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  1. #1

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    Complete amateur here. Can you spay or apply gloss over satin finish to change it?

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  3. #2

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    Maybe. It depends on what the finish actually is, and on your equipment and skill level.

  4. #3

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    What are you trying to do? A satin neck will "buff out" with play. For example.
    Last edited by AllanAllen; 06-29-2021 at 11:01 AM.

  5. #4
    My recent PRS C24 Piezo for some reason has a very dull satin headstock face, while the rest of the git is the beautiful high gloss PRS finish. I know it's a superficial thing, but it looks really stupid, like they forgot to finish it. I don't know why they're doing that now.

  6. #5
    Yeah you can take the hardware off, work your way up the high end of polishing grits, past the mirror grade grits and buff it out with paste type polish and wax. Careful if you're sanding with a block or soft sanding pad of any sort when you're close to the edges, that you don't roll over and remove the finish completely. About your question about "glossing over" with a coat of something, make sure if you're going this route, that your surface finish is compatable with what's on there. If there's not a good clean overspray or if it reacts, shows through or is too heavily applied in any area, it can look very amateurish.
    Good luck!

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Yeah you can take the machines off, work your way up the high end of polishing grits, past the mirror grade grits and buff it out with paste type polish and wax. And that surface has an opaque base so even better.
    Good luck!
    Are you saying just polish up the existing finish? Or spray over it? Sorry for my ignorance, I appreciate this.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Are you saying just polish up the existing finish? Or spray over it? Sorry for my ignorance, I appreciate this.
    Polish up what's there. It's better to work with what's there first and it's easily done.

  9. #8
    Here's what I'm talkin 'bout. Even the color looks stupid, doesn't match. It looks like they forgot to do the headstock face.

    Gloss over satin?-prs-2-jpg
    Gloss over satin?-prs-1-jpg

  10. #9
    Gee. That's unfortunate. It's a little like a basket hat on a suit. I see what you mean.
    I'm sure it's somebody's taste.
    I've had good luck with tinted lacquer. I've applied it over poly and nitro. You can get it in a can from StewMac. Possibly a dark mahogany or even a darker colour oversprayed over that light walnut grain would give you grain figure plus a darker colour.
    Mask it off thoroughly. Apply evenly and better with several light coats than too much at once. Be patient and you'll be rewarded.
    I like the canned instrument lacquer (don't use hardware store finishes like Krylon or Rustoleum) because it DOES go on thin.
    Give it a week or two (especially in summer humidity) then level and buff it out.
    The dyed lacquer sprays let you tint and still see wood figure. Nice effect. And it's got the added benefit of giving you an unreal buzz and skull splitting headache. Sometimes I'll just spray the living room for that alone. But seriously, you can get nice results if you're patient. And you're just doing the headstock with strings on top of it. You should be fine.

  11. #10
    BTW, I once polished up an entire vintage L5 with Blue Coral auto polish (I was very young and naive) and it came out stunningly gorgeous.

  12. #11

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    I have some limited, amateur experience in guitar finishing.
    Safest thing to try is to remove the hardware and buff the area using car polish compounds, IMO.

    I would never use even the highest grade sandpaper/pad for polishing. You'll end up with even more satin and rough surface. Sanding is done to even out the surface and make it smooth before polishing. But the surface is already even, so no sand or grit paper needed.

  13. #12

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    I actually used French polish over lacquer once to match the finish of a 50 year old guitar. I used amber shellac. French polish can be used to polish and repair small areas of guitars. There is a StewMac videa about it. It works very well, but there is a learning curve. I would try auto polish compounds first though for what you are trying to achieve.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I have some limited, amateur experience in guitar finishing.
    Safest thing to try is to remove the hardware and buff the area using car polish compounds, IMO.

    I would never use even the highest grade sandpaper/pad for polishing. You'll end up with even more satin and rough surface. Sanding is done to even out the surface and make it smooth before polishing. But the surface is already even, so no sand or grit paper needed.
    The polishing grits I mentioned are so fine, people use them to surface glass. Not ordinary sandpapers. But yes you're right, the goal is to get finer rather than rougher.
    Especially if you're going to apply a colour coat. It may look smooth after a spray but it's not even, hence the leveling process, which will destroy the gloss post spray sheen, but after you work it back to a mirror finish, it'll catch the light better as a level surface. The shinier it is, the more it'll show up surface inconsistencies, which an over spray will have.
    But I defer to others of course. This is just my opinion. I was thinking that a simple buff wouldn't address the look of walnut veneer the OP finds objectionable. Two cents

  15. #14
    My only concern here is, as you can see (and as JBN mentioned) the color sucks. Would love to add a little darkness, but I'm worried about hurting the inlay and/or covering the grain.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    My only concern here is, as you can see (and as JBN mentioned) the color sucks. Would love to add a little darkness, but I'm worried about hurting the inlay and/or covering the grain.
    For that you can use Amber shellac (or a darker kind). Shellac is actually edible so it's safe to use indoors. I use 94% ethanol (drinkable kind) as thinner. Here is the StewMac video I mentioned:


  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Maybe. It depends on what the finish actually is, and on your equipment and skill level.
    True. There are several different kinds of 'matte' finish.
    > Some buff up pretty nicely
    > Some buff up pretty well but fade back to matte over time
    > Some, like open-pore matte, are never going to gloss up right

    People say that Virtuoso polish fills the tiny craters that make a matte finish. I don't know; never tried it.

  18. #17

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    Seems like a pretty weird idea from PRS. I don't like it, but I guess somebody does.

    No experience with guitar finishing, but 30 years in the wood-working trade tells me that just making it shiny won't solve it. I think the shading advice from Jimmy is good. As he said, you do it with many coats to build up the color, so when it stops improving you're done. Now get to buffing.

    You can always strip it back to natural if it doesn't work out to your liking.

    Probably best to take to someone who has experience and knows sunbursts. That's all about tinted lacquers.

    Maybe that's the answer: strip the clear off and refinish it.

  19. #18

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    Are you sure it’s a satin finish for the headstock? It may be a veneer.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by mayrandp
    Are you sure it’s a satin finish for the headstock? It may be a veneer.
    Both. They put the veneer on in the assembly process and the whole guitar is sprayed. The factory where those guitars are made also makes guitars for many other guitar makers. That's the way the Asian guitar market works. The headstock veneers are often the only difference between the bodies of identical guitars by PRS, Ibanez, Epiphone, and many others. Hardware and the veneers are what makes each guitar uniquely brand specific.
    You put a PRS veneer on, it gets sprayed with PRS colours and fitted with PRS specified electronics and hardware and it's a PRS. Headstock finish seals the veneer and mass produced inlays.
    That's why I was suggesting that you apply a clear gloss (coloured) lacquer spray coat over it and level and buff it to a perfect shine. If it were specified by PRS to the factory "Put a glossy dark red wood grain headstock on this guitar", they'd do something similar.
    The spray lacquers you can buy come in a range of tints so you can do any colour, say the dark edge or red from a strat burst, to an almost opaque black. You just order the can and follow directions.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    Maybe that's the answer: strip the clear off and refinish it.
    Not a good idea. Stripping poly by chemicals is nearly impossible to do cleanly and safely. Mechanical removal (scraping or sanding) is also really hard because you wind up putting all sorts of heavy sanding marks into the underlying wood or veneer surface once you are through the finish.
    The finish is much tougher than the veneer underneath and once you break through, even in a small spot, it's gonna bite and remove MUCH faster in that unprotected area. You wind up with uneven gouges and removal scratches that you then have to sand back and smooth out again before you apply the finishes. All the time you're doing that, you're risking removing the logo from the veneer because it looks like a pearly inlay, but it's actually closer to applied stamp or imagine a computer generated decal. It's gonna come of faster than the finish over it.
    If you apply a clear gloss finish over a matte, it's going to become shiny when you level and buff it. It's primarily the light refraction and reflection on the surface that makes it look the way it does.
    And remember, it's a headstock. It's small and covered with machine posts and strings. It's just gotta look shiny and smooth at a glance.
    Stripping it is way more trouble than is necessary unless you want to remove the logo completely.

  22. #21

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    All true Jim. We've sanded acres of veneer at the shop. We use conversion varnish, which is almost as bad as poly. You're right... it's dangerous. Especially if you never done it before. It's probably poly, but do we know that? On the plus side, it's flat and a small area.

    I agree on the shading. Build up to it.

    Side note: We had a finisher for like 2 days who said "why don't you guys use nitro? so much easier to get off if something goes wrong and you need to refinish." I'm like: "that's exactly why we don't use it. breaks down too easily. do what you have to do and get it right the first time."