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Help needed - loss of gloss!!

16 May 04 - 02:22 AM (#1186634)
Subject: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Strollin' Johnny

The finish on the top on my Martin has lost its gloss where my arm comes over when I play. I suspect it's sweat and chemicals reacting with the lacquer that's caused it, so please don't explain that to me - it's not easy to wipe it with a warm damp cloth every time you play in a pub packed to the rafters with drunken folkies!

But can anyone tell me if it's possible to restore it and, if so, how do I go about it. Come on you axe-tecs, help me here!

Johnny :0)


16 May 04 - 02:33 AM (#1186637)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Clinton Hammond

Guitars shouldn't have gloss on 'em in the first place...


16 May 04 - 02:37 AM (#1186639)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Strollin' Johnny

Elucidate please, Clinton!


16 May 04 - 03:11 AM (#1186648)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: s&r

Try metal polish (Brasso) or similar. This will restore a high gloss on most finishes, and will polish out micro scratches. Then finish with a small amount of furniture polish.

Stu


16 May 04 - 04:30 AM (#1186660)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Richard Bridge

Furniture polish builds up a patina of wax and/or silicon on the finish which deadens the sound and can be very hard to remove. Do not under any circumstances go there!

The basic question is whether the loss of gloss is sticky bits of folk forearm on top of the lacquer, or an impairment of the lacquer.

If the first, try polishing with white spirit and clean white soft looroll so you can see what is coming off. This method I used to remove furniture wax from my late wife's 40 year old Hagstrom, with considerable success, both in terms of appearance and sound.

If the second - well Brasso and similar are very fine abrasives, and they might remove the damages finish leaving a clean one. Or they might polish right through to the wood. The lines (microscopic ones) left by the abrasive particles will result in some loss of gloss. Always polish with abrasives is straight lines in the same direction. On guitar I'd suggest parallel to the neck. I am pretty iffy about abrasives on a guitar because most finishes are really really thin.

A friend of mine has just had the top (face) of his Martin 00018 refinished by Brook Guitars (Taunton, I think, UK I know) with a thinner finish than the original but high gloss and it looks and sounds very nice. A smidgeon short on "thud" up close (I like the dreadnought "thud") but it gets better and better as you move to about 20 to 30 feet away. I have no idea what it cost (and shudder to think of asking) but well worth checking out, I would say.


16 May 04 - 04:32 AM (#1186661)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Dave Hanson

' BRASSO ? ' this is abrasive, it will not restore a gloss finish.
eric


16 May 04 - 05:07 AM (#1186666)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Clinton Hammond

Or you could just leave it alone and accept that things wear as you use them, and that's what gives them 'character'...


16 May 04 - 05:19 AM (#1186667)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: s&r

Brasso polishes brass and many other things very well. It's an abrasive, but it's fine. Most gloss finishes are achieved by using a succession of finer and finer abrasives to polish out scratches and eggshell finishes.

A smaal quantity of furniture polish won't make a haporth of difference to the tone; a build up caused by regular polishing may.

I find it much more difficult to restore matt finishes.

Stu


16 May 04 - 05:49 AM (#1186670)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Hrothgar

Shine yur buttons with Brasso
It's only three ha'pence a tim,
You can buy it or whip it from Woolworths,
But I don't think they have any in.


16 May 04 - 06:28 AM (#1186677)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: s&r

Whatever you do try it with care and on an inconspicuous part first. And if you do use a polish (sparingly) it mustn't have silicones in it - any future refinishing is difficult where silicones have been

stu


16 May 04 - 06:44 AM (#1186680)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: greg stephens

Leave it as it is. I played my first paid gig in 1961. I look a little bit different now(and so does the guitar I expect) but what the hell. It's the folk process.


16 May 04 - 07:19 AM (#1186689)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Mooh

If it isn't addressed at frets.com it might not be worth doing. If it is, Frank Ford will have the answer.

As for me, I'd leave well enough alone.

Peace, Mooh.


16 May 04 - 09:00 AM (#1186713)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: bigchuck

Most of my guitars have had this happen over the years. Sweat and other bodily chemicals react with lacquer and actually soften the surface layer. It doesn't happen on my Taylor because that's got a polyurethane finish. The finish may be compromised all the way through, in which case only a refinish will change it. Definitely not recommended. Under no circumstances should stuff like brasso be used. The safe thing to try yourself is Super Sensitive violin polish, which has some mild abrasive content. If that and a little elbow grease won't do the trick then it's a job for a luthier (I am one). Much as it pains me to have to agree with Clinton, I think he's right on this issue.

Sandy


16 May 04 - 09:49 AM (#1186729)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Maryrrf

I had this same problem. I went to a music store and they recommended Gibson polish for guitars, mandolins and fiddles. I haven't tried it yet. I believe Martin sells a similar product and I've seen it on the web somewhere - try doing a search for Martin accessories or something like that. I'll let you know if it works. The polish only costs around $5.00 for a small bottle.


16 May 04 - 10:05 AM (#1186740)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: JohnInKansas

I wouldn't consider using Brasso on anything other than the few specific metals it's intended for. The main "polishing" that Brasso does on brass is chemical - by reacting with and "flushing off" the oxidized surface of the metal. The "vehicle" is a mineral oil that will likely penetrate into any exposed wood, and be very difficult to remove, if you decide something else needs to be done.

As Bigchuck suggests, a violin or guitar polish should be easy enough to find at your local suppliers, and should certainly be the first thing to try. If you feel you must have something more abrasive to get some scratches out, you should be able to find dry powdered talc, whiting, or pumice that you can use to make a fine paste with a little water or with an appropriate vegetable oil to rub with a clean soft cloth.

Most "kitchen cleansers" are too abrasive, but the last I heard the "Bon Ami" cleanser still contained only pumice, with a mild water soluble detergent, so it might be suitable for cautious use.

The sort of "haze" described is usually the result of moisture (and other "body" things) penetrating the finish, and is unlikely to be helped much by anthing short of removing the finish and putting on new finish. Doing nothing is often the best choice.

John


16 May 04 - 10:06 AM (#1186742)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Georgiansilver

John, Remind me when I see you at M/R on Friday and let me please have a look at it..I may just have the answer for you. Be Blessed, Mike


16 May 04 - 12:10 PM (#1186792)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Justa Picker

Do NOT under any circumstances use Brasso on the finish of a guitar (you care about.)

Yes there IS a solution.

Get yourself some VIRTUOSO CLEANER (not the polish). Apply about the size of a dime to a cotton cloth, which will do a 6 inch area. It will take some elbow grease, but it will remove the dull, dry haze and restore it, WITHOUT affecting the original finish. It's also great for the sides and back of the guitar as well where dullness from persperation has affected the finish.

Just do a search for "Virtuoso Cleaner". Get the polish too if you like, but the cleaner in and of itself does an excellent job.


16 May 04 - 03:28 PM (#1186880)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: s&r

come on all you anti brasso's - it's white spirit, ammonia, and mild abrasive. Apart from any abrasive removing some finish, what harm have I done to my cherished instruments? They look OK ;)

stu


16 May 04 - 04:26 PM (#1186892)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Strollin' Johnny

Thanks you guys (and gals?) - lots of advice, some conflicting but hey, wouldn't you expect that? :-)

She was a touch expensive (a J-40, big and beautiful) so I might try some of JustaPicker's Virtuoso Cleaner first. Or I may leave well alone - need to think on it!

Thanks again to you all, I very much appreciate you taking the trouble to help and advise on this one. :0)

Clinton - one thing, if the makers put a gloss finish on it I'm stuck with it, yes? My other guitar, a Lowden O25, has a satin finish that's just as sensitive and needs as much looking after as the Martin, so why do you say guitars shouldn't have a gloss finish? I'm truly not looking for a fight, just wondering if you know something I don't. :0) :0)

Johnny :0)


16 May 04 - 06:23 PM (#1186938)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Clinton Hammond

Nope... I'm just WAY more cavalier about guitar finishes than most people... (I'm way more cavalier about a LOT of stuff than most people) I play my guitar full in the knowledge that it's gonna get dinged, scratched chipped and banged... It's just a thing, and things wear out...

It's a small matter...

Besides... it gives the guitar character...

And well, I'm not a fan of gloss finishes... they 'muddy' up the sound in my estimation....

(That's just personal preference... No fight intentions from my end either! :-)


16 May 04 - 06:46 PM (#1186944)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: greg stephens

Right on Clinton. My guitar is covered in crap and scratches, and a crack is patched with gaffer tape(duct tape, I believe, to Americans). And the older I get, the more mistakes I make, and the slower I play. But. thank God and touch wood, there's still a few people coming to the gigs.
   Leave well alone. I say. If God had wanted guitars to stay shiny, he'd have made them stay shiny, wouldn't he?


16 May 04 - 08:20 PM (#1186970)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Strollin' Johnny

Mmmmm, there's something in what you say Clinton and Greg, but I guess I'm one of those people who just can't help taking care of his belongings! Just the way I am, like I go to the opticians every two years for an eye-test and they're always astonished that my glasses are like new, no scratches or marks on the lenses, and it's because I don't just "Hah" on them to clean them, I'm fastidious about cleaning them under water, polishing them with the proper microfibre cloth instead of my hankie or the end of my tie, and putting them in their case when I take them off for bed! I'm an obsessive care-taker! "It's a heavy load we bear.................." :0) LOL

Thanks again, I value both your inputs.

Johnny :0)


17 May 04 - 01:50 PM (#1187338)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: McGrath of Harlow

I always knew that some time I'd find Clinton would say something I agreed with.


17 May 04 - 02:10 PM (#1187352)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Clinton Hammond

MGoH...

Eventually... All come over to the dark side...

Feel the power my young padawan...

:-)


17 May 04 - 02:14 PM (#1187356)
Subject: RE: Help needed - loss of gloss!!
From: Cluin

I agree with Clinton on the character of worn and well-played-in instruments, but not with him as regards gloss finishes.

My one guitar with a satin finish (a Guild)... though I like the look of the finish, it develops a continual waxy-sort-of buildup where my fingertips and pleck brush the top during strumming. I have to use a Q-Tip and alcohol periodically top get it off. I suppose it might be coming off the picguard, but it builds up there too. I've never had this problem with any of my gloss-finish guitars. And none of them have a muddy tone or I'd have gotten rid of them.

And, in a sort of counterpoint to Strolling Johnny's experience: where my arm rests on the top has definitely developed a glossy appearance.