General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

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Re: General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

Postby Seth Ellis » Thu Oct 04, 2018 4:06 pm

This thread is great. I am looking for a spray finish that is less toxic and more natural feeling than Nitro. I'm very much a novice. I am huge fan of Lowden guitars and their finish is a nice lustrous non-gloss--hard to describe if you have not seen it. I hear it's a poly base finish now, but my guitar was a late 90s to they may have used something different then. I stumbled upon this thread and read it all with great interest. It looks to have some real advantages over previous waterborne finishes. I plan to pore fill with epoxy and it looks like this finish will stick to dewaxed shellac without sanding all the way down to bare wood. The finishing schedule looks very doable too. Great!

Is there anything else that has come along in the last year that is also worth a look for a nice satin finish? I was thinking the clear High Performance satin would suit me. I used Minwax Pro Series Waterbased Spar Urethane on a boat and oars this summer and really liked how clear, quick drying, and easy it was to work with. I think it's less hard compared with poly but more flexible; wouldn't that added flex be good for a guitar? It's $18 a quart and available locally which is nice. I'd love to hear opinions on that.
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Re: General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Oct 04, 2018 4:27 pm

Seth - I'd like to see some input on this too. A satin finish can be beautiful, but with something that is handled as much as a guitar is, I'm not sure that it will STAY satin. My Strat had a beautiful satin neck when I bought it, but 26 years of playing have polished it to a high gloss. I've been curious whether there is something that will resist this. I can see the top of the lower bout in particular getting quite shiny over time.
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Re: General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:14 pm

You can create (or restore) a satin finish using steel wool and wool lube or liquid soap as a lubricant.

"When you’re satisfied with leveling, switch to the next grit wet/dry paper and do the same as above. Pay attention to the edges first then switch to the center of the board. Continue on to 800 grit.
Now you have a choice. If you want a satin finish take a pad of 0000 steel-wool, unravel it and fold it back into quarters. Wrap it around a cork block or soft piece of wood or plywood with cork glued to the bottom. Squirt some soapy water on the board and then apply some steel-wool rubbing lubricant (Behlen Wool-Lube) on the pad or the board. Rubbing with the grain, make 3 or 4 complete passes over the surface, slightly overlapping each pass with the next. Then switch to a fresh area of the steel wool and repeat. Do this 2 more times, switching to a fresh area of the steel wool for a total of 12-16 passes. Brush aside the slurry and check to see that you’re putting down a uniform scratch pattern. You may have to let the board dry to see if you’ve got it right. If you want a waxed feel to the surface, let the wool-lube slurry dry, then buff it off, just like wax. The surface will have a silky feel to it and when viewed in backlight, should look like brushed metal."

Complete Article: ... -finishes/
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Re: General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

Postby Brian Evans » Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:58 am

I've used Brite-tone and EM-6000 WB finishes and found both to be very good. Brite-tone I think is clearer and builds faster. Both are available in satin, but I've never tried that so I have no idea of the final finishing stages, what you do after level sanding instead of polishing. Maybe you polish but don't end up with gloss, or maybe you use the steel wool?
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Re: General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

Postby Aaron Helt » Sat Oct 06, 2018 9:24 am

Satins you just spray and let dry. No buffing or polishing. That’s one of the nice features of satin if you like the look.
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Re: General Finishes Waterbase Topcoat - SM is pushing this - anyone tried it?

Postby David King » Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:58 am

Commercial satin finishes are just gloss finish with a silica matting agent. You can purchase various qualities of flattener from a boat supply place or a hobby shop where it's sold as an epoxy thickener (thixotropic agent). A 1% addition reduces gloss by 60% according to this article: ... v20/laduc/

The stuff invariably sinks to the bottom of your pot so you have to keep stirring for consistent results. Since it can't really be leveled or buffed you're totally dependent on that final sprayed coat being perfect. Silica is hard and it toughens any finish significantly. While it can hide a lot of imperfections it also hides the material underneath it which is why you mostly see it on budget instruments.
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