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.
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.
This was it when new.
It will be interesting to see how PRS handles this whole NL issue overall. They may discontinue the color since I'm sure they have other priorities than doing alot more complimentary refinishes down the road. Or they may come up w a disclaimer that if a NL instrument was not cased it voids warrantee. We'll see.
I've had a few faded early guitars in Vintage Yellow but the blue one I currently have (below) is the worst by a long way. 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.
I love that kit build you are working on, perfect shade of blue, well done! Those two P22 are awesome!This is a kit guitar that I'm building. I stained it with analine blue dye, very similar to what I believe PRS uses. This has been hanging in a small room (10x10) on a wall 90 degrees from the wall with windows. The room is on the north side of my house, the windows had blinds that were opened/closed regularly up until spring of this year, when i had all new windows installed and no blinds went back up. It has been hanging in that room for 3 years untouched. So even though it hasn't been directly exposed to sunlight the whole time, it has been subjected to it indirectly for a good period of time. I don't see any fade to it at all, so I think it may be the exact type of blue dye that PRS uses that causes the fade to be so bad. Nearly all of my guitars are blue, and I've never had one fade, although when I bought my P22, it appears to be faded somewhat. I bought that used, so I don't know what it looked like when brand new, but I think it's supposed to be Whale Blue, but its nowhere near as dark (or vibrant as) blue as my older Whale Blue P22 was...
an outdoor shot showing the true color
My 2012 "Whale Blue" P22 - notice how yellow some spots are, and lighter around the bottom edge
My "original" Whale Blue P22 (much more vibrant blue)