Guitar Making Tip No. 891

Guitar Making Tip No. 891 is about picking a nice finish for your guitar. There are many more options available than lacquer, and you don’t even need spray equipment. Hand applied finishes have been used for a very long time, and selecting a finish is easier than it sounds. Here is how.

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Picking Out an Easy to Apply Finish

guitar making tip number 891Select a finish for your guitar that is easy to apply, and you will be much happier. Hand finishes and simple finishes are a pleasure to work with. They also reduce the stresses involved in finishing.

When you are worried about your finish, you are setting yourself up for a tough time. It’s a scary feeling to think that you might possibly ruin several months of work by applying a terrible finish to your guitar. I know, I felt the same way on my first finish.

You really don’t need to know how to apply more than a couple finishes for the majority of your guitar making career, so don’t worry so much, and pick out a finish that is easier to apply. Don’t worry if it’s not what the guitar factories are doing.

You are not a factory, and they don’t have the time that you have to create a nice hand applied finish. This is where the small shop has the edge, here is why:

Small Shops Can Take Their Time and Use Hand Applied Finishes

As a small guitar maker, you have the ability to take the time and apply a nice finish by hand to your instrument. A large guitar maker needs to pump out a certain number of units a day to remain profitable. This means they need a finish that will dry quickly, and is quick to apply. The faster the piece is finished and dry, the faster it gets into a box and onto a truck.

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You are going to be spending more time than with a spray finish, but you also do not have to buy the equipment, and learn how to spray well. Spraying is not super difficult, but it’s not something you pick up in five minutes either.

Hand applied finishes are some of the most beautiful in the world. They also restrict the movement of the plates less because they do not adhere to the surface in a thick layer like some lacquer jobs. A super thick cheap factory finish is sometimes worse for the guitar than having no finish at all.

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My 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing explains more about finishing. It’s a free PDF, so you can save it to your computer and refer back to it.

What Finishes to Buy as a Beginner

Choose finishes that are applied by hand, like Wiping Varnishes and Polymerized Oils. These finishes are easy to apply, and they dry slowly so they self level. It will take a little longer to apply them, because the coats will need time, but it’s worth the wait.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Take your time. You have no reason to be rushed, and you will only make things take longer if you do. Enjoy the time you are spending making your handmade custom guitar. You will only enjoy your first build once.

The name of the wiping vanish that I use is Arm-R-Seal Oil and Urethane Topcoat. The Polymerized Oil is Tru-Oil, and I even have a Step by Step Finishing Guide for Using Tru-Oil that you can take a look at.

Most of my guitars are finished with Tru-Oil, and I still do not own spray equipment. The finish is beautiful, long lasting, and super easy to apply. This saves me lots of frustration, gives me a gorgeous finish, and lets me create something that stands apart from the world of lacquer dipped guitars. It can do the same for you too.

In case you haven’t read it, my Secret to Wood Finishing post tells you the real trick to finishing wood. It’s easy too.

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