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black stained maple, how to achieve?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wilser, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Hello,
    I am building a 'dark' bass, but I want to use a nice piece of maple I have for the top. I want to stain it like Carey Nordstrand did, ala this pic:

    Anybody know how to achieve a stain like this?
  2. eldave777


    May 24, 2005
    Stew Mac sells stains in lots of colors. Go to there website. I believe there's a minimum purchase amount however.
  3. Thanks for your suggestion. I actually know that black stain is used for that, but my question was refering to application techniques.

    Thanks again.
  4. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    From looking at the pic of that bass, I would suspect that Carey used a dyed-through maple top. That is a set of maple that is dyed in such a way that the color goes all the way through. I say that as you'll notice that there is no stain on the body wood or the thin accent layer between the top and the body.

    I get dyed-through maple tops from Gallery Hardwood. I haven't ordered a flamed maple top yet, just dyed through maple burl topsets. There are pics of two of them in the Gallery Hardwoods forum here on talkbass:

    Blue dyed maple burl tops thread

    The two tops are near the bottom, and have been dyed a blue-ish color to emulate buckeye burl.

    Here is a pic of a black dyed-through maple top I also purchased from Gallery for a customers bass.


    Not sure of the exact process by which Gallery produces these, but I know it involves a pretty elaborate vacuum chamber, and not something that could easily be done at home with a sponge brush and some wood stain.

  5. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Actually Kahuna it's just stained in the traditional manner, although through dyed wood is probably easier to deal with.
    Black or gray is very tricky to do effectively.
    On this bass I did a two stage stain. First stain nice and dark. Try to get it even, but don't worry too much if it's not perfect. Wait a day and sand the wood back so that the stain is only left in the deep parts of the quilt. This part is tricky because you have to sand carefully and try to keep everything looking even. This is where a really nice piece of wood with very even figure will be a big help.
    After sanding most of the stain back so that only the dark deep parts of the quilt are left black, apply a lighter thinned version of the same black stain. Again, care must be taken to achieve a nice even appearance.
    That should do it. Apply your finish and enjoy. Be aware though that oil finishes may cause problems with the stain pulling out of the wood as you apply it. I prefer hard sprayed finishes for this and many other reasons. ;)
  6. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    Congrats mister Nordstrand, on an amazingly beautiful bass. Truly GAS-olicious.
    And I was starting to think maple tops were overdone...
  7. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    Hey Carey,

    Thanks for the info! I'm VERY curious, how did you keep the stain from "creeping" into the rest of the bass? My experience with tape doesn't work with stains. Did you apply a sealer to the rest of the bass first?

  8. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Thanks Phil!

    I applied the stain very carefully and sanded it off the ash when I did accidentally go too far. And the black veneer line is there for more than just aesthetics ;)
  9. hmmm, why not just mask the ash right off the accent line?
  10. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Because the stain will bleed under the tape...

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