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Help with refinishing a guitar?

asuraasura Los Angeles Cigano GJ-10, Gitane D500
edited February 2016 in Welcome Posts: 39
Hi everyone,

I was interested in removing the thick finish on my Gitane D500 and came across this thread:

I was wondering if you guys could give me an overall idea of how I could get my D500 to have the same kind of finishes as the one in the thread I linked above?

I like the look and feel of these kinds of finishes and also read that using a thinner finish opens up the sound quite a bit!

I've been reading up on different types of finishes and such but I've never done anything like this so I want to see if its approachable or if I'm in way over my head haha

I'd appreciate any help in figuring out things like;

- How would I go about removing the original finish? Do I need to sand it down? (What kind of tools?)
- Different kinds of finishes?
(I believe the D500 from the link has Satin back/sides/neck finish? Is that nitrocellulose? And the top is a french polish finish?)
- The different "layers" (sealer & finish?) I would have to apply after removing the original finish
- What are your guy's thoughts on refinishing guitars, positive or negative?
- Have any of you guys refinished your guitars? And if so, how was the result?
- Etc.

Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you!



  • edited February 2016 Posts: 3,707
    I doubt it would be nitro...very few mfrs use nitro any more...... voc's are very high

    I refinished an electric once.....I think for an acoustic it would take a very high level of finishing skill to safely get the finish off.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • NejcNejc Slovenia✭✭ Altamira M01
    Posts: 94
    Removing the finish is really gonna open the sound and the volume of the guitar up to a certain point but I dont think it is a good idea doing it by urself if you have never done this sort of things before. I mean the d500 is a great sounding guitar as it is and I dont think its worth the risk to destroy it. Applying the finish to look good requires a lot of skill, maybe try different methods on blocks of wood and then figure out if its worth. The top on this guitars is also a bit thinner than on the other types of guitars which means you need to be even more precise when removing the finish.
  • NejcNejc Slovenia✭✭ Altamira M01
    edited February 2016 Posts: 94
    Here are some youtube videos on finishing the guitar I have watched a couple of months ago and found them to be very informative:

    and a bit more radical one:

    Again I am not a luthier, had the idea a year back to try to build a guitar and watched a lot of videos on yt. Someone might disagree with what they say, so please correct me if they are wrong.
  • asuraasura Los Angeles Cigano GJ-10, Gitane D500
    Posts: 39
    Thanks for the input and videos!

    I appreciate it :-)

    Yeah, I thought it would be a really risky thing especially if first time so that's why I wanted to ask everyone here for their thoughts. I've always been interested in guitar finishes so thought I'd dry to get info on how it's done even if I don't end up doing it!

    Thanks Nejc! I'm gonna check those videos out
  • edited February 2016 Posts: 3,707
    I have years of finishing and high level spray painting. Applying the finish, although requiring a high level of skill to apply evenly, is the easier part of the equation. I haven't done guitars but have done furniture, metal flake auto painting, and aircraft painting using polyexpoxilene paints.

    The tools necessary to apply the finish well are not cheap, require a lot of actual experience that no amount of watching videos can replace. (My HVLP setup =3K) Thre removing of the finish, well, one wrong move and you have a scar or a dish in a critical area. One could possibly cause structural issues down the road, the other could affect sound.

    When I make furniture it takes me at least twice as long to do a good finish job as it does to build it. Many hours of sanding coating, sanding,coating,so etc etc.

    The fact that you have to ask the questions here lead me to suggest you not try it.

    Having said all that, it's your guitar and your consequences. :)
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • asuraasura Los Angeles Cigano GJ-10, Gitane D500
    edited February 2016 Posts: 39
    Hey @Jazzaferri :-)

    Thanks for the input, friend! I appreciate it a lot!

    Sounds just as tedious and risky as I assumed! And also expensive haha :-S I may not end up doing it but I still want to learn the process of refinishing a guitar.

    Understanding the process could point me in the direction of how to start off and practice if I do decide to try refinishing it someday.

    Gotta start from somewhere!

  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    My advice is that you save your time and money and if you do not like the guitar as it is, sell it to some one who does and buy another guitar you like better.
    Although you may improve the sound and it may be more open the fact is that you are just as likely to be wasting your time and the guitar is what it is and always will be.
    A more "open" sound , on a not so good guitar is not such a big deal.
    Unless your really more into wood working than practicing music the best advice is to save your time and practice playing the guitar not tinkering with them.
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    If you've done your research and still want to do it, go for it! It's not like you be ruining a 30's Selmer...
    You could try Tru Oil (easiest) or hand rubbed shellac or even both (one at a time)...
    The hard part is probably gonna be removing the existing finish
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,786
    IMHO the D-500 already (typically) has a too 'wet' tone for leads. It's fine for rhythm (since you are damping all the time anyway) but I doubt that refinishing would help it be a better lead guitar. Too much ringing and overtones. I'm not sure what is meant by opening it up but what you would like to have for a lead guitar is something loud but 'dry'. They are definitely a great entry level guitar but I wouldn't put too much effort into it unless you just want to mess (pun intended) with refinishing for 'fun'.

    If you do go for it, remember that the back and sides are laminated (not solid) wood and if you sand thru the VERY thin outer layer of rosewood you will have a really hard time fixing that mistake.
  • FransFrans The Netherlands✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 53
    Not only will a DIY refin'job possibly ruin your guitar, it will definitely lose it's resale value. If you are serious about learning this go practice on scraps and take some lessons and be prepared to invest a serious amount of time and money.
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