1927 Gibson A1 snake head - advice needed on color and refinishing

Greetings from England.

 I've recently bought a 1927 blackface A1 (82390 in the Archive). It's very sound structurally, has a good voice and seems to be complete with all original fittings. Unfortunately the back has been badly oversprayed with black paint at some point and the front has been touched up. There are also several cosmetic blemishes. So it really does need to have some refinishing work done.

The untouched sides and back of the neck are dark brown and appear to be french polished, where as the untouched black peghead could be French polished or might have a top coat of nitrocellulose (haven't tested yet). I'm good at french polishing and so will probably refinish with french polish.

I wonder if the forum could give me some advice.

1. How can I make my french polish black to closely resemble the original colour - Indian ink???

2. How can I make some dark brown French polish to match the sides. It's very slightly lighter than 82103 on the Archive

3. Finally in the Archive some most of the backs of this model Gibson most LOOK black while some are dark brown. Should the back colour match the sides, or do some have brown sides and black back.

Thanks for your help.


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Spent an hour reading the cafe archives and it seems very confusing. Some people like yourself and Gail Hester.suggest that Gibson never used just Shellac based varnish, while others seem to say they did on early Gibsons.

I'm certain you've correctly identified the finish used on the back on my blackface - many thanks. I'm going to post on the cafe about the front. I really do want to use the correct top coat, and need to get comments from as many people as possible.

Thanks for your help.



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