Chatoyance and finish thickness


Junior Member
Been enjoying my first Warmoth build so much that I decided I wanted another, but this time with a flamed maple top. I opted to buy used, and found a very high grade tele body in excellent condition. It's an absolute beaut and I'll post to the just out of the box/work in progress threads when I have pics handy.

I'd heard mention of chatoyance from Warmoth via the shop's YT channel as well as on this forum, and it seems that generally some very high grade flame tops just don't sparkle. I've also noticed that Warmoth flamed maple necks are very chatoyant (at least, from videos online) to the point where the "flames" can totally disappear and reappear from different angles.

My new Warmoth high grade flame top is modestly chatoyant - it's there, but nowhere near the effect that I can see on my gibson LP, which has a low-grade B+ top at best that is nitro-finished.

I wanted to get the forum members' opinions: Does this have anything to do with the thick gloss finish that Warmoth applies?

When I look at the control knob routes on my new tele body, I can see 1mm of finish encasing the body - it's quite substantial. Is it possible that the thick clear gloss coat is affecting the polarization or refraction of light such that it diminishes this cat's eye effect? Would a satin finish (or a simple stain finish with nitro spray) increase chatoyance in high grade flame tops? I appreciate that most builders don't want to work with nitro anymore, but is there a reason for such a thick coat of gloss poly?

I'll say my quilt maple top finished in tequila sunrise by warmoth pops and sparkles.  Would it pop more if it was top coated in clear nitro or tru-oil? I don't know.  In my finishing of bodies and necks and bodies with tru-oil, a lot depends on what you put underneath the top coat.  I've made grain patterns pop with dye that might have otherwise gone under appreciated.
It has very little to do with the clear coat's thickness, as long as it is perfectly clear/transparent. Satin finishes on the other hand...

It however has everything to do with:
- each individual piece of wood. Wider figuring will generally have a lot more of that effect than ultra tight curly maple.

- the color scheme used. Even the most incredible piece will have its chatoyance severely degraded by dark or ultra high contrast color schemes : black/grey/brown, tiger's eye, dark blue, copperhead, washed grey, etc... Red also isn't too kind to chatoyance in general.

- The type of dyes used. Organic dyes seem to preserve chatoyance well and have incredible vividness, but fade terribly fast.

My neck does the disappearing/reappearing thing. Interested to hear more from others.

Tru oil then wax finished, pics in that 5:15pm sunlight.


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