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Alembic Club » Owning an Alembic » Troubleshooting » Archive through June 11, 2010 » How do I change the finish on my guitar? « Previous Next »

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Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1864
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 - 1:01 pm:   Edit Post

When I first bought my Orion guitar it had a matt finish to it.
Over the few years of playing, the parts of the maple top laminate of the guitar that my body and clothing have come into contact with have polished up and gone smooth with a glossy shine. Not a problem at all because I like how the glossy parts show that the wood underneath is a lovely quilted maple.

Now, I don't want to wait for years for the rest of it to wear into a shine to get that lovely quilt on display so I was wondering if anyone knows of anything I can use to speed up the process and safely polish the rest of the surface to get the matt finish off and let the quilting show up better.

Username: poor_nigel

Post Number: 67
Registered: 11-2009
Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 - 6:36 pm:   Edit Post

I'd use a luthier with a pro buffing wheel. It should not be pricy, as it is just a buff job.
Senior Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 405
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 - 7:04 pm:   Edit Post

The clear finish on your guitar is very similar to automotive paint, and you can use auto refinishing products to regain the gloss. It's a matter of stepping through a series of finer grades of abrasives until you get the shine you want.

The best way to do that is with a buffing wheel. All the hardware and electronics would need to be removed to get good results.

As poor_nigel mentioned, it will be easiest to find somebody who does this professionally, but isn't impossible to do yourself.

David Fung
Advanced Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 289
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 21, 2010 - 10:08 am:   Edit Post

I'd try some swirl mark remover and a clean used cotton rag (like a Tee shirt in ex cond but washed several times) on a spot first. Use some elbow grease. That will smooth it out. Then you have to rub it with a good carnuba wax, like Mothers. If that does not work, you need to lightly wet sand it first (try another spot with no wax residue) with some 1000 to 1500 to 2000 grit wet sandpaper (use a flat block) and then polish it and wax it. The sandpaper will dull it right down, but that is normal. Just do not go very far. Give it a hazing only. I then have a big bottle of Cargroom final polish swirl mark remover no silicon, and it works super. It's just the right amount of abrasive for hand buffing.

Buffing wheels are great, but you should have a good one and know what you are doing first. You need the right wheel and the right selection of abrasivies and know how to clean the wheel.

Maybe practice on a cheap guitar first? Checking with Mica what the finish actually is on the bass first might be wise, or do a search on this forum.

Good luck, Dave
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 2436
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2010 - 1:13 am:   Edit Post

I'm guessing this may well be an earlier Orion with the polyurethane finish, which isn't nearly as thick as the standard high-gloss finish.

I wouldn't do anything involving sandpaper or mark remover without an OK from the mothership.

I've used C.F. Martin guitar polish on both types of finish (next, someone will tell me that it's particularly abrasive LOL) and it does seem to even out the PU finish, with just a gentle rub using one of those high-tech household cleaning cloths.

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