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Thread: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

  1. #1

    Default Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    ...hopefully not an opaque question about finishes but a question about opaque finishes ...

    The finish in my MD415-GD (the candy-apple gold one) seems pretty thick to me, so I'm thinking about taking it down some with 400 grit paper. If anyone's preceded me in this endeavor, I'd be interested in hearing what he or she learned, i.e. is the finish of the top metal-flake paint covered with a thick clear coat or plain gold paint covered with a metal-flake blended clear coat or something else entirely? I'm not crazy about the gold thing in general, but I'd been in interested in a mahogany-bodied Eastman and a great deal on a gold one came up before a black one. So, I'm willing to accept the result in the interest of even better sound from the instrument, which was pretty good even before I fitted a Cumberland bridge (shouting out to Steve Smith here!) and an Allen tailpiece. Thanks for any experience-based input.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    I have not worked on this particular one but metal flake finishes are notoriously hard to work on. A fairly thick clear coat is needed to get a flat finish. Removing some of the top coat would likely look pretty bad unless very careful and lucky as you don't know you what is too much until you have gone too far and repairs are difficult.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    Thank you very much for your reply, Nevin. It's helpful to know that the clearcoat may be thick. I'm not too terribly concerned about the aesthetics at this point, I just want to get a sense of how much I can remove before getting down to bare wood, which is a backwards way of asking if there's enough that can be safely removed to improve the sound before getting down to bare wood. Thanks again. Bill

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    Bill, I’m afraid you’re asking three different questions maybe four.
    One is ‘will the sound be improved?’
    Another is ‘how much can I remove before improving the sound’
    Another is ‘how to do this?’
    You will get advice on all three, but the most likely answer is to get a different mandolin and sell this one. Could be wrong, often am.
    Mind you, I’m adventurous in the area of refinishing from some history restoring cars and other things, and could get to bare wood on an item that small in a few minutes if there was a good reason, but I’d like to be sure there was some value to doing it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    All due respect, I wasn't asking three or four questions but rather asking for practical experience with Eastman finishes. It's a fine sounding mandolin and I have no reason to part with it.

  6. #6
    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Drellow View Post
    . It's a fine sounding mandolin and I have no reason to part with it.
    I am thinking that the finish on the gold top (I have one, too), might (might!) be a bit thicker than others, but I kinda doubt that you could noticeably improve the sound by simply removing what would still be a very small amount of mass from the top. I had a classical guitar which I refinished -- it was very old and the lacquer finish was shot. I played it for a while "naked," and it didn't seem to sound any better. In the end, it's all about the mass which is added by the finish. and I would expect that the finish on your Eastman adds very, very little mass to the top.
    Eastman 915 B Mando
    Eastman MD-314 Mando
    Godin A-8 Mando
    Eastman MDO305 OM
    TC Bouzouki TM375 Zook
    Eastman MDC-804 'Cello
    Other stuff

  7. #7

    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    Quote Originally Posted by meow-n-dolin View Post
    In the end, it's all about the mass which is added by the finish. and I would expect that the finish on your Eastman adds very, very little mass to the top.
    This is essentially the crux of my question. The gold paint+metal flake is thick enough that I can't see the wood grain through it, and then there's that clearcoat, so I think it's very possible that removing some of it, appearances be damned, might further improve it. I was just hoping to learn what all Eastman uses on those tops. I like to think I've done whatever's in my skillset (eg the CA bridge and Allen tailpiece) to optimize the sound of an instrument. BTW, I see that you also have a 314. I have one and I think it's a really good mandolin. I've done the bridge and tailpiece on that one, too, and have rubbed out the finish with Stew-Mac Polishing Compound, which gives a nice soft uneven patina reminiscent of aged varnish. Thanks for getting back to me.

  8. #8
    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Drellow View Post
    ... I think it's very possible that removing some of it, appearances be damned, might further improve it. .
    Yep.

    Hey, it's worth a shot. We are all looking for ways to improve the sound of our mandolins. If you decide to take down that finish, if you would be so kind, take "before and after" sound clips and post them! It's something that could be valuable to a lot of people here

    And yes, I love the 314, especially for doing old-time stuff in a duo or trio setting.
    Eastman 915 B Mando
    Eastman MD-314 Mando
    Godin A-8 Mando
    Eastman MDO305 OM
    TC Bouzouki TM375 Zook
    Eastman MDC-804 'Cello
    Other stuff

  9. #9

    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    There is no way someone can tell you how much clear you can sand down. You will only find out by sanding, hoping you don't hit the color coats while doing so. I absolutely despise thick lacquer and anything that doesn't bring out the beauty of the wood.

  10. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Opaque Finishes Question

    OP requested that thread be closed.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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