of bass type of instrument today😁

So, you are a southpaw?