French polish is not a specific material but rather the effect of applying shellac to a woodworking project that produces a tough surface with a very glossy, mirrorlike finish. It has a 650 mm scale lenghts and a 52 mm nut width. Impressive volume and rich, deep basses as well as sparkling trebles characterizes the balanced sound of this fine guitar. The advantages of using french polish as a guitar finish are related to both the finish and the process. In this video, robbie discusses how to repair a french polish scratch. It can be polished and maintained by a variety of finish care products and guitar. French polishing dates back as far as the victorian era but was brushed aside early in the 20th century in favor of less laborintensive methods of finishing. Very pleased thus far, the lesson on fp is very good. To begin applying the french polish finish, apply some 2lb. A guitars finish might seem to be only a cosmetic feature of the instrument but unbeknown to some it can either make or break it. What are the benefits and negatives of french polishing. Even though the shellac is almost dry to the touch as it is being applied, it is advisable to let it continue to harden during most french polishing processes reading reflections can be a valuable method of evaluating your progress.
The beauty of the wood under this finish is undisputed, and it is generally regarded as the best finish for tone. French polishing is a process as opposed to a material. Gsi recommends planet waves polish spray and polishconditioner. I understand that french polishing can refer to a type of finishing methodbut i am using the shellacalcohol classic fp finish technique. Blend new lacquer into old lacquer with flash coats youtube. This offsets the fragility of the french polish finish, being the largest tradeoff. The technique involves applying many coats of shellac dissolved in alcohol in very thin layers.
Complete refinishing with a french polished varnish is an option that will likely improve the sound of your guitars and additionally give them a more handmade look. The guitar has evolved through the years however the finish has stayed mostly the same with the main types having been. French polishing is a method of applying finish to wood by hand with a cotton pad. Two possible solutions to suction cup problems on guitar. Repairing a damaged shellac wood finish the spruce crafts. I recommend an expert for valuable items, but, anyone.
French polishing consists of applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in denatured alcohol using a rubbing pad lubricated with one of a variety of oils. The focus is on maintaining the integrity and value of the instrument. Because of its relative heaviness, a lacquer finish will damp the sound of a guitar much more so than a french polish ever could. If, however, excessive finish density is a problem, french polishing over existing finish will not solve it. This is a superfine, flexible and protective finish that. Ordinary guitar polishes shine by leaving a longlasting silicone residue thats very hard to remove. Historical finishes expert don williams teaches the simple steps to make a traditional pad polish, or as we refer to it, french polish. Nov 29, 20 polishes and waxes build up over time and can eventually dampen the sound of your guitaralmost like wrapping it in a bed sheet. The real truth is that the finish on an electric guitar will only play a very small role in the overall tone.
The traditional finishes mostly classical guitars are done with shellac, in a process called french polish. What is the best way to clean fingerprints from a french polish top. Several guitar detailing companies such as planet waves make guitar polish that do exactly that. Guitar french polishing with shellac is an ancient craft that has been handed down for many generations. He also told me that every french polished guitar he had examined has also had this problem.
Custom rodgers with proprietary nickelsilver side plate design and fossil ivory buttons case. I really cant say that french polish sounds better than a nitro finish and from what i understand its extremely difficult to apply. It takes considerable elbow grease, but you get a darned good finish in just two days by putting on 4 or 5 coats a day, as i did here. They are thinner and usually allow the woods to breath and resonate better. In the guitar world, the term french polish is understood to be a shellac. French polish shellac people who own guitars with shellac should be particularly mindful of polishes and. The only drawback to the french polished guitars is the delicate nature of the finish compared to the hard, synthetic finishes provided on the factorymade instruments. Should i get a gloss or a matte finish classical guitar. Of all the conventional guitar finishes, french polish requires the most care. Our purpose is not to teach wood working so we will assume that the guitar is well scraped, sanded and with all gaps filled. Shellac is basically a mixture of natural shellac flakes derived from an insect secretion and alcohol, and applying additional coats of shellac to a previously shellacfinished project will cause the existing shellac to dissolve somewhat, allowing scratches and other imperfections to be. While you appreciate the good looks, you may also respect the hard work behind the fine finish. Aug 14, 2011 restoring checked and crazed finishes.
Preservation polish gently cleans, polishes and protects lacquer and varnish finishes. Different finishes on classical guitars tfoa the fellowship of. The top has 3 cracks, and the center seam of the twopiece top had opened. A simple guitar finishing trick for a better shellac.
Light scratches can be buffed out with power equipment. French polishing is a traditional wood finishing technique commonly used on antique furniture. Shellac itself is a resin that comes from a secretion of the south asian lac insect, which feeds on the bark of trees. French polishing is a wood finishing technique that results in a very high gloss surface, with a deep colour and chatoyancy. Educate me on french polishing the unofficial martin guitar forum. However, with this finish, you start with the 1800 micromesh and go through the 12,000 again and then re polish with the novus. It will show up as haze but when you look at it with your close up visor, you will see tiny cracks occurring in the finish. The finish of a guitar can definitely affect its tone but it comes more down to how well the finish is applied rather than the actual finish used perhaps with the exception of french polish which is said to enhance the tone.
By 1920, the jazz age was in swing, and both nitrocellulose lacquer and spray guns had been invented, opening a range of finishing options. How to french polish for a fast finish without spraying. French polish over existing lacquer first off i know that french polish is a technique and that the question really reads lacquer over existing lacquer. If you are going to polish your guitar, use a polish that contains pure carnauba wax and no solvents or petroleum products. In this video, ill demonstrate and explain a simple guitar finishing technique specifically for french polishing guitars made from resinous woods like cocobolo plus we take it a step further with.
So if you decide to pad or french polish with either one of the padding. Its more resistant to scratches, body heat, and the normal wear of handling. Shellac or french polish is probably the easiest to repair but not so easy to apply, it has a clarity and depth that is unmatched, but it is fragile and can be damaged by moisture and alcohol a common solvent at some festivals. My first attempt at french polish finish on my third obrien classical first cutaway version. It can be polished and maintained by a variety of finish care products and guitar polishes. Mariano tezanos was world famous for the work of his father same name who stamped m. However, with this finish, you start with the 1800 micromesh and go through the 12,000 again and then repolish with the novus. Your guitar is french polished shellac, a very thin and delicate organic finish that allows the instrument to be extremely responsive. However, in professional talk, polish is something you use to remove light scratches embedded in the clear coat. Tkl hardshell case with an arched top and tweed exterior condition. Alcohol and oils for french polishing the art of lutherie. I made this baby guitar for my granddaughter kate, and french polishing let me finish it in time to cut the cake. Lacquer is nearly as deep and clear looking, but it requires spray equipment and safety equipment.
French polish is simply a shellac finish that is applied by handrubbed on with a small cloth pad. On the other hand if the guitar is made with hide glue and french polished theres a good chance the luthier can do an excellent and noninvasive repair job. Originally commissioned by a dealer, this guitar is being offered by a collectorplayer who is now more jazzoriented. French polish crack repair 60 second series youtube. Waxy shellac is excellent when the finish will be only shellac as in a french polish finish. Heres how i repair a nasty crack in the top of a french polished sewing box. Our setup department uses turtle wax or most any other guitar or violin polish a small amount on a dry cloth, rubbed by hand should do. Small items should be left for a few minutes for the polish to dry, before another application is made. Sometimes we discover problems with what seemed like. I do a lot of french polish repair work, which may entail refreshing the finish and filling dings. I once asked a well known guitar repair person what was the cause of most of the problems he saw with instruments needing repair. Like wood, it is susceptible to high humidity and temperature and can get worn down with use. This polish is made from the secretion of the lac bug in india, and it is purely organic. Best polish for a nitro finished guitar the gear page.
The effects are seen as erratic crack lines running across the coating. Ridiculously horrible lacquer cracksfinish acoustic guitar forum. French polish is more fragile than lacquer, so thats a factor to consider. Feb 23, 2017 mamie shared this great tip for making scratches disappear, while renowned guitar photographer john peden shot closeup photos. Robert after finishing your french polishing course i took my hand built guitar to a local woodworking store as they wanted to see how the finish had come out. Most fine guitars are finished with nitrocellulose lacquer. French polish finish instructions luthiers mercantile. As for the two cracks above the sound hole, ill keep an eye on them to see they arent growing, but they are not affecting the sound i think, and they are not really too visible, so ill leave them alone for now. Even with these accolades for the finish, the actual process, french polishing. Mar 18, 2020 when we think of polishing something, we think of shining something to a glossy finish.
The process consists of using a pad made up of absorbent wadding inside a smooth natural fiber cloth. French polishing is a technique of applying many separate layers of varnish to an instrument or article of furniture, using a cloth pad to spread and buff liquid finish until it forms a dry, polished surface. Many other finishes resemble shellac, and to further add to the confusion, shellac is sometimes used as a generic term referring to any clear top finish. While beautiful and vibrant, french polish does not provide the degree of surface protection most musicians desire. Please let us know how you end up dealing with the. Use less pressure when the muneca is wetter and more pressure when it is relatively dry. Guitar polishes are specially formulated to be gentle on lacquer finishes.
Spiriting is the procedure used to remove the excess oil that has accumulated on top of the guitar s finish. Does the finish on an acoustic guitar affect tone expert. Meanwhile, guitars were getting bigger in order to be louder and, for the same reason, adopted metal strings. Production of an even finish requires considerable skill, elbow grease, and time. Unfortunately, a new owner polishing an old guitar can destroy the original patina forever. Do not get any alcohol on the guitar or it will damage the finish. Cleaning system for acoustic and electric guitars with guitar one cleaner, guitar polish, fone oil fretboard cleanerconditioner, and 2 microfiber cloths. Refrets, setups, and structural repairs are commonly needed. If you filled the cracks and pores with resin, i recommend a typical top coat of laquer, urethane, or poly.
May 19, 2017 french polish crack repair 60 second series aah woodwork with mitch peacock. In the world of musical instruments it is often referred to a a finish. Color variations in the shellac come from the variety of trees the insects feed on. French polishing is certainly the appropriate technique for finishing or for restoring finishes on the instruments of the 1920s and earlier. Its not a product, its a technique of applying shellac by hand with a wad of cloth. The most commonly used material to be applied with the french polishing technique is shellac.
French polishing yields a very nice finish from an acoustic standpoint, but the finish is extremely delicate and can easily be damaged even by a fingernail. Extra care must be taken to protect the finish from damage due to perspiration, moisture, and of. Some guitar experts suggest not to polish your guitar frequently, as the polish can build up and while it looks nice cosmetically, it may dampen the sound of your guitar. All cracks were repaired years ago and the top was french polished. The quality of any finish will depend greatly on how well the classical guitar is detailed. Martin guitars the patina of the finish can be one of the true delights of an old martin guitar.
Identifying a shellac finish can be difficult, however, and if you repair a nonshellac surface by laying shellac over the top of the finish, it will not produce good results. I have a guitar that is obviously spray lacquered and thick due to the large amount of finish cracking on the spruce top. Jul 27, 2017 after dan repaired a crack in a gibson acoustic guitar the finish didnt look to good. This martin d35 has a cracked top due to the pull of a shrinking plastic pickguard. Tezanosperez brazilian classical guitar joes custom shop.
Jan 17, 2018 heat and water damage, loose veneer, dents or gouges this video will show you a way to tackle them. If your guitar has finish checking, polish will build up in the hairline cracks, and this can discolor the wood underneath or even cause the finish to flake off. The boys at virtuoso guitars started selling guitars in 1995. The guitars finish is as important as all the other details in ensuring that the desired sound is what comes out of the instrument.
In the guitar world, thats called cold cracking weather checking, cold checking. You know the drill, tons of coats, wet sand, polish. You really dont find many french polished guitars, but i know a very talented luthier that will use a french polish for the right price 10k or more usually. Dan teaches you how to blend new lacquer with old lacquer using a flash coat for a nice near.
The pickups, bridge, neck wood, neck thickness, nut material, body wood, body shape, string gauge and the. Always apply the polish to the cloth, never directly to the guitar. Lacquer has much better alcohol and water resistance than french polish. It contains none of the shelflife additives found in readymixed shellacs that can be unsuitable for french polishing. Restoring checked and crazed finishes woodworking network. Dan fixes the problem and shows how to keep this happening from happening again. Original varnish french polish finish on the back, sides, and neck, with no cracks to the neck or the rosewood on the body.
I took delivery of a cedarpadauk flamenco guitar around 56 months ago from spain to england, which i. A clean soft cloth will generally do the job on fingerprints or general schmutz. It is in a good and original condition, with some wear of play and use, but no cracks and repairs. You asked what the best product for a nitro finished guitar was. So if you decide to pad or french polish with either one of. After spiriting the entire guitar we are ready for the next bodying session. The pickups, bridge, neck wood, neck thickness, nut material, body wood, body shape, string gauge and the player himself will each have at least as much to do with the tone as the finish, if not considerably more. If you left the grain au natural try a low sheen rubbed finish to bring out the rustic appearance of the wood. But i agree with the other posters here in that i like the matte finishes. The cracking is in the varnish only and not in the wood. Excessive dryness can cause cracks and splits in the wood. Most of us have seen instruments with these unsightly finish cracks.
If your guitar ever needs a repair, the silicone will prevent glue or finish from adhering, making even simple repairs more difficult and costly. Due to the previously discussed weaker vibrational energy of classical guitars, the acoustic transparency of french polish is of particular benefit to the classical guitar. I also put a strip of clear packing tape on the guitar where the cups attach so i can clean the tape with alcohol too. A lacquer finish is more durable than french polish. The difference between nitro and poly guitar finishes. I think the polish products have been around since 2000 or 2001. French polishing is a simple way to get a lovely handrubbed finish. Dan erlewines got a neat trick for a mandolin repair, and. This really does come down to a matter of personal preference. For the second edition of our weekly series on classical guitars, we will be.
A solid and quite original martin 042 from the early years of the 20th century, with original inlaid handel tuners. Many guitars made before 1920, and some classical guitars to this day, are done in french polish. Finish repairs including lacquer and french polish shellac including. Outperforms normal guitar polishes with a total finish restore this is the one people are talking about. Amber in color, it adds a bit more moisture resistance and flexibility to the final finish. French polish repair techniques including refinish youtube.
It is difficult to apply and requires a lot of work, but the end result is worth the effort. How to detail a classical guitar guitars international. The finer the finish you are going to use, the more any defect will show. The common misconception is that french polish is the best finish acoustically. The rubbing pad is made of absorbent cotton or wool cloth wadding inside of a piece of fabric usually soft cotton.
If youve ever admired the extraordinarily glossy finish on an antique piece of wooden furniture or a wooden instrument such as a guitar or violin, youre likely looking at wood finished with the french polishing technique. Tap or press the pad against the back of your hand to spread the shellac evenly throughout the core. Having worked on various vintage instruments, i have the experience you need to get the job done correctly. French polish is a highgloss finish for wood that consists of shellac. Shellac is a natural resin that is made by the lac beetle when it feeds on the sap of several different types of trees in india and southeast asia. An older finish with decent french polish added should be as good as new. Repairing a scratch on a french polish luthier tips du jour. As the polish dries it is possible, when coating large areas, to make several applications of the rubber by going from one end of the work back to the other.1316 1309 99 399 1522 1313 1489 858 802 1503 721 1345 147 524 1439 534 835 719 1453 968 1161 1515 1487 1176 412 1258 900 957 1073 700 816 1248 1476 435