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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive 2006 » Archive through July 14, 2006 » Orion Polyester Finish « Previous Next »

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Username: mrbeezroom

Post Number: 32
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Monday, June 05, 2006 - 12:52 am:   Edit Post

I am in the process of refinishing/repainting one of my basses. I'm interested in getting the type of polyester finish my Orion 5 has. Does anyone know if Alembic uses an off-the-shelf polyurethane compound, or do they use something they have developed themselves? Either way, is it possible to purchase it? Thanks, John.
Intermediate Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 171
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, June 05, 2006 - 6:09 am:   Edit Post

I don't know what brand of finish Alembic uses, but in the past, Mica has commented that they've used polyester finish vs polyurethane for many years now on most of the instruments. If I remember correctly, polyester varnishes aren't as strong as polyurethane finishes, but have a much harder surface which will hold a higher gloss.

The tricky part in reproducing this sort of finish on your own is that many of these varnishes are chemically catalyzed (unlike what you'd buy at a quart at the hardware store), so you have to mix it up right before your shoot it.

I don't think polyester is like this, but many better cars are painted in catalyzed polyurethane. The lower coats have the color, and a clear final topcoat is sprayed on while the last color coat is still curing. The topcoat contains a curing agent which reacts with the color coat to form the final finish. Many guitars are finished using this automotive paint. You could do it in a home shop, but you'd have to buy spray equipment and the paint components are sold only in production quantities.
Senior Member
Username: bassman10096

Post Number: 914
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - 10:05 am:   Edit Post

I just had a conversation with someone who finishes guitars on a more or less production basis using catalyzed urethane. He said as far as he knew it was only available by the gallon, at about $150 a pop.
Username: mica

Post Number: 3360
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Thursday, June 08, 2006 - 6:20 pm:   Edit Post

The polyester we use a 2-part catalyzed finish. We don't package it for resale (hazmat and shipping nightmare!).

Many Orions have a proprietary polyurethane coating. It's the one that looks like an oil finish when new. Newer Orions use the same polyester coating as the rest of the line now.

Thin layers, sanded between each give a nice, smooth result. The final rubout with ultrafine abrasives before a trip to the buffing wheel makes the polyester look like glass. I buy paste for oil finished from these guys, they might have some coatings available in smaller quantities, and Stewart MacDonald certainly does, though I'm not familiar with either company's coatings first hand.

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