What kind of dye do you mix with Nitrocellulose lacquer in order to achieve a colored or opaque finish? I have been looking into the Guitar Reranch aerosols, but I live in Canada so Reranch color aerosols can't be shipped to me.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I have access to nitro but I am not sure what kind of dye i can mix with it or where to purchase dye in Canada.



Tags: Nitro

Views: 6436

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

If you want a solid color on a solid body electric guitar, consider an automotive, acrylic lacquer finish.  As long as it is applied in a reasonable thickness (or to be more precise - thin-ness) it will have a minimal effect on tone and will hold up to wear and tear better than nitrocellulose.  By this - I mean professional grade automotive finishes - not cans of Krylon or any other budget grade paint. 

Before everyone picks up the flamethrowers - don't get me wrong - I love nitrocellulose finishes for acoustic instruments, tinted and transparent finishes where wood grain is the star.  Acrylic lacquer finishes are harder, easier to apply (IMHO) and make a very good solution for solid body guitars - particularly instruments headed for extended stage duty.  They will take a beating and still look great.

On another note - I've done business with Reranch.  They are located nearby (literally around the corner)  and I've had the opportunity to meet the proprietor and examine his finish work.  He is very knowledgeable, personable and always willing to  share and advise.

Pigments are opaque while dyes are transparent. Both can color lacquer.

Dyes can be diluted in their solvent and used to dye wood. 

A traditional oil stain is mainly a pigment in it's solvent, often with a little dye. The pigment sits on the surface.

A Fender pastel like Seafoam Green is a coat of white pigment/primer followed by an opaque turquoise/light teal.

Candy apple red is a silver metallic base (think Goldtop) followed by transparent red.

As was previously stated, you can use the stew mac dyes to make lacquer toners/shaders. Theyll ship those to Canada (Im Canadjun too :) ). However, they wont ship you their pigments for lacquer. Im still looking for a canadian finish supplier that can be of use when it comes to finding finish supplies, especially colourants bases for nitro in brilliant guitar colours. Getting a hold of this stuff in Canada is a real pain in the ass, to the point where I get pretty ticked off sometimes. If you or anyone else here know of or find a good Canadian supplier for this type of stuff, I would be so grateful if you'd clue me in.

Mohawk does make a somewhat decent selection of opaque and transparent nitro colours in aerosol cans, so if you dont mind the lack of control over the exact colour, these might be of use to you. If you or a friend have a registered business number, you can order them from I havent resorted to this yet so I dont have much further advice regarding that route.
Oh and btw Tim, I use primarily Dover Finishing Products pre cat nitro lacquer. They're located in Quebec and their sales rep Michel Ranger has always done his best to answer any questions I might have, no matter how obscure. Ive had good experiences with their clears. Their toner selection is not guitar motivated though, more furniture-y,and their opaque selection is almost non existent. However the quality of the product and service is enough to keep me with them for now. Maybe if more of us start getting on their backs about it, theyll expand their colour selection to include more guitar-y colours. Btw, I believe they do have gold and silver flake metallics, so thats somethin if that interests you.

Hi Tim,

I live in BC, and use Mohawk for pretty much everything. You can use N.G.R.(non grain raising) stains for colouring clear nitro but as was mentioned most of these come only in transparent stains. They are sold by the quart and you can get them and Mohawk Instrument Lacquer directly from Mohawk, if you live anywhere near Vancouver, which is where I get my supplies. You can also order them from an outfit called Industrial Plastics where ever they have stores. I know they are in Kelowna and in Calgary, but not sure about anywhere else.

The NGR stains work well for tinting but again there is no colour chart to obtain exact colour matches, You can also check with autobody supply shops to see if they can mix up special colours for you, I have done this in the past but I'm not sure about the compatibility of what is being used in autobody now as far as nitro topcoats are concerned. In the past I have sprayed nitro over acrylic lacquer without any problems.

I'm pretty sure Mohawk has more stores in Canada, so that would be my first choice in looking for supplies. Not sure where you live, but if you are near the US border you could order from somewhere like Reranch, and have it sent to one of the shipping outfits that have popped up in the border towns (Ship Happens or whatever) and just go down and bring it back, I have done this many times if I needed something that cannot be shipped outside of the States, but I only live about 1 1/2 hrs. from the border.


Hey guys- there's a Canadian repairman with a YouTube page called Daves World Of Fun Stuff. He has a series of videos where he's doing an amber Tele in nitro and he drives to a local supplier to buy nitro, grain filler and grain dsraler. Try shooting him a message to see where he's going? Best of luck up there ... Ty
Hah- that's supposed to say grain sealer by the way. Had some awful black line in the middle of my screen for a line and couldn't see what I was typing at all... Think I did ok all things considered, though ! :) If I remember right, he used dyes ordered from Stewmac as well.

StewMac: Use the ColorTone Liquid Pigments for opaque finishes and the ColorTone Stains for transparent finishes. 

Dan Erlewine and Dan MacRostie have a spray finishing video where they show how to mix colors and how to use colorboards to get an exact match to an existing finish.

Of course, you can always paint a guitar white then use a tint to color it.

Check out for using shellac to bond otherwise incompatible finishes together.


© 2024   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service