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Dana Bourgeois ~ Oil Varnish Finish ?
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Post
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 352
I've copied this description of Dana Bourgeois' finish of his "very vintage" model dreadnought from the Pantheon Guitar site. Obviously he feels that his "oil varnish" is superior to a nitro finish if you want a "vintage" sound from your new build. Sounds like this is a real miraculous finish.

Would anyone like to take an educated guess as to what may constitute the "oil varnish" he is using ?

According to Dana Bourgeois: "The closest thing to the sound of a 70 year old nitrocellulose lacquer finish isn’t a new lacquer finish, but a thin oil varnish finish. Properly applied, oil varnish smoothes out the “jangly” sound of a new guitar in much the same way that lots of playing seems to accomplish." This gives the Very Vintage Mahogany the sound and feel of considerable playing mileage. Additionally, oil varnish imparts a deep amber hue to the natural colors of the woods, evoking the look as well as the sound of a vintage- era guitar.

Sep 21, 09 | 5:01 pm
Ian

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 74
I think bracing and top thinkness to given material plays a bigger part than any thin layer of finish. percentage of wood compared to clear finish hands down in tone. Get it all right...bang..small things mean somthing too..

Regards Ian

Sep 21, 09 | 7:45 pm
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
Ian, I agree that's the general focus of getting a nice sounding guitar, but I wonder why the likes of Dana Bourgeois is making such a big point about the oil varnish finish on this model.

I'd imagine that close attention to top stiffness vs bracing along with "tuning" the top would be a given for his guitars, but he seems to be suggesting the icing on the cake is his oil varnish finish.

Sep 21, 09 | 10:31 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
The one thing I will add here is that Lacquer is a production finish. It can be applied and finished pretty fast . It does take time to cure and the repairability of the lacquer is one of its superior facets.
If any finish is applied too thickly it will take away some acoustic elements. Finishing is as much a science as it is an art. Find the finish that works for you. Nitro is dangerous if not handled correctly . Health and safety concerns are high on the list.

Sep 22, 09 | 3:38 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Andy -- you mentioned Dana B's bracing ... he is the builder I've copied in my X-bracing. I leave the lower treble x-brace basically unscalloped, and I scallop the lower bass x-brace. Dana B has a long article about this somewhere; it made sense to me. Since reading about it, I've braced each of my guitars this way. Some builders (Klepper, Carruth) do not believe this bracing method has the effect DB claims, saying the top is all one piece and all vibrates as one piece -- but I think it does, especially when I look at glitter patterns from Cladni vibration tests, etc.

Here's a picture of one of Bourgeois' tops:


Sorry to hijack the thread -- back to finishing with oil varnish...
Bill

Sep 22, 09 | 5:40 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
I have posted this elsewhere but it's worth repeating:

There is a very interesting article in one of the GAL quarterlies about famed makers Manuel and Alfredo Velazquez. Their stuff was/is impressive enough that Segovia wanted and ordered one -- long story but the deal fell through. Anyway -- their finish of choice is varnish, and surprising linseed oil is not considered a bad thing but rather a good thing and more surprising off the shelf Pratt and Lambert #38 is the product of choice! I don't know who said it, but none the less a very wise observation -- in the guitar making arena we should avoid the use of the word "best".

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Sep 22, 09 | 9:07 am
Ian

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 74
I think no finish is best for sound, it's what and how thick makes it durable for eveyday use. What and how thick effects tone also...

Regards Ian

Sep 27, 09 | 8:39 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
I agree, every single element of a guitar build -- material, thicknesses, shape, strings etc. affects the final tone. What I would point out is if you go to another boutique builders site chances are they will be making the very same claims as Dana (what does Arnold use) and their top coat choice may be French polish and some Nitro lacquer and others Cat polyester, so who's got it right? Have blind polls been taken to prove the claim? And even more interesting is that the human ear more than likely does not have the precision to pick up on these subtles differences. $.02

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978


Sep 28, 09 | 5:55 pm
moocatdog

Total Topics: 35
Total Posts: 302
According to reputable sources, Dana Bourgeois uses Behlen Rockhard. I used Pratt & Lambert #38 on my latest. I like it so far.

George :-)

Nov 07, 09 | 6:31 am
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
When I talked to Wayne Henderson at the Denver Guitar Show and played his personal 000..he told me that he quit using Lacquer and switched to "Conversion Varnish"...his guitars are nothing short of amazing...(Which I'm sure Bill would confirm) ...
I can't imagine WHAT creates the "Magic"... but I'm begining to get the feeling that it's much much more than any finish.. :)

Nov 07, 09 | 10:38 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
I've also read that Dana is using Behlens Rockhard Varnish.....which is a short oil varnish so supposedly dries harder than a varnish with more oil. Of course I'm just repeating what I've read there.....I've no experience. I've also read that the word "varnish" covers a broad spectrum of finishes so is very non-specific.

In the mandolin world, you can get a premium price for a "varnish" finish. I would guess Dana is trying to capitalize on this.

Nov 07, 09 | 1:44 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Tru Oil is classified as a "varnish" on at least a couple of woodworking sites. So, Darrell , you're right on -- "varnish" covers a lot. (no pun intended.)

Ray -- It's gotta be his pocket knife. :-J

Bill

Nov 07, 09 | 4:01 pm
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
:) :)

Nov 07, 09 | 5:36 pm



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