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

Transparent Blonde Nitro on Alder

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by zamdrang, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. zamdrang

    zamdrang TDPRI Member

    Age:
    46
    7
    Aug 22, 2017
    California
    I know this has been talked about a lot, and I have spent weeks searching and reading everything I can find on the subject. So many of the old threads on the subject have broken picture links I thought I would ask and maybe someone can post some pics if they have done this.

    I am wanting to finish a tele alder body with reranch fender blonde and clear. I understand the general consensus that ash is preferred for transparent finishes and alder for solids.

    After reading endless threads and comments that it wont look "right" I am questioning just what folks mean by this. Is it just that the grain wont pop as much, or the inherent color of the alder?

    Read suggestions about bleaching to get it "right". If the lack of grain is the so called "problem" it seems like bleaching would be the opposite of what you want to do. But if that is to address the color of the alder than it seems like you would end up with even less grain showing. Is this the compromise?

    Just trying to understand the pros and cons, I'm basically wanting to end up with a thin finish in the color second from right.

    http://www.reranch.com/reranch/viewtopic.php?p=413600&sid=6ec7d011ff4c13b70b3207888f4c565d
     

  2. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Yes. That's exactly right. And thousands of alder bodies have been done anyway and most look just fine. Not as dramatic as *good* ash, but fairly similar to plainer ash.

    If you use sanding sealer/light sanding followed by dark-tinted grain filler you can often get a bit of grain pop even on alder. It certainly won't hurt, and it's a good idea to fill it anyway. But that's the only way to bring out what grain there is.
     
    awasson likes this.

  3. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    Depends on the shade of alder really. If it's a darkish wood, you have to lighten/lime it, or risk it going darker: which will reduce any grain apparent. Or it may go orange, you could use a whiter finish but risk it looking brown rather than yellowish. It's your guitar, but I'd be inclined to paint it solid 'aged' Olympic White.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017

  4. zamdrang

    zamdrang TDPRI Member

    Age:
    46
    7
    Aug 22, 2017
    California
    Thanks guys, appreciate the tips. I thought you used grain filler before sanding sealer...?

    Im less concerned about grain showing through then I am ending up with a funky color. This is a pic of it while stripping the poly, the sealer underneath gives it a salmon/maple ish tint.

    I'm taking it down to bare wood, but assuming the sanding sealer will take it back to roughly the same tint, based on pics like this it seems a fair assumption:
    https://www.manchesterguitartech.co...ation-sanding-sealer-and-using-an-index-coat/

    Wondering how blond is going to look over that hue.

    If after a coat or two it starts to be obvious that the color wont look right, can you just keep adding coats until its opaque? Or is that a bad idea?

    0827171602_resized (1).jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017

  5. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Nope - the reverse, although there are no "rules". The sanding sealer helps control penetration of tints in the filler just like it does controlling stain penetration.

    I really doubt you'll ever get down to "bare wood". There will likely be material that's soaked in up to 1/32" - sometimes more depending on the wood itself and exactly how it was coated. That looks like polyurethane, and the sealer will be nearly impossible to completely sand away. At the beginning of the thread it would have been helpful if you'd mentioned the body was previously finished and preferably with what. It changes almost everything and it's likely going to be impossible to get contrasting grain like you would with raw alder of any kind.

    Unless you are planning very aggressive sanding (more like planing) you will be dealing with a partially sealed surface. This can cause a lot of inconsistencies when attempting to achieve "grain pop" - it could be all over the map. You won't have even alder's mildly open grain to fill - grain filler would be used with an opaque color in a case like this to smooth the surface, but with a transparent it will smooth the surface but have little to no soft grain to work into - so the tinted filler won't have the normal places to penetrate. And bleaching (which I've never had to do on bare alder) won't work on a surface with any material in the grain.

    If you haven't done all this before you may be better off simply sanding it smooth, applying a sealer to fill in any bare spots (followed by a light sanding) and applying the color and clear coats, living with the lack of contrasting grain - or switching to an opaque finish.

    No matter which you do make sure you order enough material to do a significant amount of application of the *entire* system - in sequence - on scrap material before you start on the actual body. You never want to attempt something you have never done before on your guitar, and you want to make sure all materials work predictably together before applying even one.

    if you do go with transparent blonde this might require twice the amount for scrap application that it will take for the body alone. Getting a transparent lacquer finish applied consistently - especially with an aerosol - is very difficult. Even doing the normal 3 light passes per coat the distance, angle and movement of the spray head all have to be very consistent with absolutely no starting/stopping over the piece, no hesitation, no "golf swings" (the nozzle has to stay at the same distance as it moves across the body - your hand can't move in an arc) etc.

    You also need to ensure better than average dust control because any contamination at all means spot sanding, which makes it tough even for experience finishers to do and still get a transparent to come out even. And just so there's no confusion, other than fixing dust/hair spots (which should not happen anyway) there is no intercoat sanding with lacquer. Not between coats of color and never between color and clear. Every coat chemically melts into the previous one creating one seamless "coat". If applied correctly there should be no (or very minimal, with 1000 and finer) wet sanding after all clear coats are applied. Except for perhaps a few areas os spot sanding most finishers I know go directly to the buffer. If there's heavy orange peel or a very wavy surface both are application issues that should be headed off long before the final coats.

    Hope this helps.
     

  6. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    I'd go for an aged white myself.

    These guitars are all 'Olympic White' which means post-56s alder and it's the real traditional alder finish.

    images (14).jpg

    Alternatively, the other trad alder finish is sunburst - except the very earliest Strats which were nitro paint, sunburst is brown or black fogged around yellow stain.

    Jim is right though, if they used tinted grain filler which is possible that may have penetrated the wood a fair way. Plus red alder tends to look red.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017

  7. zamdrang

    zamdrang TDPRI Member

    Age:
    46
    7
    Aug 22, 2017
    California
    Thanks for the comments, very helpful.

    Yes I agree, I am not concerned about grain contrast, I just like the color tone of the blonde finish more than anything else. Getting contrast from alder sounds like more time and energy than I want to put into this project.

    If I was to try my luck shooting blonde over just sealer would I get a brownish tone like the guitar on the left? And if it not happy why couldn't I keep shooting until its opaque? Would it ever get truly opaque?

    I assume blonde over white primer would give a more consistent color and use less color if knowingly going for opaque of course.

    Dacious, i'm not opposed to olympic white...still debating. Overall I just like the color tone of the blonde better. The guitar on the left looks semi transparent, from my monitor it also looks on the brownish side of yellow, rather than white or creamy side of yellow. Is it safe to say that is the red of the alder causing that?
     

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