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To dye or not to dye... that is the question

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by minguslives, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. Hello folks,
    I've read the links on various types of varnishes etc. (Newbie links). I've also borrowed and read Bob Flexner's 'Understanding wood finishing' from the library and I liked his "there's-no-mystique-in-woodworking" approach. I've read in various threads that dyeing/staining the wood itself is something that is frowned upon and that the pigment/dye should be added to the finish. Is this just based on convention (i.e never make irreversible changes), or are there structural/tonal reasons not to stain/dye wood?
    The reason I ask is that I'm considering getting an oil/varnish finish for my 1950s King (HN White). I wanted a deep brown/red colour (Like the New Standard Cleveland or La Scala), but am afraid that it will drown the grain pattern of the spruce top, which I really like. The finish effect I'm looking for in somewhat similar to Paul Cannon's Toenniges Bass as seen in this thread:
    I do realize that the specific appearance of the Toenniges bass is probably related to years of fading etc. but that's the general appearance I'm hoping to get for my 50 yr old. :smug:
    I would appreciate any feedback from the luthiers and other people with woodworking/woodfinishing experience as to whether my fears are unfounded, and any more info.

    BTW: To clarify, I will NOT be doin any of the finshing myself.
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Most luthiers put a light shading on the bare wood and then seal it. This is referred to as the ground color. Generally it is a light golden brown shade, which will glow from under the darker pigmented varnish. Most people I know use water-based products for getting the ground color established. Be careful doing this on an old plywood bass as you run the risk of causing delamination. You should consider using an oil-based or spirit-based ground. No, it will not affect the tone of your bass. However, too much heavy varnish will.
  3. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Arnold is right as usual. But why refinish it at all? Let it be what it is.
  4. Originally quoted by Martin Sheridan:

    The bass looks like unprepared wood. It needs to be finished. It has some nice grain on front and back, which IMO will stand out better with a finish. There are some pics on previous posts, showing just how the bass looks now. Here's the link to that thread:

  5. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    I think that originally they just used a shellac finish. Buy some
    Bullseye shellac and goferit.