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Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
#3027531 02/04/20 07:19 PM
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OK

I have a MITCHELL electric acoustic that I really like. It had a hideously ugly pickguard on it, which I removed. When I removed it left a white -ish colored stain.

I knew I would have to strip and re finish it.

I did the stripping and sanding without significantly damaging the guitar.

I would like to do a minimalist type finish on this, with perhaps a bit of an amber tint. I do not want to shoot lacquer on it. I also probably do not want to use a poly finish. I am leaning toward perhaps shellac or tung oil varnish.

I probably don't want to leave it totally unfinished but I don't need gloss.

I am surprised how much I like this Mitchell. The wood is good throughout. Probably it's an older one.... the wood on a lot of newer acoustics is.... strange. I like the direction that the Canadian Seagull/ Art and Luthierie etc. is going. This guitar has a spruce top but it reminds me of some of the Canadians.

I am going to have to be selling a 1952 Gibson J 50 soon, and am just looking for something I can play.

Any advice on giving this a light protective coat on the spruce top?

GP Island
Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
LX88 #3027539 02/04/20 07:58 PM
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Do NOT use Tung Oil!!!

Bare spruce is very porous and will absorb liquids, increasing the weight and making it less desirable as a tone wood. It will never sound the same. Just NO.

If you don't want to spray, do a search for French Polish.
It is a commonly used technique for applying shellac. Shellac dries quickly and the alcohol will evaporate so it does not "load" the wood with finish.

It is also fragile and will wear quickly. If you don't wait until it gets dirt into the pores of the wood you can just apply more French Polish.

All that said, I would just get a rattle can of Deft, which is lacquer. Practice on something else, carefully tape off everything on the guitar you don't want to lacquer and spray 4-5 light coats.
If you don't want gloss I would recommmend using the clear instead of the matte anyway because it is lighter and thinner and will sound better. They add solids to matte to get the look, that makes it heavier and thicker.

Just do a final "buffing" with 000 steel wool for a matte finish.
Be aware that all matte finishes will eventually become glossy every where that gets touched by humans, we are somewhat oily critters.
Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
LX88 #3027648 02/05/20 02:43 PM
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I would just buy a new pickguard and have it glued on... cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
Larryz #3027657 02/05/20 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Larryz
I would just buy a new pickguard and have it glued on... cool


He's removed the finish. Spruce is fragile and porous. Finish slows humidity changes and protects the wood from staining.
It's not hard if one is patient.


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Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
KuruPrionz #3027664 02/05/20 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Originally Posted by Larryz
I would just buy a new pickguard and have it glued on... cool


He's removed the finish. Spruce is fragile and porous. Finish slows humidity changes and protects the wood from staining.
It's not hard if one is patient.


I don't think he will ever match the finish unless he does the whole top (which I would not do). If I were to go that route, I would hire someone like you with the know-how. I have acoustics with and without pickguards. I can go either way...just seems like replacing the pickguard would be an easier solution even if the finish was removed where the old pickguard once was. cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
Larryz #3027675 02/05/20 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Larryz
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Originally Posted by Larryz
I would just buy a new pickguard and have it glued on... cool


He's removed the finish. Spruce is fragile and porous. Finish slows humidity changes and protects the wood from staining.
It's not hard if one is patient.


I don't think he will ever match the finish unless he does the whole top (which I would not do). If I were to go that route, I would hire someone like you with the know-how. I have acoustics with and without pickguards. I can go either way...just seems like replacing the pickguard would be an easier solution even if the finish was removed where the old pickguard once was. cool


I'm reading the OP as he has stripped the entire top of finish. Perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong.
I didn't read it that he had only removed the finish under the pickguard, especially since he mentions sanding and sanding is difficult to isolate.
We are both thinking different things and neither of us is wrong at this point. So it goes... :- D

While I have experience in doing finishes, learned long ago, things have changed. If there is finish on the top still, I would not take it on even if I still had a place to do finishes (I don't).
Many newer finishes are UV cured or a new type of plastic compound. Lacquer may not be friendly to those types of finishes. The crackle finishes that we see on some guitars are based on a chemical incompatibility.
I sprayed lacquer over varnish once and it was a disaster, created my own crackle finish except not pretty at all!!!

Fortunately it was my own possesion so I didn't have to make good with a customer. I never experiemented like that again!!!!

French Polish is probably the OP's best solution. It's easy, you can do it in any well ventilated, reasonably warm area. Gloves are mandatory. It is not difficult and it is very hard to make a mistake since you can just rewipe with more alcohol on the rag and clean it right up. Cheers, Koru


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Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
KuruPrionz #3027689 02/05/20 06:49 PM
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I agree with
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz

I would just get a rattle can of Deft, which is lacquer. Practice on something else, carefully tape off everything on the guitar you don't want to lacquer and spray 4-5 light coats.
If you don't want gloss I would recommmend using the clear instead of the matte anyway because it is lighter and thinner and will sound better. They add solids to matte to get the look, that makes it heavier and thicker.


I agree with the spray can of lacquer.


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Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
LX88 #3027690 02/05/20 06:55 PM
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Ooops, I went back and read the OP and I think you are correct. It sounds like he stripped and sanded the whole top. For some reason I thought he was just dealing with the whitish stain left by removing the pickguard. I would have thought sanding the whole top would have got rid of the stain. If not, he could still apply a finish and a new pickguard. Anyway, refinishing is above my paygrade. cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
LX88 #3027849 02/06/20 07:15 PM
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OK

The consensus thus far is.... use either " French polish" ( a fancier name for shellac?) or lacquer.

I have worked quite a bit with both. I worked in a piano shop doing finish touch up for many years, so I am familiar with shellac. BTW..... Hammond organs used shellac as part of their staining process, so I have done a lot of touch up work for people on Hammond B-3's etc.

So .... when I took this pickguard off, I knew I would have to re finish it based on prior experience. I sort of wanted to have no pickguard, and this guitar wasn't expensive so I felt like I wanted to experiment.

So I am curious what companies like Breedlove or Seagull use for their non glossy, minimalist finishes. That is what I am aiming for.

But yes.... I have used shellac .There is clear and amber tint available. Perhaps I need to get a piece of spruce and test it first,

I have rattle canned many things and then buffed it out ( using lacquers) I have fixed many piano finishes this way.

Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
LX88 #3027852 02/06/20 07:39 PM
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Sounds like you have this already!

The reasons for using UV cured are pretty compelling. The ultra fast curing time reduces dust problems to a minimum, they spray and then cure in the same room.

There are other finishes being used, chemistry has come a long way in a relatively short time.

Please share your results! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Advice?/ New Finish on a spruce top acoustic
LX88 #3027919 02/07/20 04:11 AM
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+1 Keep us posted and good luck on the project! cool


Take care, Larryz

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