Swamp Ash finish


Hero Member
I am still looking at teles.... and have some questions about finishing Swamp Ash.  Can I apply tru oil directly to the wood, unfilled?  I love the look of natural wood, and that is the look I am going for.  Is it too porous for that?  Do I absolutely NEED to grain fill?  I don't mind a porous feeling texture at all, but I want the wood to be (at beast) somewhat protected.

What about applying a couple of coats of Minwax satin poly over the tru oil?  I did an alder body strat this way and I really like the feel of it.  Can I finish a Swamp Ash body this same way?

Thanks in advance!

- Mike
Theres another discussion on this somewhere else. To be honest mate, I think it would be a really bad idea to even think about NOT filling swamp ash. Remember that Grain filling really doesn't alter the colour that much unless you go really dark. Even then its a really similar colour to what it originally was.  If you use a light brown coloured grain fill you will get the classic "natural" colour.

Not grain filling will, in my opinion just make the woods surface feel uneven and kind of "bumpy". Check out the pick of this one someone on another forum did, its just a tung oil finish straight on swamp ash. Look at the light, the uneven feel of it. That guitar would look and probably feel a hell of a lot better had the guy filled it in my opinion. Properly filled swamp ash, is in my opinion THE best wood for a natural finish, its just gorgeous.

Filling swamp ash is hard work (you'll need 3 fills and thats a lot of sanding). Is it worth that? A million times yes. 


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I totally agree with Solo. I've done 4 builds with swamp ash and after experimenting with a couple of them would never consider not using filler. This tele has light grain filler then satin clear poly sprayed on it. It feels smooth and natural and catches the light nicely (IMHO)


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I played a swamp ash Les Paul, and it seemed it just had a satin finish on it with no fill, and it was too rough for my liking.  I'd say fill er up!