If the wood is stained, removing the existing stain is more or less impossible. You have to sand the wood down beyond the depth of stain penetration.
More likely it just has a spray finish coat - lacquer or something similar. You will have to sand or strip this coat down to bare wood.
In addition to regular stains, you may want to consider the "pickled" stains. This is really more of a paint, but it does not obscure the wood grain, and is the only way to achieve a lighter tone.
Remember that a regular stain cannot make the wood any lighter in tone, only darker.
My inclination would be to strip off the finish, sand smooth, and apply a new finish coat - I use a 50-50 mix of Watco Danish Oil and Polyurethane (oil based, of course). Darkens the wood slightly, but is very tough and can be applied with rags for a mistake-proof finish.
'85 Sovereign, 25'