So I'm just close to finish the guitar on the pic but have some challenges ahead. It has maple back, alder sides, spurce top and mahogany neck. The goal is to give it a solid dark brown color. I was thinking about wenge water based stain and water based lacquer.Do you have any experiences in coloring different kinds of woods to the same solid colour? Do you know any tricks? Have any idea? Any advices?

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If you have any scrap pieces of the different woods you used for the guitar, try a test on each to see results of using same stain before committing to a specific color. You may find, though, that allowing each wood to react in its own way could result in a nice effect. Keep in mind that stain will finish/penetrate differently in relation to the grain. If surface grain is open, color will be darker. If grain is flat, stain wont penetrate as much, thus a lighter finish.

Good luck.


About the only way to make all those different woods the same color is to paint them.  Maple has such tight grains and small pores that it hardly takes penetrating finishes at all.  I haven't worked with alder, but I understand it is also a relatively tight-grained and small-pore wood.  Spruce is a softwood, and will soak up stain and darken easily.  Mahogany has relatively large pores and will also take stain easily.

On the other hand, why would you want them all to look the same?  Celebrate the differences in the various woods.  I would suggest a clear or lightly-tinted wipe-on poly if you want high durability, but I like to use Danish oil on the neck.  It's less protection, but it is much easier on your hands.  (I hate the feel of a film-forming finish on my hands.)

- Tommy

I think Tommy has the right idea. Celebrate the variation and beauty of each wood.

Now, if you really want everything to match, you can try applying an opaque stain to the various bits to get them all to a common shade before applying a final stain. Opaque stains are used for fences and such and are available at the big box builder supply stores. I've used a bright yellow opaque stain to even out the tone of a table before applying a regular Minwax type penetrating stain. The reason was to create a base shade that matched a side cabinet which was already finished.

The opaque stain is applied, allowed to sit, then wiped out leaving a shade behind.

This is something you would need to try on test pieces before putting it on your guitar, but it is a technique that I've used successfully.

I'd hate to dissuade you from your goal of dark brown everywhere, but after seeing the pics and the wood descriptions, I personally would go for oil finishes. Those are some gorgeous hunks of wood; celebrate them. And they'll take less time to apply. That said, a tobacco burst would also look nice on the body...

Have you thought about lacquer instead of stain?

If you are heart set on water based staining use a water based pre-stain conditioner that is compatible with your brand of stain. One made by the same company as the stain is your best bet.

This will help even out the tone but it will not be 100% effective across the different wood types.

Water based products raise the grain. Resist the urge to sand, use a scrapper instead. You will end up with a much smoother finish with less effort.

I have to agree with the others when they say celebrate the individual woods in your guitar. You've done such a nice job and it looks so good right now! The contrast of the materials is what makes it unique.

Can you dilute the water base stain with water? See if there's a manufacture help line and ask. If you have scrap pieces try diluting the stain on the darker wood. See if you get a comfortable match. Please remember that stains react over time. What might start out as a good match might age differently.

Thanks for the advices! You are right I will leave it like this and celebrate the differences off the woods! I think I will use hard oil to make them live and that is all.

One more thing I could finish the tailpiece yesterday and I would like to say thank you to the gods for citling! This is simple the most effective thing on earth.


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