Originally Posted by motleyh
No, a stain is just coloring, usually basically a watercolor or the same thing in an alcohol base. Oils seal and protect -- like tung oil, danish oil, linseed oil, teak oil, etc., and they will all have this kind of effect on wood, to a greater or lesser extent. Nothing terribly exotic, and used as finishes by themselves or with standard oil-based varnishes. Pretty much any time you look at fine furniture or cabinetry, that's what you're looking at. There are water-based finishes, most of which give a hazy blue cast to the wood. Sorry if I threw you off here, but this appearance change is perfectly normal and doesn't constitute re-coloring the wood. I'd venture to say that it has happened with almost every "natural" wood drum you've ever seen. If you saw a picture of any of the shells in this thread before they had a finish on them you'd see something radically different from the photos here. Raw wood isn't too exciting to look at -- just like in a lumber store. It's the finishing that makes it sing.
But if it helps, here's a basic steambent maple snare, with exactly the same finishing technique and materials. My guess is you'd accept this as a "natural" look.
EDIT: Oh, and I'm not sure what sort of mistakes could be hidden with stain, but I don't sell drums with hidden mistakes. Just want to be clear about that. :) Even when I use stains, they're not there to hide anything.
And sorry -- didn't meant to hijack your thread with a discussion about finishing techniques -- only trying to respond to your doubts.
That snare on the bottom definitely looks like natural wood. I assume that before oiling, it was slightly lighter? I have put linseed oil on wood. It's not particularly dark and even it will darken up wood a bit.
I'm not much of a woodworker. I guess this thread is to show finishes that are as natural as possible, with no staining and minimal color alteration. It sounds like some darkening is unavoidable when applying oil. Even clear varnish is going to change the way light enters and reflects from the wood so I guess that unless someone uses an absolutely raw wood shell, some change is inevitable. Seems OK to me and thanks for sharing your knowledge about wood finishing.