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Can I Stain (color) A Maple Neck?


vaudeville
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I have a great pawnshop guitar I'm getting ready to refinish as a way of making it looking older and funkier. My plan is to strip it to bare wood (alder body?) stain it deep red then spray it with polyurethane or something similar. I'm planning on ordering an unfinished maple neck to replace the existing rosewood one. What I'm wondering--what's to stop me from staining the neck (including the fretboard) red to match the guitar? I suspect the maple is harder than the alder and will absorb the red stain differently and thus might not match in color (unless I apply numerous coats, etc.) but my question--why do you never see a guitar with a colored fingerboard? Any reason I can't do this? (And hey, when this becomes the rage, you heard it here first!) Thanks.

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Mainly cause I think it'd look tacky...

HOWEVER, it can be done. Look at ALL maple fingerboards. They're ALL clear coated over. So what's to say "don't stain me before you clear"? Nothing. It'll still feel EXACTLY the same when done. Fender has a guitar with a colored fretboard, not stained, but it's got solid color paint...

Chris

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+1. I don't think it will look good, but if that is what you want go ahead. Maple is very difficult to stain to match, since it doesn't soak up the stain very well. If you are going to use lacquer over the board anyway, you might consider tinting your lacquer instead of staining the wood (probably want a pigment unless you want a transparent look). You might need a light clear coat over that too. If you go the stain route, test first and make sure you can get it darker than just a wierd pink/orange color. Post a pic when you get it done.

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Maple is very difficult to stain to match, since it doesn't soak up the stain very well

Now I'm open to correction by experts, but that sentence sounds incorrect. My viewing of vast numbers of stained maple tops on guitars tends to lead me to that conclusion. Maple is pretty much THE wood when it comes to staining in the musical instrument world?

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Now I'm open to correction by experts, but that sentence sounds incorrect. My viewing of vast numbers of stained maple tops on guitars tends to lead me to that conclusion. Maple is pretty much THE wood when it comes to staining in the musical instrument world?

If it's soft maple (acer macrophyllum), yes. Hard maple (acer saccharum) commonly used for necks, does not accept dye well at all.

From warmoth.com:

"We offer two types of Maple: Eastern Hard Maple (hard rock maple) and Western Soft Maple (big leaf maple).

(Acer saccharum-Hard Maple):

Hard Maple is a very hard, heavy and dense wood. This is the same wood that we use on our necks. The grain is closed and very easy to finish. The tone is very bright with long sustain and a lot of bite. This wood cannot be dyed. It looks great with clear or transparent color finishes.

(Acer macrophyllum):

Western Maple grows all around us here in Washington state. It is usually much lighter weight than Hard Maple but it features the same white color. It has bright tone with good bite and attack, but is not brittle like the harder woods can be. Our flame (fiddle-back) and quilted bodies are Western Maple. This type of maple works great with dye finishes."

Mike

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Now I'm open to correction by experts, but that sentence sounds incorrect. My viewing of vast numbers of stained maple tops on guitars tends to lead me to that conclusion. Maple is pretty much THE wood when it comes to staining in the musical instrument world?

If it's soft maple (acer macrophyllum), yes. Hard maple (acer saccharum) commonly used for necks, does not accept dye well at all.

From warmoth.com:

"We offer two types of Maple: Eastern Hard Maple (hard rock maple) and Western Soft Maple (big leaf maple).

(Acer saccharum-Hard Maple):

Hard Maple is a very hard, heavy and dense wood. This is the same wood that we use on our necks. The grain is closed and very easy to finish. The tone is very bright with long sustain and a lot of bite. This wood cannot be dyed. It looks great with clear or transparent color finishes.

(Acer macrophyllum):

Western Maple grows all around us here in Washington state. It is usually much lighter weight than Hard Maple but it features the same white color. It has bright tone with good bite and attack, but is not brittle like the harder woods can be. Our flame (fiddle-back) and quilted bodies are Western Maple. This type of maple works great with dye finishes."

Mike

Cheers :D

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Ive tried it and got very poor results. Random patches of the wood soaked up more stain than others and it looked like, as Chris said, very tacky. The wood was evenly sanded and had not had a previous finish on it.

If it's what you really want, then go for it. Just remember that you were well warned.

-AJC

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Also, quilted or figured maple has changes in grain direction (that's why it is figured) which will absorb the stain differently. That's what makes the dyed tops stand out so well.

That's exactly right. It looks good because it doesn't accept stain evenly. A gel stain might give better results for what the OP wants than a dye. Or a washcoat might help too.

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Sure you can do it. Warmoth offers finished necks that can be tinted Amber if you want them to, and if you can tint it Amber, you can tint it -any- color.

Besides that, I have sprayed several necks different shades of Amber myself, some more yellow, some more orange, some more brown, you can spray Maple necks till your hearts' content.

The proper way is clearcoat, tinted coat, then LOTS of clear coats, unless you want a relic real fast.

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I am by no means a finishing expert, but I have recently done some experimenting with coloring some of the maple necks I am working on. The best way that worked for me, was as follows.

Sand the neck as smooth as desired (I tend to like my necks smooth as glass). The next step I take is to apply Minwax Wood Sheen (This is how I get the maple to the color I desire. I have found that it does not get splotchy like other wipe on finishes tend to when used on hard maple, though I would recommend you test on scrap first). Follow the instructions on the bottle for application, and reapply as needed to get the color you want. The next step is negotiable. To give the neck a little more durability, I spray Minwax Polyurethane over the oil. [b]Make sure the polyurethane you use is the oil based, and not the waterbased. The polyurethane over the oil is not necessary, but if you do not do it, you will eventually need to recoat with oil.

Im sure there are numerous other ways to color maple necks, but this is the one that I have found to yield the best results for me. Being that I am new to finishing, I strongly encourage you to test this method before applying it.

Hope that helps

Edited by berggeetars
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Vaudeville, it can be done. Have a look here: http://peternaglitschluthier.com/T_thinlin...en_thinline.htm

I used regular wood stain directly on bare wood and then clear coated. If you examine the picture you will see that the finish has flaked of some on the neck. That has nothing to do with the staining. It was my poor finishing job.

I think that the green maple neck looks all right together with the green body but that is a matter of taste…

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