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Matching Epiphone's Wine Red Translucent Body Color

Lefty Bill

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Has anyone found a stain product available in the US for a color match?


I've done some cutting on a solid mahogany Les Paul Special II body with the Wine Red finish, and I'd like to try to match the color around the edge of the body (end grain area).


I tried MinWax stain Red Mahogany #225 on scraps, but it was just dark brown with barely any detectable red (using daylight 6000+K CF lighting).


Since seeing a picture of a "blueburst" Maestro with black around the edge, I may just go that direction, although it will be a considerably greater area to refinish.

The blue area of the blueburst may be a metallic finish, I couldn't tell from a picture.


I removed the finish from a scrap of the wine red body, and found the last finish layer to be red-tinted clear.

Under the top tinted layer, there is a very thick layer of clear over thin coats of sealer and stain.


The total finish coats are so thick that they can be measured with a caliper. The top is close to .038" (~ .97mm) and on the back is about .033" (~ .84mm).

So, the finish coats on this example are over 1/32" thick which is approaching 1mm in thickness.


The stain applied directly to the body's edge appears to be different (darker) than the lightly tinted stain applied to the front and back body surfaces, and I realize that end grain will typically absorb more stain, thus making it darker, but I would expect that the edge is sealed first to minimize costs (less absorbed/wasted materials, faster results).




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I think that was Whitmore Willy... Norlin LP Custom, back of the neck right?

Yes sir, it was me.

Here is the link:



All I can say is that color is a crap shoot. I got lucky.

Before:............................................................................................After: (repaired area is above the flash reflection)




I did use Stewmac stain. It was also a nitro finish.

I got a lot of help from Brian, Gordy and others.

Hope you have as much luck as I did.



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Get a red Transtint Dye then you can add a load of red to your stain. Once you're done use it to tint your clear coat, probably all but the top coat, together you should be able to get very close.


If there's too much brown in your stain dilute it before adding the red dye, but don't forget the yellow from the clear lacquer combined with the brown stain base will also help add to the red hue.

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Sorry Willy, I didn't think you were online at the time.


I don't leave for camping until tomorrow.

'Til then you're stuck with me.


Besides it's not about ego...it's about helping Lefty Bill.

You just beat me to it.


Still hoping you get the insights you need Bill.

I've never tried the dyes that James_Edward suggested but they look like they would be worth looking into.



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Has anyone found a stain product available in the US for a color match?



Now that it's been pointed out again, I remember reading Willy's upgrade and finish repair thread before, but had forgotten it.


When I searched the entire forum, I found another Gibson wine red touchup thread, but not Willy's.

The search capabilities of this forum are fairly poor. Searches need to have a minimum of 3 characters, so "SG" is ignored. When I wanted to search G-310 models, the G was ignored, so the results included everything with 310 including S310 models listed in sigs.


Anyway, I'd been contemplating an old magic-marker red color I have, not because it wouldn't cost me anything to try it, but because the MinWax Red Mahogany seemed to lack any visible red.. even though I'd stirred it thoroughly after shaking it for a while (I know a bit about paint products and stirring).


The old Avery Dennison Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker red I have, could definitely be used for a scratch, but the area I'll be working with is a body double cutaway, as in the area between a horn tip and the neck (maybe 5-6 square inches).

I'm not attempting to try to fool/impress anyone that the area is factory finish, but had hoped to get close enuff so it wouldn't look too bad after applying some clear.


I'm sure a proper color depth could be attained by experimenting with a small cup and mixing eyedropper amounts of color, but I might also look for a can of MinWax Red Oak #215 or Sedona Red #215, which both appear to have a bit more red than the Red Mahogany #225.






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My luthier turned me onto a book that has become invaluable for things like this. I found it on eBay for $7,I'm sure there are more. I used it to fix a finish booboo on an Ibanez AS-80 VS. Great tips on blending in the patches.


Understanding Wood Finishing

by BoB Flexner

ISBN 0-87596-566-0

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Odd that stewmac won't ship the stains overseas

It's difficult to even get them to ship them internally in Oz, all to do with flammable goods transporting rules and regs.

OMG anyone told em that they use explosives to transport any goods, like petrol, kerosine etc?

I often think regulatory authorities make these rules and regs up simply to keep themselves in employment, fewer regs, less work required to police them.

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A coat that has color in it is called a "glaze". Perhaps you could find a glaze to go over the stain that closer matches what you are after.


Mmmmmm.. donuts.


Yep, a tinted clear glaze topcoat over clear and a base color gives more depth to the finish color, and if done properly, provides a great luster (unlike a shiny clear topcoat over a color that just reflects light).


I mentioned in the OP that this Epiphone wine red finish is a combination of a base stain, covered by about .030" of clear (polyester not polyurethane), then finished with a tinted clear topcoat as the last application.


I'm assuming that once I get a close match on the base stain, I'll build up some clear (urethane wood product not polyester), then tint some clear with the base stain for the final application.

I'm not a wood refinisher.. but I do have quite a bit of experience with automotive and industrial finish products.


This Les Paul Special II won't ever be valuable or rare, I was just hoping to manage to get a color and finish that is a close match. This guitar project is just an experimental base for trying out different pickups and wiring modifications, so an invisible match isn't the goal.


I've worked with catalyzed polyesters in the past (and urethanes, enamels), but this spot refinish job doesn't really need to be the authentic, like one would want for an expensive piano, for example.

Spraying polyester is a lot of extra work, and wouldn't be my first choice even for a handcrafted custom guitar.




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I just noticed you don't have "cherry" as one of the colors you have looked at. Cherry is not only one of the most popular stain colors, but is the basis of nearly all red tinted stains. It is also surely the base stain color for what Gibson calls a wine red and the red on an SG.


Matching the stain and color of stained wood is a little more than simply matching color, because the wood will not only vary in color, but how the wood soaks the color will make a difference.


So..the end result is wood color+stain+top coat=color match. The 2 variables here are the stain color, i.e. how much to use to alter how light or dark. So a coat of cherry applied and quickly wiped off will give a lighter shade, and letting it set for an hour before wiping off and possibly more coats will give a darker shade.


The other variable is the wood type. You can start with a maple and a mahogany that are nearly the same shade when raw, but as the stain sets into the mahogany it will turn more brown as it darkens, where the maple will turn more of a red. As a further example, if you were to sand the the darker stained sample to lighten it, the match would get further away from the lighter sample because you would be adding more contrast to the color.


If you are still with me, this is where the glaze comes in. A glaze will be far less reactive to the type and color of the wood it is applied to. So, not only can you easier control how light/dark by how thick it is applied, but the shade will be less affected.


So, you are already a leg up by knowing what roughly was applied in the first place. If you have found the color is the result of a glaze, chances are real good that adding a glaze over the stain color you have found will give you a good match, and I am guessing that a cherry or red glaze will be readily available.


As far as the stain color goes, I know of no stain that is a darker red or a brighter red than cherry. I don't think it exist. In other words, if the cherry shade is not a deep enough hue using cherry, I don't know of a stain "color" that is going to be darker or deeper.

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Any stain can be made infinitely more RED by reading my post above, and you can tint your lacquer with the same, that's how guitars are finished, not by glazing.


As red is the most expensive pigment, you'll find little of it in the materials available to the public (minwax).


Add it to your stain, any red-brown stain, and stain the wood, add it to you sealer as a tint to build color, add it to your clear coat as a tint to build more color

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