Seeking Finish Recommendations

shickma0

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Hi all! About to start another build. Thinking I’m going to do either a Les Paul replica or maybe my own design but with specs the same as a Les Paul. I picked up this top a few months ago and decided I’ll use it on this build. Any suggestions on what colors or finishes to use on it? I normally don’t use figured wood so I’m not quite sure how to finish it. Any insight appreciated, thank you!
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lowatter

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Typical Gibson vintage tobacco burst..
 
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Roxy13

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Definnitley a burst with a top like that. I would do something in the light to medium range myself (anything from dirty lemon to heritage cherry sunburst). I would probably go bourbon or tobacco for a top that isn't as flamed as that one is.
 

cmjohnson

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It's a matter of personal taste and preference. Gibson style finishes, or PRS dye stained finishes? I've been known to mix both styles in one finish.

Dye stained in flashy colors adds a lot of visual drama to the figure in the maple, but the darker the dye is, the more it tends to anchor the chatoyance (the "flip" of the waves in the grain as you move it around at different angles to the light) which is definitely a tradeoff. I really like that active chatoyance. So stick with lighter stains that don't anchor it.

If you do the color in a tinted clearcoat, you won't get the contrasty effect of the PRS style dye stained finish, but the chatoyance will be preserved.

As for the finish TYPE, I shoot automotive acrylic urethane, but I shoot a very thin urethane finish, about as thin as a normal nitro lacquer finish. That takes a bit of skill to do right, as I had to learn from a lot of practice in order to get the results I had in mind.
 

moreles

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I like faded cherry sunburst or similar. Not a fan of stunt finishes or unusual-for-the-sake-of-unusual colors or exaggferated looks. I like wood and wood grain more than stain, so I like having the wood as the attraction, not the treatment. Of course, plenty of smary people with good taste like the oppposite! That's a great top with which to work.
 

cmjohnson

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I am starting to think that the better the top, the closer to a natural color range of finish I want on it. I have a killer ribbon curl flame top on a body I'm finishing and preparing for a neck, and it'll probably get a tan stain to give it drama but still look pretty natural. I've done enough bright color finishes on figured woods that I certainly could stand to go with a more natural finish on this one anyway.

Here's my example of an enhanced natural finish. It's basically a light stain made from a combination of amber, brown, and red dyes. Both these two tops are sequential slices off the same larger billet. And both bookmatched, of course.

You can see that the finish is greatly enhanced but still looks natural.

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