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Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

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  • Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

    Hey there,

    the previous owner sanded the edges of that body very hard, so the wood is so raw at those spots, it takes in stain generously.
    The remaining surface was now sanded with a 80s + a block... This basswood is still ridicously smooth, i mean its a wonderful surface, bright and evenly smooth, but it would absorb the stain about 10% as much as those spots i mentioned and i went over several times with 80.

    Is 40 now the option for really bursting open that surface of the wood like i see at those rough edges?

    Many Greetings

  • #2
    Re: Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

    Even sanded to 1000 or 2000, if you looked at any wood microscopically - down at the level that stain 'sees', it would be like the most rugged hole ridden broken landscape you even clapped eyes on. So no issue with stain 'getting in'.

    And edges are for the most part endgrain anyhow, which by its very nature will take in stain/finish twice as readily even compared to similarly prepared long-grain.

    But you're going to need the body to all be sanded to about 220 grit for any further finish to be applied after the stain anyhow (and thoroughly grain raised too if you have a waterbased stain). You'd get far more uneven-ness in look by sanding after the stain to prep for the next step in finishing. So prep the body to the same grit everywhere.......and maybe mix up some less intense colour for the endgrain bits.


    • #3
      Re: Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

      I suspect, it's not taking the stain evenly because it has a sealer on it. How deep, the sealer has penetrated I have no idea. Going to a solid color is your best option.


      • #4
        Re: Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

        Yes, it has a sealer on it. You don't necessarily have to go with a solid color, you can sand through that doesn't usually soak in very deep. I have sealed and finished some of my builds and didn't like something about them, so I just sanded it all off to bare wood and started over. No problem at all sanding back to bare wood.
        Originally Posted by IanBallard
        Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.


        • #5
          Re: Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

          You first applied your stain after sanding with 80 grit?

          You would need to finesse with 320/400 grit to get rid of any abrasion marks in the wood or else that will show up on your stain. Not a good look imo. That's after you get rid of your sealer coat and you start from 150 grit, work your way from 220, finally 320/400. after you get everything smooth. As in all abrasion marks rubbed out the best you can. Then you should yield better results.

          In my experience, basswood doesn't look the best for staining unless you don't mind a subtle amount of grain showing through. The grain is just too tight. My last basswood body I stained almost looked like a solid color.


          • #6
            Re: Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

            I had my old RG stained with a "tobacco sunburts". I stripped it and had the wood bleached at a wood refinisher then gave it to the shop that I bought the guitar from and the owner stained it. Came out nice and smooth, not sure what kinda prep he did to it. But I loved how it ended up, dont think he sealed the top of it, so after playing it for a while it wore a little here and their and ended up looking like an old coffee table that had seen a few miles but not in a bad way.
            1994 Ibanez IC500 Iceman reissue
            Jackson Soloist 7 string
            ESP LTD M-400
            Original Marshall Silver Jubilee 2553


            • #7
              Re: Staining a basswood body - too smooth to absorb

              Basswood is pretty soft compared to other woods. I would argue you don’t have to go with a solid color—have done a Mary Kay White finish before with excellent results.

              Any pics?


              • #8
                Yes, it was a sealer. Noticed something is wrong and took on a mask...
                Was quite a bit of work still.
                Afterwards the staining went fine!
                Thanks the replies


                • #9
                  There is a reason basswood guitars arrive with opaque finishes. It doesn't take stain well.
                  aka Chris Pile, formerly of Six String Fever