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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:08 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2019 7:22 am
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First name: Zachary
Last Name: Allen
City: Lake Lure
State: NC
Zip/Postal Code: 28746
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
Status: Amateur
Please be gentle, I am a total noob here. Please know that I have already done a great deal of research for these questions, but I find the sheer volume of opinions, ideas, suggestions, etc... overwhelming. I have found many threads on here to be helpful but I do have a few questions that I do not seem to have been able to find info about.

I recently purchased a Recording King M9M for cheap and I have been thoroughly surprised with what a solid little guitar it is. That said, it is a very basic instrument with no fancy appointments and what feels like a paper thin matte finish. The surface is slightly rough in a few spots and you can easily feel the pores of the guitar with your fingers. I already have parts to replace the tuners, bridge pins, and pickguard but I am contemplating going a step further into an area that I have little experience in.

So, I am considering doing a refinish, or supplemental finish, or whatever, and these are my questions/concerns.

1. I know the matte finish is very thin. Is there enough of it on the guitar to buff out with a rubbing compound to a gloss finish and just avoid refinishing it? I am guessing no since it is so rough and that even if this is possible I would need to find a way to fill the pores/grain.

2. The back and sides are a little to reddish for me and I would like to stain them something a little darker. If I decide to stain and refinish, is the matte finish so thin that I do not need to worry about too much pre-sanding and just let it take the stain?

3 If I do decide to stain the backs and sides with a water-based stain, how much will it influence the tone/volume of the instrument? I have read different things about this.

4. Also, since there is no binding separating the sides from the soundboard, is it possible the stain from the sides could leak across and discolor the soundboard? If so, is there a way to prevent this? I realize I would have to tape up the edge of the soundboard, but I am worried that the sides would soak up the stain and could transfer it across to the soundboard.

5. Regardless of staining or not, if I were to put on a few coats of wipe on poly, following the right sanding techniques as I apply, could that help darken the wood and bring out its characteristics more? I understand I would have to sand and buff as I go to achieve a gloss finish.

Or, should I simply realize I have limited free time as it is and focus on upgrading with the parts I ordered and just it enjoy it without fussing too much?

Thanks in advance


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:03 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:04 am
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First name: Chris
Last Name: Pile
City: Wichita
State: Kansas
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Just play the darn thing.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:11 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1651
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Zachary, finishing, or refinishing, is the hardest part of building or working on a guitar. We simply do not have the products, techniques or experience to duplicate factory finishes. I'm quite sure that your Recording King is some sort of modern catalyzed finish that will be very difficult for you to deal with. Trying to change the color will make the process even more daunting. The usual suggestion with respect to any finishing project is to practice on scrap, which you don't have.

Play it, enjoy it for what it is, do the upgrades that you are comfortable doing.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 12:23 pm 
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First name: John
Last Name: Parchem
City: Seattle
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Quote:
1. I know the matte finish is very thin. Is there enough of it on the guitar to buff out with a rubbing compound to a gloss finish and just avoid refinishing it?

First off, once cleaned and functional I would just play it and let the instrument show its history.

I not a finish expert but I thought the matt part of a matt finish is in the product, not a finish that was not buffed out.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:26 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
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johnparchem wrote:
Quote:
1. I know the matte finish is very thin. Is there enough of it on the guitar to buff out with a rubbing compound to a gloss finish and just avoid refinishing it?

First off, once cleaned and functional I would just play it and let the instrument show its history.

I not a finish expert but I thought the matt part of a matt finish is in the product, not a finish that was not buffed out.


I think it is both, John. A long time ago I buffed a 3 series Taylor to what I would call "semi gloss" but it would never get the deep gloss of some of their higher models.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 7:25 pm 
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I have done matte finishes 2 ways: One - lightly scuff the surface to the desired flatness without buffing. Two - mix in a flattening agent before spraying. You cannot buff this type of finish out to a completely shiny finish, the best you can hope for is a kind of an antique satin that results from long use. My guess is that is what was done with the Recording King.

No need to get into the noob factor, or how refinishing alters acoustic sound.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:48 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:12 pm
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First name: Bryan
Last Name: Bear
City: St. Louis
State: Mo
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
The Musical Instrument Makers Forum (kilt.com). has a “new builders. FAQ.” I must have read it a dozen years ago but I remember this section. It is as true today as it was when I read it:

“Q. I have a vintage guitar/violin/mandolin/whatever. I want to refinish it, what should I do?
A. Stop! Please reconsider!! Even if the finish is in bad shape, your instrument is almost certainly more valuable (dollar wise) with the original finish. Search your area for a professional to consult about repairing the original finish before doing anything irreversible.

Q. I have an average/low-value/worthless instrument. I want to refinish it, what should I do?
A. Stop! Please reconsider!! We have had several MIMForum participants report disappointing results after jumping headlong into an unnecessary refinishing job. A good refinishing job is hard for a beginner to do well - it takes considerable practice. If you don't have the experience you may end up with an instrument that looks worse than it did when you started, or even one that's been ruined from sanding too aggressively. Many modern commercial finishes are tough, and difficult to remove. If your instrument is in good shape and the only thing you don't like about it is the color, consider selling it and using the money to buy an instrument more suited to your tastes. If there's minor cosmetic damage, a touch-up may be more appropriate, or just leave it - you are almost certainly going to make matters worse if you strip and refinish. Posting pictures of the finish damage on the MIMForum is one way to get good advice, and almost always our advice is to just live with it. It's rare for an instrument to actually require a full stripping and refinishing. On the other hand, if you own or want to pick up a junker specifically for the purpose of gaining finishing/refinishing skills we can give you plenty of good advice on the process.”

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:35 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 10:44 am
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Location: Western VA, no not West VA
Think of it this way, most of us builders strive to get the thinnest finish, at least on the top anyway, on an acoustic guitar so as not to clutter up the tone with a thick finish. So if your RK truly does have a thin finish then consider yourself lucky. Having reglued bridges on a few RK's in the past I can tell you they were anything but thin. But IDK about that particular model.

If you like the way the guitar plays and sounds then just leave it is probably the best advice.

If you are a cabinet maker with finish experience or something like that then sure why not, go for it. But it will be a lot of work with a high potential for disappointment.

On second thought, having just Googled that model, it's only a $300 guitar so you don't have much to lose. If it is a solid top and has a typical cheap factory guitar thick finish then you might even end up with a better sounding guitar.

In the end though, again, if you are already happy with it then don't open this can of worms ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:11 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:06 pm
Posts: 2503
Location: Magnolia DE
First name: Brian
Last Name: Howard
City: Magnolia
State: Delaware
Zip/Postal Code: 19962
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
Status: Professional
spazthennob wrote:
1. I know the matte finish is very thin. Is there enough of it on the guitar to buff out with a rubbing compound to a gloss finish and just avoid refinishing it? I am guessing no since it is so rough and that even if this is possible I would need to find a way to fill the pores/grain.


That really depends on the type of finish as much as anything. But being it was not pore filled it will look like crap if buffed out.... look like it is full of pinholes.

spazthennob wrote:
2. The back and sides are a little to reddish for me and I would like to stain them something a little darker. If I decide to stain and refinish, is the matte finish so thin that I do not need to worry about too much pre-sanding and just let it take the stain?


For stain you must go all the way back to bare wood, period! You could spray a toner over it to adjust the color darker.

spazthennob wrote:
3 If I do decide to stain the backs and sides with a water-based stain, how much will it influence the tone/volume of the instrument? I have read different things about this.


NOT AT ALL!!!! that is just ridiculous!

spazthennob wrote:
4. Also, since there is no binding separating the sides from the soundboard, is it possible the stain from the sides could leak across and discolor the soundboard? If so, is there a way to prevent this? I realize I would have to tape up the edge of the soundboard, but I am worried that the sides would soak up the stain and could transfer it across to the soundboard.


Definitely. So the soundboard would need masked and sealed with an isolante (CA won't work on spruce, turns it green) prior to staining. But again a shader or toner would not.

spazthennob wrote:
5. Regardless of staining or not, if I were to put on a few coats of wipe on poly, following the right sanding techniques as I apply, could that help darken the wood and bring out its characteristics more? I understand I would have to sand and buff as I go to achieve a gloss finish.


NO. Clear coat is clear.... it will not change the color of the wood noticably beyond the initial wetting of bare wood.

spazthennob wrote:
Or, should I simply realize I have limited free time as it is and focus on upgrading with the parts I ordered and just it enjoy it without fussing too much?



Guitar finishing is the most difficult part of building. Making a good sounding guitar is relatively easy compared to making a good looking one. If you wish to learn about finishing and refinishing start with junk guitars you care nothing about because you will make a real mess of the first few.

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You never know what you are capable of until you actually try.



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These users thanked the author B. Howard for the post: DanKirkland (Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:34 pm)
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