#1
What's the point of finishing a guitar if I just wanted a natural non shiny wood finish? I heard the wood might get dirty, will it?
#3
Because wood without any finish is prone to moisture damage. Trees tend to rot because of it.
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#4
To add to what has been said, wood "checks" as it looses moisture if it is not sealed. Checking is cracking if you didn't know.
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#5
For a non shiny wood finish you might go with a clear satin lacquer. That way you'd get the protection and the looks you're after.
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#6
Quote by Robbgnarly
To add to what has been said, wood "checks" as it looses moisture if it is not sealed. Checking is cracking if you didn't know.


Wood is dried before use, unless Green Oak, to bring its moisture content down to point it should be stable. The drying is done in such a way as to avoid splitting. Different species require treating differently but, once correctly dried there shouldn't be a danger of the wood splitting subsequently, provided it is used appropriately.

Wood will continue to expand and contract so good practice allows for this movement. Solid wood table tops are held on with turn buttons or slot screws etc. to allow the top and frame to move independently.

Subject to that moisture content, and where you live etc. the timber is as likely to take on moisture as loose it. Central heating and air conditioning are the rider to this and have ruined more old furniture through excessive shrinkage than possibly most other causes.

Applying a seal to the timber will, as the name suggests, help to seal the timber. It also helps to bring out the beauty of the timber as untreated wood can look extremely bland. Wet your finger and run it over the surface or some dry sanded timber and see how the colours and grain pop in comparison.

Untreated timber is unlikely to rot, unless actually wet, and then stops rotting once it dries out, but could be subject to beetle attack (wood worm etc.).

If you consider the surface of untreated timber like a sponge it will absorb anything wetter than it is and will often react with that moisture causing discolouration and staining.

Timber isn't light stable and will bleach or discolour when subjected to daylight. Some timbers are more prone to this than others.

And finally, some timbers need to be sealed to stop them reacting with, and damaging, other materials they come into contact with. Oak makes any metal other than brass or stainless steel oxidise and rust through contact for example. It will also send your hands black.

In summary, timber is a great material when used, and treated appropriately.
#9
Quote by Intralimpidus
What's the point of finishing a guitar if I just wanted a natural non shiny wood finish? I heard the wood might get dirty, will it?


It will get filthy and it will dry rot. In fact, I've got a guitar that has a tung oil finish, and it's a mess (I'm going to have to sand it down to get rid of the crud that's worked its way into the wood grain). Eric Clapton's "Blackie" has a neck that lost its finish some years ago, and it's so unstable it won't even stay in tune. It's just firewood at this point, except to a collector.

If you want a non-shiny finish, hose down your guitar with some matte or satin poly finish. It may look unfinished, but it'll protect the wood from dirt, moisture and dings.
#10
I'll put it this way if it was not necessary it wouldn't be done. Finish takes around 30 days for polyurethane to cure (harden). Imagine how many guitars big companies could cough out if finish didn't need to "cure" and they didn't have to buff it.

there are different kinds of polyurethane and other finishes
gloss
semi-gloss
satin. Not sure if this would also be considered flat like say Schecter jeff loomis guitars but it's the first example using big names.

but getting back to it..
no finish on a maple fretboard? the Yngwie Malmsteen play loud strat which is a replica of his famous strat. Same can be said about maple necks. The back of my neck on a BC Rich is unfinished and it's starting to go this dark yellow from my oils in my hand.

finish isn't just there for the dirt though. What is easier to "replace" finish or wood on a body getting dented. Imagine what accidentally banging a guitar against something in your house or dropping it without finish , versus with finish. Of course when refinishing guitars though you want to get the same thickness of finish. If you use too much you have a really bad acoustic tone. Devices exist to measure the level of finish but it's kind of overkill.

the good news is with lacquer finishes you can repair it effortlessly. Polyurethane is a whole different story.
#11
Quote by dspellman
It will get filthy and it will dry rot. In fact, I've got a guitar that has a tung oil finish, and it's a mess (I'm going to have to sand it down to get rid of the crud that's worked its way into the wood grain). Eric Clapton's "Blackie" has a neck that lost its finish some years ago, and it's so unstable it won't even stay in tune. It's just firewood at this point, except to a collector.

If you want a non-shiny finish, hose down your guitar with some matte or satin poly finish. It may look unfinished, but it'll protect the wood from dirt, moisture and dings.


Yes, no and no.

Yes it will get filthy.

No it won't dry rot. Dry rot is a fungal attack most prevelent in moist still conditions. It is unlikely any guitar would be subject to this unless stored in such conditions where dry rot mycelium may be already present And the guitar would already need to be damp.

My understanding was Clapton deliberately removed the finish from the neck of both "Blackie" and "Brownie". Both would have originaly had nitro coatings which breath to a degree even when unblemished. Being maple the necks would be relatively stable even if untreated. There would seem little indication of tuning issues considering the years Clapton used both instruments in their stripped form.
#12
My main concern on unfinished necks would be stability, as mentioned, but MM use them, so...... I've done oil type finishes on gunstocks and acoustic guitars, using Tru Oil, Chinawood oil (Tung plus a little poly) and linseed plus Terebine accelerator. Dirt has never been an issue, but I put enough on to make it genuinely waterproof, which takes time and patience. The main downside is that it offers no protection against dings. If it's good enough for the London shotgun makers, it's good enough for a wax polish type finish on my guitars.
#14
Quote by John Sims
Yes, no and no.

Yes it will get filthy.

No it won't dry rot. Dry rot is a fungal attack most prevelent in moist still conditions. It is unlikely any guitar would be subject to this unless stored in such conditions where dry rot mycelium may be already present And the guitar would already need to be damp.

My understanding was Clapton deliberately removed the finish from the neck of both "Blackie" and "Brownie". Both would have originaly had nitro coatings which breath to a degree even when unblemished. Being maple the necks would be relatively stable even if untreated. There would seem little indication of tuning issues considering the years Clapton used both instruments in their stripped form.


Nitrocellulose coatings do not breathe in any way, shape or form. Nitrocellulose is a plastic formed by nitrating cellulose fibers with nitric acid in the presence of sulfuric acid, and that plastic was used for making billiard balls, radio knobs, pickguards, combs, inlays, plastic buttons for tuners and a whole raft of industrial and consumer products, not a single one of which "breathes."

Nitrocellulose lacquer is an industrial machinery and car paint (among other things) that is produced by adding a solvent like acetone to the nitrocellulose plastic. No car painter from the last century has ever suggested that nitrocellulose lacquer "breathes."

The techs at Fender who were tasked with analyzing Clapton's guitars to produce replicas (one of which he often plays) will tell you that a maple neck is not "relatively stable" in an unfinished condition with a sweaty hand on it night in and night out, and that eventually, something very like dry rot sets in and makes that stable maple neck unstable. This is why even the fretboard of maple necks is painted. The Fender museum is across the parking lot from my old office in Corona. Clapton himself will tell you that the necks wouldn't stay in tune any more, and that's documented. I think the Fender techs might be able to discuss that with you further.

The only maple necks that are supposedly stable in an unfinished condition are the "baked" maple necks. There are a raft of claims made for them, but there are no long-term baked maple necks yet, so only time will tell. They are more brittle (less strong) than natural un-baked maple, and some have checked.
#15
Quote by Explorerbuilder
And it looks horrible.


well thats a matter of option, and really isn't all about the sound?? If it stays in tune and sounds awesome then .... relic's to some are the bees knees
Last edited by sytharnia1560 at Feb 24, 2015,
#17
Quote by dspellman
Nitrocellulose coatings do not breathe in any way, shape or form. Nitrocellulose is a plastic formed by nitrating cellulose fibers with nitric acid in the presence of sulfuric acid, and that plastic was used for making billiard balls, radio knobs, pickguards, combs, inlays, plastic buttons for tuners and a whole raft of industrial and consumer products, not a single one of which "breathes."

Nitrocellulose lacquer is an industrial machinery and car paint (among other things) that is produced by adding a solvent like acetone to the nitrocellulose plastic. No car painter from the last century has ever suggested that nitrocellulose lacquer "breathes."

The techs at Fender who were tasked with analyzing Clapton's guitars to produce replicas (one of which he often plays) will tell you that a maple neck is not "relatively stable" in an unfinished condition with a sweaty hand on it night in and night out, and that eventually, something very like dry rot sets in and makes that stable maple neck unstable. This is why even the fretboard of maple necks is painted. The Fender museum is across the parking lot from my old office in Corona. Clapton himself will tell you that the necks wouldn't stay in tune any more, and that's documented. I think the Fender techs might be able to discuss that with you further.

The only maple necks that are supposedly stable in an unfinished condition are the "baked" maple necks. There are a raft of claims made for them, but there are no long-term baked maple necks yet, so only time will tell. They are more brittle (less strong) than natural un-baked maple, and some have checked.


Well as you previously worked in the vicinity of the Fender factory I bow to your greater knowledge.

Obviously Clapton is a silly Billy to not only render one guitar unplayable by sanding the finish off the back of the neck, but to then do it to a second guitar. I can appreciate that the neck would move more than a treated neck through a changing moisture content, however that change would be relatively slow. The neck would certainly need adjusting more frequently but I doubt it would make it unplayable.

Sweeping statements with regard to any man made materials, particularly plastics, are always a little tricky because of their many forms and properties. They did indeed make nitrocellulose billiard balls as the first alternative to ivory. They stopped because they had a tendency to explode. Celluloid is a derivative of nitrocellulose and well known in producing many of the items you noted, although many were also produced in polystyrene before more complex plastics became available.

The potential for nitrocellulose finishes to breath is widely debated and noted by one manufacture, might even be Fender in respect of their Mexican nitro lacquered guitars.
Last edited by John Sims at Feb 25, 2015,
#18
Quote by John Sims


The potential for nitrocellulose finishes to breath is widely debated and noted by one manufacture, might even be Fender in respect of their Mexican nitro lacquered guitars.


While widely debated I would have to agree that nitro being able to breathe is more likely to be BS. It may have tonal advantages over old style poly' coatings because it was thinner but that is about all.

I can also see that the surface of an untreated neck would degrade through bacterial attack, in the same way the surface of a bread board does. While I wouldn't liken that to Dry Rot, which has quite specific traits, I see how it could be deemed a sort of rot and that it could occur. How deeply this would effect the wood, particularly maple, and over what period of time I couldn't surmise. While I would be surprised if this was sufficient to damage the integrity of the neck you could be right....you did use to work across the car park from Fender after all.
Last edited by John Sims at Feb 25, 2015,
#19
Quote by Intralimpidus
If I don't fill in the grain will dirt accumulate in the grain?


Yes
#20
Quote by John Sims


The potential for nitrocellulose finishes to breath is widely debated and noted by one manufacture, might even be Fender in respect of their Mexican nitro lacquered guitars.


You'll find this "breathing" thing all over the marketing copy of Fender, Gibson and a host of other guitar builders who use the stuff. At NAMM, the Marketing Guys will swear their guitars are blessed with fairy dust and unicorn farts. Or, if you prefer metal, demon slime and devil farts.

Paint manufacturers simply roll their eyes, shake their heads and take the money.

I think it started with a late-60's tab of brown acid that had some soon-to-be-famous guitar player seeing his guitar in whole new ways. When transferred to the Internet, of course, it soon became Holy Scripture.
#21
Quote by John Sims
While widely debated I would have to agree that nitro being able to breathe is more likely to be BS. It may have tonal advantages over old style poly' coatings because it was thinner but that is about all.

While I would be surprised if this was sufficient to damage the integrity of the neck you could be right....you did use to work across the car park from Fender after all.


We could hear all the new Fenders breathing from there. At first it was breathing, but, as we all know, nitro (and its solvents) have been largely removed from industrial use by the EPA because it's both toxic (liver, nervous system, etc.) and carcinogenic. When the guitars began to hack and cough up blood, it became distracting. Had to move.

Yet another myth ("thinner"). The automotive industry dumped it in the '50's because they had too many customer complaints about cracking, checking and color changes, and because they found other paints that dried more quickly.

Hot rod builders, however, *loved* their hand-rubbed lacquer. They'd boast of 30 coats of the stuff and the "deep" finish it produced. One problem was that it chalked, cracked, checked and changed color. But the other issue was that after a couple of years, it would transmit every glitch in the contour of the body beneath it to the surface. No matter how thick the paint job was. Fiberglass roving, a wave in the leading, it was all there. Through a quarter inch of paint!

Guitar players saw this happening -- the grain of the guitar was right there on the surface of the lacquer -- and assumed that it was a THIN coat of paint. You could peel the paint off a Gibson and use it as a stained glass window and they'd still claim it was "thin". And "breathed." The back of an R7 Goldtop, minus the wood:



More modern paints are self-leveling. They fill in the low spots and don't transmit the contour of what's under them to the surface. So you can actually lay on a THINNER coat of paint and it will produce a flat, even gloss. And with UV curing, a guitar can be dry-to-dry in and out of the paint department ready for final sanding and finish assembly within 24 hours. Taylor, for example, has a robot fixture and arm that can lay down a thinner, more EVEN coat of paint than any human sprayer, and it does so with a system that sprays close to 100% solids, and the whole thing protects the workers.