Finishes

Finish is a term used in woodworking for the protective film or coat, either wiped, brushed, or sprayed on the surface of wood, in this case, a stringed instrument.

Is a “finish” coat really necessary? Would a stringed instrument sound better if it had no finish?

Maybe, but this is debatable. While many think no finish is better, others believe that a professionally applied finish focuses and evens out tone and volume. From another standpoint, all wood, either in the form of furniture, floors, walls, or stringed instruments needs protection.

Protection is necessary due to the nature of wood. All living things have cells or cell structure, and although technically not still living, this cell structure or chambers in the wood creates open pores that extend to the surface, and these open chambers still breathe or transpire. Open pores on all wood absorb and release moisture, depending upon the amount of moisture or humidity in the environment in which it is subject.

Besides moisture, this porous surface is subject to human perspiration, body oils, dirt, foods, and alcohol. So, some form of protection is necessary. In the musical instrument industry, this protective coat is usually applied in various forms of oils, varnishes, shellacs, and most often, modern formulations of lacquer.

We offer both satin and gloss nitrocellulose lacquer, and also a spirit varnish with final French polishing. Satin lacquer finishing is our least labor intensive coating, and thus the most economical application. Although less costly, it should be noted that tone, volume, and overall protection are not sacrificed.

Gloss and satin lacquer are similar formulations, with a gloss finish having many more necessary procedures in order to produce a mirror like gloss finish, accentuating colors and grain patterns. Again, due to our lacquer formulations and extremely thin application techniques, tone and volume are retained.  

Third in our line of finishes is our hand applied, varnish finish. The oldest method known to man, the roots of our varnish finish for stringed instruments can be traced to the 17th century Italian violin making community. In the “spirit” of pre-production level, assembly line finishing methods, popularized in the early part of the 20th century, we have taken several steps back to utilize only the finest, time tested botanical resins and oils, a lot of elbow grease, and plenty of time. The final result is a beautiful, very thin, natural finish that lets the wood speak for itself, visually and acoustically. It should be noted that this finish will not have the perfect, piano-like, mirror look of a high gloss lacquer finish. While we respectfully direct most customers to our lacquered finishes for a high gloss, “candy apple” and very durable finish, we also encourage certain others to explore this time honored and lasting finish that has been the standard of the finest luthiers for the past three hundred years.Please note that an upcharge of $1000.00 will be applied for our varnish finish, and an additional wait time of up to one year.