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MoonShine

Restoration of Old Acoustic Guitar

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My first thread, hope its ok to ask a stoopid question?

I bought a very old Dixon USA acoustic from a garage sale last week and immediately started giving it TLC (tender loving care):yes: filling in small cracks and knicks along the edges with a fantastic filler which goes very hard and sandable. Stained the patches and sanded with very fine grade of white Alum Oxide paper and then steel wool.

I do a fair bit of old furniture restoration as a hobby, and mostly use Shellac which is cheap an easy to prepare with Shellac flakes and Metho (Methalated Spirits).

But my question is, would the coatings you put on the guitar influence the note that one gets, considering I can either use shellac or, a poly based type varnish finish?

Got the feeling that a varnish enamel application may crack after a while, not being certain of what the guitar manufacturers finish the guitars with and if this it really matters so much?

With Shellac (with a small amount of Walnut stain mixed in), would apply at least 4 coats letting it dry for several hours between coats, then rub back with steelwool and bees wax, another concern.

Anyone have any idea's please, am I too aprehensive about this or is it worth the effort to investigate in case it takes something away from a wonderful old guitar well and truly worth restoring?

Thanks.

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I'm not a guitar refinisher, so my 2 cents worth here may not be that valuable. I craft wood to a degree, mostly country style crafts so I'm not oblivious to working with wood and finishes. I am about to refinish a 1978 Fender MusicMaster bass guitar.

Guitar wood is not furniture wood. Be very sparse in using fillers. Matter of fact, I'm not sure that I"d use any filler at all. Every inkling of change in the composition of the guitar changes the end result. I wouldn't use shellac. Rather, nitro-cellulose.

If I remember correctly, Dixon guitars are probably not of the greatest value. And one in poor shape may be a great project to work though the process of rebuilding and refinishing a guitar. On the other hand, some of the in-expensive Dixon's had great sound qualities and for that very reason I'd be hesitant in refinishing it at all. Once you change the dynamics of an acoustic guitar finish, you will never get the original sound qualities back.

Anyway, just a 2p worth..... maybe ;)

Enjoy your Dixon!

Les

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Thanks LC, won't hit the old Dixon 'Odessa' with shellac then. Trouble with a couple of the nicks which I filled, they were pretty bad. Carefully trimmed the edges of the holes, used Aquadere to patch it with a bit of timber and then filled the small gaps.

Hear what you're saying, tis why I asked.

A fellow who's played the guitar a bit says it has a sweet note to it, but then he's drunk as monkey half the time so.....

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Hmm ... Shellac was often used on electric bolt-on type necks and applied in the tradition of French Polishing, although more modern purpose-made products are available now and are safer, because they are water based. As IC says, Nitro cellulose is very popular. In general for acoustic properties, whatever you apply, the thinner the better is a good rule of thumb. Chemical based glues like aguadere and guitars are generally not a good match. These links have a lot of good info.

http://www.lmii.com/Default.asp

http://home.flash.net/~guitars/

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Will certainly check out this Nitro cellulose tomorrow morning thanks and will apply nice and thin. Had a feeling a thicker coat applicaton may influence the sound quality of the acoustic guitar.

Once did up an old bondwood boat, and treated the marine ply with an epoxy primer and then Part A - Part B clear epoxy varnish. Could tap it with a hammer and it was rockhard and polishes up like glass with very fine wet 'n' dry paper.

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Actually Moonshine, I just noticed you are from SA. You will find a big problem with guitar finishing here is obtaining stuff. Those links have a lot of good info. but they won't ship most of their products to us because they are all classified dangerous goods and can't be sent via normal air freight. I think it's probably just too much hassle for them.

(Something about your handle made me assume you were in America, somewhere around Copperhead Road maybe .... ) :whistling

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G'day Blues,

went to the local Hardware this morning and asked for this 'Nitro Cellulose'. Nobody knew what it was so now I'll be Googling it.

I only spent $10 on the guitar but thought to spend another say $15 to clean it up considerably.

Ended up buying a small tin of hard wearing Polyurethane Gloss Varnish for floors. After giving it a good clean with a fine 'OOOO' grade of steelwool, its come up very nicely. Hardly see any brush strokes at all. Will let it dry 24 hours and then give it another going over with the fine steelwool.

Better to be messing around with an el cheapo guitar like this rather than hitting a much better quality one me thinks. Will be keeping a keen eye out for better quality old acoustic guitars in the pawn shops around here.

Saw one up the road but it has a broken neck and the dealer wants $150 for it...yikes!

Ah yes, MoonShine, the names stuck because I make homebrew and have a distillery here at home and make my own Jack Daniels. The still works a treat and I've 'killed' many a sampler who's game enough to drink it.

Fuel crisis?....what fuel crisis??? LOL.

They're all blind and talk like Collingwood supporters. (Uh oh!...possibly incoming?)

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Pretty sure polyurethane varnish once cured properly, dries pretty hard.

And I've taken onboard earlier advice that the thinner the coat the better, so a single even coat should do nicely and will then polish it up with the very fine grade of steelwool. Wondering if spray silicone furniture polish would be ok?

Have a digital camera but at present, a friend is borrowing it who's gone to Germany to watch the Aussie Socceroo's. Hope he doesn't hock it for beer and bratwurst lol.

Seagull,

have no idea myself re; Beatles, but now hearing what folks are saying about the timber being an integral part of the guitars tone, have no doubt many professionals can recognize this character that I wouldn't have any idea about.....YET! lol.

Not that I'll ever be professional, unless you include sitting/playing on the footpath (sidewalk) with a hat as professional? Won't give up my day job thats for sure.

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Well it's a done deed now Moonshine. Another reason for keeping those coats thin is that furniture grade varnishes might become tacky (literally) in the Summer. Look forward to seeing a pic of it some time.

I saw a TV interview of Tommy Emmanuel a while back. The interviewer at one stage pointed to TE's faithful Maton, which had a large bald patch where he had been using it as a shuffle board, whilst playing those incredible rhythms he's so good at, and said words to the effect of you need a new guitar. TE actually appeared speechless for half a second before breaking into that famous grin and politely explaining to the interviewer that it produced just the sound he wanted that way and that it had taken years of playing to get it like that.

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Did some research (Google) and found the original Nitro Cellulose Lacquer is referred to here as Dope, which is sold in most Hobby Shops and was used to shrink material applied to early aircraft etc..

Remember using 'dope' on balsa model planes as a kid and it soaked deep into raw timber and set/dried rock hard. From memory ended up a satin finish, not glossy.

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Do you still have the url? I certainly remember dope but I don't think it would be quite the same. Maybe a different mix or something. Interesting.

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Blues,

Google searched it and plenty of url's came up 'nitro cellulose (dope)' and like you curious and it will need further investigation. Mainly because the dope that I used (not the green stuff btw lol), didn't dry with a sheen at all, but it did make the balsa very hard at the surface.

Perhaps its a similar Thinner/Lacquer based gear they use and did read somewhere that most guitar makers spray it on. Mine has brush strokes when you hold it up to the light but then it is an el cheapo model made I believe, in Indonesia?

Went to the local hockshop yesterday and they have a rough Saehan semi-acoustic with fancy electric 'pickup' if you can call it that?

It appears to have an equalizer box outside, no pickup as such under the strings, and plugin where the strap would go on at the base? Looking inside you can see a bulky metal box and wire running to the plug, thats all.

Anything missing in there?

Going to see how this here Dixon goes and if successful, buy the Saehan to fix up.

Big ouch though, the Saehan has a broken neck up to top and the previous owners have used araldite and then a crude plate with 4 small screws to support it.

Might be taking on too much but love doing this stuff in my spare time, would be nice to save a 1/2 decent guitar.

The Saehan has a slim profile, guess thats why they call it semi-acoustic?....all new to me.

The polyurethane finish I put on the Dixon has another 24 hours before I can confidently say its cured properly, then will put the strings back on and give it a strum to see what she sounds like. Not that I'd be a good judge though.

(Hehhe!, might even try to trade the Dixon in for the busted up Saehan?)....twist the pawnbrokers arm.

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Done deal, swapped the el cheapo Dixon which I finished cleaning up for the Saehan. The Saehan has already been stripped and presently has 3 'G' clamps on the neck and I'll leave them on for the glue to dry for atleast 48 hours. Had to drill a couple of holes up near the top through a large break, put marine grade glue in the holes and tapped in pieces of dowel, looking good so far.

The pickup appears to be built in underneath where the strings start at the base....sorry, not familiar with the jargon yet. Had to strip the equalizer box because the small red LED light doesn't go on when you push the ON/OFF button. Checked for dry joints with the soldering iron and still no joy.

Good fun, love it.

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I just happened to notice this and thought it might be of interest. I have a guitar stand I just got and the tag hanging on it says that Nitro cellulose finish may react with the material (foam I'm guessing) and damage the finish on the guitar.

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UGB had some of those and they ate through the finish so he had to sell the guitars at a reduced price. He was not pleased. And his wern't Nitro cellulose finishes. It was some kind of rubber, I think.

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I'll have to keep an eye on my guitars. I have several hangers and stands. I wonder if I just went down and got some clear tubing and replaced the foam if it would be better.

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I think it's only certain combinations of styrene or maybe Neoprene and lacquer that don't mix, have to ask UGB for the details. The plastic tubing sounds like a good idea anyway, better safe than sorry.

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Interesting about this dope stuff-if it's a laquer type product then those brush strokes could be eliminated by using a super fine grit abrasive and then waxing the finish up---maybe a car polish product for a lacquer base might work.

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Hi USGold/All,

tommorow morning I'm off to the local Fishing Tackle shop, because I spoke to an old friend who makes his own fishing rods and he swears by a clear resin coating he uses on the binding etc., which is obviously highly durable.

When applied is self-levelling and of all things, a hairdryer is used to remove air bubbles. I only need to apply a small area not on the main body (which is fine), just up near the top of the neck.

Have supported the break with dowel and using timber putty, hidden the hairline cracks and stained with Walnut. Voila!....if you can pick the break you win the cigar lol.

Have bought a pack of ultra-strength Marine timber glue for where the dark 'fret' timber has seperated from the softer curved timber below. Don't trust a water based Aquadere timber type glue for this area, under a lot of stress once the strings are tightened. Used small pieces of ply to protect the guitars surface when using 3x G-clamps. Will let it cure for a good 4 days.

Learning something new every day but always open to much appreciated advice and suggestions.

Been looking up Saehan (Seoul, Korea) guitars and apparently this one is a semi-acoustic/electric model and 'growls like a wolf' when hooked up to an amp. Very excited and looking forward to spending the AU$18 on a new set of strings and cable to hook up to the PC soundsystem.

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