Dying Figured Maple
by: Roosevelt Walker Jr.
You've seen a lot of figured maple tops and you've noticed how some have a great figure but the color doesn't seem to pop off the guitar with that crushed velvet appeal. Well that is all in how you apply the color to the guitar. In this trick I'll show you how to make that quilt seem to just jump off the guitar and make your friends go googley eyed at your guitar.
First lets talk about the different process to add color to a quilted top. One process is to add dye into your clear coats. You will get a blue 5A quilted maple guitar, but boy... is that subdued or what!!
Next lets look at a guitar that was just single process dyed to the wood. This looks much better than the translucent color but its not there yet.
Now these two guitars have what I call the two step dye process which is what I will explain to you here. Is the figure jumping off these guitars or what! This is not a natrual color you have to help nature along to have your guitar look like these.
After you have completed sanding the guitar for finishing, the first step is to mix a very dark solution of dye to denatured alcohol. Now the dye color can either be a very dark version of the color you want the guitar to be or the dye can be black. Black makes the figure really be dark, which is how I like it. But some people prefer to use a very dark solution of the final color. The reason I keep saying very dark solution of, is because you are only going to want to put a light coating of the dark solution on the guitar. If you saturate the wood you will have a ton of sanding to do later in this process.
Step one: Dye the guitar lightly with your dark solution.
Step 2: Sand the color back to the point where the dye is still in the grain but the field of the wood has been sanded back to its natural color. I usually start with 180 sandpaper to get the color off quickly and then move up to 240 and then 320 for finishing.
Step 3: Dye the guitar with the final color. Now as you can see the guitar seems to go from a very dark green to a very light green and the quilted figure is extremely pronounced on the guitar.
Guitar finished with all clear coats on.