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Oil Finish On An Acoustic


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i've stated here many times that my preferred finish on my electric projects is a homemade oil finish consisting of equal parts linseed oil, varnish and turpentine. i plan on using it onthe little tenor uke that i'm building and was wondering if any of you have an opinion on the use of an oil finish on an acoustic instrument.

i'm not overly concerned..simply curious as to whether or not a finish that actually penetrates the wood will have any significant effect on the overall tone of the instrument.

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On acoustics, oil finishes definitely do have the potential for soaking into the wood and dampening vibrations, which isn't a good thing, IMO. What you could do - as several acoustic builders I know who use Tru-Oil do - is seal with a few thin coats of wiped-on shellac, and apply over the top of that. That would prevent the oil from soaking into the wood.

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On acoustics, oil finishes definitely do have the potential for soaking into the wood and dampening vibrations, which isn't a good thing, IMO. What you could do - as several acoustic builders I know who use Tru-Oil do - is seal with a few thin coats of wiped-on shellac, and apply over the top of that. That would prevent the oil from soaking into the wood.

thanks..that's a great idea. you hit the nail on the head with what i was worried about. this uke is all pecan which, despite being a fairly hard wood, does tend to soak up a lot of the finish and i was concerned that it might dampen the vibration some..it may sound like hell anyway but this is my first try at an acoustic instrument so it's kind of an experiment anyway..and i've got lots of pecan.

i appreciate the idea.

john

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What about using oil on a thinline type (that is, a hollowed out solid-body with a cap)? I was thinking of using oil to try it out, seems like it would be fun to work with --but is it going to have an negative effect on the sound of the guitar? I'm guessing no, since the pickups do most of the work...and I'm not really expecting a thinline to have great acoustic tone.

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You could always French Polish, y'know ;-)

But yes, Oil can look really, really nice. The finish choice is as much a design element as anything else, though; a 'trad' strat in oil just doesn't look quite right to me, and some guitars just cry out for high gloss. Others...not s'much.

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i used my oil finish on my last build..a teleish chambered semi hollow and it's beyond a doubt one of the greatest sounding guitars that i've ever built. i don't think the oil would be near as likely to change the tone of a thicker top plate like a chambered electric as it would a much thinner acoustic top.

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