Modern natural color electric guitar choices
For a long time there really wasn't much choice where natural finishes were concerned. The closest thing you could get to a natural color on a solid-body electric was sunburst for a while. But now there are some good choices out there.
Grain matters. Sometimes.
The guitar above is a special edition Fender Stratocaster with a pine body where you can actually see the knots in the wood.
I personally don't like the look, but then again, some of you out there do.
With this particular guitar, the entire look is about the grain as that is the first thing your eye is drawn to. This Strat doesn't attempt to hide anything. You can plainly see the cut line between the two body pieces (look behind the bridge,) and the grain is very pronounced.
Not all electric guitars in a natural finish are like this. Far from it, actually. Some have a much plainer appearance to them where the body almost looks like it was painted.
I'm mentioning this so you know that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean "very obvious wood grain."
Some modern natural finish choices
Starting off with a low-priced guitar, you wouldn't think that basswood would look that good in a natural finish, but Jackson pulled it off nicely here. The bound neck and headstock is a nice touch.
This is an alder body. The grain in the wood on this one has a nice texture to it and the guitar has a very clean look overall.
This one is a laminate maple body. From a distance, it doesn't look like there's any grain lines. But once you get up close you can see them. Epiphone did this guitar right and the gold knobs work well with the wood.
This guitar has an ash body, which is a tonewood well known for having pronounced grain lines - and this Telecaster definitely doesn't disappoint in that department. You can really see the grain on this one, even from a distance. It should also be noted that the pick guard is pearloid and not a solid white, which for this application works well.
This is a commemorative Les Paul from Epiphone, and it's the best looking Les Paul I've seen of 2017. Everything on this guitar is premium grade stuff, and it also has the extra fancy Epiphone-specific headstock, which is something you don't see from Epiphone too often.
Fender this year is offering the American Professional Stratocaster in a natural finish. They've chosen to go with a black pick guard instead of white, which for this particular finish of Strat I do agree with. A white guard on this guitar wouldn't look that great, even if it was pearloid. The styling is kept reserved to give the guitar a "workhorse" appearance, and it works.
The Epiphone LP is far and above the best of the lot. Very good application of a natural finish with other fancy digs to give the guitar a seriously good looking upscale appearance. It is a higher priced Epiphone model, but it is a special edition and to see that fancy Epiphone headstock with all goodies does not happen often. If there is any guitar out of this list that really gets a natural finish right, it's that one.
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