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Laquer removal?

Interested in knowing how some of you guys have removed the laquer finish from your guitars, what is the best solution for removing the laquer. I'm thinking about going for either a cystaline wax finish like on my old Ferrari mandolin or a french polish.
Currently-Gitane 250M
Previously-Gitane 255
Previously- Gitane D500
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Comments

  • manoucheguitarsmanoucheguitars New MexicoNew
    Posts: 199
    HI, I've done several French Polish Manouche guitars and I now order them from the factory without finish to avoid the tedious step of removing the old finish. My experience is that you start wirh say a 320 grit to get through the color coat. This may vary depending on what type of finish it is... water based or nitro... and go progressively down ending up with 400 or 440 to remove any scratchs from the more aggressive process. BE CAREFUL! Especially when removing the finish around the rosette... theres no going back. The Manouche guitars have a pretty hefty sealer that must be removed to get to the spruce top. This is difficult and where you have to exercise the most caution. Other guitars may have different sealers so I'd just test the top as you go along. Just think labor intensive. I don't use paint remover or any liquid stuff... just sand with the grain. Also be care about where you do this and where you rest the guitar. I keep mine laying on lambswool which you need to clean continuously to ensure it's not picking up any dust. If you slide your guitar around while your sanding it will be VERY prone to scartching the finish on area you aren't going to refinish... like the back! The dust will act like sandpaper and it WILL scratch it. Hope thes tips help you out some... I've learned some of this the hard way. Once you get it down to the raw wood, use Naptha for a final cleaning on the wood. I find it removes any residual dust. Robert
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    Thanks for the input Robert, yeah i pretty much decided on the same process, so today i removed the bridge and tail piece and went over the entire body (not the neck or headstock) with two types of sand paper, one was slightly smoother than the other. I have'nt removed the entire laquer but i have gradiated it so that it is now non-glossy and has a nice satin finish. I even took and photo and look no back flash!
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 794
    HI, I've done several French Polish Manouche guitars .......

    SO..... How did they sound after the change?

    Craig
    (Manouche Model Jazz owner)
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    Oh i'll probably have to sand the headstock now as it looks slightly out of character with the rest of the guitar, i was actually suprised at how easy this process was and how much difference it makes to the appearance of the guitar, much more authentic now and i could swear that all that sanding has opened up the sound, bloody hell it was already lound to begin with!
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    Hah :o i had to look at the photo i had taken to realise that i missed a bit of laquer(near sound hole), will sort this out when i go over the guitar again with some even finer sand paper. I think the laquer on the Gitanes (certainly mine anyway) is a lot thinner than i had realised as it was'nt really very labour intensive to remove to my surprise. Once i have all the laquer removed i think i will go with a wax cystaline polish finish, much more delicate than French polish as it needs to be re-applied every six months or so but again not labour intensive, my madolin takes about 5 minutes to do.

    http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/Renaissance-w ... 0000778905
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • manoucheguitarsmanoucheguitars New MexicoNew
    Posts: 199
    The guitar is at least 25% louder without losing tonal characteristics... it does, however (and rightfully so) require a different attack depending on how you want to bring that additional projection out... it does play a bit different. If anyone is interested I have a Modele Jazz that has an unfinished top, it's been played quite a bit and may need some fret dressing but is ready to refinish... I haven't had time but may french polish the top later this spring unless someone out there would like to give it a shot... I have been playing with no finish at all just for fun and it's really interesting... I'd sell it without a case for $1,000.00 I just rec another order for a French polished 14 fret D so it seems there is a lot of interest in this... you can see a French polished 12 fret D that I recently sold on my website if you'd like to see what one looks like with a light amber shellac. Keep in mind that the more bodying coats you apply the darker (and richer) the shellac becomes. www.manouchenorthamerica.com
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    The guitar is at least 25% louder without losing tonal characteristics

    Yeah i'd have to agree with this comment, having stripped away the laquer has really opened up more volume from my guitar. I've just put on my third coat of Renaissance cystaline wax polish which has sealed the guitar against any dirt that could have got at the wood, its very thin coating much thinner than nitrose laquer or French polish but it no big deal to apply another coating a few months from now. I discovered this stuff from a luthier who did some work on my old mandolin last year, he swears by it and said the British Museum in London uses it on a lot of their fine wood antiques as a great natural sealer to protect the wood from the elements. Apparently it freshens the colour of wood and leaves a natural sheen.
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • dburdickdburdick New
    Posts: 17
    are you concerned at all about losing the wood strengthening properties a laqeur on the top? by using only wax, it seems like you might end up accelerating the damage done by your fingers/pick.
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    No not really :D I think thats actually the point. I want to accelarate the aging process and make the guitar look older than it actually is. I want all the benefits of a modern guitar but would also like it to look like its been around since the 1940's. Best of both worlds in my opinion.
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    edited March 2007 Posts: 551
    If you are really serious about your project, you might consider cruising around ebay in search of one of those old tanning lamps - they have one there now for $10. With one of those you could get the wood to go to its aged color without waiting a very long time. At that point it should look pretty fantastic. However, if you want to recreate the patina of age I would think you may want to at that point start adding in some thin transparent pigments to the wax. People think the orange finishes that some guitars come in to be strident but once the value of the wood color darkens to match that of the finish they fuse together visually to give you that aged Selmer look.
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