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Thread: Recipe for modern Gibson brown??

  1. #1
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Recipe for modern Gibson brown??

    OK, I'm going to try once more. I have replaced the back on a 2010 Gibson J-45 Standard. The back is mahogany. I'm just about ready to spray and would like to get a good color match. Does anyone know what toners or dyes Gibson was using just a few years back? I've emailed Gibson's repair department twice and gotten no response. I'll be spraying nitro over Cardinal rosewood pore filler. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User O. Apitius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recipe for modern Gibson brown??

    I'm assuming that you are talking about spraying tinted lacquer as opposed to staining the wood itself. (a photo of the original back would be helpful). If so, what I do on the rare occasion that I need to do a color match is just mix up a sample color and then tweak it as necessary to get a match. It can be time consuming on complex/unusual colors but I can usually get to a more common color fairly quickly.

    To start, I have a set of maple samples of all of the available TransTint dye colors. I will choose the one closest to the color that I'm after and then adjust it. Sometimes I add another premixed color and/or a primary color like red or blue. Basic color theory says that if you want less red, add green. If you want less yellow add purple. Basically whatever you don't want add it's opposite.
    Of course, always test your sample on some similar wood with a similar seal coat (if any).

    Addendum: It's very important to do all color matching under indirect natural sunlight or daylight simulating lighting otherwise you could get a "perfect" match under incandescent light only to find that in the outdoors it is way off. If you do the matching under daylight, it will match under any light.
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  4. #3
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Recipe for modern Gibson brown??

    Thanks, Oliver. Your info is helpful. Yes, I will be spraying tinted lacquer, since all the color on the old back appears to be in the finish. I will do the spraying at a friend's cabinet shop. I worked late last night with test boards and I think I'm somewhere in the neighborhood.

    I mostly work on older instruments, so I have plenty of powdered alcohol soluble aniline dye on hand. I have none of the modern liquid dyes or stains except a bottle of Fiebing's dark brown leather dye, which I may end up using in a lightly colored base coat of lacquer.

    If I knew for sure that Gibson used a certain Trans-Tint color, I would buy a bottle. I may go ahead and buy the medium brown, but I'd hate to get it and find out that it's not right for this job. I can't judge colors accurately from pictures on a computer. Are there are any ex-Gibson workers out there who would care to comment?

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