Can anyone guide me in the right direction on fixing this eyesore? I understand without refinishing the whole top it will always be visible but what can be done to blend this in as best as possible? Should I get some three color sunburst paint from ReRanch or is shooting tinted lacquer my best bet?
wow! how did that happened!? First of all what finish is it? If its laquer I'd go with an airbrush on that repair. Get some of those stewmack stains in the colors you need (or a similar stain if you can. Where i live is hard to get that kind of stuff so i bought the stewmac ones) and mix them with clear laquer till you get a shader with enough intensity to make the same color in one or two passes or coats. If you apply many coats with the airbrush you'll start to get a "breeze stain" around the repair. When you are done apply several coats of clear laquer.
If it's some kind of poly i'd dilute the stains and apply them directly to the wood. Then use CA glue to cover it. But this is tricky to get right. Don't let the CA glue coats to cure fully or you'll get witness lines and cracks when you level and sand.
Practice on scrap several times (5 to 10) if you want to get a good job. Each mistake you make on practice will teach you a lot. Good luck!! Best!
I use shellac for this. You should test the finish with solvents to determine what softens it and what doesn't. IF alcohol doesn't effect the finish you can return back to square one if you mess up by cleaning off the shellac you applied., I would suggest that you use blond shellac for both a sealer on the bare wood and as the base for your tint. I wouldn't apply stain directly to the bare wood because you must sand off layers of the wood if you need to start again. Besides that, bare wood is more likely to take stain unevenly even in a small area. Blond shellac is an excellent sealer and will allow the color to go on much more evenly. It's almost universally compatible with other finishes if you want to put a harder finish on as a clear coat, which I would suggest unless your original finish is shellac too. Even then you should put several layers of clear coat over the tinted finish when you get it right.
Start with the lightest colors first and work up to the darkest. An airbrush works best for me but you should remember that shellac dries very quickly so it should be pretty thin to spray it., You should allow the alcohol to "flash" off as you go but it doesn't take very long at all for it to dry enough to spray more. I've found that the final results may look a bit dull when I spray shellac but it will shine up very well with a touch of alcohol lightly wiped with a clean rag or probably, better than that, a finish coat or two of clear lacquer blended into the surrounding finish.
The basic colors you will probably need are yellow, red and brown but get some black too. You probably don't need a lot of any of them but you will need to mix them in separate containers. Mason Jars work very well. If you are going to follow my advice and use shellac,you should get tints that mix with alcohol too. Mixed in it's own jar, the dye will last for years. I have bottles that I've had for a decade or longer that are just fine.
When I do this, I don't try to match the color in a single application on the instrument. I use "eye droppers" to add color to the shellac and keep track of how much of each I use. Once I have the tint right I label the shellac jar with the information so I can make more if I find my self running short. I've tried mixing a lighter tint than I want in shellac that is already thinned enough to spray but I've found that I can use the standard cut of shellac to find my tint then thin it after it is dyed and get the same "build to the color I want process. Mixing the tint with "thicker" shellac is easier than the other way and thinning the shellac to spray makes it build to the color in the same way.
My usual process is to use artist paint brushes on a "like" piece of wood to test my color blend. This gives me nice control over the process. Once I know I can get to that tint with my mix,I move to the airbrush. Practice on scrap before you start working on the instrument.
Some of the others citizens on the forum, can get a burst by hand but I've never been able to get a smooth blend that way.
This is definitely NOT something to rush. If you can't take your time, don't even start. I probably wiped off a dozen attempts before I got my first sunburst repair good enough "for a man on a fast horse". I'm not great at it now but the process I outlined above is what I finally hammered out and it has worked for me since then.
If this is a lacquer that can be over sprayed, I would shoot yellow stain over the affected area to match the base level. I would then seal it and let it dry for a couple of days. Then I would use pigments suspended in a thin medium (probably just enough lacquer to have it stick.) to bring up the outside and inside band. Chances are that the inside band is just diluted outside band, so if you angle your airbrush from the binding side in, you should achieve this pattern. I would then edge any over spray back to the affected area. Once this is done, I would then widen the band over the entire bottom third of the lower bout with pigments and over spray clear lacquer to level.
Difficulty level on a scale from 1 to 10 ? About a 9.7
Given the side port cuts on the upper bout and the 2 piece neck heel, I'd bet that finish is poly.
If so.... good luck.
To hep determine the finish, what brand and model is the guitar?
Thank you everyone for the advice. Sorry I didn't mention in my original post that it is indeed a nitro finish.
I ordered some lacquer tints and will give it a go once I receive them. I have minimal experience with finishing. I've only refinished one guitar so far and it was not a sunburst so I understand this will be very difficult. If I can get it to disappear from 10' away I'll consider it a success, lol.
Thanks again, this forum is a wealth of information!