Hey everyone – We are almost down to the home stretch on the LED Guitar project!  This is the last bit of finishing that will be necessary, before final sanding / polishing and assembly.  Today, I’ll cover how I finished the guitar neck in a vintage amber finish, and painted the headstock.

You may remember these products from my previous article on how to paint stripes on a guitar body.  I ordered these from Stewmac.com, at the recommendation of a gentleman on a Telecaster guitar forum I frequent. My goal was to finish the back of the LED Guitar neck and headstock in a vintage amber tint.  The goal here was to offset the highly stylized / modern finish with some vintage personality.  Going by his recommendation, I would need to start with clear nitrocellulose lacquer, and add four drops of ColorTone Vintage Amber Liquid Stain, and one drop of ColorTone Medium Brown Liquid Stain.  Doing this in a mason jar produced a “vintage amber” that was extremely close to what I had envisioned. I ended up dropping in a bit more of the brown to give the tint a little more “presence”, being careful not to overpower the amber too much.

I masked off the headstock face and fingerboard before spraying.  Even though I would be spraying the headstock an opaque white, I masked it because I didn’t want the finish to be too thick.

Here’s the wood after a single pass of the vintage amber finish.  It’s getting there! 
Once again, however, I didn’t heed my own advice and sprayed too heavy of an initial base coat.  Rather than mess around with this later, I stopped what I was doing, waited a few hours for this to dry, and just sanded the runs out.

After a second wet coat, and a few hours drying time, here’s what I ended up with.  The perfect “vintage amber” neck finish!

 Rather than boring you with the details of spraying white lacquer on the headstock, I figured I would just show you the finished product.  After letting the vintage amber dry for a week, I masked everything but the headstock face.  Here it is with four good coats of white tinted lacquer.  That’s a good blank canvas!
 After staring at the headstock for about ten minutes, with a cutout of my custom logo in place, I realized it needed a bit of flare.  This is a large headstock, due to the extra space needed for the 7th string, and so I felt it needed a little accent.  Since I have a red stripe at the bottom of the guitar, I thought it would be cool to balance the design by adding a red slash to the tip of the headstock.  In this picture, you can see the neck completely masked, except for a small portion of the top of the headstock.

I had some red tinted lacquer left, so I laid down three good coats to get a deep red covering. 

After removing the masking tape, I’m left with a deep red accent at the top of the headstock.  Finally, something worked just as planned!  Note – In this picture, the red looks a little magenta.  I think that is either an optical illusion because of the purple towel in the background, or the camera’s color sensor getting confused by the similar colors.  In real life, this is a nice, deep red.

 Here’s a closeup of the painted headstock.  The red looks a little more true to color here.

Now it’s time to do the waterslide logo!  You may remember my post, detailing how I added a waterslide decal to the headstock of my KAOSS Pad Guitar.  This is the same idea.  Above is a shot of the decal I designed for this guitar.  I named the model LD-1; LD for LED guitar, and “1” because it’s my first.
Here’s a test fit of the decal, to make sure it fits properly.  
 A little dip in some water…

 And on to the guitar headstock the waterslide decal goes!  This one actually went on a lot easier than my KAOSS Pad Guitar decal.  I’m thinking that is the case because I knew what to expect.  Now that I’ve completed the finish of both the guitar body and neck, it is time to seal everything in with some clear lacquer. Here is my finish schedule:
  • The body will get about six coats of clear nitro lacquer.  This is to build up enough finish so that I can sand / buff without cutting into the stripes.
  • The back of the neck and headstock will get only two coats.  This is to keep it nice and thin.
  • The face of the headstock will get about six coats of clear.  This is to build up the surface, so that it surpasses the thickness of the decal.  
I probably won’t bore you with those, but we’ll see.  See you soon!