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Clear Natural Quilted Maple Finish

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by LastCat, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. LastCat


    Apr 17, 2005
    SW Wa State
    I have built a few basses in the past. Just finished a fretless and starting on my fretted bass. Question I have is about the finish. Trying to achieve a clear finish without changing the color of the Quilted Maple. I have used Polyurethane before and it tends to change the natural color to a slight yellow. Finish is good, just looking for answers how I can actually preserve the natural color of the QM top for my next bass.

    I have seen these pics online. It's exactly what I would like to achieve. How do I get a clear coat finish (one that I can sand and polish) and not change the color tone of the Quilted Maple? Check these pics below.

    Cheers, and thanks. Lastcat




    Just love that natural unaltered Quilted Maple. I am sure these examples above are clear coated. But I have a few that I did clear coat and it has worked ok, but I am trying this time around to get a unaltered color change, like the pics above. Give you an example, the pic below is usually what I end up with, when using Polyurethane.

  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    As a rule, waterbased poly is much less yellowing than oil based. But probably the clearest two that I have used are Deft lacquer from a spray can (not sure that product has survived changes in VOC rules - it was 20 years ago), and MinWax PolyCrylic (not on instruments, though - the Deft was, but I'm more wooddorker with an interest than actual luthier.) I see no reason it shouldn't work on an instrument, but I don't want to confuse..

    As always with finishing, test the whole process on scrap. If the color suits, then go ahead and test how long it takes to get hard enough to polish if that's what you want to do to it, etc.
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yes, the water-base polyurethanes are almost completely clear; very little amber darkening. Oil-base polyurethanes all darken the color.

    The finish I'm currently using is Park ProFinisher Water-Base Polyurethane Floor Finish, which is available on the shelf at Home Depot. We've got a long thread going about the water-base polyurethanes, the various competing brands and techniques on using them:

    Using water based products for instrument finishing, Target Coatings 9000 6000 and Varathane WB

    On page 20 of that thread, post #394, I show a flame maple neck that I sprayed with the ProFinisher. The customer wanted it to be a light blonde look. On it, I added a small amount of amber tint to pop the flame figure. But you can see how light it is overall. Without any amber it would have been even lighter.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    hehe, I'm going to have to use that one. ;)
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  5. LastCat


    Apr 17, 2005
    SW Wa State
    Thanks Bruce, water base it is then. I'll look for ProFinisher at HD or Lowes, appreciate the help.

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