Guitar Making and Repair/finishing SS Stewart


QUESTION: In the middle of finishing top after a delay and about to clear coat it, but had a question about finishing the sides, can I just clear coat that ? Dont know about staining it first and then clear coating what do you recommend? I am leaving the back original to give it that old look.

ANSWER: I'd leave both the sides and back as-is; the combination of old back with newly-finished sides would look strange. I assume that the top is natural finish, not a burst? You don't give much information, and Stewart guitars were made and sold by a half-dozen different companies with all sorts of finished being used...


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QUESTION: I have already taken the sides down, they were like the burst on the back, the top is natural, can I just do a natural finish on sides like the top? How do you do a burst on the sides? Ithe sides looked similar to the burst but more of a zebra pattern going uup the sides, will try to send a pic.


Natural sides and top with a burst back is not a good way to go.

The "zebra" pattern on the sides was applied with an airbrush at the factory in order to give relatively cheap straight-grained wood some visual interest, and now that the sides and top are
sanded down, I'd sand the back, too, and then either finish the whole guitar natural or stained without a burst, or bite the bullet and do a burst.

If you have never finished a guitar before, do take it to a pro unless you are planning on making this a learning process and understand that it's not easy to do. To explain how to do it would take me a thick book, and there are books, videos, and websites devoted to this.

For info and materials on finishing guitars, I'd try or Both sell spray can paints formulated for DIY guitar refinishing and can provide instructional materials, as well.


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paul wilczynski


Anything concerning building, tuning, theory of construction. Specialist in finishing (40 years' experience); extensive knowledge of Rickenbacker instruments of all vintages. Rickenbacker factory connection on personal level; ONLY licensed Rickenbacker luthier in the world.


Extensive. I build and restore electric and acoustic guitars (steel string and nylon classicals). I build all of Rickenbacker's acoustic instruments in my own shops in San Francisco and Healdsburg, CA. I write two online columns with a total of over 15,000 posts since January, 2005. Google my name or my screen name, "jingle_jangle".

American Guild of Luthiers.

Mostly automotive and hobby (in the past).

Manage the University Department workshops(Industrial Design) in SF, also have taught and written design and fabrication classes for almost a decade. Have produced online classes, written curricula, syllabi, etc. Run an online forum for my students (500 in number).

Awards and Honors
Awards won for product, vehicle, and preschool toy design in the past.

Past/Present Clients
Rickenbacker International Corporation, Waterstone Guitars LLC, many Fortune 500 companies before I worked in guitars (I ran a design studio for 22 years). I have hundreds of individual--private party--customers.

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