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View Full Version : What is "Open Pore" finish?


TaylorPlayer
01-20-2010, 10:17 AM
I got a very nice looking Mahogany body Partscaster awhile back. The guy I got it from through Craigslist indicated that the body was solid mahogany with an open pore finish. Does anyone know if that a nitro based finish? It is a satin finish and you can feel the wood. (It is not slick like most Strats I have played)

Is there any preference for an open pore type finish? I just know that after playing mostly acoustic for 30+ years, this is one of the nicest feeling and playing electrics I have ever had. Wish I knew more about the builder.

movingpictures
01-20-2010, 10:36 AM
Probobly means the person doing the finish didnt use grain filler. It doesnt mean its Nitro. If it has a finish, your not feeling wood, but a satin finish.

No preference to most, but its more work to fill the pores and get a totally smooth finish...

Last
01-20-2010, 10:55 AM
Precisely what movingpictures has stated.

I've refinished quite a few Mahogany bodied guitars & grain filling is a major PITA!

http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/6102/imgp17540383731.jpg

But if you want a glass like finish it is a necessary evil.

Here's a grain filled finish.

http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/470/imgp3291.jpg

Here's one where I just shot the guitar with Nitro then Buffed.

http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/9313/imgp3940.jpg

As you can see, without the grain filling the Nitro will sink back into the pores of the wood.

TaylorPlayer
01-20-2010, 11:33 AM
Thanks for the comments. That all makes sense.. Beautiful guitars you finished there too!

Here is mine for reference....

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/CustomStrat3.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/CustomStrat4.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/StratBJ.jpg

XmasTree
01-20-2010, 11:38 AM
LOOK UP: IBANEZ S320 S SERIES ..that guitar IS OPEN PORE

XmasTree
01-20-2010, 11:41 AM
i did it for you ....looks like a new model, new colors.

http://ibanez.com/ElectricGuitars/model-S420

Last
01-20-2010, 11:50 AM
Beautiful guitar Taylor!

Almost looks like a Tung Oil finish or satin nitro? Nice either way!

TaylorPlayer
01-20-2010, 12:01 PM
Beautiful guitar Taylor!

Almost looks like a Tung Oil finish or satin nitro? Nice either way!

Thanks for the kind words! ... I wish I knew for sure what the finish was. A couple years ago I had some problems using bug spray while playing my Gibson Advanced Jumbo at our cabin around the firepit one night due to the reaction of Deet and Nitro....:thud

Lucky for me I have a few good Luthiers I could talk too and they told me to wait a few weeks for the Nitro to reharden (The Deet had made it soft somehow) and then by using some Meguires automotive products, I was able to re-buff the finish back to normal. I don't want to make the same mistake on my Strat, but then again, I swore off bug spray after that incident. I was thinking it might be a Tung oil or a hand rubbed finish. All in all, it was the look that grabbed me when I went to check it out. The Texas Specials are great in this heavy mahogany body. It really is one of the nicest sounding Strats I ever played.

TaylorPlayer
01-20-2010, 12:04 PM
i did it for you ....looks like a new model, new colors.

http://ibanez.com/ElectricGuitars/model-S420

Thanks for the link.... Cool looking finish on that.

I used to have a 1987 or 1988 Maxxas MX3 guitar made by Ibanez in that same basic shape. It might have been the prototype for the S series. Great guitars with a chambered mahogany body. Just ended up being way too pointy for me though....... it had tone for days but it made for a couple excellent trades.

donnievaz
01-20-2010, 12:13 PM
Looks like oil to me. Very nice.

Artur_I_Tis
01-20-2010, 01:31 PM
I think the black Gibson Meleody Makers have this type of finish. I like it and the IBANEZ S320 finish.

What is the best way to do a finish like this? Obviously, it's not armor like a 1/8th inch think poly finish and too thick and it'll look like cheese or a sponge. How thin can you go before it wears off? The stain on my Gibson SG Faded is wearing off where it rests on my lap.

donnievaz
01-20-2010, 01:53 PM
I think the black Gibson Meleody Makers have this type of finish. I like it and the IBANEZ S320 finish.

What is the best way to do a finish like this? Obviously, it's not armor like a 1/8th inch think poly finish and too thick and it'll look like cheese or a sponge. How thin can you go before it wears off? The stain on my Gibson SG Faded is wearing off where it rests on my lap.

Watco Danish Oil, Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil, etc. Hand rubbed thin coats with a rag until you get the buildup you desire. Very easy to apply and easily fixed if you screw up (not likely). Also easily redone if it wears out.

I really like the Tru-Oil, it builds faster and IMO is more durable than the others.

donnievaz
01-20-2010, 02:19 PM
Watco Danish Oil, Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil, etc. Hand rubbed thin coats with a rag until you get the buildup you desire. Very easy to apply and easily fixed if you screw up (not likely). Also easily redone if it wears out.

I really like the Tru-Oil, it builds faster and IMO is more durable than the others.

Here's a Warmoth Quilted Redwood on Mahogany body I refinised with Tru-Oil. This one is over a dozen coats and then buffed out because I wanted it really glossy. You wouldn't need anywhere near that many for a more satin finish.

http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e273/donnievaz/IMG_0313.jpg

http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e273/donnievaz/IMG_0314.jpg

TaylorPlayer
01-20-2010, 04:11 PM
Wow that redwood is stunning! I really like that.

I wonder, if I wanted my Partscaster to gloss up, could it be done with the open pore type finish? I have buffed a satin acoustic to a nice gloss by hand before using automotive products like Meguires, but the open pore seems like it would be difficult to gloss up. (To be honest, I really love the satin look of my Strat and probably wouldn't gloss it if I could.)

dspellman
01-20-2010, 04:16 PM
Thanks for the kind words! ... I wish I knew for sure what the finish was. A couple years ago I had some problems using bug spray while playing my Gibson Advanced Jumbo at our cabin around the firepit one night due to the reaction of Deet and Nitro...

DEET, while apparently NOT harmful to the human body and an excellent bug repellent for ticks and skeeters (used ONLY on the skin), will also eat through nylon parkas, tents, etc.

SO many things can impact Nitro, and DEET is yet another.

dspellman
01-20-2010, 04:19 PM
Watco Danish Oil, Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil, etc. Hand rubbed thin coats with a rag until you get the buildup you desire. Very easy to apply and easily fixed if you screw up (not likely). Also easily redone if it wears out.

I really like the Tru-Oil, it builds faster and IMO is more durable than the others.

I'm not a huge fan of Tru-Oil on anything that might get some wear. But it's very pretty on custom-built guitars that won't be played all that often. It's essentially linseed oil with some additives and isn't durable at all. It's *particularly* not abrasion resistant.

JPERRYROCKS
01-20-2010, 04:20 PM
It's not that bad to grain fill a guitar - just can be a little messy.

If you don't grain fill a guitar - you're wasting lacquer and the finishing / wet sanding process can be more time consuming.

You're filling the pores with paint.

dspellman
01-20-2010, 04:22 PM
I think the black Gibson Meleody Makers have this type of finish. I like it and the IBANEZ S320 finish.

What is the best way to do a finish like this? Obviously, it's not armor like a 1/8th inch think poly finish and too thick and it'll look like cheese or a sponge. How thin can you go before it wears off?

You should note that modern polyester finishes don't need to be 1/8th thick; finishes that take a dozen coats and 30 days worth of drying with nitro can be done in 24 hours and 3 coats with UV-catalyzed polyester applications. Part of the reason is that the newer polyesters are self-leveling while nitro tends not to be.

donnievaz
01-21-2010, 10:14 AM
I'm not a huge fan of Tru-Oil on anything that might get some wear. But it's very pretty on custom-built guitars that won't be played all that often. It's essentially linseed oil with some additives and isn't durable at all. It's *particularly* not abrasion resistant.

No oil finish is going to give you a whole lot of protection. If you want protection and durability you need Nitro or Poly.

PB Wilson
01-21-2010, 11:41 AM
Most "oil" finishes are oil/varnish blends. They are mixed to make application easier but take many more coats to get the kind of protection a thicker bodied varnish would give after only a few coats. If you build up Tru-Oil enough it'll work just fine for a guitar. It's used on shotguns that see rain, snow, sleet and temperature extremes that most guitars will never see.

Also, with the popularity of relic'd finishes, abrasion resistance might not be the desired trait of a guitar finish anyway.

donnievaz
01-21-2010, 11:56 AM
Most "oil" finishes are oil/varnish blends. They are mixed to make application easier but take many more coats to get the kind of protection a thicker bodied varnish would give after only a few coats. If you build up Tru-Oil enough it'll work just fine for a guitar. It's used on shotguns that see rain, snow, sleet and temperature extremes that most guitars will never see.

Also, with the popularity of relic'd finishes, abrasion resistance might not be the desired trait of a guitar finish anyway.

Agreed, although the >12 coat job I did on the Strat body previously pictured is still nowhere near the protection of a lacquer or poly finish. I think if you had to build it up to that level of protection, you've pretty much defeated the purpose of an oil finish IMO.

Tinman
01-21-2010, 12:04 PM
If you don't grain fill a guitar - you're wasting lacquer and the finishing / wet sanding process can be more time consuming.

You're filling the pores with paint.

Yes, filling the pores with finish is a little wasteful if you are trying to achieve the smooth-as-glass look, but you don't have to fill the grain at all if the "open pore" look is what you're going for.

TaylorPlayer
01-21-2010, 12:55 PM
I am learning a lot from you guys regarding finishes.... Thanks!

Another question I have is can anyone tell me if this type of body, wood and neck combo is based on any regular Fender Strat. I don't think I have even heard of a mahogany Strat before. I really love the 70's style headstock and the feel of the neck is also just right for me. Is there a good way to find out what the radius is?


http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/CustomStrat3.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/CustomStrat4.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/StratBJ.jpg[/QUOTE]

Last
01-21-2010, 02:10 PM
Here's a PDF Print Out that will help determining your neck radius.

PDF FORM PRINT (http://www.pickguardian.com/pickguardian/Images/Pickguardian%20Neck%20Radius%20Gauges.pdf)

TaylorPlayer
01-21-2010, 02:25 PM
Here's a PDF Print Out that will help determining your neck radius.

PDF FORM PRINT (http://www.pickguardian.com/pickguardian/Images/Pickguardian%20Neck%20Radius%20Gauges.pdf)

Sweet!!! Thanks a ton. I am going to check both my electrics and all 3 of my acoustics with this!

Arf
01-23-2010, 12:19 PM
Precisely what movingpictures has stated.

I've refinished quite a few Mahogany bodied guitars & grain filling is a major PITA!

http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/6102/imgp17540383731.jpg

But if you want a glass like finish it is a necessary evil.

Here's a grain filled finish.

http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/470/imgp3291.jpg

Here's one where I just shot the guitar with Nitro then Buffed.

http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/9313/imgp3940.jpg

As you can see, without the grain filling the Nitro will sink back into the pores of the wood.

Wow! nice finish work! Some questions for you after my first experience with tung oil. I just did a neck, with laquer on the headstock and heel with a nice transition. Barely visible. Nice stuff to wok with.
(A) After reading up, I'm filling my new USACustom ash body with DARK filler but only after a couple coats of clear, to protect the white growth. This is to get more contrast in the grain. The question is, can tung oil be applied over filler, or will it break it down? I had a nasty vision of huge bown whiping stains all accross my beautiful new body. And (B) what guitar is this on your post, that looks like a Les Paul Studio, but with P-90's? Very beautiful.

Arf
01-23-2010, 12:51 PM
Thanks for the comments. That all makes sense.. Beautiful guitars you finished there too!

Here is mine for reference....

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/CustomStrat3.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/CustomStrat4.jpg

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd219/lofapco/StratBJ.jpg

What a knockout guitar! the neck heel scallop looks like a Warmoth (?). Yep, they have both satin and gloss lacquers of nitro, poly, whatever substance. Even the tung oil I bought last week offered "high gloss" and "low gloss". I put low gloss on the back od a WD neck and it was the easiest gloss finish I've ever done. Looks real similar to a "hard finish", not like most oil finishes I've seen. Note; tung oil will void a Warmoth warantee, where they reccomend a "hard finish". And yes, look at two early '90's Ibanez guitars; the natural finish S series and the Joe Satriani hardtail guitar. Both have Mahogany bodies, both have stain lacquer, niether used filler. Still really nice, just depends on what you like.

Boris Bubbanov
01-23-2010, 01:20 PM
[QUOTE=Arf;7575771
(A) After reading up, I'm filling my new USACustom ash body with DARK filler but only after a couple coats of clear, to protect the white growth. This is to get more contrast in the grain. The question is, can tung oil be applied over filler, or will it break it down? I had a nasty vision of huge bown whiping stains all accross my beautiful new body. [/QUOTE]

I look forward to Last's answer but let me anticipate a Question:

What brand of grain filler did you use?

Different types will react differently, ranging from zero interaction to a little intermarriage of the dried filler with the varnish, which can actually be a good thing. And I know there's a filler out there that will dissolve a bit if hit by the wrong solvent, but usually all that means is, it will drive the grainfiller down into the pores some more.

Arf
01-23-2010, 01:36 PM
I look forward to Last's answer but let me anticipate a Question:

What brand of grain filler did you use?

Different types will react differently, ranging from zero interaction to a little intermarriage of the dried filler with the varnish, which can actually be a good thing. And I know there's a filler out there that will dissolve a bit if hit by the wrong solvent, but usually all that means is, it will drive the grainfiller down into the pores some more.

Hello again Boris;
Haven't started yet; body just arrived yesterday. I've been looking at the two brands of filler on stewmac.com. I originally was going with thier spray nitro, satin or gloss not sure yet. Just liked the look and feel of the tung oil I put on a neck - Formby's brand by the way. Like a somewhat aged nitro, some feel of wood still there. Best of both worlds I guess.

Arf
01-23-2010, 01:45 PM
LAST:
I the second picture, you're saying if it were clearer, we would see big open pores in the red lacquer? I can kind of make them out.

Arf
01-23-2010, 01:48 PM
I look forward to Last's answer but let me anticipate a Question:

What brand of grain filler did you use?

Different types will react differently, ranging from zero interaction to a little intermarriage of the dried filler with the varnish, which can actually be a good thing. And I know there's a filler out there that will dissolve a bit if hit by the wrong solvent, but usually all that means is, it will drive the grainfiller down into the pores some more.

Actually, USA hasn't aken it off thier website yet. It's "Body #5", with the grain that looks like CLOUDS - It's crazy, I'm not kidding.................

gkoelling
01-23-2010, 01:51 PM
I'm not a huge fan of Tru-Oil on anything that might get some wear. But it's very pretty on custom-built guitars that won't be played all that often. It's essentially linseed oil with some additives and isn't durable at all. It's *particularly* not abrasion resistant.

You've posted this before and it's just plain false.

Tru-Oil has been used on gun stocks, its intended application, for years. It wears beautifully on guns and I've yet to see a guitar player in the woods, or field, in the dead of winter fighting his way through heavy cover while carrying a guitar.

friend33
01-23-2010, 02:10 PM
LAST:
I the second picture, you're saying if it were clearer, we would see big open pores in the red lacquer? I can kind of make them out.

I have a PRS Singlecut Satin w/P-90s (mahogany), and those are open-pore nitro-finished guitars. The last photo does show the texture (rather than baby's-butt smooth) you end up with when going this route. I don't know that you really "see" the pores, but there's more relief to the grain. (If you've stained wood before, you know how that can pull up the grain as it dries.) It's somewhat similar to laminate flooring materials that have some relief so as to appear more like real wood.

Some people really hate the PRS finish, feeling it is done merely to cut costs. I actually like mine - wood looks and feels great. The lack of blindingly smooth gloss is not an issue for me - especially with a raunchy P-90 guitar!

Arf
01-23-2010, 03:25 PM
I have a PRS Singlecut Satin w/P-90s (mahogany), and those are open-pore nitro-finished guitars. The last photo does show the texture (rather than baby's-butt smooth) you end up with when going this route. I don't know that you really "see" the pores, but there's more relief to the grain. (If you've stained wood before, you know how that can pull up the grain as it dries.) It's somewhat similar to laminate flooring materials that have some relief so as to appear more like real wood.

Some people really hate the PRS finish, feeling it is done merely to cut costs. I actually like mine - wood looks and feels great. The lack of blindingly smooth gloss is not an issue for me - especially with a raunchy P-90 guitar!
Depending on the guitar I guess it could look like, or actually be, simply a cost cutting move, but satin finishes have earned a place in all price points of guitar. I remember the first time I aw it, Peavey put it on thier first guitar, the ash bodied T-160, with a gloss finished neck. At first, we, as teenagers, thought it was unfinished until we figured out it was a satin finish. We loved it, as the trend at the time was to sand off your guitar, most often not even bother to refinish it-none of us did it right anyway. Lots of clear finished guitars were sold in the stores in the mid '70's, some with oil. Stll thinking of going with satin to suggest an unfinished feel.

Arf
01-23-2010, 03:58 PM
You've posted this before and it's just plain false.

Tru-Oil has been used on gun stocks, its intended application, for years. It wears beautifully on guns and I've yet to see a guitar player in the woods, or field, in the dead of winter fighting his way through heavy cover while carrying a guitar.

Yep, my favourite way to avoid dents, dings and scratches is simply to avoid denting, dinging and scratching it. Since no finish will stop a dent, you might as well put on what looks and feels good to you.
But can you compare for us this Tru-Oil of yours to the Formby's tung oil I use? How do they differ?

donnievaz
01-23-2010, 04:16 PM
Yep, my favourite way to avoid dents, dings and scratches is simply to avoid denting, dinging and scratching it. Since no finish will stop a dent, you might as well put on what looks and feels good to you.
But can you compare for us this Tru-Oil of yours to the Formby's tung oil I use? How do they differ?

They're all basically the same thing, varnish & oil mixtures. Some are more varnish than others. I think Tru-Oil is a little heavier on the varnish.

Boris Bubbanov
01-23-2010, 04:21 PM
Actually, USA hasn't aken it off thier website yet. It's "Body #5", with the grain that looks like CLOUDS - It's crazy, I'm not kidding.................


She's a beauty, congratulations.

I'm a natural born pushover for that type of graining, especially on USACG Tele bodies.

As for the durability of either Birchwood Casey Tru Oil or Minwax Tung Oil Finish (varnishes), they are flexible and resilient as opposed to hard but brittle finishes. The softer the wood underneath, the more certain I am not to choose this finish. Walnut and Ash are great for this type of finish, even quite thin, because the wood and varnish work together to protect the guitar. Added layers over time, done correctly, look wonderful.

If your body is made out of Paulownia or Figured Redwood, I can't make any guarantees. I have noted, there's no such thing as a Chambered Gunstock, nor a Gunstock made out of Paulownia.

Arf
01-23-2010, 04:50 PM
She's a beauty, congratulations.

I'm a natural born pushover for that type of graining, especially on USACG Tele bodies.

As for the durability of either Birchwood Casey Tru Oil or Minwax Tung Oil Finish (varnishes), they are flexible and resilient as opposed to hard but brittle finishes. The softer the wood underneath, the more certain I am not to choose this finish. Walnut and Ash are great for this type of finish, even quite thin, because the wood and varnish work together to protect the guitar. Added layers over time, done correctly, look wonderful.

If your body is made out of Paulownia or Figured Redwood, I can't make any guarantees. I have noted, there's no such thing as a Chambered Gunstock, nor a Gunstock made out of Paulownia.

What is Paulownia anyway? I never heard of it 'till Guitarfetish.com got them in this recent batch of bodies. They say it resembles ash.

gkoelling
01-23-2010, 05:49 PM
Yep, my favourite way to avoid dents, dings and scratches is simply to avoid denting, dinging and scratching it. Since no finish will stop a dent, you might as well put on what looks and feels good to you.
But can you compare for us this Tru-Oil of yours to the Formby's tung oil I use? How do they differ?

I'm sorry, I can't really compare. I've used Formby's but it was several years ago and I didn't use many coats, four IIRC. I do recall that the guitar I finished with Formby's sounded quite nice when I was done compared to how it sounded with the original finish.

You are correct, no finish is fool proof. I'm sure poly is tougher than oil but I've dinged poly guitars too.

gkoelling
01-23-2010, 07:45 PM
Open...
http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/752015_beer_bottle_neck.jpg

Pour...
http://www.virginmedia.com/images/bottle_of_beer430x300.jpg

Finish...

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2751/4237625620_0b22ffa422.jpg

Tone_Terrific
01-23-2010, 11:05 PM
The oil and wax finish that I put on a mahogany strat-like wore easily due to fingerdrag in the pickguard area. Not a durable finish but easy. I haven't tried all the other oil/stain products or pursued many coats.
The high rub areas do need something tough.

Arf
01-24-2010, 09:33 PM
Open...
http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/752015_beer_bottle_neck.jpg

Pour...
http://www.virginmedia.com/images/bottle_of_beer430x300.jpg

Finish...

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2751/4237625620_0b22ffa422.jpg

Odd method but I'll try it.

Arf
01-24-2010, 09:58 PM
Hey you guys; Here's a question. There's a trick for figured/bird's eye maple. They stain it dark, let the stain sink into the bird's eys etc. Then they steel wool it off. The figues haveing absorbed the stain, the piece has more contrast. Can you do this to ash after it's been filled?

bek
01-24-2010, 10:13 PM
So Arf mentioned the Peavey T-60 finish, but got no comments. I have a Washburn Laredo, also ash with a similar finish. Great-sounding guitar, but I am curious about what the finish is. The Washburn is more matte-finished; the T-60 had a bit of a shine and a "surface" (for want of a more correct word) than the Laredo. Anybody?

Tone_Terrific
01-24-2010, 10:52 PM
Hey you guys; Here's a question. There's a trick for figured/bird's eye maple. They stain it dark, let the stain sink into the bird's eys etc. Then they steel wool it off. The figues haveing absorbed the stain, the piece has more contrast. Can you do this to ash after it's been filled?

I think the technique is to stain the filler first because the non-porous portions of ash stay light and you cannot stain the filler after it hardens.

Arf
01-26-2010, 03:37 PM
I think the technique is to stain the filler first because the non-porous portions of ash stay light and you cannot stain the filler after it hardens.

Thanks. I guess I'l just go with the dark filler. I assume it sands off the white grain easy enough. This is a very nice grained body, just could use some more contrast.

Arf
01-26-2010, 03:43 PM
So Arf mentioned the Peavey T-60 finish, but got no comments. I have a Washburn Laredo, also ash with a similar finish. Great-sounding guitar, but I am curious about what the finish is. The Washburn is more matte-finished; the T-60 had a bit of a shine and a "surface" (for want of a more correct word) than the Laredo. Anybody?
I don't know the paticulars-but pretty much all the satin finishes,Peavey, Ibanez, Washburn, even an early '90's mahogany San Dimas Jackson had it, all seem nice. I just know all the oil finishes seem alot more on the gloss side.