Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Guitar corona

Q: I am using McFadden nitrocellulose through a standard spray gun. I just successfully shot my first guitar and am working on another which I would like to tone with a dark opaque to light translucent wine red on the headstock veneer and carved maple top. I am having a hard time determining if I should color the wood before applying lacquer or if I should mix a pigment into the lacquer.
A: First, McFadden has gone out of business, but have no fear; Seagrave Coatings bought their formulas and intends to continue their fine line of guitar lacquers. I’ve spoken with the president of Seagrave and feel quite confident we will be as happy with them as we were with McFadden.
As for the toner, while either can be done, it is far easier to color between coats of clear finish than it is to color the raw wood. However, I would not add pigment to the lacquer; I would add dye. Use an oil soluble dye predissolved in solvent, or use a universal dye concentrate or NGR dye. Enough coats of dyed lacquer will indeed look opaque, so you can get the hiding characteristics you want at the very dark edges. In addition, you can maintain the translucency you need as the corona graduates to the lighter center.