Northern lights fading

matt3310

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Jun 1, 2017
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Memphis, TN
I know this has been discussed here before, but I cannot believe there isn't something PRS can do about this. My 2015 Private stock has faded so bad its almost purple. I want to send it back to PRS to fix the finish, but its kinda pointless if its just going to fade again. Not to mention the cost to refinish it is expensive. A 3 yr old guitar should not be this faded.


I've got another Northern lights on order and almost want to cancel it.
yhbGR2w.jpg


z9udlte.jpg

M8UmUej.jpg


This was it when new.
NE5EWoG.jpg
 

AaeCee

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MD.
Damn, that's kinda crazy.

Not sure whether this matters much or not, but was it kept in, or out of the case?
 

Rockmark

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It appears to be an idiosyncrasy that color is prone to. Bummer. I think there was another like you said, that faded in a very similar manner and I think they took care of it under warrantee. Worth checking and if there's another color you like maybe they will change it over for you since this happened. That's an alternative if you don't want to take a chance and keep your fingers crossed over the years. I think I'd possibly change, lot's of choices. Good luck.
 

WA Paul

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I’m guessing the original owner kept that one in direct sunlight. My PS aquamarine hasn’t faded one bit and it is rarely in a case. No direct sunlight in my guitar room, just LEDs.
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It’s always a risk with any blue color. Given my experience, I would say so long as your guitar isn’t kept in direct sunlight you are probably ok. I think forum member Wind Song Studios did a refin a few months ago on NL. Maybe he can chime in on his more recent post-refin experience?
 

elvis

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I have had, and still have, blue guitars. I have never experienced the fading that PRS guitars have. I think they have a serious problem with their blue stain. I did not protect my guitars, and as such, the maple necks turned brown, the White guitars turned yellow. The blue guitars, unaffected. I've stopped considering blue and NL because of these recent posts. Which sucks, because I love both.
 

Glide-bpm

We were small but we were slow...
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I know this has been discussed here before, but I cannot believe there isn't something PRS can do about this. My 2015 Private stock has faded so bad its almost purple. I want to send it back to PRS to fix the finish, but its kinda pointless if its just going to fade again. Not to mention the cost to refinish it is expensive. A 3 yr old guitar should not be this faded.


I've got another Northern lights on order and almost want to cancel it.
yhbGR2w.jpg


z9udlte.jpg

M8UmUej.jpg


This was it when new.
NE5EWoG.jpg

That really sucks how fast that NL stain can fade....
 

django49

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Jul 16, 2014
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Washington State
I really like that finish when I see the pictures. I was tempted to pick one up a while ago....Used and a decent price PS. These kind of stories made me back off.

FWIW, my number one guitar for the past 6 years(!!) has a very nice blue quilt finish. It shows no evident sign of having aged (now over 10 years old)......It is not a PRS.

I DID have two higher end PRSi in exceptional blue-ish finishes, Never had an issue with either. Perhaps it makes a difference if they are kept in the case when not in use.....Never sitting out with exposure to the sun. OR kids kicking a soccer ball about the house.
 

Collywobbles

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Oct 17, 2017
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I've had a few faded early guitars in Vintage Yellow but the Royal Blue one below has faded the most by a long way (it now looks Vintage Yellow other than under the PU rings). I've never seen an explanation for the chenistry behind this that really makes sense to me as a non-chemist but in basic terms I believe the engergy in the UV damages / changes the molecular structure of the dye causing it to reflect light hitting the guitar's surface back to us differently hence our perception of fade. I also believe each colour is suseptable to damage from specific wavelengths of light and as blue and violet both have very short wavelengths I wonder if that is part of the reason Northern Lights seems to fade so badly even on relatively new guitars. My guess is that if it was refinished using the same dyes and in the same colour it will just fade again unless UV exposure in minimised. If there are any chemists reading this I'd love to hear a scientific explanation of what's going on.

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Good luck....

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Collywobbles

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I have had, and still have, blue guitars. I have never experienced the fading that PRS guitars have. I think they have a serious problem with their blue stain. I did not protect my guitars, and as such, the maple necks turned brown, the White guitars turned yellow. The blue guitars, unaffected. I've stopped considering blue and NL because of these recent posts. Which sucks, because I love both.

I think the finish / way the finish is applied makes a huge difference - I've seen very early PRS guitars in Pearl Black (basically a pearlescent midnight blue) with zero fade whereas guitars with stained tops seem much more prone to fade. I've always assumed Pearl Black was a sprayed on paint rather than a wiped on stain and that this explains why one fades, and the other doesn't.
 

Axis39

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It's nothing crazy chemically, it's just that PRS picked a non-light-stable dye. Just like Gibson's early cherry sunburst finishes in the 60's. They faded and gave us beautiful lemon bursts and such. Maybe some day these faded PRS guitars will be a status symbol like early Gibson bursts?

Being new to PRS, this is the first I've read of this. My two blue Gretsches are probably a tad yellower than they were new, but no fading. One's blue poly and the other's covered in drum wrap... So, there's that.
 

Elliot

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It's nothing crazy chemically, it's just that PRS picked a non-light-stable dye. Just like Gibson's early cherry sunburst finishes in the 60's. They faded and gave us beautiful lemon bursts and such. Maybe some day these faded PRS guitars will be a status symbol like early Gibson bursts?

Being new to PRS, this is the first I've read of this. My two blue Gretsches are probably a tad yellower than they were new, but no fading. One's blue poly and the other's covered in drum wrap... So, there's that.

I definitely agree that faded PRS guitars will be a version of future PRS “relics”. It seems to happen often to some guitars and not others.
 

garrett

...
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I know this has been discussed here before, but I cannot believe there isn't something PRS can do about this. My 2015 Private stock has faded so bad its almost purple. I want to send it back to PRS to fix the finish, but its kinda pointless if its just going to fade again. Not to mention the cost to refinish it is expensive. A 3 yr old guitar should not be this faded.


I've got another Northern lights on order and almost want to cancel it.
yhbGR2w.jpg


z9udlte.jpg

M8UmUej.jpg


This was it when new.
NE5EWoG.jpg

You're talking to the wrong people. Get in touch with PRS customer service and see what they say.
 

shinksma

What? I get a title?
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Mar 20, 2014
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4,940
This one has not only faded, its yellowed.
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Yellowing could be the actual poly/nitro/whatever finish aging. My SE Zach Myers with spalted maple top, finished "natural" (no color to the finish at all) has certainly yellowed a bit over the 4 years I've owned it - which surprised me when I realized that's what had happened recently.
 

Steve Dombroski

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Unfortunately, blue stain has a tendency to fade pretty badly...especially if the guitar is exposed to UV light. I was going to go northern lights, but I was warned ahead of time by a friend to steer clear of blue stain, and I'm happy I did. I wouldn't recommend canceling the PS on order, but I would recommend seeing if you can change the color. Just my opinion. Good luck!
 

shinksma

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I have a few blue PRSi, including a Blue Matteo SAS and a Sapphire Blue McSoapie that I've had for a couple of years. They hang on the walls of an upstairs hallway, getting zero direct sunlight, next to no indirect sunlight, and rarely incandescent light. They are as blue as when I first got them.

it is direct sunlight that kills the blues. There was thread a while back here where the OP had a NL finish that faded like the OPs, and he didn't think it was getting any direct sunlight. As it turned out, he was wrong - the guitar got a blast of direct sunlight every single (sunny) morning through a window.

Does the OPs NL-fading PRS sit where it get s direct sunlight? or is it a case queen? Or somewhere in between, like an infrequently-used music room? Not suggesting PRS won't help get it fixed in the current state, just trying to identify a cause and possible future-avoidance of it repeating techniques.
 

LSchefman

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Here’s the deal, guys/gals:

Stains that allow the wood to show through are usually organic, and organic dyes are photosensitive. That is, light causes a chemical reaction in the dye. The degree of photosensitivity varies from color to color. Blue organic dyes are prone to significant photosensitivity.

Inorganic dyes are less photosensitive, but you can’t see the wood grain details through most of them.

Remember, they’re stains, not paint.

Either you want to see the wood grain detail, and you use a photosensitive dye, or you paint the damn thing and don’t see the grain.

With photosensitive dyes, the solution is to keep it out of the light if you want to prevent fading. I have one of the Northern Lights guitars from the same run as the OP, and because I’m in the habit of keeping my guitars cased when I’m not playing them, if there’s any fading, I can’t even see it.

A photosensitive color doesn’t need to be in direct light to fade; it can be in indirect light. That’s because, photons being what they are, any light causes the chemical reaction to occur. Direct light will fade it faster, but indirect light will do the same, just more slowly.

You don’t want fading? Case the damn guitar when you’re not playing it. Simple as that.
 
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Steve Dombroski

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Here’s the deal, guys/gals:

Stains that allow the wood to show through are usually organic, and organic dyes are photosensitive. That is, light causes a chemical reaction in the dye. The degree of photosensitivity varies from color to color. Blue organic dyes are prone to significant photosensitivity.

Inorganic dyes are less photosensitive, but you can’t see the wood grain details through most of them.

Remember, they’re stains, not paint.

Either you want to see the wood grain detail, and you use a photosensitive dye, or you paint the damn thing and don’t see the grain.

With photosensitive dyes, the solution is to keep it out of the light if you want to prevent fading. I have one of the Northern Lights guitars from that run, and because I’m in the habit of keeping my guitars cased when I’m not playing them, if there’s any fading, I can’t even see it.

A photosensitive color doesn’t need to be in direct light to fade; it can be in indirect light. That’s because, photons being what they are, any light causes the chemical reaction to occur. Direct light will fade it faster, but indirect light will do the same, just more slowly.

You don’t want fading? Case the damn guitar when you’re not playing it. Simple as that.
Truthiness
 
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