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Thread: Spots on maple veneer help please!

  1. #1

    Spots on maple veneer help please!

    Hello all

    Had a go at staining my ESB 4 this evening. I have the following spotty patches and I'm not sure what they are? I didn't sand the veneer before staining. The patches feel smooth and not raised like the glue around the binding (especially a patch near the f hole, the centre line of the guitar and a random dot a bit further along).

    I'm not attached to the veneer so I'd sand it off if I could but my reading so far suggests that's not a good idea.

    The only thought I've had so far is a pick guard just to hide the patch.

    Any ideas or suggestions would be very much appreciated!
    Last edited by thess; 08-07-2019 at 06:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Another section with spots and the glue line running up the middle of the guitar.
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  3. #3
    Hi thess. Hopefully someone will check in with definitive answer or advice, but my thoughts only involve sanding back as much you can without burning through the veneer.
    I think you're best to go with fairly fine grit right from the start. Maybe nothing coarser than 400? It may take longer but it's the only way to minimise the risk of sand-through.

    As to the reason for the problem, my guess would be possibly glue spatter (?). The glue doesn't have to be raised for it to still be there (ie: may not be able to feel it) it can still seep into the very top of the timber.
    It's good a good idea to wipe down the wood (veneer or otherwise) with methylated spirits before applying stain. While it's wet with metho it will show the glue spots when you hold it the right light. Then you can sand the glue spots re-wet to check and repeat until gone. Metho also evaporates quite quickly and won't raise the grain much. Don't use water, especially with veneer. And you don;t want to saturate it even with metho, because it *can* effect the veneer adhesive.

    Don't worry about getting every bit of the original stain off. Take it down as much as you can so it at least looks really faded, but try to keep it even. You can balance the colour with the subsequent coats of stain. It's tricky but it can be done.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  4. Liked by: thess

  5. #4
    Overlord of Music FrankenWashie's Avatar
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    You might want to treat the affected areas with goof off or a similar glue remover. You apply to the affected spot then give it a scrub with a small steel wire brush. The idea is that the glue remover helps break up the glue and the wire brush scrubs it off the surface or at least makes it a bit more porous so that stain can penetrate it.
    You may need to treat that spotty area more than once. If you’re gentle with it, you may be able to lessen the visual impact, even if it doesn’t get all of it off. It may then be possible to recolour to try and even things out.
    Unfortunately what ever you do to treat that glue spot is going to mess up the work up you have done on the finish already.

    hope this helps!
    FrankenLab Guitar Experiments.
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  7. #5
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    I have had two of these ES bodies with flame Maple veneer, and to me it's pretty much a miracle when someone gets a good finish out of one. A number of builders with lots of experience have ended up doing a solid color rather than a stain because it's so hard to prep the veneer, particularly if there is any glue. Glue may have splattered. The veneer is so thin it may have just soaked through.

    I think you've gotten the best suggestions that I have seen on the forum. They work well on backs and sides, but sometimes the veneer on the top is just [explitive deleted].

    At least one person on the forum has tried to sand off the veneer. The problem there is getting the veneer off as well as the glue layer below it without damaging the wood below. Laborious and difficult to do. I can't remember if the effort was successful.

    My personal preference would be to have the option of getting a top that is identical to the back. Not as fancy, but not as finicky either. Not much help either I am afraid.



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  9. #6
    Mentor vh2580's Avatar
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    If you have only stained so far what worked for me in the past was a washing up steelo ball (coarse) you dont go to hard but sometimes works to get the glue up and being a stain you can blend the colour easily back in. Again the veneers are thin.

  10. Liked by: thess

  11. #7
    Hi All - thanks for the suggestions and ideas.

    I sent some of the photos to an instrument repair shop here in Perth and his thoughts were that the glue would be embedded in the veneer.

    His suggestion was to seal and then paint a solid colour over the veneer (and rest of guitar). Otherwise to try sand the veneer off with 220 grit sandpaper.

    I'd be leaning towards sanding because I completely stuffed up the paint job on the one other guitar I have built. I am wary though because of what Fender3x mentioned above about another builder having a go at sanding a veneer and it being quite difficult.

    Not sure which way to go!

  12. #8
    I sent some of the photos to an instrument repair shop here in Perth and his thoughts were that the glue would be embedded in the veneer.
    I'd have a go at trying to clean it up before either painting solid or removing the veneer. I say leave painting solid as a last resort.

    You said in your first post that you didn't sand the veneer before you stained. That really should have been done and possibly could have avoided this whole problem you're currently having. First rule of kits with veneer is thoroughly checking for glue spots, cleaning with goo gone/goof off (acetone) and a stiff bristle brush (brass or plastic IMO) or sanding + acetone before moving on to any finish.

    Personally, I think you got bad advice from that shop. IMO there is still a chance this can be fixed/rescued.
    AND, even if you do absolutely nothing, and just continue with the way it is, it wouldn't be the ugliest instrument out there. May not be perfect, but my first finish job wasn't either and that guitar plays like a mofo.

    FWIW, I've been doing this for a few years and I'm still trying to achieve the perfect finish/build and I ain't got there yet. Nor is it stopping me!
    You may just have to chalk it up to a learning opportunity and keep going.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

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  14. #9
    Thanks McCreed. I'll definitely take what you've said on board. I'm not sure why I took such a stupid shortcut but it's definitely a learning opportunity.

    I'm going to have a crack at fixing it. I'll add more photos in the build diary section.

    Thanks again to everyone who reached out. This forum is pretty awesome

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