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Barenaked Strat?


 
8/29/2003 6:13 PM
paulg
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Barenaked Strat?
Got your attention, didnt I? Anyway, I read a guitar makers fourm years ago in Guitar Player. Several of the makers agreed that their instruments would soud better without any finish. I remember Paull Reed Smith being one of the participants. This has always intrigued me. I can think of a number of "tone monsters" who have little or no finish on their instruments. SRV, Rory Gallager, Bill Kirtchen come to mind. I've also read that when a finish gets old it seperates from the wood allowing the wood to vibrate more freely. This was written in relation to violins. It could explain why vintage instruments are thought to sound better.  
I'm thinking of making a swamp ash strat with either no finish or maybe a coat of watco to seal the wood. Does anyone have experience with this or any opinions to share? thanks
 
8/29/2003 11:23 PM
jaysg
Fred Marotta at the Repair Zone (http://www.nakedguitar.com/RZ.html) sez...Play Guitar Naked. No/little finish is actually what he means. He seals maple with just enough matte lacquer.  
 
I polled some guys on this a couple years back. The biggest mistake listed was Tung oil finishing swamp ash. Swamp Ash apparently sucks like a sponge. In the case of Tung oil, it killed the tone. If you look at how relatively inexpensive an unfinished USA Custom or Warmoth body is compared to a finished one, then it looks like an interesting experiment.
 
8/30/2003 7:35 PM
Bernd
There is an audible difference between an unfinished and a finished guitar.  
I once build a guitar with a body made of swamp ash, it was a design of my own so I had assembled everything completely before to test everything before applying any finish. I remember that the tone with the unfinished body was bone dry, more woody sounding (like SRV, Gallagher). After the application of the finish the tone was more solid. I had used a glossy polyurethane coating in several thin layers so the effect was not dramatic. Usually industrially produced guitars have polyester coatings in thick layers to keep production costs low. But these effect the tone more.  
 
Bernd
 
8/31/2003 9:45 AM
soapbarstrat
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The wood being old can also make the tone better  
http://www.lespaulforum.com/gaston2.html  
 
Watco isn't so great. It's real thin, and goes too deep. I've heard it will go all the way through an acoustic top.
 
9/3/2003 5:09 PM
Nic Neufeld
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"biggest mistake listed was Tung oil finishing swamp ash."  
 
ouch...i did that on my first guitar...but can't say that i have any complaints at all about the tone! 10 coats, too! of course, it was a "tung oil varnish" so that may be a little different. ok, ok, i admit, it was formbys, but it DID work great and the tone is awesome. but everybody has different experiences and views "good tone" differently, so fair enough!
 
9/3/2003 7:47 PM
Mark Hammer
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A pristine bare wood instrument probably will sound better. On the other hand, a finished body is pretty much guaranteed not to change over time, where an unfinished body will only remain pristine so long as you don't sweat into it, pour beer on it, etc. In other words, the price of sonic heaven is eternal vigilance. The compromise would be the thinnest possible layer of lacquer or sealant you can get away with.
 
9/3/2003 11:09 PM
soapbarstrat
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Maybe a wipe-on finish that's a little too thick to soak in as much as an oil finish. Don't think you can get any thinner surface finish than that. Guys that do refinishing work won't like it, cuz most, if not all, wipe-on type finishes are very DIY friendly.  
 
But for those of you who like Space-ship graphics on your Ibanez Jem type body, this ultra thin/no finish idea isn't so nice.
 
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