Welcome to our Community!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Related Discussions

Who's Online (0)

Today's Birthdays

CyrilGaffiero tbleen Sticconti

What kind of finish do you like on a guitar?



  • the linear tension on a string of any given length and diameter/mass is what controls the pitch

    the string break angle on floating bridge guitars determines the downforce component
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795

    Interesting question, one often debated and deserving of its own thread. So I opened one and started out by copying your post to the first entry.
  • MarkAMarkA Vermont✭✭✭ Holo Epiphany, French mystery, Gibson L-5, Epiphone Zephyr Regent
    Posts: 104
    I have liked many of the nitro finishes on 40s and 50s Epiphone archtops. While not all of them have aged spectacularly, I have had four that had terrific finishes. So good some thought they had to have been refinished. When cleaned up, a solid glossy finish with little or no checking. Not sure what effect they had on tone, but didn't seem to dampen volume at all. Just seemed like a much better finish than on many Gibsons of the same era. Talked about this with Joe V at who has noticed the se thing. Something about their nitro was just a little different, just a bit better.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    Wow Craig !
    Such a can of worms.
    I like durability.
    I also like a finish that can be touched up with out too much trouble.
    So ?
    Nitro seems the best choice unless the builder is unable to spray nitro due to local laws.
    Many builders I have known designed to their finish choice. Planed the sound of the guitar in the white to be complimented by the finish.
    One of the shops I've respected highly used a poly finish similar to the finish that Ramirez used for years.
    Some folks hated that finish, but it had its advantages, namely that it was bullet proof.
    You may laugh but some of my favorite guitars have poly finishes, just like an Altamira or other Chinese or Japanese guitar . If you design to the finish they can sound just fine. Spraying 2 part finishes is a very industrial process. So small builders usually avoid it.
    Today I was doing finish touch up on 2 different instruments. One two part poly the other varnish.
    One was an 8k Spanish Guitar the owner dropped. The other was a 40's Martin, the owner dropped.
    So don't drop your guitar. OK . The Martin will look better when its done. Varnish in that case or a very old school nitro.
    I don't think it much matters what the finish is. If its applied well and compliments the build, its all good.
    The problems come when the owner sweats all over your French Polish or walks into a mic stand.
    If the instrument needs a repair everyone is much happier with the results if the finish is solvent based. Then you can do touch up and blend and have good adhesion . So nitro, varnish or FP wins from that point of view.
    Apart from that its all meaningless .
    I would use spar varnish myself , its durable and looks right and can be tinted as desired, I have little experience with varnish on Guitars, I've seen that and used it on fiddles, but thats another story. The stuff they sell these days contains stuff that bears no relationship to traditional varnishes or so I've been told.
    I like the look of varnish, I would be happy to brush it on. Old school. You can add drying agents to speed up the cure.
    I'm not a builder merely a repair man. In my trade we work with what is on the instrument that comes in the door.
    FWIW , FP'ing with mineral oil will make the finish more water resistant , and adding a bit of castor oil will make it more elastic. Cheers ! Have a great weekend y'all !
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    Posts: 476
    I'd love to support your poll with my opinion but:
    I've owned or own a few great guitars but I just don't know how their finished. I also don't know how the finish has affected the tone except from what I read in these forums so even then I'm relying on second hand impressions without a double blind test. Right now I'm in love with a Lebreton and also play a VR and a Manouche Moreno, but I could only guess as to what the finish actually is.
    Visually: I like a well aged look on an old guitar (which is usually dull or matte) or if the guitar is new then I like seeing the grain popped. I don't like the look of naked looking (whitish) spruce, but also don't like stain that's creates a really uniform color. I don't look at the sides and back much and don't care about the finish there even though it is nice on a showy piece of wood.
    I'll play any guitar, even a poor looking finish if it sounds good to me.
    Even my kids don't hurt my usually unprotected guitars, and neither do I smack em with a pick when I play so durability isn't much of an issue for me.
    Moisture is an issue so a light finish on the inside seems like a good precaution.

    I admire guitar makers and feel like they'll sort it out because I simply don't have the info to form an opinion. I would guess that the more brittle and light weight the finish the better, from a physics point of view, as that would seem to support the high end in and keep the bottom out of the mud.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
    Posts: 589
    What kind of finish do you like on a guitar?

    Blood, sweat and tears AE
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    Posts: 349

    Blood, sweat and tears AE

    Great reply AE! Guitar finishes sound way better when they've been "played in" over many years. My GJ guitar is about ten years old and is finally wearing in to the point where I've gotten relaxed about taking it out to jams and exposing it to the "elements" (the amount of inconsiderate customers, bumbling and fumbling thoughtlessly in these hippie dippie coffee shops, is truely amazing). It has a very thin, light, water-based lacquer (according to Alan Cola) semi satin (not matte...just not quite a gloss) finish that has glossed in some areas, where I pick and rub my arm against the body. Combined with the unique "bear claw" patterns on the spruce top, it looks very cool and kind of funky. Recently have become intrigued again by sunbursts. Only seen a few GJ guitars with nice bursts (including a recent DuPont), but they can look fantastic.
    Swang on,

Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2021, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2021 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.063829 Seconds Memory Usage: 3.450821 Megabytes