STōK Garage Electric Guitar DIY

Episode 8, Color & Blend

by Rodney Bowman

STōK is here for your next great idea, and we’re here to help you along the way. The Electric Guitar DIY series is designed to teach you the basics of building an electric guitar. Starting with body design, we will cover wood selection and body shape, moving on to pickups, neck shaping, fretting, wiring, finishing and finally, sound setup.

Electric DIY - Episode 8, Color & Blend

What you need to complete Episode 8

If you don’t have some of the items, feel free to get creative with what you do have or can easily obtain. Experiment and have fun. See complete Tool, Part and Material List

General Tools

– water-soluble dye
– warm water
– clean rags
– sand paper


Let’s Get Started

Welcome back! In this episode we are going to add some color. There is several ways to add color to your guitar. You could use stain, dye, paint, or simply tint it shellac or Lacquer. We are going to dye this guitar with a red burst. I like water-soluble dye because you can blend the colors a bit more easily.

Start off by prepping the wood with plain warm water. This opens the grain and also stops the wood from absorbing too much dye on the initial coats. Once the wood is prepped you can add your dye. This dye comes in powder form, so all you need to do is add the powder to warm water. The intensity of the color can be adjusted by adding more water of dye.

For our guitar, we started by putting on a coat of red over the entire body. If you have a figured or quilted piece of wood, try coating the wood with black. The stripes or quilt of the figured wood trap the black and make them more pronounced. Allow the black coat to dry and then sand off all of the surface black leaving only the figuring. Then add the color.

Once our first coat is dry, I sanded the center to remove the surface color. This helps create a fade. We are going for a dark outside to a light inside fade, so our next step is to darken and fade the sides. I used a mostly black dye with a hint of red to color.

The benefit of water-soluble dye is that you can work in plain water to help blend the color variants. As I move closer to the sanded center, I use lighter and lighter reds. Continue to experiment with the color and blending until you have the look you’re going for.

When the guitar is dry and you’re happy with the results, spray a thin coat of lacquer to seal in the color.

In our next episode, we’ll put the neck on and sting it up. After a sound test, you’ll have to disconnect the neck and strings to put the final finish on.

Thanks for watching.

What you need to complete the entire Electric DIY series

Don’t have some of the items on the list, experiment with alternatives and have fun.

General Tools

– clamps (lots o’ clamps)
– router and router table with appropriate bits
– drill press and/or electric drill with guide
– band saw or jigsaw
– hammer
– sandpaper, spindle sander or hand sander
– files and rasps
– tape measure
– soldering iron
– screwdrivers

Specialty Tools

– fretting tools (hammer, fret press, fret lever, fret files)
– radius cauls
– polishing wheel
– string gauge
– radius gauge
– fret rocker

Parts & Materials List

– wood for body (ash)
– wood for neck (walnut)
– pre-radius end fretboard (12-degree radius)
– truss rod
– double humbucker pickups
– volume and tone potentiometers
– 3-way switch
– input jack
– fret wire
– top-loading bridge
– TUSQ nut
– neck plate
– tuning machines (aka tuners)
– string trees
– control cavity cover
– strap buttons
– electronic wire
– guitar strings


About Rodney Bowman

Born south of Chicago, Rodney Bowman of Bowman Built Guitars was introduced to woodworking by his father straight out of the cradle. At his father’s side, he discovered his passion for wood — the grain, the smells, the colors and textures. Having a passionate desire to create, Rodney naturally decided to pair it with his love for guitars and music, where his creativity will sing long after he’s gone.