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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Guitar Myths #001 - Matt vs Gloss

Hi Guitar Enthusiasts,

Kicking off a series in urban myths of guitars; we heard of many good intended advices about maintaining and enhancing our beloved guitars. Be aware of the stuff you read from various websites because the information found there may not be always authentic and much less helpful. I have learned many such myths from my clients. Let me warn you, some myths are simply out of this world and I think only magic mushrooms can take you there!

Myth #001

"Gloss finish will always give you more brighter sound and more treble and Matt/Satin more warmer sound".

Heard that before? I remember window shopping in a guitar shop and a sale person sharing that myth with me. With much convictions I must add.

Comparisons between finishes
Taken from: http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/NeckFinishPop.aspx

Left flatting agent used, Right no flatting agent
The facts behind finishing woods are diverse and deep and I made no attempt to elaborate every aspect of it as I am no expert in this as well. There are indeed critical differences between gloss finish and satin finish but they have nothing to do with "brighter sound and warmer sound".

In short, most regular polyurethane (PU) finishes are gloss by chemical nature. PU finishings that are Satin or Matt have been taken through an additional chemical process to attain the so-called Matt finishing.

When guitar makers produce Matt finish guitars, they attained that by mixing an additive commonly known as flatting agent into the finishing concoction. By this doing, we get the so-called Satin or Matt finish.

We can safely say that Satin or Matt finish guitars have slightly thicker coats than gloss finished guitars.

More reading on Flatting agent can be found here: http://news.thefinishingstore.com/index.php/the-role-of-flatting-agent-in-creating-sheen/

Say we entertain the idea of finish thickness that may have influenced the tonal characteristics of guitars. For a start, both finishes have negligible differences in thickness, and it is totally within the control of the person who is doing the finishing job to give both finishing the same amount of coats.

In my opinion, to relate gloss finishes to brighter tone and satin finishes to warmer require great imagination or blind faith.

PU Finish

There is an article on Satin Vs Gloss finish that finds little or no relationships between types of finishes and tonal characteristics. You can read it here: https://monikerguitars.com/blog/satin-vs-gloss-top-coat-guitars.

So when one of your guitar buddies suggest that Matt finished guitars give warmer tone, hope you can enlighten them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Green to Finish

Dear Guitar Enthusiasts,

From Green to Finish. Making a guitar is never an easy task, let alone starting from Green. It was one of the most interesting challenge thus far.

In March 2016, National Parks Board (NParks) unveiled Avenue of Heritage Trees and announced new Civic District Tree Trail. As a craftsman who makes my products primarily from woods, the news has caught my attention. Giving emphasis to local trees was indeed a positive move to a woods and trees lover like myself. I think their effort will appeal to grown-ups but to the youths… it might not cut through.

Unveiling Civic District Tree Trail

I decided to contact Ministry of National Development (MND) and shared my ideas on contributing to raising the nation's awareness to our local trees. It was making an electric guitar from local trees, those that would be fell due to disease or development. I hope this electric guitar will be used creatively in engaging the youths, causing them to be interested to learn about our local trees.

MND thought the idea was practical and meaningful. I was linked up with NParks to get the project rolling. After the initial meetings, NParks and Guitaring Passionately (GP) found ourselves on the same page and we went full speed ahead with the project. NParks has intended to have this would-be-built electric guitar featured in a planned event in June 2016.

Ideally, I have in mind building a Rain Tree (Samanea saman) electric guitar. However it wasn't about my preference, it was about availability of woods that were deemed suitable to be use in this project. Khaya Mahognay was available at the time of selection, thus this wood specie was selected.

Mahogany was commonly used for making guitar bodies and necks. However it was much less common to have a fingerboard made from it. Illuminating local trees was central to this project so making the guitar by using one specie of wood can be seen as a sound choice.

It was indeed a tight timeline given the building processes were from Green to Finish. Unlike purchasing guitar wood blanks from wood sellers, the lengthy wood drying processes need not be accounted into part of the guitar making processes.

Towards end of April 2016, arrangements were made to obtain the required woods for the project.





The involved NParks staff and parks maintenance contractors were very helpful. The entire process was made easy. Eventually these woods found their ways to GP workshop.

Out of the entire making processes, drying the woods adequately within the time frame to complete this guitar was the greatest uncertainty. I was very fortunate to learn from Jeffrey Yong about wood drying. It has helped me to deal the wood drying challenge.

Eventually I got the wood drying challenge addressed adequately. The rest was just racing against time to get the guitar made on time. I will let the pictures talk instead.













Throughout the process, the involved staff members of NParks have been very enthusiastic and helpful. The guitar was handed to NParks and the rest is up to them.

Thank God for creating such amazing things to beautify our world; TREES.