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How to Swirl-Paint a CBG Part1


At the suggestion of ted, here's an amateur guide to swirl painting a guitar. this will be my 1st double neck build

When i painted the swirl reso, i 'dipped' the whole box - this time thought i try a different approach.

this is the swirl reso which i sanded to 600 grit then used red yellow and blue auto spray paint to build up the purple base coat.
using the spray i discovered the swirl paint devolped some small fracturing when dry, which i think is the swirl not liking spray paint.

So this time i decided to make a 3mm ply box with roughly 10mm sides constructed using screws so i could then dismantle and dip one piece at a time.

materials 1- a large container or bucket that will take the full size guitar body
2- paint. i use  thin oil paints. try a google search for 'marbling paint'
3- paper towels/newspaper
4- cocktail stick for moving the paint to create a swirl

this is the box dismantled and coated with white primer. i think white will show up the bright colours better, and more importantly, it's the only primer i had.

1st step - fill the container with cold water.

2nd step - shake the paint well

3rd step - create a swirl in the water. start by laying the paint on the water carefully, then take your cocktail stick or whatever and drag it through the colours to make a pattern


now its vital not to hang about with the paint on the water. work to getting the wood into the water soon as you can.
dip the wood slowly, moving around slightly to get the pattern you want. a paper towel is used to remove the excess paint away from the wood, then quickly pull the wood out.
before you dip another piece re-apply the paint to the water and repeat.


the paint dries in seconds but i usually wait 10min before dipping the same piece again.
using different colours repeat the above steps.

now we have some great base swirled patterns on the box. leave overnight for the wood to dry out.

in part 2 we'll finish the swirl process with the  final steps.


Part 2


now assemble the parts of the box and prepare to swirl the whole box one last time. if your happy with the patterns you can skip the last swirl


follow the same steps as before but i only put in a fraction of the amount of paint - just to give it a slight colour wash. now we're finished with the painting leave overnight to dry out.


After letting the wood completly dry its time to put a protective coating on as the paint is pretty fragile. i use diamond finish varnish, you could use spray laquer but test it out 1st - i've tried it before and wasn't happy with the finish. avoid oil finish products, they may wipe out all the hard work! this is after a few coats of varnish


now for the necks. used a couple of floorboards (pretty much just using up bits and pieces of wood here).

oak long neck and jatoba for the short one with scarf headstocks


shaped out with rasp and file


soundholes cut-out  with craft knife


for fretboard i've used quite thick wood as i want a nice high bridge on this oneonly just measured scale lengths. long neck is 25.5 and short one is 21.5 dulci

in part 3 - shaping out the neck and thinking about a tailpiece and bridges


Part 3


Found some nice black wood veneer for the headstocks and fretboard inlay. inlay cutouts done with a 1/4 chisel - pretty slow going

the tailpiece is a bit of  cut off aluminium, with the bridge made from the same stock as the fretboards
the 30 frets were a real chore to do(!)


swirled the tailpiece in a small bowl. the bridge shaped out with file / sandpaper and horn used for the saddle and nuts.

the necks were finished with 2 coats of danish oilpiezo pickup to finish and she's ready to go.

i literally put on the only string i had - long neck d/g/b/e strings tuned open g  (d-g-b-d)

dulci  neck a/b/b string tuned open a  (a-e-a). the action is higher than i want so will lower it when i get some new strings for it.

wont be rushing to do another twin neck! took all the strings and tuners i had left to finish the bugger



Views: 3397

Comment by Ted Crocker on February 26, 2011 at 10:21am

Awesome tutorial Merle!  Can't wait for part 2.  I added this to the Builder's Progress Blogs group.

Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Comment by Randy S. Bretz on February 26, 2011 at 10:58am
Merle, did you put primer on the wood pieces before dipping them?
Comment by c# merle on February 28, 2011 at 6:02am

cheers ted hope to see a crocker original swirled someday!

randy, yeah primed the wood with 3 coats of white primer - though some kind of pva coating on the wood would work fine too.

if you swirl the bare wood you get a kind of water based look, which is pretty cool too - like  the inside of the lid

Comment by c# merle on March 13, 2011 at 5:05am
Comment by Steve Norton on March 25, 2013 at 6:30pm

Too Cool! love the paint finish

Comment by Piht Bull on October 30, 2013 at 4:27pm

havnt seen anyone swirl a cbg yet I love it . Thats awesome !

Comment by Dan Watts on October 31, 2013 at 8:59am

did you use any Borax in the water?

Comment by c# merle on November 1, 2013 at 3:58am

using the marbling paint there's no need to use the borax method, which is fiddly to say the least.



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