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Guitar Finishes

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by axejock, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    Having built quite a few guitars and working on some of my older ones, I have found that if you put the guitar front or back under intense fluorescent lighting, some will show slight, straight lines in the finish that you cannot feel or see in less intense light. It looks like evenly spaced lines in the body of the guitar or in the finish itself. These seem to run from the heel of the guitar to the top end of the body. I have found it on several of my guitars and even tried to polish it out on one of them, but to no avail. It looks like the joining of multiple pieces of wood bonded together to make one wider, flat surface, but that would make no sense for as narrow as each strip would be (about 1/2"). It is more of a curiosity than a problem because of its minimal visibility, but I am curious as to what I am actually seeing. Has anyone else ever seen this?
     
  2. kurher

    kurher Strat-Talker

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    Most Fenders I've seen have them, some more than others. Usually people refer to them as "witness lines".
     
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  3. Antstrat

    Antstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    You'll lose tone if you polish them out. Just don't do it.
     
  4. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    Has anybody expressed an opinion or explanation for what they really are or what causes them?
     
  5. kurher

    kurher Strat-Talker

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  6. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    witness lines are where the joints in the body are from different pieces of wood but if you are seeing lines running in the same direction equally spaced on different guitars you are seeing something from your light source or you are hallucinating.
     
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  7. nadzab

    nadzab Peace & Love, my Brothers & Sisters... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    It's wood. It has grain. The grain lines often telegraph through the finish. More noticeable on some guitars than others, and often not noticeable at all.
     
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  8. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    It really does look like the "finish sinking into the grain" to me. Some of the lines are straight and parallel and some are wavy and not parallel. It really does seem like a wood grain based phenomenon. None of the guitars I have show a visible issue in normal light, so it just is not an issue that concerns me. If they were something I just bought brand new, I might feel a little differently.
     
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  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    if they are straight lines, its sanding lines remaining from a panel sander... it takes considerable finish sanding to remove them... fail to do so and they can appear as the finish shrinks.

    rk
     
  10. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    That's an answer that I never thought of, but it makes a lot of sense. There could be so many variables in the final wood finish preparation (person operating the finishing machine, sanding medium condition, having to hurry up to meet production schedules, and on and on). And it would be very difficult to inspect without some sort of digital finish scanner which I can't imagine on a wood product line. Great observation! Between that and natural wood grain paint settling in, I'm certain that's what it's all about. Thanks, all!
     
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  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    the panel sander applies considerable pressure to the wood.. the grit, which is pretty much just a bunch very fine rocks glued to the paper, is designed to take a layer off the surface, but as the grit looses its ability to "cut", some of the "rocks" can no longer shave the surface.. they actually begin pressing the surface of the wood down... thus, one has to finish sand like a sunuvagun to remove it, or steam the surface to force the compressed wood to rise so it might be sanded smooth

    I illustrated that very process in my Strat build thread back about 10 years ago... check out around post 85.. and post 89 discusses this very issue.

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/stratocaster-discussion-forum/104487-ok-so-i-promised-here-ya.html

    Ron
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
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  12. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    My gosh, I read that whole thread and now know that I am a TOTAL novice! Amazing work and documentation. I guess my take on why I have these witness lines in the finish on a couple of my guitars is that in mass production, they don't take the detailed steps that you outline to insure that the effect or some "rock loss" and resulting wood compression is dealt with? That is the BEST explanation that I have ever heard, and certainly makes all the sense that I have been looking for. You are one talented individual, and I congratulate you on a skill level that few of us will ever achieve!!
     
  13. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    ahh its nuthin'. do a few thousand and it becomes second nature... now.. If I just wasn't allergic to sawdust... :p

    r
     
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  14. Alan Crossley

    Alan Crossley Senior Stratmaster

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    I read recently that the directions of the sanding, prior to final finishing can still be evident through the finish.
     
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  15. hexnut

    hexnut Strat-Talker

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    Using too course of sand paper will cause them. They can be wet sanded with very fine sand paper and polished out.
     
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  16. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    there's a number of factors that can result in such, but the number one way to prevent its is simply be patient.... do it right, and when you think you're done sanding, do it again..

    rk
     
  17. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    Honesty, expertise, and experience are often the traits of a true craftsman with lots of time spent in the trade. Unfortunately. the time part also results in aging and new nuisances like allergies to sawdust and arthritic fingers. But we "old guys" just keep going because we love it! At least that's what I believe!
     
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  18. Stratoholic

    Stratoholic Senior Stratmaster

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    Impossible. Fender has always used a sealer on the wood (a plastic based sealer called fullerplast since 1963, and something else that was kind of crappy before that), and the finish doesn't actually touch the wood, and it cannot sink through the sealer. Now, there are some builders that don't use a sealer on purpose for some models, and it ends up looking like this:


    [​IMG]
     
  19. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    got dat rite! ..

    My friends ask me when will I retire.... I just smile and say, "Man, I've been retired since 1991..."

    I'm one of those guys that are simply not comfortable without a tool in my hands... and if I weren't in the shop making guitars, I'd be in the shop making something... so why not something I love... sawdust or not....

    Many years ago. I was filming one of many interviews with Wernher von Braun. .. during a break we're sitting just chatting... he was picking at his fingernails.. Smiled and apologized for their condition.. they looked like he replaced the transmission in a '51 Ford F100 last night...

    He said he had a pretty comprehensive shop in his basement and would just drift down there and "fix" something, build something, do something, almost every night... it was where he did his best "thinking" . in amongst the unfinished projects, the "junk" and the tools he was his happiest.. and that's the reason for his "mechanics" hands...

    So I feel I'm, in good company... one of these days, long off in the future I trust, they will find me, lying in a pile of sawdust... If so, I'll have a smile on my face, because I went, doing something I love...

    r
     
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  20. SAguitar

    SAguitar Senior Stratmaster

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    Give that guitar at least 10 years of hard time and I doubt that you will be able to see those fine lines.

    @Ronkirn - I sure appreciate your wisdom and dedication to this fine art!
     
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