First kit advice.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Theotherone, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Theotherone

    Theotherone Junior Member

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    How's everyone doing? I've been a long time lurker and finally bit the bullet and made a account. I'm doing quite well myself, I must say I'm very excited about a upcoming project I've been awaiting for quite sometime. I purchased an "albatross" les paul style guitar kit for my first guitar kit experience. Its a pretty cheap kit but I figured it was a good approach to gain some experience before diving into a "59 carved top" custom kit from precision guitars. I do have plenty of wood working experience and have access to a very nice woodshop. I also have experience with guitar setups and such so I'm not blindly diving into this but it will certainly be a learning experience.
    The kit I acquired is a (African?) mahogany body with a eastern flamed maple cap and a mahogany neck. I'm going for a "iced tea" burst finish. Ill being using kenda aniline dyes with a behlen stringed instrument lacquer finish. I do plan on tinting the lacquer amberish to give an aged apperance.
    At this point my materials consist of a multi pack of kenda aniline dyes (red,blue,yellow,brown, and black), timber mate grain filler (mahogany), behlen sander sealer( rattle can), a large assortment of wet/dry sand paper (220-3000 grit), and a quart of behlen stringed instrument lacquer.
    I do have a basic idea of the process I will be taking but I'm really hoping for some feedback from more experience luthiers so this goes as smoothly as possible. I will be starting a build log with pictures to help pass my experience onto others.
    To start, I will be mixing a brown or black dye (undecided, please give opinons) to help bring out the figuring of the maple. I will do 2-3 coats of the dyes while sanding between coats. Which grit would be best for sanding between coats? I assume for the price I paid for the kit that the cap will probably be very thin so I don't want to risk sanding threw.
    I will then be using the yellow, brown, and red to hand rub the burst finish. My question on this step is concerning using red. To achieve an "iced tea" look will the red even be necessary or should I just be sparing with it and use light to fade it out some after finishing the guitar? Does it sound correct to use brown on the very outside edge, yellow in the center and red to help feather the brown and yellow? I will then give the dyes time to dry and fully soak into the maple.
    The next step I will take will be using the grain filler on the back of the body and neck. I will be adding a bit of red and brown to the grain filler before applying. Once dry I will sand the grain filler followed by dying the back of the body and neck using red and brown to achieve a reddish brown mahogany color. I will then give the dyes plenty of time to dry and absorb.
    Next I will be using the sanding sealer on the whole guitar to help fill any remaining grain or pores to ensure a smooth finish. Should I be sanding between coats or simply applying several coats and then sanding? Which grit sand paper would be recommended for this?
    I will then use a finishing sprayer to apply a few coats of untinted lacquer over the whole guitar. My understanding is using a few coats of untinted lacquer followed by the tinted amber lacquer will give more depth to the finish. I will continue to add coats of the tinted lacquer until I get the desired finish followed by a few coats of untinted. Then move onto wet sanding and buffing to a shine.
    Has anyone ever used kenda dyes to tint lacquer for a amber/ aged look? I will probably be using amber and brown mixed with thinner to achieve the desired tint. I will be using wood scraps to test the dyes and lacquer before applying to the guitar. So far that's roughly how my process is layed out so I really appreciate any advice for things I'm missing or advice to improve the steps mentioned. Thanks in advance for any advice you guys can offer!
     
  2. Skyjerk

    Skyjerk Meatbomb Silver Supporter

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    Welcome aboard.

    Best advice I can offer is to read. There are dozens of build threads here that take guitars from a pile of lumber to a completed instrument, and video tutorials as well. Scratch builds and kits.

    Read as much as you can beforehand, and then ask specific questions as you come to issues that you find havent already been addressed in other threads.
     
  3. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    ^ as above to the reading. There is practically every type of build here so plenty of resources.
    The forum search here is crap......but there is a sticky I think on the best way to bring up MLP threads - check that out.

    And on kits it is best to glue in the neck first. All finishing then goes from there.
     
  4. Theotherone

    Theotherone Junior Member

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    Thanks guys! I forgot to mention that before I begin any finishing work, I will be test assembling to ensure a proper neck angle. I also plan on adding a belly cut and possibly shaping the heel a bit for better access.

    My questions that's going to arise at the beginning of the build are concerning the top.

    The flamed veneer on the top of my body appears to be VERY thin so I have some questions regarding that to start off.

    If I were to stain with a brown followed by sanding to help expose the figure. Would using 400-600grit still be effective and reduce the risk of sanding threw?

    Would it have a similar effect if I were to stain it then wipe it with denatured alcohol?

    Lastly, would it make more sense to grain fill the back and neck, sand it and stain it before I begin to stain the top?
     
  5. paulmarr

    paulmarr Senior Member

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    I have used Kenda dyes - and while your outlined method sounds like the way to go the maple veneer you are explaining isn't going to allow the dye-ing and sanding of colours as there isn't enough wood to sand without sanding through. I would re-think the dyes - swapping to dyes you can add to the laquer which require no sanding - just layering on top of each other. I see people go with Kenda due to price but you get what you pay for - the more expensive Colortone aniline dyes are what you need to achieve the look you are after.... IMO
     
  6. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    The best bursts on maple are almost always dye in the clear type. For one, maple takes up stain very unevenly. Having done this a few times on necks its a 'never again' for me. They just look bad almost no matter how much you dilute and evenly apply.

    The Freddy G build has videos on spraying including very detailed gun instructions.
     
  7. Theotherone

    Theotherone Junior Member

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    Well I've actually been debating a rubbed vs sprayed burst for quite some time, so I'm finally adjusting the process for a spray on burst.

    I believe I will still use the kenda dyes but to tint the lacquer. I haven't came across anyone that mentions using them to tint lacquer but I have already experimented with mixing brown and yellow with lacquer thinner, straining, then mixing into the lacquer. The kenda dyes mentioned being solvable in water or alcohol is what lead me to experiment on a non guitar project I was working on. The results actually came out very well. Im just going to have to do more testing to get the tint the correct colors for a burst.
     
  8. Side Burns

    Side Burns Senior Member

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    Hey Randy, if you ever need to scour MLP you can always go to Google and focus your search inside MLP.
    search with the following example
    " mylespaul.com: neck pocket "
     
  9. madmusicltd

    madmusicltd Senior Member

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    I am not a luthier, but I did build a kit with a thin veneer, I would caution too much fiddling with the top veneer, trying to do many sand backs could be asking for trouble. I rubbed in my finish in, if it gets too wet it can bubble, too much sanding and you will break thru, also, be careful not to do sanding after pore filling...

    My kit build thread is here:

    http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/les-paul-project-kit-build.341774/
     
  10. Skyjerk

    Skyjerk Meatbomb Silver Supporter

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    I remember that. Not having filled the grain with anything but nitro I was wondering how it would look in a couple years. My own first LP build looked perfect, but 3 years later the lacquer had shrunk into the pores in a couple spots and I actually grain filled it twice. I guess I missed a couple spots :)
     
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  11. madmusicltd

    madmusicltd Senior Member

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    Hi Chris,
    Still looks the same, actually starting to wear nicely!
    Excellent job on your latest creation to honor your son! Just Superb!
    Maybe someday I'll utilize my day skills as a CAD Design engineer and create a design of my own like you have done.
     
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  12. Theotherone

    Theotherone Junior Member

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    Thanks for all the advice guys and beautiful build MAD! I noticed you mentioned using a scratch pad to buff it after the dye and it seems the grain really popped after that, so I may try that route. I am confused on which pads you are talking about however, I've only saw the green ones..

    I was concerned my top would lack flame due to the low cost of the kit. That's why I was interested in using dye to highlight it then sanding it back, however it seems I got lucky and the flame on the veneer excedes my expectations by a long shot.

    I also hadn't planned on using pore filler on the top and simply using sanding sealer to level it. Unfortunately, the pores are worse than I expected so I think im going to have to add that step.

    Should I mix my amber in with the pore filler or can I fill them then dye them?
     
  13. Skyjerk

    Skyjerk Meatbomb Silver Supporter

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    You should not need to pore fill the maple top...
     
  14. madmusicltd

    madmusicltd Senior Member

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    OP You can fill the top with the nitro sealer, the filler is for the back and sides, you will need to rub that in before you die/stain it, and as I mentioned after applying the filler do not sand it. I used these white scotch pads on the top to help the figure pop.

    pad.JPG
     

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