Getting down to the finishing stage, this is how I color the tops.
First, ALL the hardware is removed again. Everything except the embedded metal bushings for the bridge and tailpiece. The entire top is then stained black with a mixture of transtine black dye and denatured alcohol. I use the alcohol instead of water or another vehicle because I dont want the dye to penetrate very deep into the wood. Alcohol evaporates much more quickly than water and thus will not carry the dye very far into the wood.
Once its completely dry I then sand it all off again. Or most of it anyway. The stain penetrates more deeply where the figuring is because of the orientation of the wood fibers, so when sanded off it leaves the dye in the figure and highlights the “flame”
In this case I then mixed up some water based aniline dye, mostly blue with the teeniest hint of yellow to bring just a hint of green into the color. I wet the entire top with water first and then wiped on the dye in several applications until I got to the intensity I wanted.
After shooting a “wash” coat of highly thinned clear lacquer, I shoot the black around the edge of the body using an Iwata spray gun with a very fine aperture so that there is a gradient between the blue of the body and the black round the edge. This is what is referred to as a “burst”. The finer the gun can atomize the lacquer, the smoother that gradient looks. Guns with too large an aperture can create a burst that looks speckled rather than a smooth transition of color
This is its home for the next few weeks while the lacquer hardens. Catalyzed finishes dont require this time, but nitrocellulose lacquer has to harden for 3 – 4 weeks before its hard enough to sand and buff out. More pix to come after its all smooth and shiny