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Do we have any musical people on DC?

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@tjbray - very cool. Also nice to see you have some contract work.

One place you might want to look at is Joe Gore's Tonefiend website.

Joe was one of Tom Waite's guitarists and is also a columnist for Premier Guitar magazine. He's a customization and experimental mod/builder. Very interesting stuff. He has incredible chops and a talent for using a looper - so his demos are also impressive - to say nothing of funny since he uses a non-speaking deadpan in all of them. He freely shares most of what he does on his site. Go check it out. Link here.

He also has a channel on YouTube to host his videos. Here's an sample of some of what you can expect:

 :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

Thanks, 40!  It's probably more due to my methods being slower than using lacquer, but I'm not complaining. Premier Guitar is my favorite magazine, the only one I pay for a hard copy subscription.  I'll definitely give Joe's YouTube and tonefiend site some long looks, thanks.  I like Wait' s music, love the blues along with good old classic rock.

I'll throw some pics up here as I finish my builds, if you're interested. The tele is going to be really cool, I'm hoping.  I was just in the shop working on the bass body,  which I'm hoping to finish up in 3-3 weeks. 

Again, thanks for the info!

Two things:

* I am in the middle of "recovering" a PJ bass I bought at a pawn shop; This is my first woodworking project, and I think I'm doing okay with it.  But I could use advice on how to make it less "dentable".  I want to show the wood grain, instead of just painting it.  So that means some kind of clear-coat.  What would you suggest?

* I'm a software developer - playing around with "hybrid" (web-based + mobile) applications.  I could probably whip something up for you in fairly short order...I just need some really clear specs.  If you're looking, hit me up (my email at yahoo and are the same as my login here).

My son's collection started with a 12 string telecaster I built from a hodgepodge of parts, which I fell back on my car painting days of the late 70's/early 80's and painted Ford Mustang red. I put a lipstick pickup in the bridge position and a hot Texas wound pickup in the neck. From there, we restored and rewired a number of guitars over the next 2-3 years, then I built him a strat wired with 6 DPDT switches to turn on/off each pickup separately and put in and out of phase like Queen's guitarist Brian May. I even hunted down a set of pickups with the same fat poles and specs as May's. That's when instructors, friends, and musicians began asking if I'd build guitars for them.
Just this Summer, my family and friends suggested I put my name on my guitars, so my hobby is now a VERY small business  I built a strat style guitar with a Fender TBX (treble bass expander) and an Atrec band control unit. The flawed fender tremolo was replaced with a Stetsbar unit. I have pics of that guitar.

I'm about 70% done with a PJ style bass with active pickups and a through the body bridge. I've dyed its swamp ash black, highlighted the grain with a silver powder suspension, and am French polishing the body now. The rosewood neck I've sealed in lacquer like Rickenbacker does. On deck for future contracted builds I've got a 50's tele style with the body made from a combination of maple, Honduran mahogany, and Peruvian walnut, and a few builds whenever no contracted work is in the making like an arch top with two TV Jones HBs and a barncaster from reclaimed pine that I intend to partially burn before starting.
I'm a retired cop, and this is far more relaxing than chasing bad guys!

That said, I should use this forum to see if anyone could whip out a couple of form apps or files, like an inventory list that I could use to see what it cost me, as well as a build sheet that I could spec the entire build out to provide an estimate sheet and an itemized bill of sale. I may do well as a luthier, but I rather suck at creating anything on my PC or my iPhone. (sorry it took so long to post this, have been away from my desktop for a while now...)

-tjbray (November 24, 2014, 12:04 PM)
--- End quote ---

Hi Gleep!

If you want high gloss, I would go with something like Arm-r-Seal, made by General Finishes. It will give you a super high gloss shine, and it's a tough finish, protecting your wood from liquids. Underneath that, you can level any deformities with a de-waxed shellac. You can use amber or clear to add some warmth to the wood. With both shellac and the Arm-R-Seal, they can be applied with a rag or brush. Great for new woodworkers.

If you plan on keeping your guitar, and don't plan on gigging with it, the shellac can give you an awesome finish alone, but beer, the bane of instruments, can mar the finish. The best thing about shellac is in de-waxed form, it is water resistant, but even if somebody does scratch or mar your guitar, shellac coats applied over old coats melts right into the old finish, making repairs easy.

I have used lacquer in the beginning of my restorations and builds, but have come to prefer shellac and varnish finishes for their look, and oil finishes like Tru oil just doesn't harden enough.

I'm biased, but that's the best part of opinions!

I'll get with you after the holidays regarding the program/app I'm hoping can be made, thanks!


re: Bass- Depends on how much work you want to make for yourself. The urethane based finishes Fender was big on up till recently are sturdy. But they're thick and many people (myself included) think it adversely affects the tone of the instrument.


For those who don't know what we're talking about:

The two most traditional/recommended finishes for guitars are either a nitrocellulose lacquer or a shellac-based finish called French polish.

Nitrocellulose lacquer is very toxic so you'll need to be very careful with ventilation if you go that route. Nitrocellulose lacquer also doesn't like water or drinks being spilled on it. You will get those water spots and damage that our mothers always used to be worried about with their good furniture. It can also chip easily if you bully it. That said, lacquer is relatively easy to refinish if it ever comes to that. It looks gorgeous and it seems to have a positive effect on the sound - although I don't think any real scientific study was ever done to support that. So take that assertion with a grain of salt.

Time was when you wanted a spray gun to apply lacquer. Some of the big guitar suppliers (StewMac, Luthier Mercantile, et al) now carry excellent lacquers in a spray can that actually work quite well. If you're only doing one offs (as opposed to running a boutique manufacturing operation) these aerosol cans are a lot more convenient and economical that investing in a compressor and a sprayer. You can also hand apply lacquer with a brush. But it will make a  lot more work for you when it comes to sanding and polishing it out.

For lacquer finishing a guitar, check out Will Kelly's videos on YouTube. His channel is here.

French polish is the traditional finish used on fine string instruments such as violins and classical guitars. It's an easy but tedious process that involves applying and sanding multiple thinly applied layers of shellac. Much less toxic than lacquer. And possibly more sturdy since shellac finishes have more flex than a lacquer finish does. Easiest to repair if needed. But like lacquer, it doesn't care for water hitting it.

There's a really good detailed 6-part tutorial on YouTube that will walk you through the whole process. Find the beginning here. And another good tutorial here. I'd watch both if anybody is thinking they want to take a stab at it.


@theGleep - Don't know if this answers your question since neither French polish nor nitrocellulose lacquer is more "dent proof" than what's already on your bass. If anything, they're more fragile. But they are great finishes, And they're what gets applied to better quality instruments.

StewMac also has a pretty useful channel with loads of good advice, how-tos, and tips for builders and repairers. Find that here.

Luck! :Thmbsup:


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