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Thread: Why? .... Urethane? Gloss? Satin?

  1. #11
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    Apr 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    There is nothing wrong with discussing finishes. Asking questions is a good way to get some information. But the topic of finishes is all about buyers expectations and opinions. Makers choose a finish which suits their market. Mr Antica uses the finish discussed because it fits in the price range he wants and because his customers want that finish, otherwise he would end up with a big shed full of unsold product.
    Natural finishes like shellac and rubbed wax do not satisfy the needs of a lot of customers, they don't want to be spending time maintaining a finish and they want a high gloss.
    If you want to expand your knowledge of finishes, just search the internet. For the topic of finishes you do not have to confine the search to ukuleles. Look up the videos of some well known guitar makers and violin makers and mandolin makers as well as the ukulele makers. You will learn of lot about finishes. Also there was a book about making ukuleles recently discussed on UU.
    Thanks Bill1. Appreciate your perspective.

    As I replied in #11 I was looking for a builder's perspective etc., certainly not intending to do a re-run (my search incompetence not withstanding). I'm a hobbyist woodworker and the items I build get finished (mostly) depending on: a) how the item will be used (utility/durability) b) appearance (customer/decorative/artistic appeal), c) cost (finish expense measured in time-to-complete and/or materials). Any commission I receive gets priced with those considerations. And the hierarchy of those three varies to the project.

    Point being.... :-) I have a pretty good idea on how my finishes work my furniture or art pieces, but not on a musical instrument.

    As a post in a builders lounge, with a narrowed focus (ukulele) I was looking for their/your perspective on why you/they build using one way or another.

    FWIW, Marco (Antica) builds-to-order. So he's not as concerned about a bulging warehouse. :-)

    Thanks again for you thoughtful reply.
    WP
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 08-23-2019 at 02:14 AM.

  2. #12
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    Aug 2018
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    Australia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Web_Parrot View Post
    ... My use of the "search" feature needs refining! This AM I played around with the Advanced feature and was able to get some more focused information.
    One thing that may be worth trying:

    Go 'outside' to Google's Advanced Search feature and try a similar search. If there are relevant hits, they will likely bring you back to UU, as it has the largest/best library of ukulele related information. Often though, similar subject material will be available from guitar or other stringed instrument forums.
    Last edited by bazuku; 08-23-2019 at 10:43 AM. Reason: spelling error

  3. #13
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    Accidental double posting.
    Last edited by bazuku; 08-23-2019 at 04:04 AM. Reason: Accidental double posting.

  4. #14
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    I'd say that from a builder's perspective, the most important consideration is that the finish can be applied really thinly. Heavy finish kills volume and dulls the tone.

    Then the secondary considerations are how well it will last up to use, how easy it is to touch up or repair, and whether buyers like the appearance it gives.

    An important consideration is also what kind of finish the builder can apply - for example, two-pack polyester has been shown to be an excellent finish if applied skilfully and very thinly, but the cost of the equipment is too great for most small builders. Some builders want to avoid spraying, for logistics or health reasons, which rules out some kinds of finish.

    So this tends to boil down to quite a small number of finishes:

    1. Some kind of sprayed finish like nitrocellulose or varnish, if you have the equipment and skills.

    2. Some kind of brushed finish (usually varnish but nitrocellulose can also be brushed on). Difficult to achieve a thin finish, but manageable with skill and practice.

    3. Some kind of wiped or padded on finish, including French Polish, Tru Oil and wiping varnish.

    Generally speaking builders like a finish which dries hard (but not too brittle or it will flake off). Many think that a thin coat of a fairly hard finish changes the sound of the instrument for the better, as well as protecting it against dirt and some knocks.

  5. #15
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    Dec 2011
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    Grand Junction, Colorado
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    The best finish for tone is no finish,......but........life

    Ouds and lutes, which have a very thin top, have no finish on the top.

    Poly, Urethane, Nitro, - it's all the same if put on thin-- under .0010", half that is better.
    Poly has a bad name as it is the choice for cheap instruments just because you can spray and buff in a few days- this is the most important thing for a factory.
    However poly sprayed thin by a person who cares is as good as nitro...and by "good" i mean non dampening the tone.

    Shellac/French polish, oil etc- don't hold up to any kind of wear, offer no protection and aren't nice and shiny which for some reason most people want.

    Finish, any finish above, protects from arm wear and sweet, very minor dings and slows down effects of humidity changes.
    Spruce or cedar wears down real quick if left bare.

    So some finish is better than none, even if its a few swipes of shellac.
    Last edited by Beau Hannam Ukuleles; 08-23-2019 at 04:55 AM.

  6. #16
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    Apr 2019
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    Wisconsin, central USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post
    One thing that may be worth trying:

    Go 'outside' to Google's Advanced Search feature and try a similar search. If their are relevant hits, they will likely bring you back to UU, as it has the largest/best library of ukulele related information. Often though, similar subject material will be available from guitar or other stringed instrument forums.
    Thanks.... I spent some more time with the advanced search feature and "discovered" the ability to search within Topic. I found the 29 hits to which another respondent referred. I've now read approx. 40 posts and sub replies and am getting a pretty good idea of 'some' of what I'm interested in.

    Thanks again.

  7. #17
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    Apr 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beau Hannam Ukuleles View Post
    The best finish for tone is no finish,......but........life

    Ouds and lutes, which have a very thin top, have no finish on the top.

    Poly, Urethane, Nitro, - it's all the same if put on thin-- under .0010", half that is better.
    Poly has a bad name as it is the choice for cheap instruments just because you can spray and buff in a few days- this is the most important thing for a factory.
    However poly sprayed thin by a person who cares is as good as nitro...and by "good" i mean non dampening the tone.

    Shellac/French polish, oil etc- don't hold up to any kind of wear, offer no protection and aren't nice and shiny which for some reason most people want.

    Finish, any finish above, protects from arm wear and sweet, very minor dings and slows down effects of humidity changes.
    Spruce or cedar wears down real quick if left bare.

    So some finish is better than none, even if its a few swipes of shellac.
    Thank you very much. That's the very concise reply I needed and hoped for.
    With great respect, I appreciate that you took the time away from your craft and artistry to reply.
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 08-23-2019 at 06:19 AM. Reason: spelling :-)

  8. #18
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    Jul 2011
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    Yakima, WA
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    From this luthiers perspective on the best finish, its one that can be repaired or renewed if needed. That leaves varnish, shellac, oil and nitro lacquer. I hate the poly stuff.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beau Hannam Ukuleles View Post
    Shellac/French polish, oil etc- don't hold up to any kind of wear, offer no protection and aren't nice and shiny which for some reason most people want.
    As always, Beau gives a great answer to the question at hand. However I think oil and shellac should be two separate categories. As a dedicated shellac user, I don't agree that it offers no protection. I've found that it gives fair to moderately good protection but only after it has cured for a very long time which can be months until it gets as hard as it is going to get. Shellac for all its faults has some real pluses too. And as far as shininess goes, my ukes come out pretty darn shiny and yes, people do like a shiny instrument. Below, shiny shellac uke.

    shiney uke.jpg

  10. #20
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    Apr 2019
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    San Francsico Bay Area
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    Quote Originally Posted by Web_Parrot View Post
    Thank you for the concise reply. As to your parenthetical question, my friends call me Web; my Mother calls me Webster. You can call me "Sir"
    Or,
    Should we call you ‘ster’ ?
    This thread appears to be causing some to become ster crazy

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