Love The Guitar, Want To Strip The Finnish!

Dave Pratt

New Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2018
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
I have an Epiphone 500 CCE (cedar top) Masterbuilt. Perfect except the top finish is horrible! Can I strip it and go mostly bare wood?

Thanks!
 

Cagey

New Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2016
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
Location
Southeast Michigan
Finish work is not trivial, so if you don't know if you can do what your asking, I'd wonder if you could finish the job satisfactorily once started.

That being presumptuously said, it's probably not a good idea to have a bare wood top. The wood needs a nominal amount of protection or it won't last. It'll wear quickly, stain easily, react to environment more readily, etc.
 

Glen K. Peterson

New Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Finishing is its own specialty. My own experience is that it's a cycle of: apply finish, repair issues, repeat, until the issues are small enough that I don't think I can get them any better. Refinishing the entire top of an acoustic guitar is particularly hard because the bridge and neck are in the way. It's flat enough that every speck of dust shows, but too curved to be friendly to a sanding block. It's incredibly thin and soft wood, so it's easy to weaken it by over-sanding. It's the most visible part of the instrument, so you can't help looking at it. If it had a somewhat opaque finish on it (like a sunburst or brown-burst), it may be hiding someone else's finishing or workmanship mistakes.

How is the finish terrible? Is it that you don't like the color, or that it's flaking off, or crazed? A picture of the damage would really help.

How much is it worth? If it's less than $500 and you aren't worried about resale, and you have a relatively dust-free, yet ventilated, humidity-controlled spray-booth, you can probably scrape and sand off the old finish and spray a clear blond coat over it "for fun." Or you can brush and sand multiple coats in less ideal conditions. If you're concerned about resale or historical value and you don't have a lot of finishing experience, I wouldn't touch it.
 

T.W.

New Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
I have a bit of experience with finishing and right now I have a Kay airline that I am taking all the scratches out of.
Finishes that are from the 50's and 60's were fairly soft, that is you can cut them fast with any sand paper over 150 grit, but the plastic coats of the 80's and 90's was cheap, and all you have to do is breathe hard to goof one up. In my experience, the greater advantage for the finisher is sand paper and a finish sander with a triangular head. I used to think I could strip a guitar with my airgun and reciprocating auto sander, but I quickly cut into the wood which.... was not ... and I repeat "NOT" solid but a cheap thin piece of plywood verneer, which cut through the top skin and changed my entire project idea instantly...(opaque paint rather than transparent varnish). So go slow. Take your time, start with the scratches, and work your way through, but try not to even hit the surface below. I will not suggest paint remover or stripper at all. You will need the tri shaped detail sander to get in along the neck, bridge and to save the phenolics. As for the refinish... it will take you a long long long long time to get it perfect, apply a light coat of finish. fix any blemishes... another coat... more fix... it will take about 10 coats, then and I say this with impunity... and in a harsh and demanding tone------> the finish on an instrument is a wax, or an oil that is applied before, after a performance and often during storage of the instrument, and sometimes rarely just because.
 
Top