What should I do with this? Input welcome!

Lynxtrap

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I just bought this 12-string kit, it arrived today. The body is basswood, and with 5 pieces it was a bit worse than expected (altough I didn't expect much at this pricepoint). The wood feels quite raw so I'm not sure there is any grain filler applied from the factory. The manual that came with it has no information related to finishing, it just shows how to put it together.

So now I'm wondering what to do. I kind of know what I don't want to do 🙄
I don't want that 70's style furniture look, and I don't want to spray it with nitro (one of the reasons being that I'd have to wait until July for the right climate conditions.)

I had hope to stain it and applying a top coat with oil, wax or possibly wipe-on poly, but with the look of the body I'm not so sure. I even dreamed of a Mary Kaye-ish look...

I know basswood tends to get blotchy with stain, but I have worked around that problem with similar woods in the past on other projects.

Opinions would be more than welcome!


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schmee

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Wiped on white or other paint works well as stain. Wipe it on and then wipe it off. You end up with that Mary Kay trans white look. Or you can do this with any color you want. I have even used latex for this, then poly over it once it's good and dry. You really aren't leaving much paint, just color so they don't interact.
I like Min Wax wipe on poly, I have used it on necks too but I brush it on ...thin. It levels very nice and looks smooth and good.
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Lynxtrap

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Wiped on white or other paint works well as stain. Wipe it on and then wipe it off. You end up with that Mary Kay trans white look. Or you can do this with any color you want. I have even used latex for this, then poly over it once it's good and dry. You really aren't leaving much paint, just color so they don't interact.
I like Min Wax wipe on poly, I have used it on necks too but I brush it on ...thin. It levels very nice and looks smooth and good.

That's an approach I haven't thought of! I will certainly try it on some scrap wood. I guess some sort of pre-treatment would be good to make the wood take the paint as evenly as possible.

Do you do more than one layer of paint? About how long do you leave it on before wiping it off?

I'm still not sure if I want to see that 5 piece body through the finish. It's not exactly ugly, but the difference between the pieces is quite obvious.

As for the neck, I might paint the headstock the same colour as the body and put Danish Oil on the back. The fingerboard is rosewood(ish).
 

WalthamMoosical

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I dealt with a "this third of the paulownia body is a lot darker than the other two-thirds" situation by using more tinted brush-on polyurethane on the lighter 2/3 than on the darker 1/3. At least, I did that for the front. For the back, I let the difference shine through ... And yes peegoo I trialed it on some paulownia paneling first ... that's the stuff they use for martial arts wood-busting demos.
 
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schmee

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That's an approach I haven't thought of! I will certainly try it on some scrap wood. I guess some sort of pre-treatment would be good to make the wood take the paint as evenly as possible.

Do you do more than one layer of paint? About how long do you leave it on before wiping it off?

I'm still not sure if I want to see that 5 piece body through the finish. It's not exactly ugly, but the difference between the pieces is quite obvious.

As for the neck, I might paint the headstock the same colour as the body and put Danish Oil on the back. The fingerboard is rosewood(ish).
I wipe on /wipe off more or less, it goes into the grain. I said latex but really meant water based stains ... they work fine and come in small cans .
If you want more opaque, just continue that process with another coat until it's where you want it to be.
I would NOT 'paint' it with water based though leaving a thickness of paint, just enough to stain the wood.

You could do this with poly/oil based stain or paint, especially if you really want to end up more painted than trans. It's just more smelly, messy clean up etc.

A maple headstock will likely not turn out quite the same color as a basswood body as maple doesn't take up near as much in the tight grain.
 

Freeman Keller

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Just a couple of general comments - I have never worked with a bass wood body but I know that Ibanez made some guitars out of it and they used a catalyzed epoxy finish because the wood is so soft. Second thought, which you've already heard, is that staining can do all sorts of things that you don't expect. I always practice any staining procedure on scrap of the same wood, which of course you don't have.

Nest, according to the StewMac finishing schedule, bass wood is not open pore and does not need pore filling. You can skip that step which just complicates staining anyway.

Lastly, Mary Kay White is kind of a tricky finish, even if you follow the way fender did it. Erlewine has a good decription in his book on guitar finishing, but he (and Leo) used lacquers so....
 

Lynxtrap

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I did some sanding last night, and man that wood is soft! It will probably turn out a blotchy mess without some kind of sealing/pre-treatment.
I'm thinking perhaps laquer diluted 50-50 or a layer of Danish Oil, some sanding, then water based stain and a few layers of poly on top. How does that sound?
 

mfguitar

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I would not use Danish Oil as a base, you might be asking for trouble. Minwax makes a stain conditioner that could help but if you go with white latex paint (diluted) for the color it's really not needed. The beauty of that technique is that you can add coats to get the desired color and you can also sand back if needed. I only use water-based finishes now for new work but once dried you can use whatever poly you desire for protection. The wood can still dent under the finish.
 

Freeman Keller

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I did some sanding last night, and man that wood is soft! It will probably turn out a blotchy mess without some kind of sealing/pre-treatment.
I'm thinking perhaps laquer diluted 50-50 or a layer of Danish Oil, some sanding, then water based stain and a few layers of poly on top. How does that sound?

I have been using a finishing resin called Zpoxy for my pore filling for quite a few years now. I have only applied nitrocellulose and water born lacquers over it and I have never used it on bass wood but I see no reason it wouldn't work. As I said before, the cardinal rule for any finishing is to experiment on scraps of the same wood - since you bought the body you probably don't have any but scraps should be available at any wood store.

 

Lynxtrap

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I went with lacquer diluted 50-50 as a primer. It will take a bit sanding, but it turned out fine on a test piece of birch plywood. I have done this in the past on other non-guitar related stuff, and the sanding after applying the primer is key, otherwise the stain will just sit on top of it and not show much wood grain.

At the price for this kit, I'm not too worried. If it turns out too bad I'll do what @Telenator said and spray it solid.
 

Lynxtrap

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I might add that Minwax seem to have a great lineup of products for these kinds of projects, but it seems hard to find their products in Europe. It is also difficult to find wipe-on poly and pre-stain conditioner of any brand, at least in stores around my parts.
 

Beebe

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I don't mind seeing multiple pieces of wood.

Get a tube of watercolor paint.

Dilute it with a bit of water to a stain consistency.

Sponge it on evenly and wipe it off before it dries.

Repeat when dry for a more opaque look.

Finish it with a coat of hard wax oil.

You should also be able to find Rubio Monocoat products in Europe. Use their Pre- Color Easy stain and their Oil Plus 2C hard wax oil. The oil comes in sample sizes perfect for one guitar. You'll need the 2C if you want the oil to cure faster than a month.

You can also use an A B wood bleach as the first step to even out the wood color.
 

Beebe

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You can pretty much follow these instructions when using artist watercolor paint (or diluted water based home paint) as a stain with a hard wax oil finish.

I'd sand to at least 220 instead of 120 to start (because it's not a floor), and you won't have to tape off sections as you'll most likely want to stain the whole thing at once, but maybe. I'd also water pop the grain first.

 

Boreas

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Staining the bare wood is one way, but as you say, you could have great results, or spotty results. Careful sanding and filling should help minimize this, but the only way to tell is to test - perhaps in the neck pocket and pickup cavities. Perhaps just go opaque.

Yes, basswood is marginally harder than balsa! Should be a nice, light body, but you are likely going to want a hard, candy shell. I am thinking wipe-on poly. TruOil will be prone to gouging whereas poly will be prone to denting. But hey, it's worth a try - just lose the belt buckle!!😁
 

Beebe

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Here are a few I've done with Rubio products.

The brown Mustang is Mahogany with just Chocolate color Oil Plus 2C.

The white Jazzmaster is Ash that was bleached and then Cotton color Oil Plus 2C.

The SG is Mahogany and I used Precolor Easy in Intense Black and Charcoal Oil plus 2C.

The Starcaster is pretty much the same as the Jazzmaster except I used a little Turmeric water to yellow it first, and added a bit of pearl pigment to the oil.
 

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Beebe

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You can pretty much follow these instructions when using artist watercolor paint (or diluted water based home paint) as a stain with a hard wax oil finish.

I'd sand to at least 220 instead of 120 to start (because it's not a floor), and you won't have to tape off sections as you'll most likely want to stain the whole thing at once, but maybe. I'd also water pop the grain first.



Actually I'm not sure how well the hard wax oil would work over diluted home paint.

I have tested it over watercolor paint though and the results were nearly identical to Rubio Precolor.

Water color paint uses Gum Arabic as it's binder. I imagine it works more nicely with oil than a durable man made resin would.
 

badscrew_projects

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Actually I'm not sure how well the hard wax oil would work over diluted home paint.

I have tested it over watercolor paint though and the results were nearly identical to Rubio Precolor.

Water color paint uses Gum Arabic as it's binder. I imagine it works more nicely with oil than a durable man made resin would.
I was foolish enough trying exactly that on a whim around 10 years ago, and it worked great actually.
Not the same wood, this was on hard ash and I also did let the grain raise (water based paints will do that) and didn't sand it down before the "oil" application for an additional effect.

Just after the first oil coat, still wet:

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Few more coats and lightly sanded down with steel wool

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