reasons for or against shellac?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by schuyler, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    i'm curious to hear others' opinions about shellac as a finish for basses. the only drawback i've heard mentioned is that it's less durable than nitrocellulose, but then again, what isn't?

    specifically, i'm wondering how people feel it affects:

    a -- the tone/resonance of the instrument as applied to the body.

    b -- the durability and/or ease of playing on the fingerboard, particularly on fretless boards.

    c -- the feel of the finish on the back of the neck, and how it ages with use.

    maybe someone can help shed a little light on this subject for me... thanks!
  2. I've only just recently seen a complete finish on a mandolin that was shellac. It looked incredible since it was done in exactly the same way a nitro finish would be - lots of sprayed coats with wet sanding up to 2400 grit in between. Buff and polish after. You could read newspaper at 2 paces in the reflection.

    I use shellac as a perfect pore sealer for walnut. Not only does it do a good job sealing, but it also "warms" the color a bit. Walnut really looks like walnut when shellac is used.
  3. I've never refinished/built an instrument... but when I was messing with furniture refinishing, I'd use a thinned 'spit coat' of shellac as a sanding sealer.
  4. Poly - one part or two-pack

    or, my current favourite, Acid catylist two-pack - not quite as durable as 2-pack poly, but much more durable than nitro. Also easier to spray - flows better, builds better (more economical and enviro friendly), flashes slower (no blushing in humid weather), creates vapour that (I believe) is less flamible and the product that I use (from an Australian company called Mirotone) looks every bit as good as nitro IMO.

    And yep shellac works well as a sealer. (tho, I haven't tried it under the acid-cat yet)
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