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Nov 29, 2020 - 2:58:09 PM
1572 posts since 4/13/2017

I'm building a repro neck for a customer for a RB-100. I know these banjos didn't use ebony overlays, so....

Did they use black paint or black dye?

Nov 29, 2020 - 3:14:50 PM

rcc56

USA

3280 posts since 2/20/2016

I don't know what they used, but I would use black dye.

Historical accuracy is nice, but . . .

If they used a paint, it would be difficult to determine what kind of paint was used, and probably even more difficult to find a more or less similar formula. Paints have changed a lot since the 1960's.

Nov 29, 2020 - 3:22:36 PM
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2257 posts since 2/7/2008
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I had to look at pictures of an RB-100 to even guess, so that tells you how much I know, but...

I think to get that even, glossy finish, I'd use paint; probably black lacquer over well sanded primer. I think dye might let the grain show through which I'm guessing you don't want.

Nov 29, 2020 - 4:15:30 PM

rcc56

USA

3280 posts since 2/20/2016

And you can buy black lacquer in a spray can from Stew-mac. But if you do, see what else you need-- my last small order from them carried a $10 shipping charge.  You can use a clear sealer, then 1 or 2 coats of black, followed by a 2 or 3 clear coats.  If you do it that way, you'll have enough black lacquer to last a long time . . .

As a matter of fact, Stew-mac's prices on a lot of things have gone sky high since they changed ownership, and I'm mostly using other suppliers these days.

Edited by - rcc56 on 11/29/2020 16:22:08

Nov 29, 2020 - 5:43:24 PM
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130 posts since 2/20/2004

When was Stew-MAC anything but expensive?
For me, their advantage is convenience

Nov 29, 2020 - 6:19:06 PM
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2381 posts since 12/18/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

I'm building a repro neck for a customer for a RB-100. I know these banjos didn't use ebony overlays, so....

Did they use black paint or black dye?


Hunter,

I use black guitar lacquer and apply gold Gibson sticker and then clear coat lacquer over that......looks pretty close to an original neck.........

Don Bryant NC banjo luthier

Nov 29, 2020 - 6:37:59 PM

1572 posts since 4/13/2017

quote:
Originally posted by bryantde
quote:
Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

I'm building a repro neck for a customer for a RB-100. I know these banjos didn't use ebony overlays, so....

Did they use black paint or black dye?


Hunter,

I use black guitar lacquer and apply gold Gibson sticker and then clear coat lacquer over that......looks pretty close to an original neck.........

Don Bryant NC banjo luthier


How should I prepare the surface before spraying the black lacquer? I've never used lacquer before, only TruOil.

Nov 29, 2020 - 7:28:18 PM
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beegee

USA

22089 posts since 7/6/2005

Before spraying lacquer, stain the overlay black(leather dye). followed by sanding sealer, sand until glossy smooth, the apply your black gloss and clear lacquer.

Nov 29, 2020 - 7:47:23 PM
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2990 posts since 2/18/2009

On the advice of forum members I bought a bottle of Fiebing's leather dye to turn an ash rim black for a customer a year or two ago, and it worked very well.

I have also noticed the price spikes at Stew-Mac lately, the last thing that came to my attention was Hot Rod truss rods. I have been using them for most of my banjo necks and would buy 12 at a time of whichever size I was low on to get a discount, but now they have raised the 18" ones I use most to over $20 each, and with no volume discounts. I am switching to Bitterroot completely now, as I have been using them for odd sizes already.

Nov 30, 2020 - 2:27:51 AM

3933 posts since 5/12/2010

I have usually had good results using black leather dye for this, but last year I decided to make the head plate black on a banjo I built to cover up a defect. The head plate on that banjo was Paduk, and it simply would not take the dye well enough to suit me, so I ended up painting it and it turned out nicely.

The choice would have to include how well a particular wood will take dye.

Nov 30, 2020 - 5:09:38 AM

13342 posts since 6/29/2005

Here's a picture of the trashed peghead veneer from a 1927 Granada, that I restored for use on a conversion neck.

I had been told they were painted, but looking at the back side of the original fragments you can see that the black color has saturated through the wood, so it must have been dyed.

I used Solar Lux (which is a dye) jet black mixed with a little American walnut to match the black and it worked out just fine.  I had been told that pearwood was used for the old ones, but I made my repair pieces from cherry (a similar fruitwood) which is closed grain and takes dye very well.

On another note, the bottom of the rims on old Vegas were painted, not dyed, black.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 11/30/2020 05:19:06

Nov 30, 2020 - 11:02:17 PM

rcc56

USA

3280 posts since 2/20/2016

I used the Fiebing's dye on the Orpheum peghead I restored last early this fall. If you use a small artist's brush, you can keep it off the inlays. I followed it with French polished shellac, and got a nice old-timey look when it was finished. Lacquer would be better for a 50's-60's Gibson, though.

Yeah, Stew-mac was never the cheapest place around, but lately some of their prices have gotten just plain looney. $7.21 to $8.03 for a bleached bone guitar nut blank?? And $10.13 for an unbleached saddle blank? C'mon now. They won't sell another piece of bone to me . . .

For those who are looking for better prices on bone but don't want to mess with ebay, check Allied Lutherie or even LMI.

Edited by - rcc56 on 11/30/2020 23:07:44

Dec 1, 2020 - 3:16:10 AM

stanger

USA

7341 posts since 9/29/2004

Gibson did both. It dyed the early peghead overlays, which were usually a thick veneer of pear or another soft wood that had little grain figure.
The wood was used because it was easier and faster to inlay than a hardwood overlay. Before the advent of the Dremel drill, anything that could cut down on the labor costs of inlaying was used.

On their cheaper instruments, Gibson simply painted black lacquer on the peghead face. The Gibson name and any ornamental detail was silkscreened onto the surface later, just before parts assembly began.

Gibson also used a 3rd technique- instead of a pear wood overlay, it used a hard paper fiber overlay that was stained black all the way through at the factory. This is still being used today. The fiber board inlays well, but doesn't dry out and crack over time like the pear does, and it stays black because a different dye is used

And on a few of their top-range banjos, ebony was used as an overlay, along with the much more rarely seen rosewood. These woods were usually left natural, though sometimes the ebony would be stained black.

Very recently, Gibson has begun using Richlite, a composite wood product, in place of ebony for fingerboards and peghead overlays. The Richlite is an architectural grade product that withstands outdoor use, and looks and feels so much like ebony it's very hard to spot the difference.

This stuff inlays very well, so if Gibson ever begins building banjos again, I'm sure it will be used.

The reason why it was substituted for ebony isn't what one would think; ebony isn't as threatened as a lot of other hardwoods, but the spotty wars in Africa have made wood supply unreliable, especially in areas that supply the best wood. Rather that have ebony become another bloody raw material, like diamonds became in earlier wars, using Richlite stopped it. This actually saved the wood sources, as the demand came down instead of going upward.
regards,
stanger

Dec 1, 2020 - 4:11:53 AM

2257 posts since 2/7/2008
Online Now

When I've used Feibings dye, I've found it to penetrate very well; in some cases too well - it will wick into places it's not wanted. If I were wanting to color an overlay black and could dye it separately, I'd use the dye, but if it were going right on to the peg head face with no overlay, I'd paint. If the Feibing's accidentally finds its way to the sides of the peg head, it will be very hard if not impossible to remove.

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