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I'm thinking of removing the finish off my Altamira guitar (2017 usual finish, not antique) in order to give it an antique finish. I assume it's a heavy polyurethane. Is that correct? Any suggestions on removing current finish?
Sand paper and elbow grease. It's what I did. Start with course grit and use heavy rubber blocks that car body shops use. Then once the lacquer is off or is about to and you start seeing the tint, go to medium and once you start seeing the wood go to fine and finish off with extra fine and I also used very fine steel wool (some people don't like that) and wiped everything off with denatured alcohol. Sand always along with the grain. Start with the back to get the feel, it's where you can afford small mistakes. If it's laminate body, I heard it's extremely easy to sand through the top sheet. You'll really want to do this and have time on your hands. It took me 30 maybe 40 hours for the whole job and removing the old stuff was majority of that time. Applying a coat of new finish would only take 20 minutes or so, think I ended up with six coats.
Alternative to that is doing the top only. Be careful not to thin the top wood.
Thanks, Buck. I really appreciate your details. However, after seeing your details, I've decided to let a local, professional luthier take the finish off the top and sides, leaving everything else alone. So my next question is...
Any suggestions to get that antique look (omitting distress marks) similar to the Altamira antique look? I'll be doing that myself.
At least the Altamira is at a reasonable enough price point that you can get some experience doing this sort of DIY. Other option would be to go to a pawn shop, Goodwill, flea market and buy a cheapo flattop to practice on first, if you are concerned about messing up.
I think to get that sort of color you are looking for, you'll need some sort of tint. This looks like it is hand applied. Otherwise, this guy has talked about a similar project (but including the relic marks).
I actually looked at that. He talks only about distressing and scratching up the guitar, which I'm not interested in doing. He doesn't discuss the actually finishing process, except briefly mentioning he used Vintage Amber guitar lacquer without demonstrating what went into that process. I haven't been able to find a decent video yet.
The sides are quite likely like the back, laminated, with a thin exterior veneer layer. (Can’t guarantee that’s true with this axe but it probably is). Anyway be super careful about trying to sand the finish off the sides or the back.