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Finish Craquelure

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by anonymous0726, Dec 9, 2002.


  1. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Just got the girl out to practice, and the light caught the finish and brought about the following thoughts.

    I notice that the varnish is craqueluring (a verb?) as all varnished basses do eventually. Looking at the evidence, it seems that the craqueluring happens where the wood would be most likely to flex with vibration. Is this the case? Has anyone ever done a study on the effect in relation to the gradation of the top?

    It's interesting to see. Around the edges of the top, near the F-holes, etc., the craqueluring is advancing. Right up the middle of the top and other places, there is none. There is some craqueluring where the shoulder meets my belly. The back has almost no evidence of this. Kinda makes me think and wonder.
     
  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
     
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I believe it's the island and channels. I've seen the other sort before -- almost looks like broken glass or something. I'll look at it again when I'm making noise. All is bagged and ready to head out the door now.

    What would explain the affected/unaffected areas? If it were purely a coat over a not-so-dry coat I would think it would be uniform or show thicker and thinner spots (brush strokes) rather than what it is doing. Could this be related to the thickness of the wood and how much air the wood is then letting to the buried coats of varnish?
     
  4. What Jeff is telling you is 100 percent correct. It doesn't even have to be an oil varnish for this to happen. I can remember many years ago I was refinishing an old Kay bass with nitrocelulose lacquer. I got in too big a hurry and sprayed the coats without waiting long enough for them to dry. The bass looked great for about 6 month, and then started the craque. A year after I did the job, I had to redo it because the bass looked 50 years old.
     
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Wouldn't this be a plus? :)

    Does varnish ever actually dry, or is it a situation like oil paint? I know that glass is actually a liquid.
     
  6. Klimbim

    Klimbim

    Mar 3, 2001
    Actually, the idea that glass is a liquid was phased out some time ago when they realised old glass windows in churches were thicker near the bottom due to the production process, and not the flow of glass to the bottom part over time.
     
  7. For the record: Years ago, I had a restored bass with a beautiful varnish. Arnold Schnitzer told me then about this guy in Long Island who did superb varnish work. The name sounded like Chef Rollback, or something close to it.
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Actually, being from Toledo, the glass center of the (old) universe, I have this for you.

    Libby, the glass guy of Owens-Libby-Ford, et al, was little too far into his glass. When he had his mansion built (In Rossford, OH, a suburb) he had all of the windows in the place measured for thickness. I don't remember if exactly how often he had it pulled out and remeasured, but he did, and the glass did end up thicker at the bottom over time.

    [pause for some quick Google research]

    I ran out onto the web for a sec to see if I could find anything on this, but couldn't. So the story could be true or false, but it's told around Toledo like it's gospel.
     
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Edward Drummond Libbey was his name. Naturally, the Toledo Library had misspelled his name and I didn't double check it.
     
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    OK -- here's some more on that:

    AskJeeves -- wonderful search site for certain things -- gave me a better search. I read through a couple of papers, which is freakin' mind numbing over your first cup of coffee, and I found that:

    a) The 'glass is a liquid' bit runs from urban legend to a loose interperation of the term 'liquid', depending on whom you read.

    b) There is another classification of material, called 'amorphous solid', that glass can fall under.

    c) Most glass doesn't 'flow', but certain glasses can exhibit plascisity (sp?), wherein it can deform under pressure over time.

    Gotta run.
     
  11. Back to the lady...

    Although custom shops use "this" technique
    for slabs and guitars this would hardly be the case
    with your upright.
    I would suggest you contact the brothers directly.
    As your instrumnet is of higher quality than the
    standard Strunal *s* you should expect
    a bit better quality of varnishing...
    A year 2000 model ?

    CV
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Is effect is very, very slight. You have to hold it in the light just right to see it. I'll definitely point it out to Shank next time I'm down there.
     
  13. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Ray-There's certainly no reason to worry about this issue-most of us like this look anyway. But if it bothered you for one reason or another it could be french polished out.
     
  14. Klimbim

    Klimbim

    Mar 3, 2001
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I wasn't worried about it -- just curious. To be honest, showing up to a gig with a shiny bass embarrasses me just a bit :) Plus -- this is nothing profound -- it isn't turning into stucco or anything.
     
  16. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I agree with the most esteemed Mr. Bollbach and Branstetter, but I pose another possibility: Traditional varnishes are somewhat flexible, otherwise all old fiddle finishes would be cracked to bits from all the vibrating and climatic changes. If yours is a modern bass built in a production facility, chances are it was finished with a fast-drying acrylic, polyester, or lacquer-type finish. I think it's possible this finish is very brittle and this inflexibility could be causing the "craquing". It would make sense that this would occur more noticeably in the areas that vibrate more or are more free to expand and contract with weather changes. Just my $.02.
     
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    As far as I know, and unless the pictures of the brothers working in the shop are false, the thing is hand made and varnished.