Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

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Enrico Schiaffella
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Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Enrico Schiaffella »

Hello everybody. If you take a look at guitargal there is an archtop by Tom bills. To my eyes is a wonderful instrument. I’d like to get inspired by it. It says that it’s French polished. Do you think that kind of sunburst can be obtained only by using different shade of shellac? Or maybe by using a stain? I’m intrigued by it and tempted to use different colors of shellac buying them from shellac.net. What do you think?

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Barry Daniels »

How about a link?
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Enrico Schiaffella
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Enrico Schiaffella »

I thought it wasn’t allowed. Here it is
https://www.guitargal.com/collections/a ... xe-archtop

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Barry Daniels »

That rule was changed a few years ago.

That sunburst is created with dyes mixed into the lacquer to create a transparent toner, applied with a spray gun.
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Enrico Schiaffella
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Enrico Schiaffella »

Ok great thanks a lot

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Bryan Bear »

Tom Bills uses French polish on his guitars. He stopped using lacquer some time ago. This may have been done before he stopped spraying lacquer, it is hard to say. I do know that he is pretty good about answering emails. You should ask him how he did that particular guitar.
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Enrico Schiaffella
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Enrico Schiaffella »

Well on the description it says “hand rubbed French polish shellac finish”

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Barry Daniels »

Wow, never seen a hand applied french polish sunburst that even. I stand corrected.

But I also think that he must have a LOT of experience with french polish. Most attempts at a hand applied sunburst that I have seen are no where near as even and subtle.
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Enrico Schiaffella
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Enrico Schiaffella »

Yes Barry, I once saw part of a tutorial from him teaching French polish. He is very dedicated to this job. It was kind of a meditation for him. That is the reason why I asked about his technique of applying a sunburst. Just because I knew it was applied by hand. I might write to him as Brian suggested. I will probably do and in case I will let you know the answer.

Christ Kacoyannakis
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

I am a member of Tom Bills' Art of Lutherie program. I took his VERY detailed French polish class. Tom only uses French polish, due to an accident that almost blew up his house when using nitrocellulose lacquer, and some health concerns. He always dewaxes his shellac flakes, even though he buys dewaxed shellac. He also color corrects the shellac by adding charcoal. He uses different colored flakes to get different tones. His process is much drier than most traditional methods. His French polish method requires only a few minutes a day, but is stretched out over about a month.

I think he has spoken about this sunburst method in one of his regular online question and answer sessions. Feel free to reach out to him. He is a very nice guy, super luthier, and very friendly, and always willing to answer questions.

Enrico Schiaffella
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Re: Sunburst on Tom Bills archtop

Post by Enrico Schiaffella »

Thanks Christ for the info. I think the end result is wonderful.

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