Hi, I'm looking for some insight into how to achieve this 'translucent
black' finish on this guitar:
This finish is on maple wood and I think its just so interesting. I have
no idea what sort of stain is being used .. I don't believe it is an
ebony stain. Anyone have any ideas?
It's possible that it's an aniline dye, possibly black diluted to give
more of the grayish tone and then topcoated with a lacquer or other
clear finish. It would take some experimentation to try to come close
Stephen Jones wrote:
It can be a dye or plain old stain. What gives it the translucent look
is many coats of clear the buffed to a high polish. Also figured woods see
to have more dept. In the picture that looks like Flame Maple or also called
fiddle back maple, but it sure doesn't look like a good example.
On Fri, 15 Dec 2006 02:24:40 +0000 (UTC),
firstname.lastname@example.orgNoOnSePsAtMar.org (Stephen Jones) wrote:
No. The grain is running the opposite direction you think it is.
What happens with curly maple is the grain is reversing so parts of it
are reflecting light and parts of it are not. If you tilt that guitar
a bit the parts that are dark now will be light and vice versa. As
far as what technique to show it off the best the other posters know a
lot more than I do.
The body is a solid piece of swamp ash 1-3/4" thick. I hollowed out two
compartments in the back side, one for a preamplifier and another for a
9v battery box. Other than that, it's solid. The fingerboard and
tailpiece were made from a piece of Macassar ebony I got from Woodcraft.
The neck is birdseye maple with a 1/4" walnut stripe.
It plays very nice, but the fact is I'm not really qualified to judge
that - this is the first and only upright bass of nay kind I've ever
played for more than a minute or two. But I've been playing guitars and
electric basses for over 40 years.
My plan for the next one is to make the body semi-hollow, with a Sitka
spruce bookmatched top and flame maple back. I'm still working on the
body design. I want it to have figured maple on the sides as well as the
That Sitka spruce will make some nice sounds, especially if you chamber the
body some. It resonates nicely, but it really wants some sound chambers
My electric guitar is a handcrafted guitar from a luthier down in N.
Carolina. It's a Honduran Mahogany body and neck with a flame maple cap.
The mahogany body has sound chambers routed into it and it's very noticeable
what the difference in tone is between it and the same model without the
sound chambers. I'm sure you'd find Sitka responds to the sound chambers
the same way.
From what I investigated at a point when I was going to build a guitar
myself, I believe I've read that maple does not make a good body. It makes
a good cap, but it really wants some other woods under it in order to get a
less harsh tone. Maple is good for sustain, but not so good for tone - if I
: Hi, I'm looking for some insight into how to achieve this 'translucent
: black' finish on this guitar:
: This finish is on maple wood and I think its just so interesting. I have
: no idea what sort of stain is being used .. I don't believe it is an
: ebony stain. Anyone have any ideas?
If the color is applied to the wood itself, it's dye, not stain.
There's a technique for highlighting figure in e.g., curly maple which involves
taking a very dilute dark aniline dye, dyeing the wood, sanding off most of the
part (leaving some in the endgrainish part of the figure), then topcoating it
any other color. Jeff Jewitt discusses this in a FWW article, and his book on
It's also possible there is a tint in the lacquer on the guitar -- hard to tell
from the photo.
-- Andy Barss
Tinting one or more coats of lacquer is how this is normally done. No
stain or dye is applied to the wood, since stains and dyes tend to
diminish the lustre of the figure in the wood.
I learned this the hard way. I built a bass guitar body with a really
nicely quilted maple top layer about 1/4" thick. Before finishing, I
applied a Woodburst medium-brown stain to the wood, and lost most of the
lustre of the quilting in the process. You can still see the quilt
figure, but it doesn't capture the light the way it should. I was very
disappointed by the result.
I know a couple of high end luthiers and they dye or stain the wood. Clear
Nitrocellulose lacquer after that. I suspect your experience was more
related to your stain choice, than to the practice of applying stain or dye.
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