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French polish for electrics?


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I am thinking of a French polish for a solidbody guitar. I finished a nylon strung guitar this way a few years back, and I really liked it. I can't think of any reason I couldn't do the same to an electric . I could do this during the winter when I can't use my spraybooth (No insulation in the garage, and a small space heater) My other access to a spraybooth has disappeared. Any downsides to this for a solidbody? I know it's not as durable as laquer, but it's a lot easier to repair and touch up. (I don't drink, so I'm not worried about spilling alcohol on it and marking it.)

I was thinking of a real subtle sunburst approach on a maple body, with blonde being used in the center of the guitar, and fading out through amber to a garnet or natural dark on the edges. It would be fairly subtle, as even the garnet stuff isn't that dark, and the blonde isn't totally clear. Would that work, or would it be too cheesy? Should I do that on a darker guitar wood, like mahogany or walnut? I know mahogany can be gorgeous with french polish.



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i am going to try my hand at french polishing this year also.i really want to experiment with the differences in resonance of finishes.i want to do the 3 guitars(all alder and maple neck thrus) at the same time with tru oil on one ,french polished shellac on another ,and polyu on another.so i can put to rest(in my mind)whether or not it makes a noticeable difference.

what i would like to know is if you can mix pigment into shellac to get an opaque finish.

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French polish is a technique to get a high-gloss topcoat using shellac. Shellac is substantially softer than other finishes, and very susceptible to damage from heat, moisture, and especially solvents like alcohol. You can also spray or brush shellac and polish it to a high gloss. Here are a couple of sites with info on french polishing guitars:

Millburn Guitars

Hill Guitar Co.

Wes, I've never used pigments with shellac, but it is done. Maybe a base coat of pigmented shellac with french polish applied as a "top coat"? The great thing about french polishing is that each session completely amalgamates with the existing surface, so it's basically a single coat, regardless of film thickness. I'd be really interested in your results.

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Shellac isn't as hard as nitro - for instance, older classical guitars will often show fingernail scratches from being played. The upside is that it oulasts nitro by at least an order of magnitude, and even large areas can be repaired with a quick french polish. I've also never seen shellac check, although I'm told it can when subjected to extreme temperatures. The downside is that it's totally unsuitable if you play in a bar band. I've seen damage result from perfume overspray, and spilled beer will destroy a lot of time and effort.

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Dave, you could FP some several initial coats, then when you wanted to do a 'burst, you could shoot your shellac out of your gun, mixed with some Solar-Lux dye. Solar-Lux is alcohol-soluble.

Then, shoot 2-3 coats over top, then go back to FP'ing it.

Shellac is sooo versatile. You can FP it, you can brush it, you can shoot it...then go back to FP'ing it...

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