Hi All, New to the forum. I came across your board while doing some research on a P Benson Parlor guitar restoration I am tackling. Unfortunately there have been numerous attempts at repairs by others over the years with varying levels of success.  I am currently looking for a few bits of info/Advice so I figured I would throw it out here for discussion.

1. This guitar has an odd cloudy damage to the French Polish. See photos attached. Any idea of cause and solution? 

2. I need to remove the fingerboard due to a partial separation and warpage. While off should I add a truss rod and or carbon fiber support(s)? Or would I be better off leaving as original as possible? The neck is very straight, just the fingerboard issue to contend with.

Thanks in advance for your opinions, I appreciate it,

Bill J

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Very nice guitar.

1 The clouding is caused by moisture in the shellac, or maybe a misty surface layer that can be removed with for example finest 0000 steel wool. Or the shellac is missing and raw wood is showing! I once used spirits/alkohol on a cotton swab gently poking on a misty shellac like this dissolving the shellac layer in one spot without smearing and letting it dry again. I went over the whole area like this (a fine black Gibson mandolin) and the mist was gone. With some new shellac on top the end result was very nice. Maybe heating with a heat gun would be another way to go.

2 If the neck is straight and stiff you can keep it original for sure. But my preferred method is to always put a carbon rod in. Having the fretboard off already that's a really good idea, not hard to do and invisible. A 12 fret guitar has a short neck and don't need a heavy adjustable truss rod, at least with low tension strings like Newtone Heritage 0.12 or a standard 0.10 set. Or nylon strings. With a carbon rod the neck will be predictable and stable with time. Without it some necks will get too much relief or slowly bend, you never know until the strings are on.

A Big thank you to Roger Haggstrom. I had assumed this was moisture trapped in the shellac as you described. I had tried to "spirit" it away with application of denatured alcohol with no luck. So I tried the heat gun as you suggested. Cleared all of the cloudiness right up. I actually took a video as the magic happened:

I hope links work in postings. 

I still have a lot of work to do but this was a big relief to know the existing shellac finish is viable. Thanks again,

Bill Johanson

Wow! It worked even better than I thought. Pure magic, thanks for the video. I have just recently found out that this is a great way to get some gloss on a shellac/spirit varnish lacquer, it worked on this problem too :-)

Cool!  A great fix .

Hello Roger, do you think this guitar would benefit with using your cotton swab technique?

Looking forward to your reply.



Well, I'd try the heat gun first - if it's in fact a spirit or shellac varnish. I took a big risk when doing the cotton swab thing on an expensive old Gibson mandolin, sometimes I do things like that. I have only done that once and it was on a solid black shellac varnish. The one in the picture.

My only advice on this one is to try it out on the least visible place first and see how the varnish reacts. If the varnish dissolves when poking with a spirit dipped swab and stays in the same place when drying keeping the same color, you could do it to the whole bottom point by point. Will take some time to do, the mandolin took several hours!

Very impressive!  It is actually like magic.  That must have been really satisfying......

Wow... The heat gun worked great. I don't think I would've thought to try that. Beautiful guitar, by the way.

I can't imagine any good reason to add modern material (carbon fiber) to an antique guitar, especially since in my experience, old guitar necks are invariably very stable. The neck wood is done warping. If you can get it so it has the proper relief under string tension (without forcing it with heat) it will stay that way long after we're dead and gone. 

Thank you all for taking the time to comment and give advice. I am still debating on the carbon fiber insert but I am glad to have solved the clouding in the finish. Now there are a several other challenges ahead like how to replace one inlaid bone button, bridge design, finding matching purfling/binding, how far to take the finish repair, etc.. 

thanks again,


Hello, Looking for some ideas on binding for this restoration project. I have an existing ledge of just under 4.5mm with no samples of what was original to the guitar. All I seem to be able to find is 1.5mm thick binding. 

I was thinking of just using 3 pieces in a BWB or WBW configuration but I am concerned that the ledge is a bit inconsistent and when I scrape level with the side it may be noticeably thin in some areas. I was hoping to find a thicker binding so the ledge width inconsistency would not be as noticeable but I have had no luck. I can't rerout the ledge as it would cut into the purfling in some areas. 

I was thinking of using ABS binding and welding together 2 of the sam color and ussing a WWB configuration with acetone but in the testing I have done I can still still see the seem even though it seems to be welded together well.

I am also missing about 8" of purfling which is a more standard width of .080" but a non standard pattern.

Any of you restoration people have any advice? 

Thanks in advance,  Bill


I don't understand all of that, looks like the missing bindings are a couple of short pieces. I'd take the time to make a copy of the bindings cutting up colored strips of maple or natural maple/rosewood/ebony. With a razor and some glue (and a magnifying glass) it will only take a couple of hours to piece the bindings together using the original as a template. Piece by piece :-)

What colors are in the purling?  It looks a lot like the material you see on a great deal of Washburn Regal and other Chicago builders of that era.  I had Micheal Gurian cut a run of that material for me and if it's the right stuff, I'd be glad to send you what you need. 

Here's what I have:  

By coincidence, I've also got a P Benson guitar on the bench at the moment, though nowhere as fancy as yours.

I'm assuming the decals are an add on, but don't know for sure.  Adds a nice touch, though!  The binding pattern is similar on both my guitar and yours with a center section, pearl on your version, purling mine, surrounded by 2 layers of the checkered material.  My guitar still has it's original binding which just looks like plain white binding.

I don't see the green layer in the purling on mine in these shots, though it's usually faded or bleached out.  If need be, you could peel off the green layer with a razor and replace it with what ever color is needed.


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