Finish on the inside of a hollow-body?

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by aeleus, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I can't say that I've ever seen it done, but is it worth putting a coat or two of finish on the inside of a hollow or semi-hollow body electric?

    I'm getting started on a Rickenbacker-type build, and it occurred to me that some finish on the inside might help protect against the effects of changes in humidity.
     
  2. LC100

    LC100 New Member

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  3. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    Wow! The inside of those guitars are as nice as the outside. With that kind of precision, he can match the glued surfaces without worrying about the finish blocking wood-to-wood contact.
     
  4. emoney

    emoney New Member

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    I would think something oil-based would be a great idea on the inside of a hollow or semi-hollow build.
     
  5. ltdave32

    ltdave32 Member

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    Of all the hollow and semi-hollows I've seen that were finished on the inside, they looked a mess.

    I've built a few Ric replicas. Best if left unfinished inside.
     
  6. Blue Belly Guitars

    Blue Belly Guitars New Member

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    SHELLAC. Once you've finished the inside surfaces up, wipe on & wipe off a coat of the stuff. You can get it at just about any store that sells interior paint. I always do, It's not very noticeable. if you looked inside one of my guitars you may not think it had finish.
     
  7. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I was thinking of doing one or two coats of wipe on poly - since I already have some. Usually, the first coat soaks in and is barely noticeable. Any advantage to use shellac?
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013
  8. TKOjams

    TKOjams Well-Known Member

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    I would never do it.
     
    Duplex Dave likes this.
  9. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    Well it certainly is a conundrum isn't it... the time-tested 300 year old golden rule #1 of cabinetmaking says the wood should be sealed to the same degree inside as it is outside in a case like this... but golden rules of woodworking sometimes don't mean much to a luthier.

    I suppose while an unfinished interior may not be best for long term stability, it may be best for the tone.
     
  10. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    Same. We don't do it at Collings, that's good enough for me.
     
  11. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I agree. I'm bringing my background in furniture making to this question as well. As far as I know, classical and acoustic steel-string guitars traditionally have not had finish on the inside. But then, controlling humidity becomes a real concern.

    The thought occurred to me as I read speculation about what formula Stradivarius used to finish the inside of his violins. If it worked for him, surely it couldn't hurt the tone of my humble guitar.
     
  12. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    Hard to compare how something worked on a bowed instrument to one played with a plectrum, IMO.
     
  13. LC100

    LC100 New Member

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    How so? They both work on the principle of vibration. Some acoustic makers go so far as to tune their plates with constant wave forms and checking out the Chladni patterns. Some even use...a violin bow.

    That aside, a light finish on the interior is unlikely to cause a noticeable difference on anything that gets plugged into an amp. You could probably even use a decent furniture wax as long as you took care to avoid areas that get glued. Though wax isn't a durable long term finish.
     
  14. Blue Belly Guitars

    Blue Belly Guitars New Member

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    My philosophy is something along these lines. A Collings is likely to be looked after a little more meticulously than an Epiphone. Not suggesting that anyone here builds either, merely that if I payed list for either/both of these guitars, one of them would live it's life in a case. The other would be dusty & at arms length. With that said, Benedetto coats the inside of his instruments. I don't care to argue right or wrong but, I believe that an uncoated wood surface will age & begin to fall apart a lot faster. I hope that my guitars are well cared for, but I want them to last, regardless. Even at the cost of a "little" tone.. One coat of shellac isn't at a huge cost in tone.
     
  15. DementedWoodworker

    DementedWoodworker New Member

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    I do not think I would finish the inside either. I wonder how much that would change the sound?
     
  16. LexiconDevil

    LexiconDevil New Member

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    seal or finish insides before building?
     
  17. pfox14

    pfox14 New Member

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    My general rule is if the really great guitars of a particular type...let's say late 50s and early 60s Gibson ES semi-hollow body models don't have finish on the inside, then why do it? You aren't improving anything that's crucial to the tone or playability of the guitar.
     
  18. ltdave32

    ltdave32 Member

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    IMO, it looks so much better without finishing. As to sound, I don't see it affecting much in the way of electric guitars, and as far as acoustics go, the better ones I've run across are without interior finishing.
     
  19. Brian I

    Brian I New Member

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    Interior finishing on acoustic guitars is basically limited to a few high end steel string luthiers and a few very high end classical builders. Most people who put finish on the interior simply put a wash coat of shellac to help prevent the effects of humidity changes. Most people don't finish the interior as it adds a good amount of difficulty and extra time to the build (all glue surfaces need to be finish free before being glued).

    Ervin Somogyi and his apprentices tend to finish the interior of the instruments; here are a few of Ervin's guitars and other guitars with finish on the inside:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SadUTHYE-DA]Todd Hallawell demonstrates an Ervin Somogyi MD at the 2009 Healdsburg Guitar Festival - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaGzVZXzylk]Michael Watts - "Celandine" Fingerstyle Guitar - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAKhr6ZhZAE]Kostal Guitars with Tony McManus at the Woodstock Invitational Luthier's Showcase 2013 - YouTube[/ame]
     

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