PDA

View Full Version : Grain Fill Question



haolejohn
06-14-2011, 04:39 PM
Mods if this needs to be in another section please move it.



In this thread http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?48504-Ohana-Koa-vs.-KoAloah comments about KoAloha's finish came up. I have owned 4 KoAlohas and have played every K brand plus multiple high end ukuleles (Boat paddle, MB, Collings, etc) and I feel like the koaloha finish is just as nicely done as these other high end ukuleles. I like the fact that my koalohas have their grains noticed. I have never considered any of them as having a cheap looking finish. If anything, I would think that it would be harder to finish an instrument and leave grain unfilled, yet still get a nice finish. Is this true? What is the fetish with high gloss? I am completely wood finish stupid so I would like to be educated by educated people.

So are the grain holes supposed to be filled? if so why?

pithaya9
06-14-2011, 05:03 PM
I tend to like the finish on KoAlohas's.

southcoastukes
06-14-2011, 06:39 PM
There is a lot to learn about finishing. I've been doing it most of my life - although most of that time was in furniture restoration and production line finishing. There are definitely a few twists when it comes to a Musical Instrument finish.

The old saying among violin makers is that you learn to build in a year, and then spend the rest of your life learning to finish. Suffice to say, there are a lot of variables that need be taken into account for a complete answer - nonetheless, here are some generalities.

The finishes usually used on ukuleles are urethanes and nitrocellulose lacquers. These have varying degrees of flexibilty and protection. On an instrument with a hardwood top, it is probably not neccesary to get a protective film by filling the grain, and you leave the wood freer to vibrate by not doing it. The KoAloha finish is very likely an excellent one in terms of sound for an all koa wood intrument. Nontheless, an open pore finish doesn't have to be a series of glossy canyons. I've always liked to rub down those finishes in a way that closes the pore a bit more by taking down the surface as opposed to filling it with finish, and at the same time produces a smoother softer sheen.

The soundboard is the most critical area, both for protection and sound. When you have a softwood top, everything changes. If properly sealed or "grounded" it doesn't take much finish to coat it. It doesn't have a significant pore structure. Nonetheless, it gets most of the abuse, so you want to give it a bit more than just a light surface film. By the time you do that, you have a slick, filled film over the top, and it seems more natural to give the sides and backs a similar look.

It is true that with production finishes and patch fillers a full fill finish can cover a lot of sins. The factories that really glob it on and buff it down, do so for that purpose, and their sound suffers as a result. Too light, on the other hand, is an insult to the instrument. A finish retards the natural deterioration of wood, and it's first funtion is to protect and preserve.

To sum up, I'd say that hard top instruments will generally sound better with a more open pore, and soft top instruments usually get more of a filled look. How much more is a matter of taste. I never like to fill completely. I think a little pore looks nice, even on the sides and backs of a soft top, but now we're talking about appearance - not sound.

haolejohn
06-14-2011, 06:55 PM
There is a lot to learn about finishing. I've been doing it most of my life - although most of that time was in furniture restoration and production line finishing. There are definitely a few twists when it comes to a Musical Instrument finish.

The old saying among violin makers is that you learn to build in a year, and then spend the rest of your life learning to finish. Suffice to say, there are a lot of variables that need be taken into account for a complete answer - nonetheless, here are some generalities.

The finishes usually used on ukuleles are urethanes and nitrocellulose lacquers. These have varying degrees of flexibilty and protection. On an instrument with a hardwood top, it is probably not neccesary to get a protective film by filling the grain, and you leave the wood freer to vibrate by not doing it. The KoAloha finish is very likely the best for an all koa wood intrument.

The soundboard is the most critical area, both for protection and sound. When you have a softwood top, everything changes. If properly sealed or "grounded" it doesn't take much finish to coat it. It doesn't have a significant pore structure. Nonetheless, it gets most of the abuse, so you want to give it a bit more than just a light surface film. By the time you do that, you have a slick, filled film over the top, and it seems more natural to give the sides and backs a similar look.

It is true that with production finishes and patch fillers a full fill finish can cover a lot of sins. The factories that really glob it on and buff it down, do so for that purpose, and their sound suffers as a result. Too light, on the other hand, is an insult to the instrument. A finish retards the natural deterioration of wood, and it's first funtion is to protect and preserve.

To sum up, I'd say that hard top instruments will generally sound better with a more open pore, and soft top instruments usually get more of a filled look. How much more is a matter of taste. I never like to fill completely. I think a little pore looks nice, even on the sides and backs of a soft top, but now we're talking about appearance - not sound.

thanks for the very informative reply.

Dan Uke
06-14-2011, 06:56 PM
What is a soft top and hard top? Is hard top considered laminate tops?

haolejohn
06-14-2011, 07:00 PM
What is a soft top and hard top? Is hard top considered laminate tops?

i'm no expert but I think hard top would be hardwoods (Koa, etc) and soft would be soft woods (redwood, etc).

southcoastukes
06-14-2011, 07:06 PM
My shorthand, sorry for any confusion. Soft tops would be spruce or western red cedar - or in other words softwoods. Hard top is what I call soundboards made of hardwoods. Typical are koa and mahogany.

mm stan
06-15-2011, 07:43 AM
Mods if this needs to be in another section please move it.



In this thread http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?48504-Ohana-Koa-vs.-KoAloah comments about KoAloha's finish came up. I have owned 4 KoAlohas and have played every K brand plus multiple high end ukuleles (Boat paddle, MB, Collings, etc) and I feel like the koaloha finish is just as nicely done as these other high end ukuleles. I like the fact that my koalohas have their grains noticed. I have never considered any of them as having a cheap looking finish. If anything, I would think that it would be harder to finish an instrument and leave grain unfilled, yet still get a nice finish. Is this true? What is the fetish with high gloss? I am completely wood finish stupid so I would like to be educated by educated people.

So are the grain holes supposed to be filled? if so why?

Aloha John,
Reguarding open pore on ukes..I really wouldn't know...All I know is that with a the satin ukes I bought new...I polished and polished and buffed them out and they sound better..I looked at the ukes I polished and a couple I could see the polish had filled the pores and looked white there....and to me at least, they improved in sound ....:2cents: