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Need finishing advice for a "Zebra wood" explorer


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Hello everyone-

First time poster here, and relative newbie to the intricate world of finishing a guitar.  To say I suffer from "analysis paralysis" is an understatement in this matter, so I hope to garner some wisdom from the PG community will help me get over this hump.

I bought a "zebra wood" explorer from guitarkitworld.com to tinker around with:


Upon further scouring of the interwebs, I deduced it's likely cottonwood/poplar that has been color treated to give it a zebra wood look.  Anyways, the body, neck, and fretboard all have this same wood.  The fretboard is not separate either; its integrated into the neck wood itself, much like a maple neck would be on a Fender.  It's a closed-grain wood from what I can tell. 

My conundrum is how to finish the beast.  More specifically, would it be necessary to finish the body with something different than the neck/fretboard, or is there a silver bullet concoction that could be used for the whole thing?  So far, I've tested out Arm-R-Seal (semi-gloss) in one pickup cavity, and tested a 50/50 Pure Tung Oil & Mineral Spirits mix in another pickup cavity.  The different oils have different effects on the color of the wood, so sticking with the same finishing oil would be ideal.  I was gung-ho with putting Arm-R-Seal on the whole thing but then I started reading more articles that made me second guess it, which has led me to write this post in hopes of calming my mind and minimizing my heart palpitations.  🤪

I'd like to keep it as natural looking as possible, with a little sheen (hence the semi-gloss I've bought, but am not opposed to getting a satin finish ARS if I need to.  The wife won't need to know haha).  My main concern is screwing up the neck and fretboard and having to sand off a finish that is too sticky (either once or multiple times), especially with this being an obscure type of wood AND my first attempt at putting a finish on a guitar I've built/assembled.

Any insight/advice/routines would be incredibly helpful and appreciated.



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