so I bought a poplar guitar body. In the photo it looked white with a lovely subtle grain and interesting knots.

i receive it and its green. BUT in a camera phone it looks white (auto light balance perhaps)

I want to have the lightest parts bright white, but enjance the grain and maybe keep some of the darker green/purple streaks.

What are your thoughts?

(Oh and finish it with a non-staining oil or whatever, maybe lightest shellac or danish oil?)

  • the green and purple parts will quickly turn brown when exposed to sunlight, FYI. – aaron Jul 11 '16 at 16:35

One type of wood bleach will definitely help get the paler parts to white or nearly so, but they may also have an effect on the darker streaks you want to retain. The green especially I'm sure will be affected as some people specifically bleach to remove the green from poplar, I suspect the purple will be lightened also (possibly to the point of disappearing entirely) but I'm not certain.

A previous Question has some related info: Chlorine bleach on poplar.

Also see the section titled Turn green to gold on Make Poplar Look Pretty on Popular Woodworking and Get the Color Out With Wood Bleach on Wood Magazine.

(Oh and finish it with a non-staining oil or whatever, maybe lightest shellac or danish oil?)

If you want to keep the colour as pale as possible none of the normal oil finishes would be the finish of choice, because they all impart a distinct amber/yellow colouring. Also note that over time this will always increase, never diminish*.

Of the things you mention super blond shellac would give you the best colour, although even this will tend to add a slight yellow or 'honey' tone.

Most waterbased finishes are "water-white" and will produce next to no colour change so are often chosen for very pale woods where lacquering is not an option.

*This is especially important to note for users of tung oil who may be using it specifically because it's lighter in colour than BLO tends to be.

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  • Perfect answer mate, thankyou for taking the time to give so much detail. I had found two of the links but didnt feel informed enough. I have decided to go the 2 part bleach and look for water-white finishes. Might pickup some scrap and test a thin black dye pre or post bleach. Ill post pics when its done (if it looks good) thanks again mate, im much more confident now. – Robert Jul 11 '16 at 21:50
  • @Robert, not a problem, this is what SE is for :-) Best of luck! – Graphus Jul 12 '16 at 7:59

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