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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:42 am 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:40 am
Posts: 37
First name: maarten
Last Name: van guyse
City: heusden-zolder
Zip/Postal Code: 3550
Country: belgium
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
meddlingfool wrote:

At some point I'm going to need to learn to FP. I've heard it's not as hard as you'd think...


I don't agree. I am currently even at the point where I'm considering contracting out my french polishing. I have done about 25 guitars now, and while I'm able to get a decent finish, I seem to be unable to achieve a quality of finish that is good enough for selling my guitars in high end guitar stores. They all like the sound and build quality of my guitars, but I keep getting remarks on the finish.

I do see an improvement over time, but to me at least, french polishing has a slow learning curve. Still I won't give up on french polishing due to all the benefits (looks, repairability, sound??, 'ease of application', tradition? (I build classical guitars)). But for guitars that are going to be sold in guitar stores, I will probably have someone else do it for me.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:13 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:15 pm
Posts: 5142
First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
We all have diverse aptitudes, attitudes, experiences, and dispositions. What's easy for me may be hard for you and visa versa.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:19 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:08 pm
Posts: 796
meddlingfool wrote:

I agree that 7-10.5 is too thick for a professional finish that you pay for.


Ed, I'm getting the impression that you are basing your opinion of polyester instrument finish based on YOUR experience with a single finisher?

I have no doubt that you heard a difference with YOUR instruments but if you are able to try another finisher in Canada that can finish an instrument with a film thickness in the range that you feel is best, you might be happy. It is not that difficult for me to finish a guitar with polyester and have a final film in the .003 to .004 range consistently.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:04 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 10:44 am
Posts: 3589
I have found FP to be easier then I thought it would be too. But that was after 20 years of trying countless finishing methods. Sadly I will simply NEVER be good at finishing. I've just had to deal with it as a fact. But FP for me so far as been 'good enough.' I can get reasonably close to a mirror finish but when you look close in some spots you will see a swirl or something. I've even heard high end classical makers say that's just part of French Polishing. So I think that many of us are too hard on ourselves. Perfection is not achievable. Like anything in life the more you do something the better you get at it. So far every guitar I have FP'd I've tried a little something different searching for hat perfect technique. The one I am currently struggling with for example I adjusted my glazing method and so far so good. Hang in there and don't give up!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:07 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:15 pm
Posts: 5142
First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
joe white wrote:
meddlingfool wrote:

I agree that 7-10.5 is too thick for a professional finish that you pay for.


Ed, I'm getting the impression that you are basing your opinion of polyester instrument finish based on YOUR experience with a single finisher?

I have no doubt that you heard a difference with YOUR instruments but if you are able to try another finisher in Canada that can finish an instrument with a film thickness in the range that you feel is best, you might be happy. It is not that difficult for me to finish a guitar with polyester and have a final film in the .003 to .004 range consistently.


Well, who else's experience could I base it on, lol! :)

But, I know lots of other people seem to get along with it, but their ideals and aspirations and techniques may differ from mine. One certainty is that the finish is just as much a part of the overall system as any other component, so everybody needs to find something that is compatible with how they do what they do. YMMV as they say. When Dana Bourgeois was developing his aged tone series, he used an entirely different finish than on the regular line.

3-4 range is exactly what I think should be achievable, so maybe next time I'll send one your way for comparison. I've got one out for catalyzed urethane right now. I've heard guitars by other makers finished by this person that sounded great, so I'm very curious to hear how it sounds on my work. It's also entirely plausible that I need to adjust the woodworking aspect to adapt to a gloss finish to get the sonic results I'm after, but I need a proper film thickness first to find out. I need to eliminate the film thickness as a possible culprit.

Finding finishers at all is difficult, let alone ones in Canada. Since I started my satin line, the orders for gloss have dropped dramatically, so I don't get a chance to poke that nest very often.

Ultimately I need a finish I can live with that I can do myself. It costs me about 1000 to get a guitar glossed with shipping and exchange rates. So my 3k guitar immediately becomes a 2k guitar, only 400 more than my satin line, and that nominal difference is easily swallowed by the increased cost of better wood, and the piles of extra labor from all the mitres, volutes, laminated linings, cf neck bars, yada yada yada. So I need to find a way to keep that grand. But in the meantime...out they go!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:59 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 10:44 am
Posts: 3589
I think finishing for the most part is a learned skill. I'm sure there are some finishing virtuosos out there with God given natural talent but for the most part I bet the far majority of us can learn to do it one way or another. So why not put the cost of shipping out finishing jobs into proper training and equipment?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:29 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:15 pm
Posts: 5142
First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
So far, because out of the last 250 guitars, only 4 have been gloss, so it hasn't seemed like a practical investment. And I can't spray due to location. But I'm getting the itch ...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:34 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:20 am
Posts: 2740
In most of the cabinet shops I've worked in the finisher was separate from the cabinetmakers. It is a different skill set. Even some of the relatively small Spanish guitar shops I've read about used a finisher to french polish their guitars. As an amateur a "jack of all trades" approach might be O.K. because we don't expect every aspect of the product to be flawless, but a professional shop may need to track down a local source for a professionally applied finish. I'm sure there are people in Vancouver who can do quality finishes on guitars but you will probably find them in cabinetmaking, auto refinishing shops, furniture refinishers and even "touch up" techs. For a relatively low volume of guitars you may be able to find an amateur finisher (not amateur guitar maker) who can apply a professional quality guitar finish. If you find the right person you can probably keep a good part of that thousand dollars in your pocket ( just don't get too greedy- a good finishing job is worth something).
A friend of mine is a professional finisher. He finished a couple of instruments for me, and also gave me some free training to help me do my own finishes. He does a flawless job and in less time than I can do a "fair" job. It is his Profession which he has invested time and effort into learning.



These users thanked the author Clay S. for the post: rlrhett (Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:55 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:47 pm 
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Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:50 pm
Posts: 1518
Location: Seattle WA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
You also might be able to find someone to just do the spraying. I've thought about trying that. It would probably depend on what product is being sprayed. And they might need some instruction.

If it was costing me 1K, I would figure something out quick! LOL


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:01 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:15 pm
Posts: 5142
First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
Well, it's only one or two per year. Practicality needs to be considered. If I got an order for ten, it'd be a different story...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:03 pm 
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Koa
Koa
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Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 834
City: Escondido
State: CA
Zip/Postal Code: 92029
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
Clay S. wrote:
In most of the cabinet shops I've worked in the finisher was separate from the cabinetmakers. It is a different skill set. Even some of the relatively small Spanish guitar shops I've read about used a finisher to french polish their guitars. As an amateur a "jack of all trades" approach might be O.K. because we don't expect every aspect of the product to be flawless, but a professional shop may need to track down a local source for a professionally applied finish. I'm sure there are people in Vancouver who can do quality finishes on guitars but you will probably find them in cabinetmaking, auto refinishing shops, furniture refinishers and even "touch up" techs. For a relatively low volume of guitars you may be able to find an amateur finisher (not amateur guitar maker) who can apply a professional quality guitar finish. If you find the right person you can probably keep a good part of that thousand dollars in your pocket ( just don't get too greedy- a good finishing job is worth something).
A friend of mine is a professional finisher. He finished a couple of instruments for me, and also gave me some free training to help me do my own finishes. He does a flawless job and in less time than I can do a "fair" job. It is his Profession which he has invested time and effort into learning.


I agree with this whole heartedly. I've put a lot of time into learning the engineering of guitar building. As some of you know, I build with wood and carbon fiber composites. That has taken me a decade to figure out. But the flawless high gloss finish people expect on a guitar is a skill in and of itself. I feel like I would have to do nothing but finish guitars for a few years to get real skills there.

Mine is a hobby business. I only sell a handful a year. I would have no net income from this business if I paid someone else to finish my guitars. I am proud enough of my builds to believe them world class, but I always feel let down by the barely acceptable outcome of my finishing skills. I would outsource my finishing in a second to a real pro if it made any financial sense.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:36 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:15 pm
Posts: 5142
First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
Yup, finishing is hard, and a special skill.

Finishing guitars is a harder subdivision of that skill set.

But since I make my (keff keff) living from this, it isn't so much about me making money as it is about making sure I deliver people's money's worth so there is nothing to complain about.

So I pays what I need to pay as I slowly develope the product line. Eventually the dots will connect and I'll be able to stop fussing over finish as a matter put to rest through diligent exploration, experimentation, and experience.


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