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John Osthoff
06-21-2010, 09:41 AM
Assuming all other parameters of a neck were to your liking, given the choice of a satin finish vs. gloss finish which would you choose?

As a custom builder I can offer many options, but I am curious what the preference would be to most players.

Some builders create a satin finish by not buffing the finish to a gloss. I have seen players (and builders) create a satin finish by sanding down a gloss finish with a fine abrasive. Over time the finish will most likely gloss up.

A “genuine” is satin finish is actually created with a different finish material, one that has a “flattening paste” added to it. For me it is actually a more involved process of getting a “genuine” satin finish on the neck but if that is what the player’s prefer, then it is worth it.

I recently saw a “higher-end” guitar where only the shaft of the neck was sanded down to make that part of the neck satin with the heel and the back of the headstock still gloss. To me it looked like an after-thought, or something that was done by a customer after the fact. When I do satin neck, I leave the front of the headstock gloss, and the rest of the neck satin. (See pictures below.)

So, I would love to hear some comments, Thanks

Note: this guitar below was just completed and I have not completed the set-up, so I just put a trussrod cover on there with only one screw for this photo. (I am actually in the process of redesigning the truss rod access ... more later on that.)

http://www.osthoffguitars.com/images/forums/headfront.jpg


http://www.osthoffguitars.com/images/forums/headback.jpg

HudsDad
06-21-2010, 09:47 AM
I love the look and feel of a nice satin finish and I'd prefer to have the front of the headstock left satin, as well. However, it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me since I don't touch the headstock that often and I really don't look at it when I'm playing. I'd definitely request the "all-satin" option if I was having a custom guitar built, though.

For various reasons, I just don't care for the aesthetics of glossy wood finishes (guitars, furniture, etc) and I don't like how a glossy finish feels in my hands.

Fliss
06-21-2010, 09:50 AM
I don't mind either, and I have both, but I do like the body and neck to be the same finish - so if the body is gloss, I like the neck to be also.

Fliss

nobo
06-21-2010, 09:56 AM
Satin all the way for me when it comes to the neck. Gloss finished necks have pretty much been a dealbreaker on other potential purchases - it's just not a feel I can get on with. After time, satin finished necks do seem to gloss up somewhat, but they still feel different (and better!) to me compared to a gloss finish.

I have no preference whether the front or back-plate of the headstock is glossed, just that the overall aesthetics work (and even then, that's much less important to me that feel and tone). For example, I have glossed body Larrivee's with satin necks and satin finished ebony headstock front. I'd be equally happy for that to be gloss finished ebony (as it used to be on earlier Larrivee models). However, my McIlroy has satin-finished ebony front and back plates on the headstock. As the rest of the guitar has a satin finish, I'd look pretty wrong if the headstock faces were gloss.

MHGLS
06-21-2010, 10:18 AM
I thought a satin neck will gloss over after being played for a while. What finish do you use to prevent that from happening?

Angelo
06-21-2010, 10:22 AM
It's something you need to adjust to. A guitar's neck being glossed or not certainly isn't a deal breaker, but it does require some adjustment if it is. I love my Ric 4003, but when playing out with it I keep a microfiber cloth either wrapped around my strap or on a table close by. The sweat builds up, and makes it "sticky". I've never had that problem with a satin neck. However, the fact that the Ric was glossed and I knew it would cause this problem never once made me reconsider purchasing it.

ljguitar
06-21-2010, 10:27 AM
Assuming all other parameters of a neck were to your liking, given the choice of a satin finish vs. gloss finish which would you choose?
Hi John…
If there were a way to make the back of the neck 'eternally' satin so it didn't buff up with use, I’d probably prefer that. But every satin neck I have owned has eventually buffed up through use.

I do like the feel of the satin when I’m sitting and just 'holding' the guitar, but when playing I don't pay attention.

My only 'beef' with glossy is some gloss finishes 'squeak' with my thumb pad when I pivot my thumb behind the neck in certain 1st position chords. It really interrupts a recording session...baby powder fixes it long enough to get a quiet take.

Jelouin
06-21-2010, 10:32 AM
+1 satin. It just feel and looks smooth, I love it.

Marley
06-21-2010, 10:36 AM
first off- ****, that's a good looking guitar!

i long for the day i can commission a guitar that looks like that.

i prefer satin. taylor gets a lot of guitars in for service with glossed up necks and they work the gloss with 0000 steel wool to get them back to normal and recommend customers do the same if they wish.

Needles
06-21-2010, 11:05 AM
My preference is a third alternative. Lynn Dudenbostel did what he called a speed neck for me. The unfinished neck is sealed with shellac and rubbed with beeswax. Lance Kragenbrink did the same thing for me on one of his guitars. I love it. :up:

zplay
06-21-2010, 11:05 AM
i prefer satin. taylor gets a lot of guitars in for service with glossed up necks and they work the gloss with 0000 steel wool to get them back to normal and recommend customers do the same if they wish.

First off, that's good to know that you can get the finish back to satin, though I would think that sooner or later with repeat treatments, you might end up with no finish.

Personally, i prefer an all satin-finished guitar, but if the top is going to be gloss, I think the front headstock should match. I'd certainly still prefer the neck to be satin with the headstock back and heel satin also.

Marley
06-21-2010, 11:15 AM
First off, that's good to know that you can get the finish back to satin, though I would think that sooner or later with repeat treatments, you might end up with no finish.

Personally, i prefer an all satin-finished guitar, but if the top is going to be gloss, I think the front headstock should match. I'd certainly still prefer the neck to be satin with the headstock back and heel satin also.

Forgot to add, Taylor also says to use the steel wool very VERY LIGHTLY.

Brackett Instruments
06-21-2010, 11:20 AM
Personally I prefer a satin finished neck. In "normal" conditions it's not problem, but when it's really hot, and I'm sweating my hand kinda sticks to most gloss necks. This isn't a guitar I built, but one I'm re finishing for a client. He wanted the "shaft" satin, but the rest of the neck gloss. I sprayed the final couple coats kinda like a "burst, and faded the satin and gloss together. This is kinda a pain, and involves using 2 guns, then cleaning 2 guns, but I like the results. To my eyes it looks (and feels) better than a sanded down gloss.
http://h1.ripway.com/woody%20b/pictures/Dr20%20REFINISH/back%20of%20neck%20(Medium).JPG

devellis
06-21-2010, 01:43 PM
Some gloss necks seem to work fine while others get really sticky with even a hint of hand perspiration. I have one guitar with a satin neck that has worn shiny-smooth and it doesn't feel sticky at all.

I've played gloss-neck guitars in stores that have been incredibly grabby and even wiping them down doesn't do much. I wonder if some people's body chemistry alters the finish. It's almost as if exposure to some killer hand chemistry has made the necks of those guitars stickier than they would have been otherwise. I remember playing a really nice Froggy Bottom that felt horrible because the neck was so grabby. Wiping it did nothing. I suspect that was one of those cases of someone with unusually active body chemistry having played the heck out of it. This could be completely wrong, of course, but my limited experience leaves me wondering.

I've actually even played at least one satin-necked guitar that had a similar issue. It felt really grabby and wiping it down thoroughly didn't seem to help. Again, I wondered if some "killer chemistry" from someone else's hands was responsible. It may be that in both these gloss-neck and satin-neck instances, cleaning with a suitable solvent would have changed how those guitars felt but they really felt terrible in the state in which I encountered them (the gloss being the worse of the two). Both were new, by the way, with only the usual amount of customer handling that a good guitar gets in a high-end shop.

bfloyd6969
06-21-2010, 01:53 PM
My three current go to guitars have the gloss body and satin neck. At first I was in agreement with Fliss and didn't like the transition of a gloss body and satin neck, but over time this has become a preference of mine. A gloss neck feels very good in my hands at first touch, but after a short while of playing I am constantly wiping it down between about every song. The satin neck feels very nice in my hands, and feels to have more ease of movement. I do not like satin bodies, only satin necks.

bkharmony
06-21-2010, 02:28 PM
Gloss looks nice, but for a workhorse, gigging guitar, I find satin far superior. It only takes about 20 minutes before my gloss-necked Gibson becomes irritatingly sticky, and that's one of the main reasons I'm replacing it.

wb4yal
06-21-2010, 02:41 PM
Hi John,

I prefer a satin neck. I have a Washburn that has a gloss neck and it just doesnt have the feel of my Taylor satin neck.

Chazmo
06-21-2010, 02:47 PM
All of my current guitars have gloss necks. However, I owned a Taylor short-scale with a satin neck that I really liked. I also have a new Guild on order which will be coming with a satin neck.

So, I'm registering satin in the poll, but again it's by no means a deal breaker either way for me.

Wade Hampton
06-21-2010, 02:49 PM
I guess I'm lucky in that my hands don't sweat at all when I play, unless the temperature is over 100º Fahrenheit. Which used to happen sometimes when I was playing festival stages back home in the Missouri-Kansas border region - I remember playing one of the indoor stages at Winfield when it was that hot, and the dust from people dancing up front got kicked up so high it was like playing in a dusty, steamy fog....

But hot weather isn't much of a menace here in Alaska...(Hooray! That's part of the reason I moved here!!) So the issue never really arises for me these days.

Even when I was back home I had a glossy neck on my Mossman guitar, and that never seemed to trouble me, even during the hottest summer days. So I'm indifferent, I guess - glossy or satin both are fine for me.


Wade Hampton "I Do NOT Miss The Heat!" Miller

Jack Orion
06-21-2010, 02:52 PM
Well I've got a satin neck that is now all shiny from all the playing I've done!

So what does that count as? a buffed satin?

riorider
06-21-2010, 04:16 PM
Generally, hot venues or longer sessions and the satin on my Taylors seems to feel best. But in cool (inside) venues the gloss on my other guitars doesn't bother me at all. I mostly strum the Taylors and fingerpick the others, but not exclusively.

Only explaining because I've not thought through it before and I might prefer one or the other because of the conditions.

rr

John Osthoff
06-22-2010, 06:07 AM
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to take the poll. So far the results are fairly close to what I expected. Based on a few of the comments, I have some homework to do, but for now I have to get back to the shop.

Michael T
06-22-2010, 06:39 AM
Gloss all the way for me, I don't mind wiping down the neck, usually do even on my satin finished neck on my 12er. I figure just prefer gloss guitars (& the satin neck doees gloss up after a while too anyway).

15 Man
06-22-2010, 07:01 AM
Satin; now that I have one. Before my Martin 000-15, every guitar I had ever owned had a gloss finish. As both Angelo and Woody b said, my hands would get sticky as well when it's hot and humid outside. This hasn't happened yet with my Martin. I never knew what I was missing I guess! :)

BTW, Beautiful guitar John!

Cue Zephyr
06-22-2010, 08:35 AM
+1 Satin! Smooth, fast, looks nice, feels nice. What else?

Dru Edwards
06-22-2010, 09:41 AM
I guess I'm in the minority - I voted "don't care". It really doesn't affect me.

j45dale
06-22-2010, 10:39 AM
I own both, but would rather have satin.
In my mind it creates a faster sliding motion with less grab.
Even though it soon shines up from the body oil from my hand, the satin finish still "sails smoother".
Dale.

Andromeda
06-22-2010, 10:42 AM
Another satin neck lover here, although it isn't a deal breaker for me.

JJ Donohue
06-22-2010, 11:35 AM
Definitely satin for me...and customers prefer it 3 to 1. I favor 2 methods of finishing the neck shaft....Danish Oil when I finish myself and Joe White's satin finish when I send it out.

As John said, not all satin finishes are alike so beware of the sanded down glossy finish....it will become glossy again from hand friction. Make sure the material itself has a flattening component so that it stays satin and slick. Joe does it the right way.

Good poll, John!

jpbat
06-22-2010, 03:07 PM
There is one thing about satin finish that I don't like, it's the level of rubbing noise. Maybe it depends on the type of varnish used, but the noise is enough to bother me. No noise with a gloss finish.
Am I alone ?

(I got very dry hands, so I'm not bothered with sticky neck)