When I think if wood tones I think of stains. This includes all stains dark to light. I think of dyes when I want a color different from a wood tone such as a green, blue, yellow, bright red etc. And yes I know dyes come in wood tones but I don’t use dyes. I prefer oil based stains. And I always use stain on a hardwood piece even if it’s Walnut. The stain helps give some uniformity to the color blend, hides the dark/light contrast and makes the grain really pop. Woodworkers skip the stain step to take a shortcut. It’s not the best practice. The piece will not be equal in a natural state to a professionally stained piece (in my opinion). All high end commercial furniture goes through a stain process.
When I see a well made piece of furniture finished naturally with the variances of light to dark I immediately know this is “home built”. A woodworker can start taking real pride in a project when the project can’t be identified as “I bet you made this yourself”.
If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?