Long story short...
I was on a business trip and took my guitar along to play in the hotel. Left it out in the car not realizing how hot it was to get that day and the finish (French polished top, Shellac over poly back and sides) melted :x
Well, I decided since I've wanted to take the terrible poly finish off the rest of the guitar, this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Interestingly enough, it only took me about 3 hours to do the entire guitar with an orbital sander (80 grit, finishing with 220 grit). It came out much better than I expected and I had a few surprises as well. First, I must state that this is a Gitane DG255, so I figured Gitane would go cheap on some materials...wrong...the bindings and purfling are clearly ebony and maple since I can see the grain in both. I think most people assumed they were plastic, but they are definitely solid wood. Another shock...the headstock overlay is also real ebony! I figured it was painted on, but it appears Gitane actually painted over the ebony for some reason.
Well, that aside I'm terribly happy I did finally got the time and courage to go through with this. I haven't applied the finish yet (that comes tomorrow), but I'm doing a light stain on the top, finishing the back, sides and neck in clear Nitro, and then doing the soundboard with a thin coat of Nitro under French polish. In case anyone else ever decides to do this, just be careful, but you definitely won't regret it.
Here are some before/after pictures: