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Thread: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

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    Default What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    I have a beautiful Collings MT that has a satin finish, and I'm just curious what that exactly refers to? Is it the color, the thickness of the finish, or something in the chemistry of the finish? I think it's gorgeous, I just don't know what it is.
    Daniel Kaufman

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    It's not shiney, it doesn't have a glossy finish. It's dull.
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Satin is designated for the sheen or absense of shine , in the laquer. It usually is in the laquer used 30, 60, 90 sheen used most often. higher the number ,the more lack of a shiny finish will result . Satin finishes are normally left as is when finished spraying (out of gun finish). Gloss finishes are left to sit for a time 2-3 weeks then level sanded and polished. Satin finishes can also be leveled and made to shine also if polished, and vice versa, shiny laquer can be dulled with certain techniques. My expierience with a satin finish is that they certainly will polish up, in time, where your hand or fingers rub the instrument when your playing. The term "satin" designation does not signify thickness of finish, mostly a chemical and application thing. hope that helps some.

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    the little guy DerTiefster's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    finishes include a carrier, pigments, and "other stuff." They are often, in the case of transparent finishes, very shiny after drying. Sometimes this causes glare and it is deemed A Bad Thing. Then the mfr includes different "other stuff" and the material in the finish breaks up the surface layer so it isn't one nice shiny mirror. That's a satin finish. They don't show up flaws as readily as gloss. I've heard that gloss black automotive finishes are the most stringent test for body work. You see nothing from the "black" surface except for what reflects from it. Any distortions or gouges show up to your eye clearly as missing information. If the car has something to say about itself, like "I'm red," this competes with the reflected image and your brain will miss seeing some imperfections in the surface.
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Here's another one of Frank Ford's great writeups that can get you started on understanding the different finishes you might see.

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    I don't know sheen from shinola but I have noticed that instruments with the satin finish tend to be a lot less money than their shiny counterparts.
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    I don't know sheen from shinola but I have noticed that instruments with the satin finish tend to be a lot less money than their shiny counterparts.

    There's a lot less work done in the finish process. Less hours, less cost. No need to buff it out.
    "bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"

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    Registered User barry k's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Hello Jim, the satin finish "usually" is a finish right out of the gun, so I would say knocks off 8-10 hours of finish labor, which would equate to $$$$$$

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    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Instruments with a Satin finish can get to looking dirty, grubby. This is mostly caused by contact with the skin and it is especially prevalent on a natural wood top, no dark stain or sunburst. The easiest way to avoid this is to install an arm-rest.

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    Registered User Pete Braccio's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    I usually think of these as "semi-gloss" instead of "gloss".
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Satin applied to Fabrics before .. and adopted to give another use as 'Not Dull nor Glossy' ,
    Some of its background here > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satin
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    I don't know sheen from shinola...


    As has been said, the simi-gloss finishes usually called "satin" on instruments usually have "flattener" or "flattening pigment" added to keep the surface from drying glossy, and also to refract light in different directions as it travels through the finish. Surface preparation before finish is not as critical so time ($) is saved, and no buffing is required so more time ($) is saved, but that mostly applies to production situations. For an individual builder there is less difference in the time spent on the finish whether gloss or "satin".

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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    When I do a satin finish (my wife calls it "silk") there isn't really any difference other than the final buffing. I don't put anything in the finish to dull it so the beauty of the wood shines through but the touch is smoother than gloss.

    Abrasion due to use tends to shine the finish up a bit but it doesn't really get all the way to what I would call gloss.

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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    So if I took a soft cloth and buffed it, would that bring out a shine? Would that hurt the instrument? My pinky seems to be doing that where I unfortunately still anchor it.
    Daniel Kaufman

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    given polishing is often done with a motorized cotton pad, buffing by hand with a rag would take a while.
    Time , perhaps, better spent just playing the music.

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    Default Re: What does "satin" finish actually mean?

    The degree of flatness or gloss of a finish is defined by the reflectivity. The four graded terms commonly used are:
    Full gloss
    Semi gloss
    Satin
    Flat
    Satin is achieved by mixing flatting agent with the finish. The more agent that is mixed in, the flatter the finish. During drying, the flatting agent floats to the surface, causing the flat or satin finish. It is generally a surface effect that can be buffed out, but not always. Some flatting agents cause excess porosity in the finish, preventing it from being buffed to a full gloss.
    John

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