French Polish Care and Handling?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Nathaniel

French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Nathaniel » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:30 am

Hi all, I've just had my guitar's top re-french polished by a professional with clear shellac that it looks really great. It had an unexpected mirror glossy finish much like lacquer. So to take care of it, I used a synthetic stretchy armband to protect the top with my right elbow. However, I still noticed that area getting a bit cloudy. So I used a cloth usually used for cars, but the top finish still gets more and more cloudy each time I used my guitar.

How do you guys take care of your french-polished top to retain its magnificent glossy mirror finish? Do I need to wear cotton cloth long sleeves? Unfortunately it's quite hot and getting even warmer here in the Philippines, so wearing long sleeves is going to be really uncomfortable.

strings

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by strings » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:25 am

I'm not an expert on French polish but I don't think it is an ideal finish.It can look good when freshly done and it is easy to repair scratches. But; it is not that durable ,it is sensitive to heat,damp and alcohol.I prefer cellulose, but cellulose is prone to cracking.The modern acrylic type finishes are more durable but scratches are difficult to repair.In the end I believe you may have to be pragmatic and accept the fact that things that are used, will show signs of use.

JohnH*
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by JohnH* » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:40 pm

I had the same sort of apprehensions when I first got a french-polished guitar, and have been using pure, hard paste wax on the top. Not polish or cleaner... no abrasives... no silicones! I asked several times on this forum if that would be a good or bad thing to do, but never got a definitive answer. Finally, one of the Milburn brothers told me it would not harm anything. So now the top gets a nice "spit polish" whenever I change strings. It always looks nice and there is no sign of degradation after about 800-900 hours of playing.
JohnH*
2013 Anders Sterner BRW/Spruce
1973 Ramirez 1a BRW/Cedar
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."

Nathaniel

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Nathaniel » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:53 pm

JohnH* wrote:I had the same sort of apprehensions when I first got a french-polished guitar, and have been using pure, hard paste wax on the top. Not polish or cleaner... no abrasives... no silicones! I asked several times on this forum if that would be a good or bad thing to do, but never got a definitive answer. Finally, one of the Milburn brothers told me it would not harm anything. So now the top gets a nice "spit polish" whenever I change strings. It always looks nice and there is no sign of degradation after about 800-900 hours of playing.
Hi JohnH, are you using wax to protect your shellac? That seems like a good idea. What kind of wax are you using? How much layer do you apply?

Alan Carruth
Luthier
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Alan Carruth » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:02 pm

The cloudiness is probably due to humidity from your arm. It might go away over time, and it might not. A thin coat of paste wax could well help keep humidity from penetrating the shellac, and it's certainly worth a try. Don't use liquid furniture polish unless you know absolutely what is in it: some of them have stuff that can harm the wood if it penetrates the shellac.

Shellac is soluble in alkaline water soutions as well as in alcohol, and some folks seem to have more alkaline sweat than others. That could also be part of your problem.

I really like FP on a top. Shellac gets better with age; harder and less soluble. Nitrocellulose lacquer gets worse: it breaks down chemically and releases nitric acid, which is why it yellows so much. There's no getting around the fact that FP requires a certain amount of care to kep it looking good, but it gets to be less of a problem over time.

Nathaniel

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Nathaniel » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:18 am

Alan, how about this one:
Is this OK for shellac?
Image

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av8t0r
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by av8t0r » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:58 pm

I use Virtuoso polish on my French Polish classicals; it's the only thing I've found that works.
Too many guitars, not enough time.

Derry

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Derry » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:42 pm

ya might also try Trewax if available,, is loaded with carnauba and I have been using for years,, I only polish "once a year" though and just wipe lightly the rest of the year,,

may FP owners would never apply any type of polish but can say my CGs certainly look better after applying and nothing has changed,, if I ever need them touched up it could be an issue for the luthier removing the polish,,

Derry

JohnH*
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by JohnH* » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:16 pm

I've been using Minwax paste wax for about two and a half years. I use a very, very small amount at a time--much like applying shellac in a french polish. I wasn't familiar with the 3M product, so I looked into it. It contains a silicone product (3M A.S.P. (Acrylic SiliconePolymer) formulation) that you should probably avoid. You can remove wax easily, if you want to, but silicone is likely to be with you forever. Unless you can clean 100% of it off, it will make a FP touch-up impossible.
JohnH*
2013 Anders Sterner BRW/Spruce
1973 Ramirez 1a BRW/Cedar
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."

Alan Carruth
Luthier
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Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 6:56 pm

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Alan Carruth » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:40 pm

Stick with something 'natural' if you can, and avoid silicone like the plague.

JohnH*
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by JohnH* » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:01 pm

av8t0r wrote:I use Virtuoso polish on my French Polish classicals; it's the only thing I've found that works.
av8t0r, I just found this on the Virtuoso web site:

"After numerous attempts and formula changes we arrived at the products now known as Virtuoso Premium Polish and Virtuoso Premium Cleaner. It is the only two part cleaning system designed specifically for nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. It also works wonders on polyurethane and UV cured finishes found on newer instruments."

I guess if you've been using it for a while it isn't going to harm your FP shellac, but I don't think I'll try it.
JohnH*
2013 Anders Sterner BRW/Spruce
1973 Ramirez 1a BRW/Cedar
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."

Nathaniel

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Nathaniel » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:45 am

JohnH* wrote:I've been using Minwax paste wax for about two and a half years. I use a very, very small amount at a time--much like applying shellac in a french polish. I wasn't familiar with the 3M product, so I looked into it. It contains a silicone product (3M A.S.P. (Acrylic SiliconePolymer) formulation) that you should probably avoid. You can remove wax easily, if you want to, but silicone is likely to be with you forever. Unless you can clean 100% of it off, it will make a FP touch-up impossible.
Thank you JohnH, I will look for Minwax. I saw 3M, they do have silicone indeed. How about turtlewax? the one I saw at the stores do not have any list of ingredients so I'm not sure about it. Have you guys tried this?

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av8t0r
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by av8t0r » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:24 pm

JohnH* wrote:
av8t0r, I just found this on the Virtuoso web site:

"After numerous attempts and formula changes we arrived at the products now known as Virtuoso Premium Polish and Virtuoso Premium Cleaner. It is the only two part cleaning system designed specifically for nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. It also works wonders on polyurethane and UV cured finishes found on newer instruments."

I guess if you've been using it for a while it isn't going to harm your FP shellac, but I don't think I'll try it.
Virtuoso polish was recommended by my guitar tech. He said the cleaner was stronger than the polish, so I use the polish. I had some cloudiness and discoloration where my arm rested on the front. Other polish just added streaks to the mess, but Virtuoso cleaned it up. I only use it as needed for spots, I use light breath and a microfiber cloth to wipe it down after playing.
Too many guitars, not enough time.

cjbidwell

Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by cjbidwell » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:41 pm

I just recently built my first guitar and found that after applying french polish, it becomes cloudy...for newly built guitars, this is typically from too much lubricant (in this case, olive oil) and shellac, what I do here is spirit it off with cheese cloth and Everclear alcohol. Since I'm guessing your guitar isn't new, you can buy some Maguires #9 swirl remover (yes, for cars!) with a 100% cotton t-shirt (test on a tiny spot first) and apply it to your top with tiny swirls and then buff it out with a dry portion of your cloth.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

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Thanagan
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Re: French Polish Care and Handling?

Post by Thanagan » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:26 pm

Does anyone know whether the Virtuoso Cleaner + Polish would be safe on an old Ramirez (see my signature; lacquer finish).
Jose Ramirez 1a, Cedar (1976)
Juan Hernandez Profesor, Cedar (2013)
Yamaha SLG130nw

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