Miscellaneous Rumbles

Guys who remove the lacquer to let the guitar breathe and improve tone

1

How do their wives tolerate living with this?

2

Are you talking about these guys?

"After returning to London, during sessions for the self-titled “white album,” Lennon and Harrison sanded their Casinos. Lennon primarily played his newly stripped Casino for the sessions. Harrison said that once they’d removed the finish, they became much better guitars. “I think that works on a lot of guitars,” he explained. “If you take the paint and varnish off and get the bare wood, it seems to sort of breathe.”

Guess they didn't have too hard a time finding girls...

3

Yes those guys, as well as that guy from Poison who recorded all his guitar parts nude. No problem finding girls, but that wasn't my question.

4

They listened to Donovan while smoking/taking/dropping something funny. Several players followed suit.

...-----

5

The question posed in the OP is too obtuse for my feeble mind. If the question is, "What do you think of the idea that liberating a guitar from its finish and returning it to its bare wood again improves its tone?", I suppose that it is conceivable. But, I have yet to see any reliable evidence that it does.

6

It makes just as much sense as being able to tell what brand of batteries that you're using in your FX pedals.

It may be that some folks are blessed with dog's hearing---or it could be wishful thinking.

7

The wood's been dead for years, no food, no water and in the case below no air.

This is one of those thick polyester soft plastic finishers that are without a doubt tone sponges.

8

So while they can"t breathe the wood will be exposed to elements that it hasn't been exposed to since being entombed in a thick leisure suit.

Look how thick that crap is!

11

Once the wood hit the air it changed, flat area's became rounded and it need to sit in 50% humidity for a couple of days before attempting to flat sand it. Ash is open grain so it will acclimate quickly.

This picture shows mow much that open grain need to be filled.

12

Close up of the grain that needed to be filled.

13

So if the question is will it change the way the guitar vibrates the answer is absolutely.

14

I think that something to keep in mind is that without a finish, a solid body guitar is going to be very susceptible to humidity changes. I'd rather have the finish on it to protect it from such things.

I don't think there's much doubt in my mind that a finish can affect the sound of a guitar, but I think it would take instrument measurements to detect it.

15

I have done it in the past and besides the ton of elbow grease it takes I'd do it again. Not everything in the guitar world is voodoo, stratman. Some things just follow physics and other laws of nature.

But reading your original question I'm sure that's not what you were after. Had a bad day?

16

So if the question is will it change the way the guitar vibrates the answer is absolutely.

– Curt Wilson

Question please Curt. What is your opinion on the 'performance' differences comparing two different finishes. I have a vintage flat top 12 string that currently has the original thick clear lacquer (that has a long crack in just this finish). If I had this stripped off and a satin finish put back, would this thinner finish be substantial enough for this guitar and would this allow the top to 'perform' better?

17

If it's thick lacquer I'd sand it flat and remove as much as you want. My point is that these thick finishes aren't hard and resonate which all lacquer will do. The polyEster, not polyUrethane, never really cured and is a tone suck. My opinion is it's important to allow humidity changes through the finish BECAUSE they aren't finished inside.

If you take a thin piece of spruce and spray four coats of any finish on one side the wood will cup. Because of this and I'm thinking acoustic or arch top, it's important that the top finish is both porous and thin to allow transfer on both sides. Top end furniture builders apply the same amount of finish on both sides of the wood so it won't cup. It's the same reason you remove equal amounts of wood from both sides when you're running it through a planner.

18

If it's thick lacquer I'd sand it flat and remove as much as you want. My point is that these thick finishes aren't hard and resonate which all lacquer will do. The polyEster, not polyUrethane, never really cured and is a tone suck. My opinion is it's important to allow humidity changes through the finish BECAUSE they aren't finished inside.

If you take a thin piece of spruce and spray four coats of any finish on one side the wood will cup. Because of this and I'm thinking acoustic or arch top, it's important that the top finish is both porous and thin to allow transfer on both sides. Top end furniture builders apply the same amount of finish on both sides of the wood so it won't cup. It's the same reason you remove equal amounts of wood from both sides when you're running it through a planner.

– Curt Wilson

Thanks a lot Curt, I appreciate your information and advice

19

Curt, how do nude guitars fair in general use? Not abused but with no varnish do they damage easily/quickly or other effects I have no idea on? Basically, is a nude guitar a feasable option for a gigging musician?

20

Once the wood hit the air it changed, flat area's became rounded and it need to sit in 50% humidity for a couple of days before attempting to flat sand it. Ash is open grain so it will acclimate quickly.

This picture shows mow much that open grain need to be filled.

– Curt Wilson

That has a nice grain on it.

21

Curt, how do nude guitars fair in general use? Not abused but with no varnish do they damage easily/quickly or other effects I have no idea on? Basically, is a nude guitar a feasable option for a gigging musician?

– Rob Williams

I think a solid body would hold up better than and acoustic or arch top. The finishes purpose is to protect the wood from fast humidity changes. Also for looks but that's secondary. The neck on the last schoolhoused guitar is bare wood which gets mixed reviews.

23

If it's thick lacquer I'd sand it flat and remove as much as you want. My point is that these thick finishes aren't hard and resonate which all lacquer will do. The polyEster, not polyUrethane, never really cured and is a tone suck. My opinion is it's important to allow humidity changes through the finish BECAUSE they aren't finished inside.

If you take a thin piece of spruce and spray four coats of any finish on one side the wood will cup. Because of this and I'm thinking acoustic or arch top, it's important that the top finish is both porous and thin to allow transfer on both sides. Top end furniture builders apply the same amount of finish on both sides of the wood so it won't cup. It's the same reason you remove equal amounts of wood from both sides when you're running it through a planner.

– Curt Wilson

I've (mostly) made my living as an architectural woodworker for the last 30 years. I can assure everyone that Curt has just stated the prime directive very succinctly. It's all about balance.

24

There are those who may deny what any builder will know. A finished guitar is a completely different animal than the one it was before.
I've argued for years that "old wood" is not as magic as it is led to be. Old cracked & worn down lacquer may be just as important in the tone of a vintage guitar.

25

There are those who may deny what any builder will know. A finished guitar is a completely different animal than the one it was before.
I've argued for years that "old wood" is not as magic as it is led to be. Old cracked & worn down lacquer may be just as important in the tone of a vintage guitar.

– Hyde Baker

Nothing to add about dead wood breathing ...but it's always good to see you Hyde :)


Register Sign in to join the conversation