This 1990 Japanese-made Ibanez RG550, originally metallic red, was badly damaged in a bizarre plumbing incident. What better subject for a complete transformation? Huw Price rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.
Because of our cool-looking veneer, we thought a PRS ‘stonewash’ finish would be ideal. On the amazing figured maple tops you see on guitars by PRS and Suhr and so forth, the maple is dyed before the finish is applied. This makes the grain ‘pop out’ regardless of the viewing angle.
For our water-based black stain we settled on a 3:1 ratio of dye to water. First, raise the grain of the veneer by wiping it over with a damp cloth; when it’s dry, wipe on the dye. At first our guitar looked dark purple, but after sanding off most of the dye it got a lot better. If you repeat the dying, sanding and wiping process, it accentuates the contrast in the grain (Pics 14 to 19).
Our body after the first application of stain. At this stage it looks a bit purple.
Heres the body with the first coat of stain sanded back. Not too handsome, you say?
When the veneer is wiped down with white spirit, it really starts to look exciting.
Back to the staining. We’re adding a second application to get the colour to go darker.
Stain sanded back again. More stages give more grain contrast but less ‘movement’.
A second wipe down with white spirit gives an idea of how the guitar might look.