Let's see what's happening on the Radio Nova prize winner's guitar.
Last time around, we saw the neck completed—it was cut, shaped, carved, fretted and so on. That and the body were sanded.
A lot. Finish-prep really builds those arm muscles. There are a number of sanding stages, each with a slightly finer grit and each involving a lot of inspection for little imperfections in the wood that will translate into bigger imperfections in the finish.
Finally, though, it's ready for some finish.
Finishing schedules vary depending on what you're working on, what you're using, what effect you're trying to achieve, and exactly seventy-three other factors. Well, more or less. What I'm getting at, though, is that there isn't a definitive way of going about 'finishing a guitar'. With that in mind, let's take a look at how this Bassmaster has been finished.
As the body is a nice piece of ash, I've decided to accentuate the grain a little. Some creative grain-filling will do the job.
Grain-filling, by the way, is necessary on certain woods in order to achieve a smooth, flat finish. Many woods (ash, for instance) are considered 'open pore' woods. This means that the grain pattern tends to have a lot of tiny holes or pores. If these aren't filled, the finish applied will simply sink into the pores and won't allow that perfect gloss that many like to see on their guitar. The grain doesn't have to be filled and leaving it unfilled is perfectly acceptable if that's the effect you're going for. Here, it's not.
I (usually—see above about schedules) shoot a sealer coat onto the wood before filling the grain as that tends to make it a little easier to manage filling. After grain-filling, I carefully remove the excess filler and let it dry. Then I seal that in too. That's the stage you see in the first image above.