Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Visible, tactile wide grain


thejtl

Recommended Posts

OK, so one thing I noticed right away about the AJ I bought a few weeks ago is that the grain on the top was raised and wide. You could see it and feel it through the lacquer. It's quite nice and I really like it.

 

my question is why? The only other AJ I had to compare against was in rough shape (a scratch n dent at another store). The difference between the guitars was night and day. The lacquer on mine feels very light, while the other example I had was thicker. I know all the guitars are handmade, but I'm just wondering if there's a trail of differing materials between the 2005 I have and the later version. Or if their might be some other explanation. Here's a pic where you can see the raised grain:

6760946795_6f4726716c_m.jpg

Gibson Advanced Jumbo by thejtl, on Flickr

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's certainly some significant variation between individual guitars. After all, the lacquer is sprayed by hand using a spray gun, and the finish is sanded by hand between coats, so there's bound to be variation. But it is also the case that there is a constant quest to make the final finish thinner, and the current procedures or lacquer formulation or something might be resulting in a little thinner finishes on average. (My guess is any difference in the average would be small compared to the variation among individuals, though.)

 

-- Bob R

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have used wide grain Adi Red Spruce on my own hand-made guitars with hand-sprayed nitro lacquer and find that after a while the grain raises up and becomes visible. I always try to do very thin coats of lacquer on the top for the best tone possible, so I am sure that's why the grain becomes visible. I would imagine that Gibson does a similar process when building their guitars with similar results. The main issue is lacquer & spruce do not expand & contract the same, so as the guitar ages you'll see the grain of the spruce more & more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's the result of solid, natural wood coated on only one side with a thin lacquer. It's supposed to do that.

 

Polyurethane, on the other hand, will stay window pane flat for freaking ever!... but you have to buy an old Epiphone to get it.

 

Just be sure you're keeping the guitar hydrated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a brand new lacquer finished guitar looks like that, you better get a humidifier. The wood is drying and shrinking, and crinkling the finish as it does this. Eventually the finish will crack here and there, but that's inevitable. But soon the top will crack if the guitar is not hydrated properly. Also, overly dry acoustic guitars suffer all sorts of playability issues....like fret ends poking out past the fretboard, sunken tops that lower action to cause string buzzing, and humps around the neck-body joint. Better get on top of this quick, friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a brand new lacquer finished guitar looks like that, you better get a humidifier. The wood is drying and shrinking, and crinkling the finish as it does this. Eventually the finish will crack here and there, but that's inevitable. But soon the top will crack if the guitar is not hydrated properly. Also, overly dry acoustic guitars suffer all sorts of playability issues....like fret ends poking out past the fretboard, sunken tops that lower action to cause string buzzing, and humps around the neck-body joint. Better get on top of this quick, friend.

 

It takes very little change in relative humidity for the top to "show" grain. Even in the standard "safe" range of humidity, there is enough variation that the appearance of the top grain will show differences at different times. That's why it's so important to have a good hygrometer wherever you keep your guitars.

 

Since the inside of the guitar is usually unfinished, the wood of the guitar is not really sealed against moisture absorption and loss. In addition, Gibson's lacquer finish is very thin, and is really only a nominal barrier to the passage of water vapor. Probably the only time a lacquered wide-grain spruce top doesn't show some grain relief is right after it is sprayed, and before all the VOC's have flashed off.

 

Having said that, it IS very important to watch the humidity to which the guitar is exposed, particularly at the low end (below about 45%). That's when I would start to get nervous. High humdity isn't great for a guitar, but it's much better than low humidity, as those of us who live in warm, damp climates (like Florida or Bermuda) can attest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't claim to speak for them, but I believe Gibson Montana's goal is a finish so thin you can see and feel the spruce grain ridges. Ren called this courderoy, like the ridged cloth. I have heard him remark how pleased he was with the "courderoying" on a particular top.

 

Red 333

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When natural wood has a finish applied, the darker and lighter striations of grain absorb the liquid finish at different rates. The different striations then expand at different rates causing this raised grain or "corduroy" effect. Furniture finishers, if they want a (in my not so humble opinion unnatural) mirror smooth finished product can and do apply fillers or 'sealers' to the bare wood in order to allow the finish to penetrate more or less the same over the entire surface for a nice even, homogenous look. Even so, several coats of finish still need to be applied, then sanded in between to knock down the high spots to get this mirror smooth top surface. I doubt Gibson or any other guitar manufacturer has time to make this type of application, not to mention the potential for modifying the resonance of the sound board by applying a filler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My AJ is a 2002. I bought it new, and you could see the grain the day that I picked it up. The seam on the top was a sort of obvious rise in the grain, so I was worried about it getting worse. After 9 and a half years it still looks the same. As everyone else has stated, I think Gibson is shooting for the thinnest nitro that still protects as it should. I love wood, so the more grain that I can see the more I like it.

 

I had a gentleman offer to trade me a Rainsong for my AJ. No way I'm coffing up wood for man-made materials.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...