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Author Topic: Has anyone polished a satin sunburst?  (Read 1390 times)
jpmist
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« on: January 28, 2017, 08:06:39 PM »

I've been tempted for two years to polish out the satin finish on my OOV-03. I did a test polish on the narrow flat section of the lower bout next to the cutaway. The picture shows the wonderful result on the left compared to the unpolished right side. Hard to photograph the depth that the semigloss now has but I love the richer blacks in the darker sunburst area. The annoying haze is gone and I can't wait to do the whole thing.

I used the following stuff shown below. OOOO steel wool, Novus #2, Kit clear coat polish & Dunlop 65. Stuff I had on hand that I've used on other projects and was surprised how fast it worked.

My concern is the black sunburst shading, as I'm guessing that as the top most layer it's very thin and I have to take care to not widen the sunburst area as it seems from the picture that I may have polished some of it off at the edge of the shading (circled area).

I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has tackled a sunburst satin to confirm my suspicions and any general tips. I'm guessing I don't even need the Novus 2, but maybe I should ease up on the OOOO as well. Thanks!




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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2017, 03:52:30 AM »

I've never liked steel wool for this sort of thing.  You have no control over the level of cutting you're doing .  IMO, much better to spend a few dollars to get some wet/dry paper and a proper pad so that you're cutting evenly and not making pits.

  Regarding cutting through the sunburst, that would imply that Larrivee sprays their burst in the last levels of clear coat.  I don't see why they would do that.  You don't use your burst color in the clear, otherwise the finish would have a huge lump in the shaded areas.  You apply the tone first, then clear on top.  If your shade is going away, you've either cut through all the finish, or they did something weird in applying clear coat under the burst (which seems very unlikely).
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2017, 07:05:07 AM »

I've never liked steel wool for this sort of thing.  You have no control over the level of cutting you're doing .  IMO, much better to spend a few dollars to get some wet/dry paper and a proper pad so that you're cutting evenly and not making pits.

  Regarding cutting through the sunburst, that would imply that Larrivee sprays their burst in the last levels of clear coat.  I don't see why they would do that.  You don't use your burst color in the clear, otherwise the finish would have a huge lump in the shaded areas.  You apply the tone first, then clear on top.  If your shade is going away, you've either cut through all the finish, or they did something weird in applying clear coat under the burst (which seems very unlikely).

I agree with going the wet/dry paper route (no pun intended).  The 3M paper (dark grey) works great.  Use it wet.  Soak the paper in water for awhile before starting, then keep the surface wet while sanding.  Wipe off the slurry frequently and especially before switching to the next grit. Start with maybe P800 or P1000 and progress to P2500.  After that, if it's still not glossy enough, use buffing/polishing compound on a clean pure cotton rag or pad. 
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jpmist
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2017, 06:01:12 PM »

Thanks to all who weighed in, still would like to hear from someone who's actually polished a satin sunburst acoustic. Finger's crossed.

It doesn't appear to me that there is a clear satin on top of the suburst black. The black spray seems to be the uppermost layer of finish on my Larrivee, so where it thins out to transition to the clear coated wood it's is at it's  thinnest and most vulnerable to removal. I suppose I'm just going to have to be very judicious polishing that transition area.

What was very surprising was how very little effort it took to get a semi-gloss finish. The steel wool is not as drastic as you might imagine and it literally took only a few swipes to affect a change. I have plenty of fine grit as well as micro mesh, but the steel wool seems simpler to work with. The Novus #2 probably removed more of the finish than the wool did and I'll likely leave that step out.

The goal here is not a buffed out mirror finish. Attacking a perfectly acceptable satin finish with steel wool seems drastic, but  I'm only removing microns of finish and coming nowhere close to the wood. The finishes used in the last decades are really harder and  durable than you might imagine, so it's not all that dramatic.

Thanks again.
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2017, 06:37:09 PM »

Don't take offense but if what you're describing is correct, it sounds like a terrible idea to continue. I get the sense that you're not looking for constructive criticism but that's never stopped me before so I'm just going to tell you out of concern, if the shade is near the top and you're taking off what little protection it has, every scratch, ding, etc is going to make "holes" in the sunburst.   Using steel wool makes this even more risky because you're not just removing the peaks off the satin since you have little control with the wool.
If I were you I'd restore some of the satin look to the areas you already did by using a 1000 grade paper.
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2017, 12:23:34 AM »

Interesting thread.  I have a 2008 L-03 which, IMO has some really nice looking wood figuring in the spruce.  I'd like to uncover it more and am considering taking it from the dull satin to a semi-gloss.  One of the interesting things I found on this site are the clear finishing schedules Larrivee used in their various years of construction.  For my guitar, the finish de-jour was "Satin: Pure Acrylic 12.5% Sheen Satin Finish (Catalyzed), over top of a UV Polyester Base coat".  I haven't used acrylic for some time and never a catalyzed acrylic so I'm not really sure how this will react (hard/soft etc) with say OOOO steel wool or 2000 plus micro?  Did you factor in the finish of your guitar or does it change how you would approach adjusting the sheen?   

Regarding the tinting, I recently didn't say no to a virtually unplayed Alvarez Masterwork APA66 with a mahogany top.  It has a really striking shadowburst around the perimeter of the top.  It's also, unfortunately high gloss which I'm not really fond of.  By high, I mean you'll go blind getting caught in a lights reflection gloss.  I bought it from a guy who was giving it way due to medical bills otherwise I probably would have passed.  But there are a lot of plus's to the guitar and it does sing out but I just can't seem to look past the gloss.  I took it to my favorite luthier and he concluded the shadow staining was probably in the wood itself rather than mixed with the finish.  He makes guitars as well as repairing so must know something - right?  Note I'm skeptical of everything.  I guess having older brothers taught me to never be trusting.....   

So perhaps that's the case here?  Have you tried to contract Larrivee to see what they may have done? I emailed Alvarez last week to confirm how they did the shadow burst.  If it is in the finish, I really don't want to sand through it.  It would really screw it up and pretty much force me do take it all off.

Best of luck 
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2017, 02:02:50 AM »

Having done the deed, it turned out well. My initial concern was if the black burst layer was thin enough that I needed to worry about removing the black and in doing that reducing the width of the dark border. Didn't happen, the black simply isn't that thin a layer and the overall finish is a lot harder than I suspected.

The UV cured finish is pretty tough and thick enough that a minute or so of rubbing with OOOO isn't going to remove more than a few microns. The wool basically smooths over the satin "peaks" so whatever you use following the steel wool will leave a better sheen. What I discovered was that the black burst will show any polishing you do to it in terms of having fine lines when a light hits it at a certain angle. However the clear finish over a spruce top will show far fewer lines and result in a richer more saturated color. To remove the chalky haze will take more polish for the black burst area than the clear wood finish.

After I finished with the steel wool and the two polishes I went over one area with a set of Stew-Mac micromesh pads and it deepened the gloss quite a bit but I think nothing short of buffing will remove all the small lines in the finish. It now has a nice vintage aged patina look that fits the guitar nicely and I'm happy with the result.

As far as your Alvarez, I looked at the ones on the web site and am skeptical that the dark burst is in the wood grain. I'd think it'd be more efficient for a factory to spray the darker burst shade as it'd be really hard to feather a stain as gradually as one can feather a  spray. But I'm just arm chairing here.

I'm a tad horrified at the idea of taking down a gloss finish to a matt because to get close to a non-reflecting satin you run the risk of leaving what will look like a lot of scratches and swirls in the finish. I wouldn't do it. The satin finish like Larrivee's is due to a physical/chemical reaction at it's surface which leaves microfine peaks and valleys in the finish. It is far finer than what you can do with any kind of micromesh or polish.
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2017, 03:53:06 AM »

If you burnt through into the black you would see the black on your hands and the paper, clear coat has a whitish look to the dust you are removing.  I'm pretty sure Larrivee sprays their bursts first then clear coats them whether they are satin or gloss.


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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2017, 12:26:41 PM »

If you burnt through into the black you would see the black on your hands and the paper, clear coat has a whitish look to the dust you are removing.  I'm pretty sure Larrivee sprays their bursts first then clear coats them whether they are satin or gloss.

Yeah, thx, that seems to have been the case. At no point in the process did I see any black dust, so the top layer must have been a clear coat.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2017, 03:36:55 AM »

Having done the deed, it turned out well. My initial concern was if the black burst layer was thin enough that I needed to worry about removing the black and in doing that reducing the width of the dark border. Didn't happen, the black simply isn't that thin a layer and the overall finish is a lot harder than I suspected.

The UV cured finish is pretty tough and thick enough that a minute or so of rubbing with OOOO isn't going to remove more than a few microns. The wool basically smooths over the satin "peaks" so whatever you use following the steel wool will leave a better sheen. What I discovered was that the black burst will show any polishing you do to it in terms of having fine lines when a light hits it at a certain angle. However the clear finish over a spruce top will show far fewer lines and result in a richer more saturated color. To remove the chalky haze will take more polish for the black burst area than the clear wood finish.

After I finished with the steel wool and the two polishes I went over one area with a set of Stew-Mac micromesh pads and it deepened the gloss quite a bit but I think nothing short of buffing will remove all the small lines in the finish. It now has a nice vintage aged patina look that fits the guitar nicely and I'm happy with the result.

As far as your Alvarez, I looked at the ones on the web site and am skeptical that the dark burst is in the wood grain. I'd think it'd be more efficient for a factory to spray the darker burst shade as it'd be really hard to feather a stain as gradually as one can feather a  spray. But I'm just arm chairing here.

I'm a tad horrified at the idea of taking down a gloss finish to a matt because to get close to a non-reflecting satin you run the risk of leaving what will look like a lot of scratches and swirls in the finish. I wouldn't do it. The satin finish like Larrivee's is due to a physical/chemical reaction at it's surface which leaves microfine peaks and valleys in the finish. It is far finer than what you can do with any kind of micromesh or polish.


Thank you for the update and I'm glad your project turned out.  Regarding the Alvarez, I absolutely hear you.  I've was playing her today and she's starting to grow on me.  The original setup was horrible with crazy buzzing.  Totally unplayable.  I needed to take out a backbow with the truss, sand down the saddle and file the nut slots.  It took a while but she's finally purring.  I'm going to give it another week or so and see if I'm still keen on fixing the gloss or just accept it.  I have a bunch of different micro pads would probably start with some 6000 or so and test out the back of her.  Or go straight to 0000.  But as you point out, it's the black burst on the front that will be the real teller.  Part of me just wants to sand the whole thing down and refinish it.  The other issue driving this is the finish is terribly uneven.  With the gloss, you also see ALL the waves in the finish when you turn it.  I can't help but think whatever was sprayed on there is thick..... 

Well, the good news is I'm not into it much and thinning out the finish should only help.  Perhaps a step 1 - level the finish while changing from gloss to a semi/satin.  And, if needed a step 2 - a full sand/recoat.  I recently refinished a 40 yo 12 string that had finish scratches and it turned out pretty good.  Fun stuff these guitars...

     
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jpmist
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2017, 02:33:02 PM »

Well, the good news is I'm not into it much and thinning out the finish should only help.  Perhaps a step 1 - level the finish while changing from gloss to a semi/satin.  And, if needed a step 2 - a full sand/recoat.  I recently refinished a 40 yo 12 string that had finish scratches and it turned out pretty good.  Fun stuff these guitars...

One of the downsides to posting on forums is not knowing the capability of whoever you're responding to. Mea culpa. Since you're comfortable with respraying, you're way ahead of me! Will happily trade pics of final result, curious to see how yours comes out.
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2017, 10:22:16 PM »

Sounds good!  It's getting somewhat warmer and I've starting garage/shop puttering a little more.  I finally broke down and bought a new-to-me bandsaw yesterday and can't wait to start making sawdust.  I'm still on the fence through with the Alvarez.  Some days I'm fine with it and others not so.  It's mostly when it's sunny outside that I see the finish imperfections.  I just don't get why they'd spray the crap out it to the point you see deep waves?  The rest of the git is really nice.  I have two others ahead of it though including a Seagull Artist Folk that was cracked on the side and I repaired.  It took some time to get it right but man, I really can't believe the sound out of it!  I have a couple more coats of semi to put on before it's done.  Then my L-03 that I'm planning to make a sound port cover where the pre-amp was.  I'm getting close to kicking that job off but it keeps snowing on the mountain and well, I have these ski's you see and ....

Stay tuned JP   
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