Korina replacement wood for testing purposes / Spray vs. Brush


New member
I am about to embark on my first guitar project.  I am thinking about getting a black korina LP body with a korina/ebony neck.  I would like to make the korina an amber or light tobacco color.  Before I commit to a stain I want to try out my finishing skills on some scrap wood.  I cannot get korina locally so my question is what would be a good, readily available replacement wood to test my stain/finishing on? (I know there will be differences between korina and the replacement wood, but at least I should be able to get into the same ball park with this approach.)  I am thinking poplar since it is also a grey/green wood…any other ideas?

Also, I am thinking about using a water-based lacquer (such as KTM9) for the finish.  Any recommendations on whether to spray it on or brush it?  Will I get the same result regardless of spraying vs. brushing?  If spraying is best…what gear would you recommend?  I have a 6HP, 30 gallon, 150 PSI compressor…will this work?  Should I go with a dedicated HVLP setup? 

I don’t mind spending some money and practicing because I want the finish to look great! (and I want to do it my self…I could just by a guitar if I was going to have someone else do it).

Any help and/advice will be greatly appreciated!

since you have a compressor, this would certainly be a nifty HVLP gun to have



all this would leave you needing is a simple spray booth for the KTM9 (since it's not flammable), a good respirator, and an in-line air dryer/filter like this one



so for well under $100 you can have yourself ready to start practicing your spray finish applications with the KTM9

I have two of these spray guns (one that is marked to shoot only clear, and one for colors) - this specific gun was recommended by a friend who teaches auto body and spray finishing classes at a VocEd school. He said that you'd need to spend over $200 in a HVLP gun before you could see any discernable difference in the application quality. he also recommended the small size as it suits guitar finishing better than a larger gun (smaller batches of finish equal less waste)

all the best,

I don't know that any other wood is a reasonable facsimile for Black Korina for testing purposes... In addition to being gey/greenish the wood is very "waxy" and will not take stain or dye with much penetration; you need to completely fill it prior to doing any staining/dying or else you will sand the color back getting the grain even as it barely absorbs into the wood.

If using dyes/stains, light colors like a Minwax Golden Pecan stain or a Woodburst Honey Oak will go on OK, but do not wind up as "amberish" as if they were applied to other woods like alder/ash. Any darker stain/dye should be OK, but if you get into lighter/medium browns like the tobacco you mention, they tend to go distinctly orangish, and not always pleasantly.

I did a Quilt Maple on Black Korina Strat a while back and went nuts getting the color(s) to balance on both sides and wound up having to do the finish a lot darker.

If you're planning on spraying lacquer anyway, the whole process might go smoother if you completely grain-fill & level, then shoot a couple of coats of sanding sealer, then apply color using lacquer toner rather than dye/stain and finish with gloss top coats. That way the wood color can't influence the coloration and you'll probably wind up with a nicer completed finish.
SkuttleFunk thanks for the reply!  I just ordered the two items you listed from Harbor Freight.  I have changed my mind on the black korina.  Today I ordered a mahogany on mahogany LP body with a mahogany/rosewood neck.  Plus, I am going to use Target Coatings water-based lacquer instead of KTM-9.  I can't wait to get started.  I have some red oak scaps laying around that I am going to test my finishing skills on before I start the guitar.

rahimiiii said:
Why not just plain old nitrocellulose lacquer?

Water-based products are easier and safer for me to use and clean-up.  I have nothing really against NC lacquer, but being new at this I am going the water-based route (I would have the same learning curve with either NC or water-based products).