First Guitar Finishing

The Achilles' Heel of Luthiery
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First Guitar Finishing

Post by scamp »

Will be starting my first guitar ( from a kit ) soon.
Doing a lot of research and I think I have a reasonable handle on constructing the guitar.
It all looks doable ( I"m sure I will make some mistakes but probably all reasonably recoverable).

After, however, looking at some info about finishing the final product I am a bit more concerned.
Seems like I need to make some kind of well ventilated area in my basement work shop ( with fans blowing air outside) and with relatively controlled humidity.
Additionally, it seems like rattle can spraying is tricky and buffing might require special tools ( car buffer etc.).
A fall back would be to hire someone to finish the guitar but I would like to avoid this if possible ( since it seems contrary to building ones own guitar).

So.. Does anyone have any opinions on how hard it is to finish the guitar ( setting up spray areas, working with spray cans, sanding, buffing etc. ) and if they were reasonably happy with the final results.

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Re: First Guitar Finishing

Post by BEJ »

You're about to enter the world of guitar finishing, about like entering "The Twilight Zone" good luck. About the only thing I haven't tried is Tru Oil, I have a bottle but need to make another guitar to try it. Seems like the least messy, simplest finishing method that meets your needs as stated. Robbie O'Brien has a good vid on Y tube on it's use, there are most likely some on this site too.

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Re: First Guitar Finishing


French polishing with shellac is a hand applied finish, no spray equipment needed. It will take a bit of practice to get the feel, but I was surprised how quick I learned the technique. Not as resistant to a spilled beer as lacquer, but a good looking result. Lots if stunning examples by other builders on this forum.
Kevin Doty
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Re: First Guitar Finishing

Post by Skarsaune »

Lots of ways to skin that cat.

I spray rattle cans outside when the weather is appropriate.

I brush on water based finish in the house (no fumes).

French polish uses alcohol for the solvent, so minimal fume nonsense.

You can get a pretty darn good finish a number of ways. It might not be a factory slick clear perfect finish your first try.

Luckily for me, good enough IS good enough
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Re: First Guitar Finishing

Post by jread »

My 1st was tru oil and it was easy and looks great. I moved to French polished shellac. It was a learning curve but easy to keep working it till it looks good.

My 2 cents….

They all look pretty much the same from >6’ away.
Factory perfect spray wouldn’t suit my builds anyway. I like em warts and all.
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Re: First Guitar Finishing

Post by tippie53 »

there are a few finishes that are not as smelly Tru Oil french polish and emtech 6000
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Re: First Guitar Finishing

Post by carld05 »

A matte or satin finish is another choice. Could eliminate the buffing step.
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