- padding thin layers of shellac – is the most traditional and widely acceptable finish for classical guitars and historic musical instruments. French polished shellac finishes are thin and flexible, and are arguably the best finish for enhancing the tone of fine classical guitars. This finish is less protective or durable when compared to lacquers and synthetic finishes but its perceived better tone and ease of repair outweigh this aspect.
French polishing involves the use of a dilute solution of shellac and alcohol that is applied in thin layers by hand with a specially prepared pad. There are small variations to the process and materials used that are widely accepted, so each instrument maker works to find the technique/process that yields the best results. We offer two instructional DVD’s to help you with this process, French Polish for Guitarmakers by Ron Fernandez (BM65)
and French Polishing, A Modern Approach by Robert O’Brien (BM97)
We carry several colors of dewaxed flake shellac, along with, pumice, rottenstone, and felt pads. Denatured alcohol (available at your local hardware store) is used to dissolve the shellac flakes into a solution. The pumice FPPUM
is used during the filling and padding process and the rottenstone FPROT
is used in conjunction with the felt pad FPFELT
and oil for the final gloss polishing of the cured finish. For the oil used in the padding process, makers have used baby oil (mineral oil), pure olive oil, or paraffin oil. Well-washed, lint-free cotton or linen can be used as a pad material. These should be available to you locally.