I made a mistake. A big mistake. About a 150-hour mistake. Well, OK… let’s call it a learning experience.  It all started simply enough. Hey, this dye works on fabric, I can get it at walmart, it’s cheap. Win-Win. I’m sure it will work on wood. Sure enough, it did. It looked fantastic. Then it all went bad. Really bad.

Blue Bird

Project BlueBird has been a very long project. It is approaching two years of work. Yes, I claim it is my “Learning Project” or R&D project, but I really would be happy to see this project done. Solid color guitars are easy, single color or clear finishes are easy. So why did I not pick one of them as my first guitar projects? 

Rit Dye

Why pick a blue-burst finish with translucent colors and an over-the-top ¼ inch thick glossy 80’s finish? Answer: I like learning, I like trying new things, maybe a bit too much. One of the distinct features of all of my guitars this far is visible wood grain. Project BlueBird may have started life as an 8-foot pine 2x4, but even pine has beauty in the grain.

Here is the primary problem I was facing.  Project BlueBird was no longer blue. How can you have a project named BlueBird and show up with a green guitar? It’s OK I told myself, it’s a blue-green. Then last week I looked at project BlueBird and it was no longer blue-green at all. BlueBird had shed it’s deep rich blue plumage, in favor of green and then rapidly started moving to an icky brownish gray.


In a few of the progress photos, you can see how BlueBird started as blue then developed some blotchy transition colors. 



Brown Fading to blue

The cause, I used Rit dye on a guitar. Rit dye is fantastic for your tie-dye shirt, but it is not color stable or color stay. In fact, Rit sells another product called a Dye Fixative to “lock” in the color into the fabric. I can not speak to if this works on guitars, I think I am done trying to use Rit dye.

Brown Bird: 

Blue Bird is now brown


So once again, I got out the sander and took project BlueBird back down bare wood. This time I used a very good wood-specific dye from Keda Dyes


Project BlueBird has never looked better. Now back to building up the ¼ inch poly finish. 


Submitted by user on Fri, 07/07/2023 - 15:55