Do you have to put a finish on all guitar body tops?

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OzziePete

Guest
Hi everyone,

Please excuse the stupidity of the question.

I have no experience at finishing guitar bodies or necks. In fact I am quite adverse to painting, staining or finishing anything if I can help it. My past disasters with Ikea furniture etc. , have convinced me that putting a finish on a guitar is best left to people who can do it properly.

But I was wondering about the exotic woods that Warmoth feel are OK left as unfinished for their necks.

Could you get away with no finish on a guitar body top made of , say, Wenge?

By saying 'get away'  I mean, could you not have a sealant applied or any clear finish on the guitar top and still have the body OK after a few years (no warping or de lamination or whatever).

I tend to think it isn't a great idea to leave a guitar top unfinished, but others may have had experience with unfinished bodies and have a different view.

 

m4rk0

Senior member
Messages
5,383
I don't know how certain woods 'age' with no finish at all, but I am sure that this one would look great with just a couple of tung oil coats!
s3437a.jpg


I think I have seen an unfinished padouk body before.
 

m4rk0

Senior member
Messages
5,383
hmmm this would be so nice, with a raw feel:
s3442a.jpg


btw, the back of that wenge topped strat above is also padouk.
 

line6man

Senior member
Messages
6,443
Finishing the back/sides, but leaving the top raw would look extremely stupid to me.

Either finish it all, or leave it all raw.
 

Keyser Soze

Senior member
Messages
206
Assuming normal playing conditions warping and/or delamination of a lam top is a likely non-issue - the glue is probably stronger and more resistant to damage than the wood.  You could even leave a maple or mahogany body unfinished if you so chose, although you probably would not like how it looked in a few months.  And most of the discoloration would be permanent (short of taking a rasp to the body.)

Any wood that Warmoth specifies can be left raw can be left raw regardless of whether it is neck or body wood.

That does not mean it wont get grungy over time.  Body oils, skin cells, and sweat doing what they do.

I'm not sure what hassles you had with Ikea furniture but I'd be willing to bet that at least some of the problem was related to the types of wood that Ikea uses and their innately horrible staining characteristics (e.g. birch, pine, parawood, etc.)

You might wish to consider true oil finishes (tung, boiled linseed) being about the easiest (but least protective) finishes around.

Another easy, but not terribly durable, option is a couple coats of pre-mixed amber shellac - quick, very safe, pleasantly attractive on most any wood, easily repairable, and inexpensive. Also entirely removable should you wish to do something different later.
 

m4rk0

Senior member
Messages
5,383
Yes, you could leave woods like rosewood raw - I considered this for a while on my thinline, since the raw necks look great. however, just a couple of coats of Tung oil really bring the wood 'alive' :


Thinline002.jpg


RosewoodTele006.jpg
 
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OzziePete

Guest
Thank you everyone for your responses, great info to think over.

Marko, that rosewood top on your Tele looks 200% better with the coatings you put on it, glamorous!
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
Marko, is the oil completely dry in that pic or is it a fresh application?  I have a wenge vip I'm waiting for and I'm really liking the effect of the tung oil on your rosewood..
 
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