Is Gibson's satin finish thicker than gloss?

Discussion in 'Gibson Les Pauls' started by JoeBguitar, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. Kitsune

    Kitsune Junior Member

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    It does the same on my Les Paul Faded 2017. Yesterday I had a little piece of wax from the pickups stuck on the top of the guitar and I tried to scratch it with my finger nail, it just made a mark on the finish. I even think a plastic part of my guitar strap made also a few marks on the top. It's very thin and fragile. There are even some places on the top where some open pores are still not evenly covered by the laquer.
     
  2. Macronaut

    Macronaut Senior Member

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    I can't say conclusively or by any scientific means but, my "Satin" Tribute and my "High Gloss" Standard are right next to each other and I can see no way that the thickness of the satin is anywhere near the thickness of the buffed standard, even though I polished the satin to a medium gloss.
     
  3. dspelman

    dspelman Senior Member

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    No. Nitrocellulose lacquer isn't self-leveling, and it imprints whatever's on the surface beneath it onto the surface of the lacquer. Hot rodders who put 30 coats of "hand-rubbed lacquer" on their cars have always complained that they have to re-sand the cars every couple of years due to this (and due to chalking and color change typical of lacquer). In any case, this has led some guitar players into imagining that the finish was thin. Not so. Modern finishes can actually be a lot thinner and, because they're self-leveling, maintain a smooth glossy finish without transmitting surface imperfections to the surface of the paint. Taylor's finishes, for example, are thinner and more even than finishes applied by humans (Taylor uses a robot and a robot fixture, along with near 100% solids paint). The self-leveling gloss finishes on modern guitars fool some guitarists into thinking they're thicker. The only real way to settle this is to use a film thickness device (car painters use them all the time) to determine the actual thickness of the paint.

    One more thing -- matte, satin and "eggshell" type paints are created by including de-glossing agents (like talc) in the paint. You'll notice five or six different gloss levels of paint available at your local Home Desperate; these are created by putting different amounts of de-glossing agent into the paint. It's the only way to maintain consistency. A matte finish is NOT an unpolished gloss finish.

    Old guitars accumulate thousands of microscratches, and that slightly dulls the paint. But lacquer simply deteriorates, and outgasses some of the acids that turned cellulose (cotton, etc.) into nitrocellulose. In the process, it chips, checks and chalks (which also changes the surface), discolors and generally comes apart. There are near-pristine '59 bursts out there, and there are some that look like alligator skin. There's no set program for the process, so "VOS" paint jobs are just guesses.
     
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  4. dspelman

    dspelman Senior Member

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    Satin/matte finishes are designed solely to save Gibson money. That's the only reason they exist. They eliminate labor-intensive steps involved in grain fill and polishing and inspection. By reducing the number of coats of paint, they reduce spray-booth time, drying time and paint expense, but they also produce a finish that's far less likely to protect the guitar.
     
  5. Les Paul Newb

    Les Paul Newb Senior Member

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    That's interesting. I'm curious about the 50s finishes vs the finishes of today.

    I've always heard this (I'm paraphrasing):

    "In the 50's Gibson only sprayed a few coats of nitro. But in later years, they started adding more coats because they saw the older guitars' finishes weren't holding up well (similar to the bursts dye change) and finally settling upon the modern 7 coats"

    It made perfect sense to me, because at some point Fender was using strictly poly, and I would imagine Gibson wanting to make their finishes as durable as possible, to compete. Maybe trying new formulations (additives, "plasticizer") and more coats.

    I wonder if anyone has put together a history of gibsons finishes the same way they've done with headstock shapes & weight relief. Would make a great thread.
     
  6. efstop

    efstop Senior Member

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    I bought my LPMM and my Tribute inexpensively. If the finishes wear off early that's OK with me. The '17 Tribute GT has a different color than the' 13 GT and seems smoother but that could be because there's more flecks in the paint. The '13 had paint worn off in the cutaway when I bought it.
     
  7. dspelman

    dspelman Senior Member

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    Mythology. Remember that Gibson had been making guitars a long time, and the '50's weren't really all that different. The solid body guitars were new, but they were still selling the same number of jazz guitars, and they just finished the solid bodies in the same way they'd always done with their other guitars.
     

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