Tonal differences in thin satin or thick gloss clearcoat

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by KLINKDETROIT, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. KLINKDETROIT

    KLINKDETROIT Member

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    Wondering if the type and thickness of clearcoat type over a guitar changes the tone for the better and if so what is more desirable thin satin or super thick gloss. Below is an example of a schecter with satin and another guitar with thicker gloss clearcoat. I understand that each guitar is a different chunk of wood and that in itself is different.


    Gloss=
    [​IMG]


    Satin=
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    "gloss vs. satin" and "thick vs. thin" are two different things; those two examples of import instruments likely have equally thick poly finishes; one's just not shiny.

    also, the impact on tone of a thicker or thinner finish is hotly debated, which usually means the difference is negligible. it's a fraction of the difference the wood itself or the electronics makes in any case.
     
  3. GM Reszel

    GM Reszel Member

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    Please, please, not the tone of finish discussion, I beg you, don't sweat the small stuff.

    Seriously though - a really thick finish can affect tone, but like Walter says, how much - not enough to lose sleep. When I sanded all of the finish off my basswood IMC charvel it was a noticable difference but then the guitar looka-like-a-sheet.

    I have a schecter Loomis with a satin finish. This guitar sounds great,,,I'm not going to strip it, I'm not going to buff it to a gloss,,,repeat what Bill Murray said,,,'It just doesn't matter, It just doesn't matter,,,"
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  4. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    I have a theory about this.
    I think it possible that thicker finishes could effect tone only in that finishes consist of rather dense material.
    That being the case, I suspect that a dense finish could have a similar impact as what a maple cap on a mahogany body has, that it might add some shimmer to the high end and increase sustain a little.
    I have always like the Poly finishes. The only bad thing about them is that they are very hard and difficult to remove if you want to refinish an instrument.

    But, I never let the finish sway me on a guitar other than how it looks and feels. I doubt it makes or breaks any guitar.
     
  5. KLINKDETROIT

    KLINKDETROIT Member

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    I'm going with a light satin coat from sims guitar
     
  6. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    I think the differences people sense are this:

    Guitar A is often going to differ from Guitar B no matter what style of finish or what thickness. People draw conclusions based on anecdote and on what they WANT to believe;

    And the other, very seldom discussed issue is Human Factors or Ergonomics. We make contact with and control a guitar body differently depending on where it has a real hard and fast armor coat, or whether it has a softer surface that stays in one position against our body as we play. Players IMO make subtle adjustments to get control over the instrument and do their monkey business on it and some guys "sound right" on a fast shell of a guitar body while others like something that feels more like actual wood or (in the case of nitro) feels a little like human skin.

    ++

    For the purposes of this post, I am not asking the reader to disavow all he feels he knows on the subject up until now. I am just offering another, alternative and complicating factor that may explain why, as was said above, there is no consensus on these issues and the subject will continue to be hotly debated for a long time.

    ++

    It was "prevailing wisdom" for a long time at TGP that rosewood was warmer than maple, and that nitro sounded this way and poly sounded that way. The reason I have fought back against this "wisdom" is not because I am certain it is wrong, but because I think we have to leave some questions unresolved when we simply don't know what is or what is not fact. I am not saying, I am right and you are wrong. I am saying, there's no reason we should assign greater weight to someone who locks into a immovable position, over another fellow who is pretty sure we just DO NOT KNOW. No numbers of posts, no polls, no sound snips in MP3 form, no expensive guitars or fancy endorsements, no recording contracts, no celebrity pals can change this dynamic.

    Sometimes I think a lot of guys just bent over because they just didn't want to debate it any more. :^)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    there you go!

    a different aspect to the guitar might make you play it slightly differently, which could have way more impact on the tone than the physical difference itself would make.

    i've sometimes suggested the complementary idea, that sometimes an aspect that does change the sound can cause a player to play differently to try and get it to sound like the player's used to, changing the "feel". say, having to hit a guitar harder to get back missing attack or brightness.

    it might sound the same to the audience, but not at all to the player, because he's having to do something different to get the sound he's after out of it.
     
  8. LarryN

    LarryN Member

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    Finish can act like an insulator when it's thick enough, but I suspect the wood can overwhelm the affect of it in some cases. It is hard to pin down. I do think it can affect some instruments. Fender started to really glop it on in later years and I think the effect is known. Thicker and/or softer is more absorbent. Of course the wood quality started to change as well. And then there's the hardware changes. No matter what absolutes we try to decide, we still have to trust our own conclusions. It's better to develop your own ears and evaluate accordingly. I think it's good to share our opinions to start some exploration, but not be so dogmatic about them. The variables from the player through the speaker in the room are countless.
     
  9. KLINKDETROIT

    KLINKDETROIT Member

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    I had 2 schecters one with a thick poly and one without. Both the same wood types. They sounded drastically different. Probably the tree more than anything but?
     
  10. dspellman

    dspellman Senior Member

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    Out of the stack of guitars that I have, I've become convinced that finish doesn't have any really important influence on tone. And certainly that "thin nitrocellulose" doesn't necessarily have positives over "thick poly".

    These days, if I'm having something solidbody (with no historical or vintage value) built or refinished, it's going to be done in a gloss polysomething. I just don't want to mess with the fussy PIA things about nitrocellulose lacquer. And I don't care for the satin/matte finishes that are currently fashionable. YMMV.
     
  11. bunny

    bunny Member

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    You can't really make a THICK nitro coat. It usually means there's a thick (poly or smth similar) base underneeth. Nitro becomes thinner quite fast as it evapourates and anyway it will take you ages to make it thick.
     
  12. willyboy

    willyboy Member

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    I always find my opinion on this differs based on my experience. I played the same strat for 20 years before stripping the finish entirely, thinking it was going to sound different. The result - no noticeable difference to me. And unless you are comparing the exact same guitar, no tonal comparison can be accurate between two different guitars based on the finish. There are two many variables in the wood itself even if its the same species, and even if the finish has some factor in the guitar's sonic character, it in itself is very subtle at best.
    To the OP, buy what you think looks nicest and save yourself the OCD. There's more tone in your hands than the finish.
     
  13. KLINKDETROIT

    KLINKDETROIT Member

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    Here it is. Should be shipped to me today
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Still wet satin sheen
    [​IMG]
     
  14. dazco

    dazco Member

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    Smart man. You nailed it, breath of fresh air finally in this stupid debate.
     

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