Taking the gloss off a body

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Steve Gascoigne, Jan 28, 2020.

  1. Steve Gascoigne

    Steve Gascoigne NEW MEMBER!

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    2
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2019
    Location:
    UK
    I have a tele that I bought used in the late 80's which is nicely beat up, all naturally. The finish is quite glossy and I wondered if there's anyway of making it more matt without having to refinish it completely

    I have included an image if thats any help.

    cheers, much obliged for any help/info
     

    Attached Files:

  2. BluesJrT

    BluesJrT TDPRI Member

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    9
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2020
    Location:
    Phili
    You can use steel wool or a fine grit (1000 or 2000) wet/dry sand paper, the black one. The poly is thick you can always buff it out but just be careful don’t go deeper than you need too.
     
    Si G X likes this.
  3. darkwaters

    darkwaters Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,489
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Location:
    Newfoundland
    Be careful ! Try it on a more hidden part first. I attempted to remove some of the glossiness on my Epi Dot using superfine steel wool. It scratched up the finish and looked nasty. Luckily I started on the back, realized what was happening and stopped. I had to use carnuba wax and Planet Waves Restore to get the scratches out. Didn't work completely, but it's good enough. I won't make that mistake again !
     
    BluesJrT likes this.
  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,459
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Location:
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
    .

    No steel wool. You'll leave shredded bits in the guitar, no matter how careful, and they will end up sticking inside the pickups and eventually short those out -- why risk it? I am always amazed at the popularity of steel wool around guitars. Do people refinish their automobiles with steel wool? The finish on most guitars is the same as vehicles, Fender started with General Motors paints and colors.

    Get 800 grit or higher sandpaper and go over the finish just enough to make it satin. Don't try to sand through the finish. You are just trying to sand it until it looks a little cloudy. The sandpaper will load up with finish and that's ok. Don't use a power sander.

    Then if you ever want it glossy again you just start sanding with finer grits up to about 2000 and then get out the polishing stuff to bring back the gloss.

    .
     
    bhenry83, bender66 and mkdaws32 like this.
  5. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    11,866
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Location:
    Netherlands
    I would use red auto-body rubbing compound, applied with an old sock and rubbed by hand. (Actually, I would probably use an old pair of underwear, as I have lots of those around...)

    It's easy to get all the rounded corners and edges with this technique.

    Plus, you will have a tin full of red auto-body rubbing compound, which is a great product for cleaning fretboards and polishing frets. I use it on all my guitars; though I have never tried it on a finished maple neck - so I can't whole-heartedly recommend that.
     
    Matthias likes this.
  6. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    951
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2019
    Location:
    Moncton, NB Canada
    I like fine steel wool (0000) for polishing frets - with either the pickups taped off, or the neck removed from the body. I one of those metal fret guards to protect the fingerboard. I don't use it on the body or neck, though. For what you are doing, I agree steel wool will make a mess of it. I would use a fine sandpaper - probably wet sanding lightly by hand to rough the finish up a bit and then buff it back to smooth it out again (obviously not buffing it back to full gloss ;) )
     
  7. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,779
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2014
    Location:
    Maine
    Don't fear the wool. Just be sensibly careful to keep it away from pots and pups.
     
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    75
    Posts:
    2,679
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    I use 0000 steel wool all the time and blow the guitar off, then follow with a small magnet. But if you are really worried you can use a Scotch Bright pad or micro mesh. I think wet and dry sanding might be too aggressive and might leave the finish too dull.
     
    stevemc likes this.
  9. dkmw

    dkmw Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    4,336
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Location:
    Florida USA
    I’m surprised no one has mentioned this, but the first thing you want to do is remove all the polish/wax that’s on the body. Assuming that’s poly, you can use just about any solvent you want.

    That might be enough de-glossing by itself.
     
  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    9,513
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    That can leave swirls and scratches. If abrasives are used I recommend Micromesh pads, and nothing rougher than their 3600 grade (which is specifically for satin finishes) their grades to NOT equate to sandpaper grits, so follow their numbering ystem and well-written instructions. They aren't cheap but last for YEARS. I don't do final "surface sanding" on finish jobs - it's an unnecessary procedure unless you are fixing problems that shouldn't exist in the first place - but for preparation, fillers, sanding sealers, relic and restoration qork they are just about the only thing I use. I used one set of large pads for wet and dry sanding on a daily basis for at least 5 years.

    But....

    ^^^^THIS!

    Guitar polishes and waxes are, IMO horrible. All they do is create "artificial shine" through deposit of silicones and paraffin derivatives/other waxes. ALL of these are dirt and dust magnets, and build up over time with grime collecting at edges of pickguards, other hardware, in screw heads etc.

    I use only to things for lacquer, polyurethane and polyester finish cleaning and maintenance - naphtha and Stewmac's Preservation Polish. I don't usually push use of Stewmac's stuff as IMO much is gimmmicky and overpriced - but this polish removes waxes and silicones and leaves NOTHING on the surface.

    I remove grease, sticker residue, oils and other petroleum-based gunk with naphtha (the cleanest solvent you can use that will not damage tthe listed finishes) and then Stewmac's Preservation to finish up - and for future maintenance cleaning/polishing.

    And as @dkmw noted, removing existing polish junk often results in a satin finish - especially on older instruments.
     
    JuneauMike and mkdaws32 like this.
  11. ecoast

    ecoast Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    825
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2017
    Location:
    NWNJ
    Micro mesh
     
  12. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    951
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2019
    Location:
    Moncton, NB Canada
    I hadn’t considered this. Is there a lot of polish/wax on poly straight from the factory? I never use polish or wax on my guitars, so it didn’t occur to me. But, agreed! This is definitely the easiest and safest thing to do first!
     
  13. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,153
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Location:
    on my bike
    I've done it by hand, but regret not using the small electric palm sander I have. It would have been easier/faster/more consistent. Just stay away from the edges. Use a fine paper too.
    [​IMG]
    I 2nd the questioning of steel wool use anymore. It's crude. There are better products available for little money - 3M Grey.
     
    Skydog1010 likes this.
  14. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    1,644
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2019
    Location:
    North Carolina

    NICE JOB!!
     
  15. reckless toboggan

    reckless toboggan Tele-Holic

    Age:
    45
    Posts:
    619
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2019
    Location:
    Canada
    Very good work.

    Can you share some of the details?

    Which 3m products?

    Grits?

    How thick is the remaining finish?

    In addition to a motorized sanding device, what else would you have done differently?

    Did it change the sound, tone, sustain etc?

    I really want to do this to a G&L Tribute I have, but I've never tried anything like this.
     
  16. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,779
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2014
    Location:
    Maine
    Ummmmm... Why not just leave it with the original mojo? You can find a satin finish body for $100. You could probably sell the body you have for $200. Just sayin'.
     
    Matthias likes this.
  17. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Posts:
    2,295
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    Is that a Fender? What year was it manufactured? Even 80s Fenders in a beat up state are worth keeping any original parts as they are if you might ever consider selling. Now they feel a bit vintage, US and Japanese ones are rising sharply in price.

    If it’s a cheap copy, I’d say use rubbing compound. I use it to dull pickguards and is easier to get right than sandpaper.
     
  18. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,153
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Location:
    on my bike
    Not really much to tell. I cant remember what grit I started with. Might even have been steel wool to start?

    I did it disassembled obviously. The reason I mentioned the sander was you can get more even a matte finish quicker. I had to go back & keep touching up areas that weren't consistent. Like I said, do the edges by hand or you'll burn through.

    You're hardly taking any finish off at all, just dulling the outer most. It doesn't change the tone whatsoever, imo.

    3M Grey pad is what I was referring to. It's a finer scouring pad than the course green ones.

    Theres a thread on MLP I think, of a guy that did it to his RI or something. Very in depth with lots of images. The beauty is it can be reversed. I'll see if I can locate it.
     
  19. AlbertoMilanese

    AlbertoMilanese Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    122
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2020
    Location:
    Bavaria
    I find playing the damn thing takes the gloss right of my guitars... if that don't work and you want a natural look, how about taping some very fine sandpaper to your clothes? Seems like that'd give you the natural worn look.
     
  20. reckless toboggan

    reckless toboggan Tele-Holic

    Age:
    45
    Posts:
    619
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2019
    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks for the info, that'd be great if you can locate that thread.

    My main reasons for wanting to do it to my G&L Tribute is to allow the guitar to resonate a bit more and feel more alive acoustically.

    I like the resonant vibration feeling with my very thin satin-nitro finished guitars, and I know thin poly won't be exactly the same feel, but I'd like to give a go to see if thinning the poly a lot will allow the guitar to have that vibrating, alive feel moreso that it does now with the very thick poly that's I'm there currently.

    So I'd be trying to remove the poly down to a very thin remaining layer.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.