Post your "Money Shot" plain grain finish.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SpeakerBoxxx, Mar 4, 2024.

  1. SpeakerBoxxx


    Apr 13, 2023
    I'm currently working on a build for myself and I'm struggling to decide how I want to finish this build. In the past, I've mostly done paint and clear coat. This time I want to try a stain or dye or maybe even just natural. The body wood I'm using is Paulownia and grain-wise, it's kinda plain Jane. I can't decide how I want to finish this, so I'm turning to you guys for some inspiration. Please post some shots of your "plain grain" finished pieces and maybe even a short explanation of how you achieved them.
    I would love to see some interesting dyes, stains, fades, bursts and grain fill.
    Here's a shot of what I'm working with... IMG_5294.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2024
  2. Is there enough grain to do a colored grain fill type finish? AKA “dog hair”.

    IMG_3437.jpeg IMG_3436.jpeg
  3. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Not sure this qualifies as "plain grain", it's a figured walnut drop-top, but it's just TruOil, I think around 12 coats of it IIRC. I tried using the Tru-Oil as the grain filler itself by "wetsanding" with the Truoil, but didn't have much luck with that process. Wiping off the excess seemed to remove most of the walnut/oil slurry in the grain. I wasn't looking for a glass-smooth surface anyway, I wanted it to look like wood. Your body blank looks like ash, which is open-pore, so unless you want all that grain to telegraph through a clear finish, you'll have to fill it. I've tried some of the off-the-shelf grain filers like Timbermate, and they work... eventually. It tends to shrinks a little as it dries, it looks like you are done until it shrinks back. Then it's sand back, grain fill, repeat. I tried one of the new water base ones (Aquacoat) too, which isn't supposed to shrink... but does.

    Another option that doesn't shrink is epoxy as a grain filler, but most of them amber the finish a little. I did that on this one, and it seems to have worked, but again, I was OK with a little grain showing through. I topcoated it with wipe-on poly, which is a stupid-easy finish. I had some trouble getting it to adhere to cocobolo in a couple spots, still trying to sort that out.

    Some of the CA options like Glubooost Fill N' Finish look promising, but I haven't tried them myself. It's expensive stuff, but if you use their accelerator, it's not supposed to shrink back or cloud up.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2024
  4. IMG_0478.jpg IMG_0480.jpg

    Explanatory Edit:
    This Ripper is currently raw maple laminate after I removed the awful brushed on flat latex housepaint that was peeling off. I believe it was a beautiful tobacco sunburst when it left the factory and the back of the neck is a translucent brown fade that I've left alone so far.
    A clear coat on this will not work as there is a big patch on the upper horn that's a filler of some sort and the body is pieced together from various chunks of wood including some nice flamed maple.
    Someday soon I hope to finish my refinish with maybe a hand rubbed tasteful tobaccoburst so I'm open to suggestions too.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2024
    DJ Bebop, mikewalker, _Tay_ and 4 others like this.
  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    If you really want an untinted clear finish, maybe take a look at some of the water-borne finishes like Varathane Ultimate. It dries essentially water-clear, but would keep the wood from soaking up skin oil and grunge. There's a whole Mega-Thread devoted to it, pretty much real-time development on using it for guitar finishing, so skip to the end for most current info. I think you'd still have to grain-fill though, true with pretty much any finish.
    mikewalker and SpeakerBoxxx like this.
  6. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Here's my Carvin LB70. It originally had a heavy poly finish (no stain/paint), but I stripped it down to bare wood and replaced it with a Tung Oil finish. Several years and a lot of wear later I stripped it again and re-did it in a Tru Oil finish, which is a lot more durable. I specifically did not go for a super glossy finish although that can be done with Tru Oil if you want. There are plenty of good threads here for processes for applying it. That being said, I also have a Kiesel electric guitar with a very plain maple top that is finished in a standard, clear poly with no stain or paint, and I think it looks pretty great too.


  7. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2023
    Alder body from Warmoth with 5 layers of Tru Oil and final sanding with 0000 steel wool for a satin finish :



    Alder body with 3 layers of white Saman water based tint and 4 layers of Tru Oil with again a satin finish :



    And my next body will still be alder with probably a cherry red Saman tint.
    13ghosts, Paco Leon, gtirard and 15 others like this.
  8. Honey oak stain on the burled body with poly gel finish. The Birdseye in just straight poly gel.
    IMG_0111-865x1385.JPG mybass.jpg
  9. SpeakerBoxxx


    Apr 13, 2023
    @Gervais Cote that whitewash looks beautiful! I would have never guessed it could look so sexy! Bravo!
  10. SpeakerBoxxx


    Apr 13, 2023
    Would love to see more dyes and stains as well... keep em' coming!
    Bassdirty likes this.
  11. This one I did the top in a red candy but it lightened up to a hot pink salmon color.
  12. This was a plain alder body that I did in Cadilac STS white pearl. It had Bartoilini Hi-As, an EMG 18V 3 band preamp and a fretless maple neck.
    01-30-13 011.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2024
    Paco Leon, DJ Bebop, Crispus and 6 others like this.
  13. That white tint is beautiful
  14. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Thin single coat over unfilled ash allegedly from the Swamp tree. I think it’s nice grain for ash.
    13ghosts, DJ Bebop, Crispus and 5 others like this.
  15. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    2 coats of Zpoxy finishing resin IMG_0192.JPG
  16. Ok. I thought you wanted not plain finishes.

    First is a hand done burst over mystery wood although I think a mahogany relative with a semigloss clear.

    IMG_1165.jpeg IMG_6236.jpeg IMG_6237.jpeg

    Black limba again with a semigloss clear.


    Mango over pine.


    Spalted sycamore with a TruOil finish.


    I’ve been working on solid, opaque finishes lately but I can dig up some more pictures of natural or dyed finishes if they’ll help.

    13ghosts, Paco Leon, DJ Bebop and 4 others like this.
  17. SpeakerBoxxx


    Apr 13, 2023
    @Matt Liebenau I'm down for whatever... but mainly looking for some finishes on plain grain wood, not spalted, flame, quilted, etc. All the exotic stuff looks beautiful, but that's not what I'm dealing with on my current project. I would love to see some interesting dyes, stains, fades, bursts and grain fill (that dog hair that you posted totally fits the bill). Thank you to everyone who has posted, I'm starting to feel some inspiration...
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  18. Jhalb

    Jhalb Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2018
    St. Louis
    Bill Moll Custom
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Plain grain. OK, its roasted swamp ash, and a bit of stain to move it redward:

    retslock, mikewalker, sotua and 5 others like this.