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Any examples of tru-oiled poplar?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rumblethump, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    I just received my first 1 piece poplar P bass body. Poplar is not known for its wood grain and the green steaks, but it is a very good tone wood. This body has a very nice grain on the front and 4" streak of green on the back. So, I'm considering tru-oil OR
    Painting it Surf Green. Being in CA, getting the tru-oil is spotty. Anyone have an idea of how many bottles it will take to do the body completely? TIA
  2. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    It doesn't even take a whole bottle, unless maybe you do lots and lots of layers. I did a whole neck through bass (including neck, fretboard, etc) with tru-oil, probably like 16 coats and had a little left in the bottle when I was done, and that was with a 3 oz bottle. I did do thin coats though.

    If you like how the wood looks, I'd say go for a natural finish over paint every time, personally.
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I have seen some good looking poplar, but its pretty few and far between. It's not bad looking wood, just not very interesting. I would say paint it.

    Do you have any pictures of the body?
  4. Phendyr_Loon


    Sep 4, 2010
    Im in the process of finishing up the second of two basses built mostly using poplar.
    The quantity of oil you'll use depends mainly on how much finish you plan to build on the bass. Building up 12+ light coats to get a decent gloss will obviously require more finish than if you're just going for a thinner matte look.
    Something to keep in mind is that poplar is one of the softest hardwoods, so it will dent easily if there is not enough finish to protect it, also the poplar will suck up the finish within the first few coats but you'll progressively use less as the coats build.
    I used poly on the first poplar bass I built and it took 2 decent coats of sealer just to have a small amount of build.
  5. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    Thanks for the responses so far everyone. Pics to follow soon. It weighs 4lb 12oz. I just noticed it has the tummy cut on the back but the front doesn't have the forearm taper. Its no biggie. I also will need to open up the pickup route. Pickups don't drop in as is.
  6. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
  7. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    I can't really see the green in the photo, but I like how the front looks. I think it'd look good with Tru-oil.

    I think Pilotjones finished this with something similar to Tru-Oil, if I remember right.

  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Yes, that's right -- I used Waterlox, which is said to be a similar oil/varnish blend. And the back faces of the wings as shown there are poplar (liriodendron).
  9. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Love or hate his basses, but you can't argue that Carl Thompson builds top quality instruments. He has used poplar in basses. Here is one.
  10. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    It looks like tru-oil it is. I will post more pics in the process, right now it too cold (finally getting some much needed rain). PJ, those are some beautiful basses. Thanks for all the responses.

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