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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 46
Color question on refinishing a 520...

Well I've finally decided to refinish my sorely beaten up RG520. I've decided to ditch the quilted top and go with a flame maple veneer. I've read every article I can find on the refinish; I feel pretty confident. The only thing holding me back is the color. I want to go for this:

Now, I'm not sure if I should stain a coat in black, sand back the grain some, and stain it red. Or, stain it red, sand it back, and do another coat of red... Which would be closer to that picture of the PRS? Obviously, its not going to be exact, I just want something close. Also, any tips on the refinishing would be appreciated. Thanks in advance...

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-16-2003, 10:30 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
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I don't like using black because it gets in the pores (not the flames) and can give you little black dots, like freckles. You can use a darker red or the same red, but your idea of staining and cutting back a few times is right on. I'll sometimes use a more purplish-red first, sand it back, and then follow up with the blood red/cherry red. The retension of stain will be in the flames, and the reason it looks blackish is the compounding of the stain as the light hits it. Those same flames that look black at that light, will be the ones to look bright red when you tilt it. Consequently the previously red flames will appear to turn blackish. This beauty is minimized IMHO when you introduce black or a drastically darker color. Using black has more of an effect of "locking in" the flame, more like a photo-flame finish, and shortening the depth of the flames.

I do like black on Mahogany, though, if you are going to stain it darker brown or red. For that, I would not use black stain, though. It will get into the pores so deep that it will be hard to sand it all out, leaving the Mahogany looking dirty. I would suggest tinting your grain filler, scraping that on there, and cutting it back to reveal the pores. The filler is thicker and won't bleed the color into the wood overall.
frankfalbo is offline  
post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-17-2003, 08:22 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 46
Originally Posted by frankfalbo
I would suggest tinting your grain filler, scraping that on there, and cutting it back to reveal the pores. The filler is thicker and won't bleed the color into the wood overall.
Im not sure I understand what you mean here. The grain filler goes on after the stain, correct?

Also, I see what you mean in the first part of your response. Thanks, that was just what I was looking for. Im going to get my supplies from the ReRanch. Would you suggest scarlet red, or cherry red to get that color on the PRS? I think I'm going to go with just one color, as opposed to a darker stain, then the lighter stain, for the reasons you posted. Thanks a lot man, I really appreciate it!

NickFlyMan is offline  
post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-17-2003, 10:13 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
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You know, I really can't say not having seen it. If they have a color sample either online or in paper form that would help. I would mix it custom myself, ordering both reds and finding the right balance. Also you can mix it so your first "coat" has more pigment vs. water so when you sand it down, you've really saturated the flames with color. This would be a compromise between using a darker color first. Woodworker's supply ( has the same dyes for the same price, but they also have a "ruby red" in addition to a crimson and a scarlet. I have the crimson, and it's alright, but I usually add a little purple to it for that rich, black cherry color. But you might find the ruby red to be just perfect. Also don't finish the guitar until at least a week after your last stain coat. It's not that it isn't "dry", it's just that water based dyes seem to bleed deeper into the wood over time, so you think you have the color just right, and it will lighten a little as the grains draw it in. Especially with a water based top coat.

As for the filler, it is usually clear or wood-tone tinted, in various shades. You can stain the mahogany, then scrape the filler on, then sand it back. If you sand through any of the stain you can re-wipe it on after the filler is cut back. You could also apply a washcoat before the filler to lock in the stain. It's just an idea. But make sure it's thin enough that it doesn't fill the pores. ESP did this on many of the Ash strats. (purple, blue, red) from the mid-90's. I think Schecter did it too.

For a first timer a clear filler might be best. You can put some of the red tint in it if you want, but if it's really clear, and not milky/chalky looking you won't need to.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-18-2003, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
Posts: 1,416
You should talk to Jeremy at LGM about this. What you can do will depend a great deal on the sort of veneer you have. I bought some killer stuff and sent it off to Jeremy wanting a 3-D stain like you are desiring. The short story is that the veneer was too thin to work with in that way so he wound up using tinted clear coat to get the effect. It didn't pop like a 3D job, but it wasn't bad at all. Pictures of it are on his site, it's the LACS/RG7 project with the fear factory neck on it.
Gresh is offline  
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-18-2003, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 46
Frank, I see what youre saying. Thanks again, I think im going to buy a couple different colors and experiment some. As for a filler, clear sounds good to me. Thanks again Frank, you've been a huge help to me in this process.

Gresh, I don't post much, but I browse too much . Ive seen that RG7... It definatly looked sweet. I haven't bought the veneer yet. I have been waiting to gather all the info I can, then make one online shopping run and get everything...

I definatly want a flame maple top. Do you guys have a suggestion of where to buy a good quality veneer? I've checked the resources on for some good ideas, but considering this is my first time, I dont know what's best. What thickness should I get, and whats a good place to buy it from?

As always, thanks guys, you have no idea how much I appreciate the help.

NickFlyMan is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-18-2003, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
Posts: 1,416
I got mine from and it was really really thin...good for bending, bad for splitting and sanding. It will come warped to high heaven so it will require flattening. Jeremy flattened mine for like 3 days in a press.

An alternate route would be to use wood designed for acoustic guitar backs. It will be thicker and may require steam to bend properly without breaking. It will also be superior in quality but more expensive and you can likely find it already sanded and bookmatched properly. is the place to go for that stuff.

Good luck.
Gresh is offline  

acoustic guitar , clear coat , flame maple

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