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Thread: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

  1. #1

    Default Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Whether it's Kentucky, Loar, or what have you, it seems like everyone wants to use some kind of shiny, glossy finish on their mandolins. I don't like that and I wish they wouldn't do it.

    Is that just because people expect small violin sized instruments to be shiny and pretty, or is it a side effect of them being mass produced in Chinese factories?

    I want something that looks like it's made of real wood. Do I just need to go somewhere in Central or Eastern Europe and hope to find some kind of local manufacturer, or are there any good sounding brands that actually have that distressed look?

    Washburn name I know has been co-opted by a Chinese company, but do they actually look like they're made of wood? I heard Washburn vintage looks good but sounds bad compared to the Loar in its price range.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    What’s up with gold hardware? I think it’s hideous and tacky. Opinions are like....

  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    There are lots of custom builders who will build you a mandolin to your specs, including finish.

  4. #4
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Everyone has a personal opinion of this or that, but the market will always rule.
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    Registered User Bill Baldridge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Because other people have different tastes?

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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Like glossy ! Like gold !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    I diversify. My Gibson is glossy and silver. My Breedloves are matte and gold. And, my Blevins custom octave is Tru-Oil and gold.

    I'm like Yankees1, though. I kinda like glossy and gold.
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    For me it's not about glossy r wood look. Gold, silver or Crome but the sound. To me it's all about the sound. Just my thoughts

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Polski Plinker View Post
    ...Washburn name I know has been co-opted by a Chinese company...
    You have kind of a misguided idea about the washburn brand name. It's been owned by different people over the century or so it's been around. It's currently owned by a company in the US that chooses to have their products produced in other countries. It isn't a new concept, nobody stole anything, they own the name. Even Gibson has Flatiron and Epiphone mandolins made in Asia. It's not unusual and nobody co-opted the name. Some recent history of the marque:

    There is no direct connection between the original Washburn brand and the modern Washburn International.

    In the early 1960s, retail store The Chicago Guitar Gallery hired Rudolf "Rudy" Schlacher, a young German violin builder, as a repair technician. A few years later, Schlacher opened The Sound Post[6][7] (in Evanston, Illinois) to focus on guitars. He soon realized the sales potential for lower-cost quality instruments.

    Tom Beckmen and his wife Judy Fink Beckmen in 1972 left careers as music salesman and teacher (respectively) to launch a wholesale music business in Los Angeles, Beckmen Musical Instruments. It was Beckmen Music that resurrected the Washburn name, and beginning in 1974 applied it to a series of quality imported acoustic guitars, made in Japan by Terada, as well as a selection of mandolins and banjos.

    Schlacher and Rick Johnstone, as Fretted Industries, Inc., acquired the Washburn name in 1977 (for $13,000) when the Beckmens took their business a different direction,[8] and so the Washburn name was returned to Chicago. With assistance from Ikutaro Kakehashi (founder of Roland Corporation), Schlacher was able to find instrument factories in Japan that could meet the desired standards.[9]

    Fretted Industries acquired other lines as well, such as Oscar Schmidt autoharps.

    Schlacher bought out Johnstone in 1987, and changed the company name to Washburn International. A stateside manufacturing operation was opened in 1991 for higher-end, short-run, and one-off instruments, as well as development and prototyping. That year, a Chicago Tribune article[10] confidently places Washburn "among the top three guitar manufacturers in the world," behind only Fender and Gibson.

    On December 15, 2002, Washburn International announced that it had completed acquisition of U.S. Music Corporation,[11] and would be rolling its assets into that company in a reverse merger.[12] Schlacher remained as CFO, appointing Gary Gryczan to COO; Gryczan had been Washburn's CFO from 1995 through 1998. The new USM's headquarters were in Mundelein (440 E. Courtland Street), which also housed the stateside Washburn luthiery, often referred to as "the USA Custom Shop."

    Schlacher announced completion of selling USM to JAM Industries on August 24, 2009, and that he would be stepping away from his company after fully four decades.[13]
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  14. #10
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    A satin finish looks cheap in my opinion, in person up close. It looks like a half built instrument, like the builder ran out of funds or patience and said, "Let's just get this thing done and out of the shop."

    I do, however, like how they look in photos or across a jam circle. But multiple times I've looked at photos of guitars and mandolins, liked how the satin finish looked on the web, but then immediately knew I'd be disappointed with owning it when I held it.

    I owned a satin finished (back and sides) Martin guitar that I never bonded with. Maybe that's the root of my opinion. But gloss just looks ten times better to me.

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  16. #11

    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    There is glossy and then there is glossy. My preference is for a varnish finish that is not as glossy as a lacquer finish. The cheap imports use a finish that is generally thick, shiny and cheap. Matt finishes as done by Collings are very rich looking. I don't particularly like a traditional sunburst, but look how many there are. There is a reason for that. All aesthetic considerations aside, no finish would cause me not to buy a mandolin I loved to play.

    Part of buying a new instrument is you can get exactly what you want. Buying used you need to just find something you enjoy playing. My favorite guitar, a '65 Epiphone Texan, has what I thought to be a hideous sunbust that has since grown on me, but I could not put it down. Played it for two hours, had lunch, played it for two more, then went to the bank. A mandolin that can do that could be hot pink.
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  18. #12
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Well, I like the look of violin-maker's oil varnish, which eventually cures to a warm satin or a low gloss. But you will never see it used in mass production, because it takes many weeks to apply and cure. When I was coming up, many believed that oil varnishes were unsuitable for fretted instruments-- that it muted high frequency response. But Gene Horner used it on some of his mandolins, and they did not seem to suffer from a lack of treble response.

    Flat finishes are certainly available on both domestic and imported instruments, but most of the modern flat finishes are too flat for me.

    Whether you like glossy, flat, satin, or semi-gloss, a really nice, warm, thin finish is expensive. Really nice finishes are not conducive to mass production, where finishes are rather heavy and are usually applied by machine.

  19. #13
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    I have one varnish, it’s still shiny after 13 yrs...I take care not to rough it up.
    I have one lacquer, started satin, didn’t like the look or feel, and I buffed it out to gloss.
    It’ll take a long time to look worn, as I don’t abuse my instruments. Oh well, maybe two or three generations from now will like the mild wear.
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  20. #14

    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Polski Plinker View Post
    Whether it's Kentucky, Loar, or what have you, it seems like everyone wants to use some kind of shiny, glossy finish on their mandolins. I don't like that and I wish they wouldn't do it.

    Is that just because people expect small violin sized instruments to be shiny and pretty, or is it a side effect of them being mass produced in Chinese factories?

    I want something that looks like it's made of real wood. Do I just need to go somewhere in Central or Eastern Europe and hope to find some kind of local manufacturer, or are there any good sounding brands that actually have that distressed look?

    Washburn name I know has been co-opted by a Chinese company, but do they actually look like they're made of wood? I heard Washburn vintage looks good but sounds bad compared to the Loar in its price range.
    Glossy finishes are easier to clean and, or, are more resistant to revealing fingerprints than satin or matte finishes.

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  22. #15
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    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Spirit varnish tends to be glossier than oil varnish over the long term. French polished shellac mellows out nicely, but it takes time, and it is rather delicate compared to modern sprayed finishes.

    Perhaps the OP would like the look of a nice old oval hole Gibson. He should bear in mind that they were a lot shinier when they left the factory 100 years ago.

  23. #16

    Default Re: Why so many glossy finish mandos?

    Good to remember there’s a whole lot of territory between a high gloss and satin finish. Sweet spot for me is a somewhere between the two that brings depth to the wood but not so bright it hurts the eye, looks good in candle light!

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