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Pete Howlett
05-01-2017, 02:48 PM
While Gibson started right at the front of their production experimenting with coloring instruments Martin held back. When they did venture into this field it was with a much more subtle approach than Gibson. They called their colored finishes, 'shade finishes'.

I have 24 sets of Khaya and 24 sets of Red Spruce which we are pairing up to make OM style tenor ukulele. My gifted assistant Tommy is given free range to color in the 'shade finish' style - it's not a full-on sun-burst but is a subtle shading of the edges from a central color wash. We are also employing the original technique of laying down the base color using stain onto bare spruce. This has the effect of showing the grain through the color. The shading is done with colored shellac (corrected after slap on wrist) applied with an airbrush in a very thin layer that is topped off with matt cellulose. Very much a 'vintage' style of finishing. As yu can also see, we are shading the neck also...

Now if you go back a few years and read some of my rants about design and style you will realise that I have flip-flopped on this one and I am deliberately building a 'small guitar'. Well, there you have it; call it hyprocracy or my right to change my mind, I've done it and will do it another 23 times! That is, make an unashamedly 'small guitar' shaped/looking ukulele.

Will keep you posted with Tommy's color explorations on this theme.

99804 99805

mzuch
05-01-2017, 03:08 PM
Sorry, Pete, But there is no such thing as sprayed French Polish. French Polish is a technique for applying shellac with a pad. If you're spraying shellac, you're just spraying shellac.

Pete Howlett
05-01-2017, 03:24 PM
Terminology... I stand corrected. Good to see your best comment is a criticism of my lack of vocabulary :) we use the term 'french polish' and apply it to the finish itself and the technique... I think most people get it but have edited my piece to save offence to the French Polish Police....

DPO
05-01-2017, 03:32 PM
Sorry, Pete, But there is no such thing as sprayed French Polish. French Polish is a technique for applying shellac with a pad. If you're spraying shellac, you're just spraying shellac.

Does the term really matter? Shellac is shellac no matter how you apply it. Pad it, brush it, spray it, it is a wonderful organic material I use it exclusively now. The end result can be the same no matter which application method one uses.
I don't think we should be too concerned with what we call it.

BlackBearUkes
05-01-2017, 03:39 PM
Any kind of stain into bare spruce could be very problematic. If run out is present, it is going to show up much darker than the rest of the top. The run out won't show up until the color is applied. That is why Gibson and others never stained the top directly. It is my understanding that after the top was sealed, all the color was sprayed on with the colors added to the lacquer, even the base coat. The colors were sprayed on light to dark. After all the color was sprayed, several clear coats were sprayed over that. That is the method I have used for years and was always happy with the result.

Yours looks pretty good but needs a bit more color on the waste area, IMO. Have fun!


While Gibson started right at the front of their production experimenting with coloring instruments Martin held back. When they did venture into this field it was with a much more subtle approach than Gibson. They called their colored finishes, 'shade finishes'.

I have 24 sets of Khaya and 24 sets of Red Spruce which we are pairing up to make OM style tenor ukulele. My gifted assistant Tommy is given free range to color in the 'shade finish' style - it's not a full-on sun-burst but is a subtle shading of the edges from a central color wash. We are also employing the original technique of laying down the base color using stain onto bare spruce. This has the effect of showing the grain through the color. The shading is done with colored shellac (corrected after slap on wrist) applied with an airbrush in a very thin layer that is topped off with matt cellulose. Very much a 'vintage' style of finishing. As yu can also see, we are shading the neck also...

Now if you go back a few years and read some of my rants about design and style you will realise that I have flip-flopped on this one and I am deliberately building a 'small guitar'. Well, there you have it; call it hyprocracy or my right to change my mind, I've done it and will do it another 23 times! That is, make an unashamedly 'small guitar' shaped/looking ukulele.

Will keep you posted with Tommy's color explorations on this theme.

99804 99805

Pete Howlett
05-01-2017, 04:07 PM
The shading is graduated deliberately and we are using mastergrade Red Spruce with no run-out. This has been thoroughly thought through folks :) As for French Polish... what do you call sprayed oil varnish finish devloped by Thurman in Cleveland?

Are you sure about Gibson finishes Duane? I am sure I saw some early Gibsons back in the 90s with direct applied stains over which colored laquer was applied... I defer to your greater experience. Other companies certainly directly stained their guitars didn't they? Perhaps I am getting confused. Anyway, we like the subtlety of this finish in that you don't get a flat painted look that obliterates the character of the wood. The idea is to draw the grain out. On this piece the medulary rays give the main area a nice subtle freckled look...

BlackBearUkes
05-01-2017, 08:15 PM
When I was talking about Gibson finishes, I was referring to the instruments made from the 30's to the later 60"s, not the stuff after that because I don't think the later Gibson company to comes close to their earlier stuff. The staining on the back and sides you refer to is probably the colored filler and not any actual stain. What other big Guitar companies do for finishes does not concern me because most of that stuff is not repairable since Taylor guitars introduced the poly finishes, awful stuff. Good luck with your new project.


The shading is graduated deliberately and we are using mastergrade Red Spruce with no run-out. This has been thoroughly thought through folks :) As for French Polish... what do you call sprayed oil varnish finish devloped by Thurman in Cleveland?

Are you sure about Gibson finishes Duane? I am sure I saw some early Gibsons back in the 90s with direct applied stains over which colored laquer was applied... I defer to your greater experience. Other companies certainly directly stained their guitars didn't they? Perhaps I am getting confused. Anyway, we like the subtlety of this finish in that you don't get a flat painted look that obliterates the character of the wood. The idea is to draw the grain out. On this piece the medulary rays give the main area a nice subtle freckled look...

tobinsuke
05-02-2017, 03:02 AM
Pete, while this look is not my favorite, I salute you for experimenting and also for the latitude you offer Tommy in this. I also respect you owning your earlier "small guitar" posts - though to be honest I always (mis)understood those to be about the actual construction rather than to be about the finish. At any rate, I'm happy to see you continue to grow and learn, and to share your journey.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
05-03-2017, 10:25 AM
For the style of burst your doing (whatever the name you give it), i'd recommend keeping the thickness of the shade even around the top.
The pic shows the colour to be wider near the butt.
It isn't a desirable look to my eyes and only screams "bad spraying technique" to my luthier mind.

Pete Howlett
05-03-2017, 08:52 PM
I can see how you might think that Beau. I personally think it looks balanced because an even border looks to me like 'lazy spraying technique'. This graduating of the border is quite hard to execute! It's great that we all have different ways of looking at things isn't it :)

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
05-04-2017, 09:19 AM
I can see how you might think that Beau. I personally think it looks balanced because an even border looks to me like 'lazy spraying technique'. This graduating of the border is quite hard to execute! It's great that we all have different ways of looking at things isn't it :)

hahah
I've seen expensive new Martin guitars with this look (not even)- it hadn't occurred to me that it was on purpose!
I think all spraying is about the same difficulty in regard to shading.

Pete Howlett
05-05-2017, 08:20 AM
our final piece with strings on:

99910

99911

99912

99913

We didn't have time to do a sound file but will tomorrow. It has a huge voice!