Convince me not to sand my guitar, please

Desorden

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Hi,

This is my first post here and I just want to thank you all for this community that I have been following for a long time.

Let me tell you about my dilemma: I bought a gorgeous 81' Washburn Falcon (neck thru construction with a rosewood top) which arrived to me with some damage on the polyurethane coating due to the transport.

Besides the small dings and dongs here and there that the guitar collected in the last 39 years there were some chips missing in both sides of the neck were it meets the body and some crack lines going around.

A local luthier filled the missing finishing chips with cyanocrilate and buffed it. Most of the damage is gone but there are some scars and cracks and it makes me feel sad seeing this nice guitar like that.

I have some experience sanding furniture and some basic woodworking skills, I did a couple of satisfactory projects with shellac. The idea of sanding the whole thing and then redoing the finishing with shellac has been hunting me for the last month or longer.

It would have some disadvantages for sure: for a start, the waterslide decal on the head would be gone with the polyurethane. But it can be copied and remade. The dyed body would probably need to be redyed.

My trusted friend and luthier has been telling me, that this is a crazy task that will bring only more drama. The polyurethane used in MIJ guitars back in the eighties is really a hard stuff that can be only removed with nasty solvents I could not buy these here and have no place to use them anyway. Sanding the guitar by hand will be tedious and my friend says that after two days sanding the guitar will look horrible and I will be regretting the whole idea. Power tools might be quicker but with the lack of experience with guitars I could do a lot of harm... Having a carved top sure doesn't help at all.

Should I just embrace the wear and tear and accept the new cracklines?
 

Desorden

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Thanks. To be honest, I am even more scared of leaving burning marks... Because I want to keep a clear coat afterwards and because I completely lack experience with heatguns.
 

Subterfuge

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the second from last paragraph sums it up ... a luthier is telling you that it is a crazy task that will only bring more drama .. that should tell you something? will it sound better,different or improved after the cosmetic restoration ??? it's your money so only you can answer this question .. personally I wouldn't bother .... please proceed with caution
 

smk506

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Post some pics here, maybe one of the guys who do finish repair can advise on a less strenuous fix.
 

EpiPlustop

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I'm open to disagreement but that doesn't look too bad.
Well not bad enough to put yourself through all the hassle of trying to get that finish off.
I'd say leave it and enjoy the marks as a sign of it's varied life.
 

cmjohnson

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If I were motivated to refinish that guitar, I'd do the whole thing. Ditch the poly finish and go with a traditional nitro lacquer that would probably make it sound better.
 

Desorden

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Thanks to everyone for the answers.

I know that it does not look so bad. The rational me screams "aint broken, don't fix it". But being unemployed during these weird times we are going through, the rational me is looking for excuses for not thinking too hard in more serious stuff.

I am afraid I could completely ruin a perfectly playable guitar that even looks nice and is in very good shape for its age. I have no place for nitro, and it would have to be a DIY project. If done, it would be shellac. The feeling of the guitar would be for sure better. But the risk seems too high.
 

CB91710

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Yes, pictures are always good :)
Ya... There is nothing that you or I would be able to do that would make that look better.
Refinishing a guitar is different from refinishing furniture.
You need the woodworking skills, but then the refinishing process... to bring it back to the original look, is more akin to painting a car.
That being a neck-through with a transparent finish is more advanced, and really not a good first-time project.
Being a transparent finish adds even more to the complexity.

For "something to do" to stay occupied, pick up a Solo Music kit guitar and build your own from the ground up.
Then you can experiment with finishes and build skill, probably end up with a very nice, playable guitar, and have less than $200 into the kit.
The pickups, tuners, and electronics can all be upgraded over time.
 

cmjohnson

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Shellac is a VERY traditional finish for an acoustic guitar. Yes, do that, if you have the motivation. You won't regret it.
 

moreles

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I sometimes get beater guitars to refurbish/repair/refinish partly just to make them good again, but also because I enjoy the work and find satisfaction in, say, a successful refin. Hlowever, while I have nothing to brag about, I have done so many repairs and finish jobs -- on guitars -- that odds are thge result will be really well done. Sadly, even this level of execution is rare in DIY refins. The curves and crevices of a guitar defy people used to flat surfaces and less delicate joins. A French polished guitar, which I have done twice, and a few other times as repairs, is, IMO, phenomenal and beautiful but only if done very well. An amateur shellac job looks like a high school shop project. Your guitat looks fine, and is fine. If you want to undertake to do a really meticulous refin because you would enjoy it and can execute it, the go for it! If you are doing it because you think the guitar needs, it, it just doesn't.
 

Desorden

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Thanks again for all the answers. I think the wisest thing to do is just to improve other things in the guitar and see if I just get used to the marks...

Anyway, just for more information. If I used a heatgun to get rid of the poly, would the stained wood remain stained? Would I have to sand the body anyway and stain it again with some water based dye?
 

Kennoyce

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Thanks again for all the answers. I think the wisest thing to do is just to improve other things in the guitar and see if I just get used to the marks...

Anyway, just for more information. If I used a heatgun to get rid of the poly, would the stained wood remain stained? Would I have to sand the body anyway and stain it again with some water based dye?
How do you know that the wood is stained?
 

Desorden

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Easy... In the cavity for the potentiometers the wood is clearly white - yellow (-ish). The top is massive rosewood, the rest of the body is a lighter timber (I think it's ash, dyed), except obviously for the maple and rosewood of the neck thru.
 

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Kennoyce

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Easy... In the cavity for the potentiometers the wood is clearly white - yellow (-ish). The top is massive rosewood, the rest of the body is a lighter timber (I think it's ash, dyed), except obviously for the maple and rosewood of the neck thru.
That doesn't necessarily mean that it's stained, it could be tinted poly under the clear coats. It probably is stained based on the lack of color in the control cavity, but just be aware that it may not be stained which would mean that you would either have to stain it or color the new finish if you wanted it to stay that color.
 

Desorden

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I think it is stained, because it would be really difficult to spray the guitar with colored poly without giving color to the maple parts too.

I attach other picture where you can see the one of the repaired chips.
 

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Kennoyce

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I think it is stained, because it would be really difficult to spray the guitar with colored poly without giving color to the maple parts too.

I attach other picture where you can see the one of the repaired chips.
I think you are probably right, but masking off the maple parts would be pretty easy to do, especially since they are just straight lines. Just realize that many times things can be different than you assume which could make any repair/refinishing that you want to do even more difficult than anticipated.
 


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