Welcome to our Community!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Who's Online (0)

Related Discussions

Today's Birthdays


Easy way to tint a spruce top?

constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ Cyril morin

I am refinishing a spruce top guitar with tru-oil. The color of the spruce is very bright, almost white. I was wondering if anyone has tinted a top before towards that orangey color that we see on many selmacs.

Thanks - Dean


  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795

    Have you already applied the Tru-Oil to the spruce? If not, there are tints that mix with water or alcohol to make a stain or added to shellac or lacquer to make a sprayable tinted layer. Then the Tru-Oil can be applied over. These tints are available from and They can be combined to get almost any color imaginable. See my comments about the Stewmac book below.

    If the Tru-Oil is already down, you can use tinted shellac in a French Polish application to build in some color. Use home mixed shellac, that is the stuff you make yourself with shellac flakes and alcohol. French Polish is not hard to do, especially on tops. Google french polish, look for the Millburn paper. Where FP gets tricky is the grain filling of the back and sides, but that is not needed on a spruce top.

    Shellac is pretty much a universal finish, going over and under most other finishes without difficulty. You can still keep on with the Tru-oil regime, just throw a couple tinted layers of shellac in. Try it on scrap first of course.

    Tinting in general is tricky. It takes practice to get even coloration. It is probably next to impossible to get even coloration by tinting the Tru-oil and wiping it on. Spraying is the best approach. You also have to think about the ramifications of sanding through the tinted layer during the process (don't ask me how I know this).

    There is a good book on guitar finishing written by Dan Erlewine (sp?) at that has a number of pages on staining, tinting, color charts, etc. Well worth the read.

    Another alternative would be to try spaying a coat of one of the Min-wax Polyshade varnishes. Done evenly, this might work good. It should go over, under or between the Tru-oil, but definitely needs to be sprayed.

    All that said, I try to avoid spraying, tinting and staining as much as possible. Spraying requires more gear and has environmental concerns that prevent most of us from doing it in our living rooms. Tinting and staining to me are pretty much nothing but trouble. Better to pick woods and finishes that give the colors you like, but, I know, sometimes you have to play the cards you are dealt.

    The shellac I use for my tops (french polish) application is the clearest available, but it still yields a pleasing straw yellow at first and darkens nicely in a couple years. I think it is this color that a lot of builder (like Dupont) copy with tints and stains in otherwise water clear lacquers. Of course, lacquer too darkens over time. There are darker shellacs available, but it is hard to apply them by french polish without them getting splotchy. If you try this, multiple THIN layers with NO sanding between coats is the key. Again, I mix my own shellac using shellac flakes and 190 proof grain alcohol. A little for the gee-tar, a little for me, a little for the guitar, YIPPEE!

    If you are shooting for a "vintage" look, I can't help you much there. Many of the attempts look pretty hokey to me and I don't attempt it. I'd rather do something that looks nice now, but not necessarily "old" and let it age naturally. Course, may that is just sour grapes, I might think differently if I know how to produce a convincing vintage look. :D

    Another place to look is the Musical Instrument forum. Lots info on finishing with Tru-Oil. You have to register to get into the archive which is where most of the info is.

    Hope this helps.

  • constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ Cyril morin
    Posts: 480
    thats great Craig - thanks a ton!
    BTW - love those guitars you made. Very nice work.

Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2023, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2023 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.036438 Seconds Memory Usage: 1.803955 Megabytes