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3d Quilted Maple

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If the color is natural it is probably oiled before finished to enhance the figure in the wood. If the finish is tinted it is probably treated with the stain dark/sand back/re-stain with lighter shades method. Do a search for that or "stain black sand back" or similar. Others, like Perry, really dislike the staining method and swear by the method to use tinted lacquers over clear base coats. I have seen some beautiful examples using all of those techniques. Me, I prefer the stain dark (never black) sand back and re-stain method. Or a simple staining. Works fine too, but will not give that “3D look”.

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Straight-up shellac or nitro will pop a hunk of wood plenty, I find; oil might be a little better, but if you want high gloss don't go mixing and matching finishing systems unless you understand what you're doing. I've successfully used oil (sealed with shellac) under nitro, but I can't say it looks any better than my normal shellac seal coat only approach.

Different stain methods look different; direct stain jobs are much more in your face, contrasty, rich in colour, but react far less subtly than a tinted clear does, which will retain the 'chatoyance'/3-d look more. Like Peter said, beautiful guitars have been built with all of these finishing methods.

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