Finishing a Blue Guitar, Staining the guitar

Part 2: Dan Erlewine shows how to apply the stain for a PRS-style finish with aerosol lacquer.


Part 2: Staining The Guitar

I mixed more stain than needed for one guitar because I plan on doing a couple more. Besides, I'd rather have too much than too little—I wouldn't want to run out of stain right in the middle of wiping it on. In a pint-sized glass jar filled 2-1/2" deep with clean water I added 1-3/4" oz. of Colortone stain to produce the deep blue color that I was after.

Colortone stain

Put the stain in a good-sized bowl so you can really damp the rag with stain, squeeze it out, and wipe the stain on with lengthwise stroke.

Staining the body cavities

Stain the body cavities too then let the stain dry an hour or two. Use masking tape and paper to mask off the back and side. The paper protects the alder from the sanding coming up (if you choose to sand at this stage—it's an option).

Masking off the back and side

Block-sanding the majority of the stain at this point removes most of the color and "enhances the grain"—causing the curls and swirls to stand out darker when you apply a second coat of stain.


Re-stain the top a second time.

Re-staining the top

The guitar taped off and with the final top stain.

The final top stain

With the masking removed, the maple top is stained and the alder is clean—except for this run where the striper's tape didn't hold well to the maple. I used a razor blade and sandpaper to remove the color.

Removing the color

Now carefully tape the exposed maple edge—which is to look like binding—using the striper's tape again. Serrate it in order to bend it around corners and overlap the top without lifting.

Taping the exposed maple edge

Now stain the alder part of the body—sides and back.

Staining the alder part of the body

After staining hang the guitar to dry with the latex tape still on.


After one hour we'll see that Part 3: PRS-style binding.

More In This Series

Introduction Finishing a Blue Guitar
Part One Wood preparation
Part Two Staining the guitar
Part Three PRS-style binding
Part Four Sealer & scuff sand
Part Five Topcoats & touchup
Part Six Final sanding & rubbing out

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