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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Antique/worn violin finish on guitar?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by ugly_guitar_guy, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. ugly_guitar_guy

    ugly_guitar_guy Tele-Meister

    Mar 7, 2011
    LA, CA
    Hey guys,

    I've recently commissioned a new build, and the customer is asking me for a worn/antique finish on the guitar. The look that he seems to like the most is this picture:


    In my understanding, this should involve using a few different colored layers of tinted varnish, and then using something like steel wool, leather, denim, etc, to rub back through the finish and reveal the layers and create a "worn" look, correct?

    Does anybody have experience with something like this, or possibly a tutorial to direct me to? I'm guessing this is going to take some experimenting to figure out. Thanks!

  2. MichaelAa

    MichaelAa Tele-Holic

    Jun 9, 2012
    I`m also interested in this as I think it would be a great look for a knotty pine. Maybe not as worn as the pic above...

    My tip would be using shellac. I`ve also read good things about Behlen Violin Varnish.

  3. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    A major factor in planning will be what type of wood your'e using. The spruce or cedar top of an acoustic instrument will behave differently with stains than the maple or poplar or alder or mahogany. Pine, for instance, will splotch and look like crap if you try to stain it, which looks exactly like what you're customer is going for.

    So, the wood type will determine how much (if anything) color you're going to put in the wood with stain. Then yes, I'd try different pigmented toner/shader layers removed in one fashion or another (you forgot cabinet scrapers and utility knife blades). I also think that the technique of glazing, where you're smearing on a dark pigmented stain over an existing finish (basically sandwiched between layers of clear as you build things up), would work in terms of getting the corners and fillets dark (assuming the guitar has purfling grooves like a violin). You could also spray darker colored coats on selectively, almost like a sunburst (it occurs to me that some sunbursts on violins and cellos actually looks like the light areas on the rims are there to simulate where the same color might've been there and worn off). So you could spray some dark color in areas that don't get rubbed much, like the corner of the neck heel to body joint or close to an end pin.

  4. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

    May 8, 2008
    portland, or

  5. Codger

    Codger Tele-Meister

    May 16, 2009
    I prefer using dye type stains to pigmented stains. I would go over it with boiled linseed oil first, buff it out well, let if dry, rub it out well with 0000 steel wool, use a dye type stain, then amber shellac. Be careful with oily rags. Boiled linseed oil is the worst offender for spontaneous combustion. From there you could do more color and build up more shellac by brush or French polish it on with color in it. Starting with the BLO base gives you more even control with the dye.

    I think the Mohawk Ultra stain in Colonial Maple would get you that color.

  6. hartwell

    hartwell TDPRI Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    NS, Canada
    This is the kind of look I put on all my guitars. I use dyes right on the wood and shellac to finish. I don't worry about a hard finish because I like that the guitars get beat up by use. If I grain fill I use pumice or egg white. I use analine dyes.

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