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Want this body to match ebony neck

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by coreytree, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. coreytree

    coreytree Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    i would Like to finish this swamp ash body to match the very dark brown color and low sheen of the fretboard, which is ebony. From what I have read, ‘ebonizing’, either using a difficult traditional technique or more modern stain and dyes can make a body black. I’d like to match the super dark brown of the neck as opposed to full-on black. It's also important to me to keep the final finish sheen as something like flat or satin. I think it would be great for the texture of the grain to show through. It's wood and I want it to look like it!

    Any thought regarding how an amateur non-woodworking person like me could get the dark, dark brown, low sheen finish I crave?

    Here are pics of the guitar, as well as the fretboard next to something black to show the color and help make my point about black vs very dark brown...



    IMG_7195.jpg

    IMG_7196.jpg

    IMG_7198.jpg

    IMG_7197.jpg
     
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  2. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Wipe on with a paint color of your choice before clear finishing? Lay on coats until proper darkness is achieved?
     
  3. howardlo

    howardlo Tele-Afflicted

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    Minwax makes an ebony stain. Maybe that and a satin top coat. Minwax wipe on satin poly should work. Easy to apply, no streaks, no runs and no orange peel.
     
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  4. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    That's a beautiful instrument. I would so dig having a Nashville like that.
     
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  5. Hags

    Hags Tele-Meister

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    That finger board kinda looks like rosewood to me.
    Get some scrap ash from your local hardwood dealer and experiment till you find somthing you like.
    As far as the finish I've used a product called Bona that is durable and really hard to mess up, it almost looks like ther is no finish on. It's a flooring finish sold at a lot of hardware stores
     
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  6. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Ebony stain and let it sit for awhile before rubbing off, repeat as necessary.
     
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  7. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    DSCN0886.JPG This neck is Maple with Ebony stain following the same procedure.
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with this. In which case all the advice is probably wrong. Ebony really is black, modern stuff frequently has grey grain.
     
  9. coreytree

    coreytree Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    It's a for sure ebony from Warmouth. I think the bright flash made it look lighter brown than it really looks to the eye. But it does show the brownish undertones that are there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  10. Hags

    Hags Tele-Meister

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    Ok so it's not rosewood its ebony, that is more black and looks like mourning and death.
     
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  11. FrontPU

    FrontPU Tele-Holic

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    Garnet shellac?
     
  12. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    Black leather dye may be about the best. It generally permeates better than stains. Wear gloves.
     
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  13. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    If you can get a piece of scrap ash to play with you can try blending a few stains to get a dark brown/black look.
     
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  14. coreytree

    coreytree Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Hi Hags, The Bona product looks interesting and I see they do have an ebony color available.

     
  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    OK, if we are sure its ebony, then here would be my suggestion. As as been said about 20 times, practice on scrap - I always keep cutoffs when I'm building a body to experiment with. Because I am used to them, I would personally use Colortone dyes (besides, that's what I have so I don't have to buy something else). I am used to hand applying Colortone dye diluted with denatured alcohol, but that will depend on the final finish that is going to be applied.

    Please note a couple of things about stains. They are more or less irreversible - you can sand some of it off and somewhat modify color after its been applied but most of the time you can only make it darker. Also note that end grain absorbs a lot more stain than long grain - that can be good or bad, but its going to make the sides, the belly cut, the ends around the neck heel and cutaway much darker than the face of the wood. Sealing the wood to lessen the amount that is absorbed is hard to control.

    I would simply make some solutions of different dark brown dyes in DA and try them on your scrap ash. Remember that you can make a batch of stain darker but you can't really lighten it. You can add black or very dark brown, or possibly a little red mahogany it you feel it needs to be warmed up. This isn't a very good picture but the fretboard and bridge on this mando are ebony, the top is spruce, sides and neck are maple. The outer most stain in the 'burst is Colortone tobacco brown mixed fairly dark in DA and applied with a pad. The brown fades to a bit of red mahogany before going to the amber. The flame on the maple was popped by a thin coat of the brown which was then sanded all the way back leaving only the flame. What I am trying to show here is that within the limits of lights and camera, the brown burst is fairly close to the ebony, possibly a drop of black would take it all the way.

    Img_0413.jpg

    Img_0410.jpg

    btw, the final finish on that is water born lacquer (KTM-9) which does not seem to react with the alcohol based stain. If I was shooting nitro I would have put on a couple of coats of vinyl sealer.


    As far as the "low sheen of the fretboard" - ebony fretboards are almost never finished. The black stains that you see advertised are used to remove (hide) the lighter grain lines that you sometimes see in ebony (I happen to really like them). As ebony fretboards get dirty most people just clean them with a damp cloth or sometimes some 0000 steel wool.

    After your body is stained as close as you can get it to the ebony color you will need to decide what finish (if any) to put on it. You will probably want something, and that can be a function of (1) the look you want, (2) what you are comfortable applying, and (3) the compatibility with the stain. There are basically two ways to get a satin sheen - apply a product that drys that way or apply something that drys somewhat shiny and then knock the gloss off. Be aware that hand applied finishes (like many of the oils and shellacs) may affect the stain. Some of the sprayed finishes have solvents that may affect the stains. Again, practice on your scrap.

    If it was my guitar I would shoot either nitro or water based lacquer - those are the only products that I have much experience with and I'm comfortable with them. I would do my normal build sequence of maybe 6 to 12 coats, and I would sand up thru the grits to 1500 or 2000 after the final coat had cured. Then rather than buffing I would knock the gloss back with 0000 steel wool.

    Good luck, lets see some pictures when you are finished
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  16. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

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    After refinishing furniture and doing many guitar builds for years now, it's what I use when I need to make something looking ebony. Fiebing's, I have found, works the best. If anyone here likes to build models it's great for painting props for planes as well.

    It's none more black!
     
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  17. coreytree

    coreytree Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Thank you so much for the detailed reply, Freeman. I will certainly post final pics, for sure. Everyone on TDPRI has been endlessly helpful throughout the project.
     
  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Cory, how much do you want the grain and character of the ash to show thru? That is a fairly interesting piece of wood.
     
  19. coreytree

    coreytree Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Yes, it might be nice to see grain!
    I agree it’s a nice grain pattern, and I would love to have the grain be present in the end some way. Might be nice if the grain simply shows as a texture if the finish is dark and opaque. Might be nice if the grain is even more visible because the dye has been sanded back to some degree, and maybe with multiple coats in slightly different tints or some such.
     
  20. TELE_BLUES

    TELE_BLUES Tele-Afflicted

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