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Old(er) finishes


wraub

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I have a question for those here who own older basses (or guitars), or have extensive time playing them. By older, I mean 20 years +.

 

Have you noticed the finish on these instruments settling or sinking into the pores of the wood over time? By this, I mean that even on painted basses, in a cross light, you can see the pores of the wood, even through the paint.

 

And, if so, any idea if these were poly or lacquer finishes, or the types of woods involved?

 

Thanks all.

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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A lacquer finish is much, much thinner than an enamel or poly finish. Lacquer also has a tendency to shrink over time. The wood is moving also, it develops cracks, raised grain, sunken grain and potholes. The paint will follow the wood. The way we see old lacquer finish rubbed off of vintage basses, we will not see the same thing happen to polyurethane. It is much stronger, thicker and abrasion resistant than Lacquer. In all honesty polyurethane is a much better finish.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

A poly finish may be more durable (and easier to apply) than lacquer but many people think that a lacquer finish lets the wood breathe and makes the sound of the instrument more open.

I don't think there is any disagreement that different woods have different tones. This has been well established in acoustic instruments. How much effect it has on solid body electric guitars is, in my opinion, less dramatic.

A finish such as lacquer, being very thin, would certainly not mask the inherent tone nearly as much as modern poly finishes. When wood is totally encapsulated in a think, impervious finish such as polyurethane, it probably acts as a sound deadener. Probably the best finish for good guitar wood, is no finish at all, from a tone standpoint. I guess the famous 2X4 bass should have been left raw, with no finish.

 

:D

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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My '69 Gibson has/had lacquer. It has checked/cracked significantly. Most of all, it has changed. When I use a polish, the cloth sticks to the wood. I attribute this to the condition that the finish is in (bad condition).

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Thanks all. I had thought the bass in question might have a lacquer finish, and you seem to have confirmed it. I can definitely hear a difference in tone and volume over most poly finishes when it comes to lacquer, and this bass seems typical.

 

Here's a fairly interesting article I dug up re: finishes in general and Taylor Guitar's UV cured finish techniques:

 

Taylor web page

 

It's also available as a .pdf, but this is the link to the HTML version.

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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I read the Taylor article - one of those "why isn't everyone doing this?" things. Now I have to go to the store and see what they look like.

 

I am wondering what you are looking for - why this question? Just to confirm that our finishes are sinking like yours are? Or are you considering refinishing one of your 80s instruments?

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Cracking and checkering is a common problem as lacquer ages. Whether it is a guitar or a classic car, lacquer does not age well. It is a beautiful finish when new. Lacquer is not used in the US anymore because of the environmental laws. Some guitar manufactures stll offer lacquer but most are painted outside of the US.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

I am wondering what you are looking for - why this question? Just to confirm that our finishes are sinking like yours are?

 

Well, essentially, yes. I have an older Jazz bass (I think you have played it, Tom, but Will's Basement of Bassdoom was more than I could handle, I could be mistaken), and in comparing it to my other 80s instruments, I noticed a difference in the finishes. I assumed lacquer was the reason, but wanted to be sure. You know how I am.

 

My other basses (and guitar) definitely have poly finishes.

I actually have a guitar and bass made in the same factory about the same time, and they have different finishes.

 

Or are you considering refinishing one of your 80s instruments?

 

No. Not at all. Not in the slightest.

No. Why do you ask? :)

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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