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Removing swirl/haze from lacquer finish


MattSA
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You all probably get this question about once a month. I'm working on a Washburn that has heavy haze and swirl marks on the rear of the guitar. I have read some articles about removing these marks from car finishes, but am uncertain whether the same steps are safe for guitar finishes. Unfortunately I can't tell you whether the finish is nitro, poly, etc. It is an older model which I bought used between '95 and 2000. Can someone offer some advice or a link?

Matt

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Actually we use car finish products all the time. Meguiars is a favorite as well as 3M products. I level the finish and polish my guitars with micromesh right up through 12000 grit and finish with a Meguiars buffing compound. These should all work on all guitar finishes that are a built up film (as opposed to oil).

SR

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So you suggest an automotive buffing compound applied with micromesh sanding pads? Is this safe for a finished guitar - I would think any abrasive would produce more scratches then less? Can you suggest what grit range? Start with 12000 grit or finish with 12000 grit? Can I apply by hand or should I use a buffing wheel attached to power drill?

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no no, micromesh first, then buff. If you only have swirls in the clearcoat then you probably don't need to sand at all. Just buff with an automotive polishing compound. Sanding does produce scratches, but going from coarse to finer grits makes the scratches progressively finer - with the finer grits removing the scratches from the coarser ones - so just like sanding wood.

In general I think the same principles apply to most clearcoats that people use, both on cars and on guitars. There is a large overlap.

Buffing can be done by hand (at which point it will take longer), or by machine - depends what you have available.

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Micromesh has grits from 500 to 12000. Since you are talking swirl marks in clear coat, I would test with one of the finest grits, maybe 6000, and see if it takes out the swirl marks. If it does, it will leave marks of its own, which will be taken out with the 8000, then 12000. You will be at a highly polished state by then, but if you still have swirls that bother you, go to the buffing compounds from there.

If the 6000 did not get out the original swirls (and replace them with 6000 grit swirls) then back up and go with the next courser grit, 4000 or even 3600, and work your way back up through 12000.

Or like @pan_kara says, try starting with the buffing compound and see if it does the job, before resorting to micromesh.

SR

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  • 4 months later...

Hey guys. I finally have enough time to start this project. Thanks for the great help suggested above. I took a photo of the rear of my guitar which shows the problem areas. I wanted to make sure before starting any repairs that the info I have is correct for my situation. As you can see my finger prints have marred many places on the guitar finish, and especially along the neck. I suppose this is due to sweat. I have purchased sanding pads (1500 through 12000 grit), Meguiar's ScratchX 2.0 compound, and a polishing attachment for a hand-held power driver. I understand what has been suggested above, but would like an experienced diagnosis of the photo - is this the right technique given the marks on the guitar? BTW - the flash on the camera does a great job at showing the marks, but makes the finish look like enamel - its actually some sort of semitransparent dark blue-green stain - the grain is slightly visible through the coat. I added the second photo to try and show the actual grain and finish.

20180405_173846.jpg

20180405_180908.jpg

Edited by MattSA
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