Shellac – French polish
- 31 August 2022
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Shellac is a natural resin. It is a liquid secreted by the female of the insect Lacca, which lives by sticking to the bark of some species of trees in India, Thailand, China and Burma, to protect its eggs. The lacquer obtained by melting shellac in alcohol is mostly used for polishing musical instruments and antiques. In addition to protecting the wood from external factors and harmful insects, it also positively affects the sound quality of the instrument.
Contrary to popular belief, “french polish” or “french polishing” is a polish application method, not a material.
The main benefit of shellac for musical instruments;
Since shellac is an organic material, it covers the surface in thin layers. These thin layers do not prevent the vibrations created by the instrument to produce sound. Thus, our instrument can easily respond to vibrations. Shellac is a material that hardens by drying over the years. This resin, which crystallizes over time, gives the instrument magical sounds over the years.
Polishes produced from synthetic materials have structural features that prevent vibration. For this reason, shellac polish is the most suitable type of polish to use on instruments.
After cutting a square-shaped cotton cloth and putting cotton or cotton cloth pieces in it, it is squeezed into a ball. Afterwards, it is necessary to pour shellac on it to fill the surface of the tampon, and distribute it over the entire surface, as if drawing eight movements, together with 1-2 drops of paraffin oil. The purpose of applying the oil is to prevent the pad with shellac from sticking to the surface and leaving a mark. This process is called french police or french polishing. For a healthy french polish, it is necessary to finish the application not continuously, by waiting for the polish layer to harden and spreading it over a long period of time.
As the finished version is quite thin, it does not cover the tree too much and keeps the sound quality at the highest point.
It is long lasting.
It is completely organic. Organic materials are often used in musical instruments.
It is difficult to apply, but a well-made shellac finish looks beautiful.
It is crystal clear and extremely bright.
It is extremely easy to repair unlike other synthetic polish materials.
Because of all these features, it takes a lot of experience to get a good result. That’s why it’s the most prized type of polish and is best used on handmade guitars and violins.
As it is not heat resistant, the surface may deteriorate as a result of sweating while playing the instrument or when left in a hot environment.
It is less impact resistant than other synthetic lacquers, the problem that usually occurs is nail marks on the soundboard over time. Golpeador or static golpeador can be attached to the soundboard to avoid it.
It can be protected by placing a cloth between the right arm and the guitar, as body heat will cause opaqueness during long playing.
Depending on the use of the instrument, it is very beneficial for both the instrument and the lacquer to maintain a polish every 6 months or 1 year.
In addition to all these disadvantages, it is a very easy polish to renew.
Translation : Pınar Varlı