I recently acquired an O.S. Stella Grand Concert guitar - circa late 1920's. Its quite structurally sound, however the major issue is that the finish has darkened considerably - gaining a bumpy orangepeel look. The top is spruce, and the sides are birch with faux rosewood finish quite intact under the darkened layer. I realize this is a somewht valuable guitar. I would like to ask what is the composition of this guitars finish? and what would be the procedure, if, any, to remove or rub out the darkened top layer? Thanks.

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Ah, I'd say you have the lazy man's win/win situation. If the guitar has any value, it is best to leave the original finish alone. If not, you might as well leave the original finish alone.

Really. The finish is probably lacquer, and the oxidation/darkening goes all the way through. At this point you can only screw it up.
I think you would probably have to polish or sand it through the whole thickness to get something neat. Maybe a good picture could help confirm this diagnosis?
Fred, a lot of OS instruments have this alligator look, especially on the body, for some reason the necks avoid it. I think the earlier OS instruments were shellac finishes. I had one rubbed out (French polished) on an old 12-string that needed lots of restoration, and it turned out nice, but didn't have the alligator look to begin with. Best to leave well enough alone, it's part of the charm and preserves the originality for future generations. Tom
Thanks. I have contacted Neal Harpe ( and yes, the finish is shellac either brushed or French Polished.


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