For Those Spraying Nitro Sunbursts......

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by boneyguy, Jun 1, 2020.

  1. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'll be doing a sunburst for a friend in the near future and I've got a couple questions:

    1. Do you typically use yellow nitro or aniline dye as the yellow base coat in a typical Fender style 2 or 3 tone burst? Advantages/disadvantages?

    2. Do you usually spray clear between the various burst colour coats?...(as in the vid below)

    And a more general question:

    3. How many final clear coats do you spray to ensure no sanding thru?

    I realize different folks will have different methods and that's fine...I'm just wanting to get some ideas and techniques. I realize that painting bursts will be a learning curve...I've got a throwaway bolt on Epi body to practice on first.

    Here's the best vid I've found on the matter....Fender Custom Shop guy...to my eye it looks like the yellow is dye...there's no sheen to it and it has the right colour of the dye.

     
  2. Christof73

    Christof73 TDPRI Member

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    What I do:
    For late 50’s or 60:
    Dye yellow, clear primer, sanding sealer , spray bursts and lots of clear. I do something like 10-12 coats of clear. When I used rattle cans 3 to 4 cans of clear.
    Getting a decent spray gun and compressor paid off very quickly!
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I only do Gibson style Cremola sunbursts with stains so I can't really answer. However Dan Erlewine has a long discussion of Fender two and three color sunbursts and all of the different ways they did it. They seemed to be changing a lot and using different products and methods.
     
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  4. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    For standard non figured wood, seal, spray yellow dye with a hair of nitro in it to give a little body so it doesn't run. A light coat of clear to seal it in and check the color a bit. Start with my burst colors. Finish with 8-10 light coats of clear and end with a couple gloss coats.

    Eric
     
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  5. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    What sort of dye are you using? What base is the dye in that you are adding a bit of lacquer to?

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say you spray a couple of gloss coats at the end. Do you mean the previous coats weren't gloss lacquer..they were satin or semi? And when you say a couple of gloss coats are you being literal....how do you not sand through 'a couple' of coats?

    Thanks!
     
  6. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If using alinine powder, which I don't use much any more, I use denatured alcohol. If using transtin, I just mix into significantly thinned nitro. I have done it so long Onjust eye ball the mix but would say something like 1 part nitro to 5 parts lacquer + dye.

    I use gloss nitro for all but your intital coats should not look like a gloss smooth finish coat. If they do it will take forever, or never, to dry. So many pour it in and end up trapping solvent under the layers that can't get out. It is best to build lacquer with thin coats that dry fully in betwee. So 8-10 light coats 45 minutes apart.

    A coat is 3 passes. Initial coats are 3 light passes. Last coats are 3 full gloss passes to melt it all together.


    Eric
     
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  7. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks Eric....good info. Again, some questions if you don't mind.

    1) "1 part nitro to 5 parts lacquer + dye."....I assume you mean lacquer thinner + dye, correct?

    2) "A coat is 3 passes" ....I'm thinking you mean spraying the whole guitar once....then the whole guitar once again...etc,..one right after the other without waiting in between, correct?

    3) "So 8-10 light coats 45 minutes apart."...I have never waited that long between coats....I spray air after every coat...I also generally hit it with a hand held blow drier to quicken the flashing off. If I'm not doing other jobs, only painting, I'll put a coat on every few minutes (3-5 min.) and I've never had a problem. I don't measure, just eyeball, but I"m spraying about a 50/50 mix lacquer/thinner.
     
  8. MojoTrwall

    MojoTrwall Tele-Meister

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    My girlfriend did for Me a sunburst finish which I'm really glad with. (It was her first guitar finish, but she went to art School, and she's used to color subtility)

    She wasn't fully satisfied with her first result, the two pictures unfinished because of the fade, she sanded everything back to get the shooting pattern right the second Time (Wood is really dark since it's roasted swamp Ash, don't trust yellowish color it's a light effect).

    Yellow first, black second, then third transition color.

    If you wan't to do a 59/63 sunburst toi must shoot red in between with a lighter flow.
     

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  9. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think she did a great job!

    The burst I'll be painting for my friend will be a 2 tone burst...which is my favourite.
     
  10. MojoTrwall

    MojoTrwall Tele-Meister

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    Avoid roasted wood, we could not manage to get a yellow colour because of the dark tone of the wood
     
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  11. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    I can’t answer your question, I just wanted to thank you for posting that video
    That’s awesome

    I always thought that a lot of fenders had a really dark brown on the edges, this video also proves how fast lacquer dries (kind of) I get a kick out of people waiting weeks between coats etc.
     
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  12. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    1. Sorry, yes, 5 parts lacquer thinner. Of course, this is just my personal preference for dye coats. I want my color coats to flash off quick but have enough viscosity not to run or bead up. Clear coats I like 3/1 lacquer/thinner.

    2. Yes, a pass is spraying the entire guitar with 3 consecutive passes.

    3. Spraying air between coats and blow dried is generally considered as unwise, much like leaving it in direct sun to dry faster. While it dries the surface of the lacquer quickly, it can dry too quickly to allow the solvents underneath to gas off. The result is solvents staying trapped underneath. That can result in it taking forever to be dry, or staying perpetually soft. When I hear of people complain about soft or sticky nitro like on a neck even years later it is a sign of solvent being trapped. Same goes with a bunch of heavy coats.

    Eric
     
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  13. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yes...I spray air after a coat as well...and sometimes even use a handheld blow dryer..unless distracted by other things I've never waited more than a couple of minutes between coats and never had any issues.
     
  14. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks for all the great info Eric...I really appreciate you taking the time to be detailed.

    Theoretically I can see why spraying air or blow drying could potentially created the problems you've listed but I've never had any problems myself. I wonder if that's because of the variety of nitro lacquers there are. Nitro seems to be a pretty broad term these days and can actually describe very different chemical formulas and ingredients. Maybe the stuff I'm using is less prone to the problems you're describing...I don't know. But I've never had a problem yet. I have leveled within a week of spraying before without any problems and have never experienced soft, uncured lacquer. Maybe I've just been lucky?

    Thanks again!!
     
  15. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    If you’re talking about repro style finishes, Fender did 3TSB at least four different ways in their “classic” period.

    From the beginning of 3TSB until 1961, it was dye for the middle (entire bodies were dipped in a giant drum full of yellow dye, then hung to drip and air dry). Sprayed aniline dyed clear red for the transition, and a very dark brown – not black – for the edges.

    In ‘61, the outer color changed to black. Everything else stayed the same.

    In ‘63, Fullerplast was introduced as a one step filler/sealer. Before that, various solvent based sealers had been used, over natural colored pore filler (which is basically just very fine grained Earth in paste form – kind of like clay).

    In ‘64, translucent yellow was sprayed for the center color, in addition to the dye.

    In ‘68, the clearcoats went to AUC - aliphatic urethane. Everything below stayed the same (yes, Fender bursts all through the ‘70s were clear poly over nitro color).

    At some point in there a more stable red tint was introduced for the transition color. And at some point, they stopped bothering with the yellow dye underneath the sprayed translucent yellow. I am not sure just when either of these things happened, other than that it was definitely in the CBS era.

    Another note is that the transition color (translucent red) could be sprayed on in burst order (inner color, transition color, outer color), OR as the last color before clearing (inner, outer, transition). I have seen both (and the latter is easy to spot because the outer color is not a pure black).

    I would put clear over a dyed center color if it was not going to be painted with translucent yellow, but otherwise I would not apply clear between colors.

    Personally, I think the most beautiful Fender 3TSB process was the ‘61 to ‘62 one. Solvent based sealer (not Fullerplast) yellow dye only (no translucent yellow lacquer over it), aniline dyed red layer (fades out beautifully, just like an early cherry burst Les Paul), pure black outer layer (not dark brown like earlier bursts).
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
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  16. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Interesting info...I'm certainly not trying to recreate any exact historical process with my upcoming job...I just want it to look good!! All this info is very cool and the overall message is clear....there is more than one way to skin a sunburst cat. And that's good news for me. In general I don't like having to follow very specific instructions in order to wind up with a particular result...I like flexibility.

    Here's an interesting vid I watched yesterday from those Texas Toast guys which relates to your first description of spray a couple colours of aniline dye....

     
  17. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Are you by chance using precat or catalyzed? There are a lot of nitros. I buy Sherwin LOVOC in bulk.

    Eric
     
  18. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    When I say nitro I literally mean nitrocellulose lacquer....the old school stuff. I've never seen the term 'nitro' used to describe anything else. Lacquer is certainly a generic term to describe LOTS of stuff but I've always seen nitro to mean specifically nitrocellulose lacquer.

    I use a Canadian product:

    https://www.acromapro.com/document/PDS/en/NM5111090/ACROMAPRO

    I have some Emtech EM6000 on hand that I'm going to try with some other projects. It's a waterborne lacquer that apparently behaves like a nitro lacquer in that it burns into the previous coat. So you wind up with one continuous coat rather than multiple layers and you don't get 'witness lines' when sanding. I'm looking forward to trying it.
    https://www.targetcoatings.com/product/emtech-em6000-wb-production-lacquer/
     
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  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    First - "nitro" is nitrocellulose lacquer - BUT you have to be careful to read MSDS sheets, as some are actually lacquer enamels, containing naphtha. mineral spirits, petroleum distillates and/or alkyd resin - oil based paint resin. Colortone and Deft are two examples, and lacquer enamels take a VERY long time to dry. It's absolutely critical to keep coats thin with all lacquers, but especially lacquer enamels.

    And FWIW - nitrocellulose and acrylic lacquers behave in an almost identical manner. There are also blends of the two. It's the solvents that are critical.

    Nitro and acrylic lacquers dry in 30-60 minutes per coat if applied properly. The notes regarding thin passes to create a single coat are pretty much standard operating procedure, and a single coat does not recover fully or flow out evenly - it takes 3-4 coats of total material (and they don't have to all be color coats or clear coats - it can be two of one and one or two of another) before lacquer begins to level.

    IF you are also spraying air it sounds like you are using a conventional high-pressure air spray rig - correct? It's much harder to control material consistency, mil thickness and flow than with an hvlp - plus you lose about 80% through overspray and bounce.

    Spraying air with the gun or a hair dryer is NOT recommended by any manufacturer I know of (and I was in the industry in technical support for 30 years and running a 100-man crew for almost 10) Blowing air over fresh coating:

    1. causes the film to skin over, resulting in solvent entrapment. This can slow the dry time to weeks - or months, if at all, plus blisters, bubbles, and delamination.

    2. The air can push the material into "waves", causing mil thickness inconsistencies and variations in color depth. This alone can create the need for wet sanding of the completed coating system - an unnecessary procedure except to fix runs and other inconsistencies.

    As far as how many clear coats are required to avoid sand-throughs - technically that would be ONE. Upon completion of a properly applied lacquer system you should be able to go straight to buffing.

    This all-mahogany (except the rosewood board)"Mini T-style" was a birthday present to myself last Thursday. I did the body shaping and applied Valspar Sanding Sealer and two coats of Valspar "Water White" (i.e. clear) Gloss nitro loaded with Mohawk green dye stain - all with with a Titan 300 HVLP - Thursday; then one more coat of sanding sealer and 2 coats of Valspar Water White Gloss, one coat of my own tint of "aging amber", and 3 more coats of clear Friday.

    The dye stain I applied after the sanding sealer is where I apply the central color of sunbursts - sometimes varying if paste wood filler (tinted) is needed.

    I buffed it out Friday afternoon with two clean cotton wheels and two different stick buffing compounds and assembled it Saturday morning (I used no paste wood filler as I wanted a bit of an "old, shrunken",...but not checked...lacquer look.).

    Nine total coats of material applied at 2-3 mils wet film thickness over two days, with buffing about 3 1/2 hours after final coat application. Also did the neck and matching headstock.
    body top copy.jpg
    The critical points - applying all materials at their optimum thickness - thick enough to provide color. gloss and a protective film, but thin enough to dry fully.

    Contrary to what you may read in some threads, in books and on websites, conventional nitrocellulose and acrylic lacquers DO NOT CURE. They dry ONLY by evaporation of volatile components - solvents and other evaporative additives.

    Only plural component and other specialty lacquers containing activators that react chemically to oxygen, ultraviolet light or other very specific "curing agents" actually "cure" - and only rarely will you find them on the shelf of your local paint store. "precatalyzed" lacquers contain very small amounts of reactive components and functionally dry like conventional lacquers - by evaporation.

    So the amount of clear depends on your application technique - If applied evenly at the correct mil thickness a couple of coats are plenty as NO sanding is needed - simply light buffing to bring out the gloss.

    And very seriously - blowing air and/or using a hair dryer is not recommended and will cause more harm than good!

    Hope that helps!
     
  20. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    The guitar looks great!! Thanks for all the info!!
     
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