I'm at the finishing stage of building my first bass and need advise on finishes. The body is 1/4" quilted maple, on 1/8" walnut, on 1-3/8" alder. I have decided to use alcohol-based aniline dye in two stages (dark coat, sand, light coat) to get depth in the finish. I tried a practice piece with the dye and 6 coats of shellac, followed by 300, 400, and 600 grit sandpaper, pumice, and finally rottenstone. The finish was beautiful - it looked about two inches deep. Unfortunately, two problems arose. First, the finish was soft enough to be marked by slight fingernail pressure - I admit to using very liberal coats of shellac, and maybe not allowing enough drying time. Second, after leaving the sample in my car on a hot summer day, the shellac over the walnut started to form small bubbles. My questions are: -Would thinner coats of shellac, and longer drying times remedy either of the aforementioned problems? -If not, would you recommend oils (Although, I have read that the slurry produced could bleed between the walnut and maple) or lacquer (water-based would be prefered, as I have heard it is a bit more forgiving, and I do not have spray equipment)? -What steps should I follow? Do I need sanding sealer and at what point do I apply it? Grain filler for the walnut? Is water-based lacquer compatible with alcohol dyes? Thanks in advance for any insight on my dilemma.