Tuesday, 25 March 2014

335 Semi-hollow Bass: Amber Burst

This morning I took the plunge and attempted my second burst using ColorTone dye - a so called "poor man's burst". The target of my ministrations was my ES335 Bass (EB-4) from Pitbull Guitars. My first attempt on my Flamed Telecaster build was moderately successful, although I would have liked more distinction between colours.

I prepared the body with a light sand down of 360, 400 and 600 grits. At 600 grit I did a single pass of grain raising using Metholated Spirits, but the maple hardly need it.

This time around I didn't perform a 'trace-dye' on the wood to check for glue spots. I was instead prepared to stop dying if any glue surfaced and perform a sand back to remove it. Amazingly, this Pitbull Guitars kit exhibited no glue spots at all around the binding or veneer join. What a great kit!

The steps to produce the burst were as follows:

Step 1: I wiped clean water over the entire top. This helps the dye take up evenly across the surface and prevents and streak or wipe marks in the dye.

Step 2: Using ColorTone Vintage Amber as a base, I applied this to the entire body.

Step 3: In an attempt to pop the flame maple further, while the first pass was still wet I proceeded to lightly wipe a 70:30 mix of Vintage Amber / Red Mahogany over the top.

Step 4: I applied Red Mahogany to the edges in successive passes, using the Vintage Amber to feather the edges. Several times I used a clean rag to help feather the edges as well.

Here's the result - I'm pretty damn pleased with it!


The edges are nice and dark with the red mahogany bleeding into the flame maple as it reaches for the centre of the guitar. The centre has retained it's bright Amber hue and has not been muddied with brown. With the masking removed from the binding, you can see what a great job the 3M 471 pin-striping tape has done to keep the stain off. I love this 471 tape!!

All in all an almost perfect result - I'm right chuffed with myself. And now for the back, which was completed with much the same technique, although the lack of flame maple veneer made it a little harder to accomplish an even burst IMO. I think it came out OK though. Almost as good as the front.


Those of you with a keen eye will notice a glue spot on the heel of the guitar. There are several small glue spots around the sides. After I have applied some Tru-Oil to the front and back to lock in the dye, I'll go back over the sides with the sanding block to get rid of these glue spots. It's a small price to pay for such a perfect kit on the front and back!!