Im wondering if someone on the forum can help out with experience in staining/ tinting?

Coming up on 100 builds now but Ive always just let the wood grain and natural wood color do the talking. This time, I have a customer who wants a pink or perhaps call it burgundy stained guitar. The wood is figured maple. Ive attached pictures of the type of color we're looking for. I'm looking at the various products that are water based and can be hand wiped on. I do not want to get into spraying tinted lacquer. Theres lots of colors of stain but I havent seen anything sold that is remotely pink. My limited color theory tells me to add white to red to get pink but there is no 'white' in transparent stains to my knowledge.


It would be great if I could do this with the McFadden dyes but I'm open to ideas. Grizzly is close by and they are also selling off their dyes at half price. Problem again- no pink- how do I get pink in a  translucent stain?


Thanks in advance for any help.




ps- heres the link to the grizzly sale btw:

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Get yourself a copy of Stew-Mac's "Guitar Finishing Step-by-Step" 2nd edition. They have a nice color chart showing two part blends of liquid stains that cover pretty much everything you might need, plus color density ideas.  The chart is based on SM"s own ColorTone liquid stains, but they are identical, except for name, to TransTint dyes available from Rockler or Woodworkers, or your local big-box store.  I'd bet Grizzly's dyes are no different.


Larry, thanks.

Ive heard that Stew Mac book mentioned here before. Sounds like a good one to have. I'd be 100% sold on buying it today if someone can tell me that buying that book will show me how to mix a pink translucent stain-thats my main concern at this time for this particular customer order.



Hi Rory,

Stew-Mac's book has illustrations that look pretty pink to me, but I'd sure do some testing on scrap before committing.  How about contacting Grizzly or Stew-Mac directly to see if they can offer suggestions on how to get the pink color you want?


Wouldn't you just get pink by diluting the dye and limiting the amounts, when applied to the white maple
With a transparent stain pink is simply a less intense red. You will need to add blue to counter lacquered maple's tendency to look yellowish. Red+yellow=orange; not what you want. How do you expect to keep the color even wiping stain on? You can hide a little unevenness if you do a vignette effect. It helps to put a wash coat of shellac down first, also.

Jeff, Greg-I'll try diluting red & see what I get. Just happen to have some red wood dye that was kicking around so good enough for a quick test. As far as getting it on even with wiping, I wouldnt have thought it possible myself but I've been very encouraged by some really good step by step youtube videos of luthiers hand wiping on translucent stains. Even hand wiping stain to create very nice sunbursts and shading effects. They start with a well wetted wood surface so the stain will bleed a bit more & not show up lines as you make passes. One guy I saw on youtube does a green F- style mandolin, another guy is using the same method to do drums-all water based dyes. What shocked me was they wiped black all over it first, then sanded down & did the actual color- really popped the grain out. This is all new to me so Ill eventually post pics of what I end up with, for your amusement or hopefully praise! OK-Sounds like time to buy the stew mac finishing book.


Thanks again,


I have the book and i took a quick look in it to night and did not see any thing in there that would help you with the pink .Unless you can put the white in it as well.
Rory I did an exp.last night and this is what i have come up with. You frist take some Amber stain and mix some water with it and put that on first .That will bring out the curly Maple grain when dry sand with 320 .Then go to home Depo and get your self a little can of Minwax water base white paint .Mix just a little bit of read stain in it to you get the pink you like rub on with a cloth.and let dry. light sand with  320 then Laquer it. We used to do Oak cabinets years ago with a white wash the same way I am sure that Ned knows all about that.  Good luck Bill.'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

I was working with some shellac. I put a couple drops of Stew Mac liquid stain in about a half ounce and layed it on some scrap maple. Pretty in pink!

Hi Rory, the color you have included in the imagery is not pink.  You will be adding a different dye to the red base to get this color.  I will go look for an answer to this problem and get back to you if I find it.   No amount of messing around with diluted red will get this color.

OK, the dye color is close to "Deeppink 3"  -  this is universal description for the WEB color.     Magenta is also close.   Magenta is red mixed with violet (violet is blue mixed with red).   This is the best I can do for you - I use MEK dyes and some dilute with water or lacquer which means you can wipe them on - I use a very diluted mix and very wet to avoid smearing and inconsistent color at the edges of the pad.  

I strongly recommend you practice on scrap and when you have perfected that I suggest you repeat the process - this stuff can go wrong.   Bear in mind that the color you mix will appear very different from the color you see under lacquer when illuminated with a strong light.  Mix in too much blue and you will get purple.  Go easy on the mix and start with a weak dilution.    NB:  I have not mixed this particular combination - I am going on what the publications say and show.

I would highly recommend that you use an alcohol-based dye rather than water-based.  That is, of course, a personal preference.  I just don't like the idea of adding water back into the wood.  I have used both kinds, equal success, but prefer the alcohol-based dyes.  Both have the advantage of being much more vivid, more depth to the grain/figure, and colorfast/fade-proof/resistant.  The disadvantages of water into the wood, raising hair-fibers again,and too much water can causing warping issues.  Disadvantages to alcohol...can suck through pores in really thin wood and be transmitted through the other side, can be drawn out into the lacquer if not sealed in with light coats first, can run and stain binding which necessitates extra scraping.


Don't let any of that scare you.  It just means be more careful each step of the way. 


Last, make sure that you wear gloves!!!!!!  If you get the stain (either base)  it will NOT come out right away.  On the other hand, you might WANT to have a pair of pink hands for the next week or so.


If you wish to see what an alcohol-based stain can look like, look at the mandolin in my avatar.  That is an alcohol-based dye that is a bright red with a sunburst to yellow-red in the center and vignette to black around the edges.  I mixed the colors myself.  Total colors used:  red, yellow, brown, black. The final application of black was airbrushed then the binding scraped.


Dave Fox



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