Matte stain finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by GabeOfTheSpring, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. GabeOfTheSpring


    May 3, 2019
    Hello! I am relatively inexperienced in building/painting guitars and am currently in the process of building my own bass from scratch. So far everything is going pretty good! I am about to get ready to do the body finish. I bought some blue stain for the body from a luthier supply and I want to achieve a matte finish. Is a clear coat necessary? and if so what do you recommend? The wood is mahogany.
  2. akrachanko

    akrachanko Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Western Pennsylvania
    Not an expert, but I'll share a bit of info I learned from my own past projects. The answer to "is a clear coat necessary," is no, but yes. Once you have a stain on, it's not like your guitar isn't going to work if you don't give it a clear coat, but the clear coat serves 2 purposes. Firstly, and obviously, it will protect the surface of the guitar, and second, it will seal the wood, protecting the wood from various environmental factors, and sealing in the stain you just applied.

    Now, I want to point out that there are TONS of finishing options. Some people think "clear coat" automatically means lacquer or polyurethan, and that's just not the case. There are various oils and waxes that will give you a clear coat, without having the same overall results as lacquer, or a poly finish. I finished a bass neck recently with Tried and True Wood Finish, and it gave me a nice matte finish that I was very pleased with. I also recommend you look around, because there are TONS of resources on finishing guitars and basses around. Good luck!
    OldFunBass likes this.
  3. GabeOfTheSpring


    May 3, 2019
    Thank you very much for the advice! It is much appreciated!
    akrachanko likes this.
  4. 5tring


    Sep 16, 2018
    Also not an expert, but have had good experience using satin finish clear coat for this kind of thing
  5. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Not so long as you don't mind your hands, arms, and clothes being blue!

    You should do a clear coat.

    The easiest sturdy finish to apply, and it's not a bad looking one, is a couple of passes of "wipe-on polyurethane". Minwax makes one. I'm an experienced finish guy and could have done the wood mantels over my fireplace in anything you care to name, but I had a time limit and a need to use something fairly non-toxic. So I used that. You can still see all the pores - looks a lot like a shellac sealer coat or something similar - but the wood is covered and protected and frankly I'm looking forward to using it on an instrument, as I like the look. And it can't be easier to use: clean up the wood, get a clean piece of cloth that won't shed lint (old t-shirts are perfect), soak the shirt and wipe it on. Let it dry for an hour and do it again. Done.

    Watco and other oil finishes will give similar results but can take a while to dry out. The poly - let it hang for a day and you're done. The finish will look matte, unless you do ten coats or something unnecessary like that.
    TakeABreak likes this.
  6. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Also, you might want to test on a piece of scrap before committing to the stain if possible. Blue on mahogany in my experience comes out looking more black than anything else.
  7. GabeOfTheSpring


    May 3, 2019
    Awesome, thank you for the recommendation!
  8. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Can you tell us the specific product you have for a stain? Lots of products get passed off as "stain" that behave differently, it's hard to give recommendations without knowing the specifics.
  9. GabeOfTheSpring


    May 3, 2019
    5A713483-133D-4172-B386-067D41D98155.jpeg Crimson Guitars Stunning Stains! It is a water based stain.