A network for historic guitars and vihuelas
Are soundboards of guitars of the Panormo workshop 2nd quarter of 19th Cent. varnished? If they are, with what, French polishing/shellac? Or how are they sealed otherwise?
There are two distinct layers of different polishes. I cover this in my forthcoming book. But if it is urgent for you to know, please message me and I'll give you come details. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear James, thank you very much. I am just finishing the guitar - befor glueing on the bridge I should know if the soundboard should be varnished first. Usually I seal soundboards of lutes with Danish Oil, a recommendation od David Van Edwards. This works fine. Could I do this on the soundboard of the Panormo?
David is usually spot on. So I would do what he suggests. But you can do what ever you like with the soundboard polish. There is no point in trying to replicate what they did, it's far too complicated and thick. The only important thing is a one-piece soundboard with symmetrical bracing, or a two-piece soundboard with asymmetrical bracing.
Dear Dr Kahlert,
Some suggest that the soundboards were left with no finish at all - but expereince teaches that they soon becomw very soiled and marked.
I use Stand Oil (not the modern stuff which has various chemicals added) but the original: ie Linseed oil which has been left to stand in a wide shallow dish (preferably by a window) for a few months (variable). The oil thickens and then when applied(it flows with the rubbing action) is like the consistency of a stiff varnish and so it doesn't penetrate much into the wood but, as it further oxidises and hardens, produces a good, transparent, but matt sheen finish.
Incidentally I haven't found, as James does that this oil is 'too complicated and thick' - perhaps he's not tried proper unadulterated stand oil. Try it yourself: it's easy to apply with a soft cloth/rubber and well oxides (hardens) in a day or so. Note that Stradivarius (and others) used linseed oil on violins prior to varnishing (see Sacconi).
There's no evidence that modern oil finishes, such as 'Danish' oil, 'teak' oil and the like were around in earlier times despite their use sometimes these days.
Thank you for this but I'm afraid your assertion is incorrect.