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Thread: What kind of financial sh to make use?

  1. #1
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    Default What kind of financial sh to make use?

    I hope that this is placed in the correct place. If not, my apologies. I am possibly about to bite off more than I can chew, but with as big a mouth as I have, Iím going to try it anyway. I have been looking for a Flatiron 1N for a while now and everything that I have looked at is either just outside of my budget or priced way too high for this instrument. In my search today, I ran across one that is in pretty sad shape cosmetically, but is sound mechanically. By sound I mean there are no unrepaired cracks or missing parts. There are three old repairs done to it and I donít know how well they are done, but they are several years old which is telling me that they were done well enough and it is still very playable. The major issue with it is that it got frozen and was thawed out too quickly causing multiple (as in a whole lot) of crazing to the finish. There was no damage to the wood (enter a sigh of relief here). I plan on stripping it down completely, remove the tailpiece and the tuners, no big job there. And sanding it down to the wood. Yes I have every confidence in doing that. I have done it to a couple of guitars in the past. The difference is that I sent the guitars out for a nice Nitro-cellulose spray job. The N-1 is lacquer finished and Iím afraid to put nitro over the lacquer. Iím pretty sure that they are incompatible. Even sanding down to the wood would leave traces of the original finish. I have a air brush to do the application, but what to use for the lacquer? Here I need some knowledgeable advice.

    So, you ask, why go through all of this for a $300 to $400 mandolin? I got it for $60. And I can put another $30 or $40 into it and some elbow grease and have an if not pristine, at least playable, mandolin for about $100. I had one of these about 30 years ago and I was amazed by it. I only sold it because it developers separation in the top seam. I learned later that this was not uncommon in these and that it was an easy and inexpensive repair. Oh well, we live and learn. So now I get a second chance at one. And besides, playing a mandolin isnít the ONLY way to have fun with a mandolin.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    No finish expert here, but I'm not quite sure why you want to refinish it at all. The finish "checking" it shows doesn't affect sound or playability, as you say. To me (a person who regularly gigs with a finish-checked and otherwise "distressed" Martin 00-42 "mongrel"), the finish is part of its history.

    Whatever you do re: sanding and refinishing, may affect its sound, at least somewhat. Part of what's appealing about the 1N is that it's scruffy, cheap, "distressed" but great-sounding. Sorta like a Strad-O-Lin that someone pulls out of a closet after 75 years, blows the dust off, puts on new strings, and plays the tar out of it.

    I'm sure some of the more experienced repairers and restorers can enlighten you about finish incompatibility. I'd proudly show off my $60 Flatiron, "warts" and all, as long as it plays and sounds good.
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Don't know anything about finish compatibility either, but those Flatiron 1Ns were built solid and the simplicity of the design I'm sure helps a lot with being able to repair it, it sounds to me like you "want" to do this so, yeah why not.
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Might want to pose the questions in the Builders sub-forum. You'll probably get a lot of opinions there.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Lot of broken instruments here in France. Before Covid they would have been sold at a reasonable price. Now they are being given the belt sander and cellulose/laquer gloss finish and then put up for sale, expensiveÖ still broken.

    The amateur antique dealers are back!

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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Just one amateur tinkerer's opinion: You know its history, so enjoy its history. Leave it alone.
    - Ed

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Nitrocellulose is a lacquer, and until perhaps 15 years ago, it was the most common lacquer.
    I believe that the chances are good that your Flatiron has a nitro finish.
    If my notes are accurate, all Flatirons were made in Montana until 2001.
    If the Bozeman plant used anything other than nitro on any instrument, I am not aware of it. But with Gibson, anything is possible, so I could be wrong about that.

    Bruce Weber might be able to confirm.
    Contact him with the serial number. If the mandolin was made during his tenure, he will know what was used.

    Flatirons made after 2001 were imports and would likely have been finished with some sort of poly.
    But if any pancake-style Flatirons were made overseas, I am not aware of it. Of course, with Gibson, anything is possible, so I could be wrong about that also.

    If it's not nitro, it's probably some type of polyurethane, and that stuff is tough to get rid of.

    If it was an expensive instrument, I would suggest leaving it alone. If it was only $60, you won't have much to lose except time and the cost of a quart of finish if it doesn't turn out well.

    Whatever you do, be aware that refinished instruments seldom look as good as factory finished instruments.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-31-2022 at 3:49pm.

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  12. #8
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    I seem to recall reading that Flatiron used Fullerplast as a “catalyzed varnish” during the 80’s.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    I would suggest just letting it be what it is. Play it and be happy.
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    I’m also no luthier but my understanding is that, with nitro finishes, it’s a matter of getting the formulation right insofar as if the laquer is to hard it will craze and if it’s too soft it will dampen vibrations in the wood.

    Crazed laquer has never been a problem in the UK but, many years ago, a friend of mine built me a guitar and, lo and behold, six months down the line, the laquer on the top crazed. My friend took it up with the laquer manufacturer who admitted that they’d had problems, gave him a load more and he refinished the top. The problem didn’t re-occur.

  15. #11
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Just about all nitro will craze, sooner or later.
    If it's light, fine crazing, the effect can be beautiful.
    If it's heavy, deep crazing that looks like it's about to fall off in chips the size of a quarter, it's not so attractive to me. But some people like it that way.

    The biggest concerns with a new finish are adhesion, thickness, and appearance. Nitro will stick to a lot of things, but not everything. It sticks to itself quite well as long as the old surface is clean. If a finish is too thick, it won't look good and the sound will be dampened.
    Appearance? I like nice light, transparent finishes. It takes experience to get really good at it no matter what you're using.

  16. #12
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    ďIf my notes are accurate, all Flatirons were made in Montana until 2001.Ē

    Iím pretty sure I had a 1996 Flatiron A5 that was made in Nashville.
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Nothing technical to add regarding the finish, but I have a Guild D-40 that I got with a TKL hard case for about $500. It was my first guitar purchase and was a factory blem made just after Fender took over Guild. They were having lacquer issues (in what Iím sure was a ďstandardization/cost containment move), and the thing came brand new with a fair amount of finish checking. 18 years later the checking is stable, with the only new finish changes being a chip over the binding (that I have no doubt was self inflicted during a great Saturday night at a friendís lake house) and a rubbing away of finish on the upper bout from my arm. Itís time for a refret now, and I know itís not worth the $$, but the thing sounds so damn good I hate to move it along or trash it. Iím debating doing the work myself (and installing a new nut and saddle), but weíll seeÖ

    Iíd contact Bruce Weber (through Montana Luthiery), provide the serial #, and, if he confirms a compatible finish to what youíre used to working with, by all means, go for it. If not, then Iíd just play the Hades out of it as is!!

    Congrats on the new Flatiron, and on the price!!

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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    In 1996 Gibson moved their mandolin production to Nashville from Montana. Sound to Earth started producing Weber mandolins in March of 1997 to give it some backup.
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    The seller says that it was made in 1981. Gibson bought the company in 1987, so it is a genuine Bozeman Flatiron from the original mold. Iím not too sure of the date that Gibson moved the manufacturing to Nashville, but this one is an original. I have been doing a lot of research and am becoming more and more hesitant to tackle the job of re-applying the finish. I understand the remove the old finish part, it is just a lot of tedious handwork, but the re-application is starting to sound like it is half known science and half black magic.

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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Quote Originally Posted by JiminRussia View Post
    I’m not too sure of the date that Gibson moved the manufacturing to Nashville
    The year is in the message above your message.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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  21. #17
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Pardon me, I mis-spoke. What my notes actually say is that the US production of Flatirons was discontinued in 2001.
    I had forgotten about Gibson moving mandolin production from Bozeman to Nashville.

    It's not black magic. Nitro sticks to clean wood, thin shellac sealer, vinyl sealer formulated for nitro, and itself. Surfaces must be free of wax and oil no matter what finishes are being used.

    Mohawk "string instrument lacquer" is available by the quart or in rattle cans at Woodcraft stores. Their "string instrument lacquer" is formulated to minimize premature checking. The rattle can variety has a lot of thinner in the mixture and can be a little difficult to work with.

    LMI and Stew-mac also sell nitro.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-31-2022 at 10:40pm.

  22. #18

    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    I bought a Flatiron 1SH mandola which had some issues. It had taken some edge impacts, so there were separations between back and sides, and the beautiful dark honey finish was cracked. Someone had played it with some serious lack of control and possibly a steel pick, and then rattle-canned some finish across the top on the exposed and rough damaged grain. The sides, back, neck and headstock have deep crazing and missing chips of finish. The strap button at the heel (a practice I detest) had damaged the finish as well.

    My first Flatiron mandola is the same model, same vintage, and is flawless.

    So the damaged one has become the beater. The structural repairs are done, and I've made my peace with the one big missing chip on the side which is visible.every time I put the strap over my head. It gets more play time than any of the others, because it goes everywhere with me.

    I'd say leave it alone, and wait pariently for the rare mint example which will pop up here and there. You'll get comfortable with the current one being constantly available in bad weather conditions.

    By the way, Bruce Weber is a great resource.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Just an alternative thought on the finish. On a guitar I own with a similar lacquer check problem I kept the original lacquer but sanded it lightly with 600 then 800 and finally 1500 grit paper. Sanding very lightly as to only get a smooth surface and then buffing with a fine finish polish, I was able to get a nice lustrous glow. The lacquer checks are still there but the guitar has character and a quality that a completely new finish would never achieve.

  24. #20
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    ... lacquer checks are still there but the guitar has character and a quality that a completely new finish would never achieve.
    Yes!

    In '89 or so, I decided that I needed an actual good acoustic guitar for not-so-big bucks, and started looking used. The folks at Music Villa in Bozeman, MT, (then much smaller & right downtown) introduced me to a fine-sounding Gibson with, IMHO, severe checking. Cosmetics haven't bothered me much since then.
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    I spoke too soon and am embarrassed to tel,you that the “seller” in this case is not a seller. He/she/they are scam artists. I should have figured it out right away. After all, if a deal to too good to be true, it usually isn’t. The site is a scam. The E-mail address is not valid, the phone number goes to an answering service that asks you to contact them to set up an account. The Pay-Pal that I sent to them does not show up on my Pay Pal account. Fortunately, I used my debit card to make this “purchase” and my bank has refunded it to me as a fraudulent charge. I will post another, separate posting about this as I am sure that you will want to know who out there is trying to steal from us.
    The name of the company is Outletfocus.xyz. Their contact information which is all bogus is as follows:
    Address: 12889 Moore Street, Cerritos, CA 90703
    Call Us: +15024032992
    Email: support@outletsfocus.xyz
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of financial sh to make use?

    Oh well… sorry your Flatiron deal went flat. Keep your yell eyes out for one maybe a bit lower than retail and buy from a legit dealer or a seller in the MC classifieds. Be patient and one will come to. I recently acquired an ‘83 2K which I was looking for— paid retail price but it was in good shape with OHSC. It matched the year of my A5-2 which I bought new in ‘83.
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