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My Epic Search for Sonic Blue

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by kevarilla, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. kevarilla

    kevarilla TDPRI Member

    12
    Jun 3, 2013
    Cromwell, CT
    Hi Folks,

    So, I've been working finding a rebuild project for myself for some time, and it's become an obsession for the last couple months. I went from buying a kit, to buying parts, to buying an existing guitar to take apart and rebuild/refinish. I went from wanting a second Tele for the build, to getting a Jaguar, to, now, a Strat.

    So, now, with the guitar in hand, I have to make some big decisions about finish, hardware, etc. in the midst of this I found myself actually turning from my many-year dream of having a surf green guitar to doing one in Sonic Blue, which is a color I had never considered before, but the Fender Blacktop Strat in Sonic Blue that they have at the stores these days caught my eyes and wormed it's way into my brain.

    So, Sonic Blue it is.

    But after looking around it seems like getting "the right" Sonic Blue is difficult for a lot of folks. A lot of people have been reporting that the Reranch flavor of it is a little more vibrant than they were expecting. The Jaguarillo that Fender is making right now has a strikingly "faded" flavor to it. And yes, I said "faded" even though there's apparently an ongoing debate about whether this color properly could be said to "fades" or, instead, to "age".... I didn't expect such an unpretentious looking color to be so complex, and spark such debate! :)

    Moreover, it seems that the only truly safe way to go is to find a DuPont retailer and use the color code from the '56 Caddy days (2295) to mix you a fresh can of the paint. But there seems to be an issue there for some folks, since the codes provided might be from Duco, which is/was apparently connected to DuPont, but not exactly DuPont.... and I've read some people having trouble going that route as well...

    So, with all this in my head I went over to Napa Auto Parts in town, since I remembered seeing that they had a decent paint section last time I was there. Their selection of rattle cans was disappointing, but they can mix new paints for you. They couldn't make any use of the DuPont codes I gave them, and while they were able to look up the colors by make/model of the original Cadillacs, they could pull up any kind of a swatch or sample. I passed (which is good, because the only blue they found in their system for Caddy that year was Tahoe Blue, which is... ugh http://paintref.com/cgi-bin/colorcodedisplay.cgi?ditzler=11476&page=1&rows=50&size=large.

    The nice guy at Napa did tell me that if I had a swatch, I could bring it in, and they could use their fancy system to duplicate it.

    So, I need a swatch. This gave me a great idea - if I can find a swatch that is easily accessible to loads of people, than anyone else who is stuck in my same situation can go get the same swatch (a popular store), and take it to a place that will match and make them the right kind of paint (unlike most popular paint stores). Foolish - probably, but potentially a labor of love for myself and some other people out there.

    I am willing to be That Guy if it comes to something really important, and I was going to have to be That Guy three times tonight. First, I went to Sherwin Williams and grabbed one of every blue swatch they had available. Then I went to Lowes and did they same, for both Valspar and Olympic brands.

    [​IMG]

    Then, I needed a specimen. So I rolled over to Guitar Center (which, like most of us I have very mixed feelings about - especially as a former employee). I knew they had a Blackout Strat in Sonic Blue - the same hue of it that caught my eye in the first place. And yes, in full That Guy-ness, I laid it on the floor and broke out all 55 of my swatches. Many employees enjoyed a good laugh as they went by...

    I've narrowed it down to the five closest colors, and I made sure to include the closest matches from each of the 3 brands of paint, so that way if anyone else follows my goofy lead they will hopefully have one of these brands' retailers close by. No one was absolutely perfect in my eye, but that's ok, so long as you think if you want to lean toward being more pale or bold, or more blue or green in the hue you want.

    [​IMG]

    Here's my list of contenders, from closest match to furthest (according to my eye):

    1) Valspar "Tropic Mist", color #5002-7A
    This is the only one that really hit that tinge of green that is in Sonic Blue.
    [​IMG]

    2) Sherwin Williams, "Lauren's Surprise", Color # SW 6791
    Close, but a little darker and bluer than the original.
    [​IMG]

    3) Olympic, "Blue Persuasion", Color # A56-2
    This one felt like it was the right brightness/paleness, but was just a little too blue.
    [​IMG]

    4) Olympic, "Aqua Sparkle", Color # B57-1
    More green than "Blue Persuasion", but a little darker as well.
    [​IMG]

    5) Sherwin Williams, "Open Air", SW 6491
    A little more blue, and a little more vibrant than the original.
    [​IMG]

    So, there you have it. I think I'll give the "Tropic Mist" a try. I'll take this swatch down to Napa later this week, have them make a can, and then give it a roll. When I do, I'll let you all know how this process works itself out. Let me know if this looks like it could be useful info for anyone else, I'd be happy to know I was helpful in anyway.

    Wish me luck!
     

  2. jstream

    jstream Tele-Holic

    568
    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    I would, instead of going to napa (the Home Depot of the auto world), look for an auto body supply house in your area. The kind that supplies the professionals in your area. Check with the best body shops you can find... Especially the ones that do high-end restorations, to find out who they get supplies from. These would be the people who could build your color formula in paint for you, and often can load spray cans with it. I know of one in my city but I don't know what kind of online system or presence they have. I've always just driven over there. I can pm their name to you if you wish, but it would probably be better to find one near you that you can go talk to. Or go talk to any body shop who uses the big PPG system. They can mix literally any color you could dream up.
     

  3. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    The "Tropical Mist" does look like a winner to me.
     

  4. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    61
    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    Reranch sells spray cans of sonic blue nitro lacquer... that's what I have used.

    I mixed it with clear to make a transparent sonic blue on my 2012 build challenge guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
    ndcaster and smokehousewilly like this.

  5. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    61
    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    Oh ya... Sonic Blue is a 1956 Cadillac color (see my avatar)

    [​IMG]
     
    smokehousewilly likes this.

  6. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 12, 2011
    Snellman MN
    One thing I learned when I was in the sandblasting and painting buisness. Never match colors indoors ! Some pigments look the same under all lights and some don't.
    Well your painting the whole thing anyway so it doesn't matter a heck of a lot anyway.
     

  7. kevarilla

    kevarilla TDPRI Member

    12
    Jun 3, 2013
    Cromwell, CT
    Thanks for the responses!

    @Jstream - Is there a difference between the paint that Napa would sell me vs the paint that a different shop would?

    @Mike Simpson - That's a pretty guitar! Good work. I know Reranch sells spray cans of Sonic Blue, but some folks have reported that it's a little more vibrant/saturated than they had in mind. Has this been the case for you? (when you're not mixing with clears in your lab :). And yeah, I knew that the color was a real color used by Cadillac in '56, but for some reason they couldn't find it in their system at the particular shop in my town.
     

  8. blowtorch

    blowtorch Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    May 2, 2003
    Wisco
    I was in a band called Sonic Blues once. The main guitarist named it after the Fender color.

    We recorded an album of original material (that I wrote a good part of) one day in my basement, and it took "Best Blues Album" at the MAMAs, the first year that they had the contest. Really we were not a blues band, though, more bluesrock
     
    Chicago Matt and smokehousewilly like this.

  9. jstream

    jstream Tele-Holic

    568
    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    Possibly not, but custom mixing colors would be the biggest advantage. They (especially the restoration guys) could match the old color codes. That's their business.
     

  10. kevarilla

    kevarilla TDPRI Member

    12
    Jun 3, 2013
    Cromwell, CT
    But Napa will make any custom color I want, so long as I can bring in a sample for ten to scan, that's why I went hunting for a swatch.
     

  11. lineboat

    lineboat Friend of Leo's

    Aug 6, 2012
    You should be able to pull up a picture of the Jaguarillo if that's what you want, or anything you want for that matter, and they can typically nail it with a color eye system. I've gave the local paint guys some tough work in the auto business, and they were able to match it up every time.
     

  12. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

    Nov 13, 2011
    Colorado
    ^this. commercial indoor lights are usually fluorescents that have a pretty cool color temperature. i'm not sure if they'd let you (for obvious reasons), but maybe one of the store employees would escort you and the guitar outside so you could match the color in sunlight?

    having said that, Fender's pastels (which i absolutely adore) aren't what you'd call consistent, especially the blues and greens! unless you're getting the exact color code, getting "close enough" should be, well, close enough. i've seen Surf Green that looked like Seafoam (and vice-versa), Sonic Blue and Daphne Blue can be really hard to tell apart, and some of them even look like blends of two colors. plus, colors that had a nitro clear coat look a lot different than colors that don't have a clear, because of the way the nitro yellows. you can have five Fenders that are all called "Sonic Blue", but they'll all look just a little bit different. i think the Diztler (PPG) and DuPont colors are ever so slightly different too.

    speaking of DuPont color codes, i think some Sherwin-Williams stores can mix them up for you and put them in spray cans. see if there's a local S-W store in your area, give them a call and ask about DuPont color codes. they may even already have the code on hand. otherwise, someone else's suggestion of finding an auto paint shop that supplies pro painters will definitely be able to mix some up for you.
     

  13. blimpo

    blimpo Tele-Meister

    492
    Mar 29, 2009
    southern indiana
    Reranch has the Fender colors. Might look at those.
     
    slick4772 likes this.

  14. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Age:
    66
    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    The NAPA's around here sell Martin Senour finishes.

    The Dupont code is 246-59593

    Ditzler/PPG code is 11475

    Martin Senour does not seem to cross reference it.

    So here are your options:

    take a chip to NAPA and have them copy it

    go to a PPG place and get a pint of base coat

    whistle up ReRanch

    I would use ReRanch.

    As soon as you begin to apply clear, assuming that is your intent, it will change color anyway...

    Enjoy the journey.
     
    smokehousewilly likes this.

  15. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Age:
    66
    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    Here is a Dupont chip page that has more information.

    Here is a place that will make you a rattle can of stuff that is pretty much acrylic lacquer.

    One again, enjoy the journey!
     
    smokehousewilly likes this.

  16. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

    Sep 20, 2008
    Cincinnati
    Really? I have never read that, and I have spent lots of time on their forum. I have used it and I think it is very good. A very soft blue

    +1. Clear nitro has a very slight yellow cast to it. When you lay it down it may give you that slight bit of green cast you want. Over time you'll get even more.

    I really think you are obsessing about this. The ReRanch Sonic Blue is right on. Anything else will be a gamble in my opinion.
     

  17. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

    Nov 13, 2011
    Colorado
    i dunno, i think some of the Reranch colors are a little too vivid. not bad, just a bit more striking than the actual examples i've seen. i personally think their Sonic Blue could use a touch more white in it, but i'm just basing that on the photos i've seen (i've never personally used it.) i know a lot of people don't like their Shell Pink though because it looks more like bubble gum, and i tend to agree. it looks totally wrong IMHO.

    overall though i think Reranch makes nice paint. the only down side is that shipping anything flammable like that is expensive, so it might make more sense for the OP to try and source something locally first.
     

  18. smokehousewilly

    smokehousewilly Tele-Meister

    148
    Aug 30, 2009
    the big apple
    I like *a bunch* of those Cadillac colors.
     

  19. smokehousewilly

    smokehousewilly Tele-Meister

    148
    Aug 30, 2009
    the big apple
    Good luck.

    How many cans per Tele?
     

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