aging or staining pearl

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Luthierwnc, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. Luthierwnc

    Luthierwnc Member

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    Asheville NC
    Hi guys;

    I just replaced a pearl dot on a mid-fifties LP Jr. Despite using the yellowest stock I had, it is still glaringly new compared to the originals. Does anyone have some secret alchemy to stain or discolor real pearl?

    Curiously, the biggest matching problem I have is that the fingerboard looks like it was finish sanded with 100 grit sandpaper (it's original with original frets) It is Brazilian so the grooves don't show in the wood but the dots above cowboy chord position show deep scratches. Those have discolored over time. This guitar has been hacked around enough that I don't need to do a counterfeit quality repair but I'd like it to look contemporary with the other markers.

    Thanks, Skip
     
  2. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I've got pearl scraps dating back at least 25 to 30 years and the color looks basically new, but they have been in drawer out of the light. I can't think of a way to age pearl but I would start by trying intense uv light on a scrap piece.
    BTW, I would find someone with UV light experience because of the extreme UV some units produce. We are talking real pearl here not mother of toilet seat, right? Matching the sanding marks and trying shellac or light stands would be another route to try on a sample piece.
     
  3. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    I've used shellac, shoe polish, pigments in acetone, alcohol, naptha, all sorts of solvents, and had limited success there at best. Dark blonde or orange shellac may work okay, and though it may certainly wear off hopefully it will do it somewhat gracefully. I've never tried UV exposure here.

    Are the "sanding" marks you're referring to the ones parallel with the frets? I've done an awful lot of research and experimenting with this odd feature, and am pretty sure I've got it figured out how those originally came about, though there's certainly different ways to replicate them. Those marks exist with a fair amount of variation from the 10's well up in to the 70's.
     
  4. Luthierwnc

    Luthierwnc Member

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    This is a nice player. Back in the 70's, somebody dropped a soapbar in the neck position. It isn't a bad job and the guard was trimmed. There is a LP switch in the upper bout and a second little electronics cavity routed parallel to the first. Badass replacement bridge. Essentially, it was converted to a special.

    My best luck doing this kind of stain has been mixing a touch of lacquer-based analine in thinner, adding it to super glue and painting it on. If the instrument were stock, I'd probably grave the dot and stain it but the Gibson museum probably isn't waiting for this one ;-)
     
  5. flatrockmobile

    flatrockmobile Member

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    Apr 22, 2007
    Someone told me they refretted a 72 LP custom and had the neck binding replaced. Very white compared to the yellowed binding on the rest. He put it a large plastic garbage bag and blew cigar smoke in it for about 2 weeks. Worked great, but gave it a certain aroma.
     

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