Staining Swamp Ash to look "zebralike"?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by CzarMike, May 29, 2002.

  1. I have a Swamp Ash body and Maple Neck coming from Warmoth and would like a little help with my upcoming staining and finishing project on the bass. I want to make the wood look "zebralike" as I call it, meaning that I'd like to get rid of the brown color in the wood and have it stained in a silver-white and black color. I want to really bring out the dark stripes of the Ash as well, and really highlight the grains of the wood. The whole bass will be done in this "zebra" scheme, so the maple neck will have to be stained as well.
    Do you have any recommendations on how I can accomplish this?
    I would also love input on how to finish it off after staining, this is my first ground-up bass and I don't know the nicer products out there. I want a glossy (oily?) finish, I would love a step by step list of what you would personally do after recieving the bass.
    Here are some pictures of the bass I'm modeling mine after:
    It's Nino_Brown's from this forum. I don't think his bass actually looks silver in person, it's a camera thing I imagine, but I want to have my bass stained to look like that picture. With a silver tint to the whole thing, I think it's very powerful looking, and with the high quality wood I ordered it should be a huge step up from the basses I've been playing lately.

    I'm very glad that pro luthiers are willing to share their advice, that's very cool. In the past this project would just be one big trial and error episode.
    Thanks a million,
    Mike Schaefer
  2. ryan morris

    ryan morris Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Hey, one time I saw this effect done by using a blowtorch at a safe enough distance. It really brought the grain out of the wood. Just don't be mad at me if you burn up your whole bass. Later, Ryan
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I don't know how he does it, but George Furlanetto is a genius at finishing ash for his F Basses.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Ken Lawrence can do it too:

    If you can figure out how they do it, tell us! but I guess you'd keep it a secret too. ;)
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Blowtorch aside, I think it's done by applying a straight black (or white) stain, letting the grain lines soak up the stain, washing the excess stain off, and then applying a second translucent stain.
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The grain lines on ash soak up stain at a faster rate, so any stain tends to accentuate the figure.

    One thing that some people do with figured maple is to apply stain, then sand back lightly. Areas that accept stain more deeply will retain the stain longer as you sand.

    You might also consider bleaching the ash to get a whiter color.

    As with most things, you should try to get some ash to practice on before you try things on your bass.