Polishing out scratches?

Raym

New Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
4
What is the best means and hand rubbed product to use to polish out minor blemishes in the clear coat finish, front and rear? I have a mid 90s custom 22 with a black cherry 10 top clear coat finish. I’m not sure if it’s nitro or some poly? I’m not positive what they were using at the time, but it’s typical of PRS 1994 production. I have some minor pick scratches and abrasions. It’s nothing dramatic, but I would like to polish them out. How do I best accomplish that?
 

Greywolf

Semi- Retired Luthier
Joined
Sep 30, 2022
Messages
583
Location
Duluth,Ga
.As a luthier , I use the 3 various colortone-polishing-compounds available from Stew Mac , they are designed for guitar finishes. I've also used Turtle wax clean polishing and rubbing compound - all these are liquids.

ALWAYS start with the lightest grit to see if it will work , Nitro finishes aren't that thick ..hand buff is slow , but safer if you aren't real experienced. In more extreme case ..wet sanding is available out to 3000 grit
 
Last edited:

Em7

deus ex machina
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
908
Location
LSD (Lower Slower Delaware)
I prefer Menzerna compounds over the rest. If you are dealing with swirls and not deeper scratches, here is my choice: https://www.amazon.com/Menzerna-SF3...ocphy=9007502&hvtargid=pla-465737535563&psc=1

After you polish out the swirls, you should wax the guitar with carnauba wax. I am surprised by how few guitarist wax their guitars. It extends the life of the finish and makes swirl marks less of a problem.
 

LSchefman

Historical Entity
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
30,544
Location
Michigan
I prefer Menzerna compounds over the rest. If you are dealing with swirls and not deeper scratches, here is my choice: https://www.amazon.com/Menzerna-SF3...ocphy=9007502&hvtargid=pla-465737535563&psc=1

After you polish out the swirls, you should wax the guitar with carnauba wax. I am surprised by how few guitarist wax their guitars. It extends the life of the finish and makes swirl marks less of a problem.
Actually, waxes are an option with pluses and minuses. The main plus is that they fill in surface imperfections like swirl marks, and make the guitar shinier by reflecting light more uniformly. To a small degree, if you sweat a lot on a guitar, they'll offer a modicum of surface protection.

Waxes have a few drawbacks that are worth considering. I learned this stuff back when I was entering cars in shows.

Waxes build up. A second coat of wax doesn't remove the first coat, unless it has abrasives or more chemicals, which most players don't need. They yellow over time, so the more layers, the greater the yellowing.

Unlike car finishes dealing with road grit and dirt sticking to the paint and being scraped across the car while it's washed, guitars don't usually need it.

Many waxes also contain mild abrasives, especially the so-called 'cleaner-wax' products. This stuff is useful on a car, but isn't necessary on a guitar.

Carnauba wax is used by car people because it's very hard, and is therefore resistant to the kind of dirt, grinding and sand that sticks to a car; it's so hard, in fact, that even in a car wax it has to be combined with more petroleum distillates than other waxes to soften it up for use - it comes in the form of pellets that are as hard as plastic. OF course, because it dries so hard, it builds up more quickly. Most people don't need that level of protection from abrasion on a guitar, so it's unnecessary unless you're dragging your guitar through sand.

All of this isn't necessarily a criticism of using waxes, because lots of people like them, but it's something to keep in mind when you think about what you want building up on your guitar. It all comes down to personal choice.

If I was to use wax on my guitars I'd use it very sparingly.

Most show cars are polished first, using something very mild, like Meguiar's No. 7, and then waxed. This will reduce swirl marks before waxing, so there are fewer microscopic valleys and pits for the wax to fill.

Lots of players have come into my studio and asked me how I keep my instruments in such showroom-new condition. Here's how I do it, but of course, folks have their own techniques. My philosophy is like the physician's - do no harm! So that means, keep them clean, minimize the use of abrasives like polishes, don't add layers of wax.

1. Keep them cased when not in use. Nothing good happens leaving them out. Houses have all kinds of crap like food grease and dust in the air to land on the guitars and gunk them up, which creates a sticky dirt. This also buffers the temperature and humidity changes that occur from hour to hour in all houses, so the wood isn't expanding and contracting so quickly, keeps the gunk off, and obviously, accidents are less likely to result in damage to the instrument. Yes, I get that you want to eyeball stuff. Buy some real art that's meant to hang on a wall.

2. I wipe them down with a slightly damp, soft microfiber cloth after a few days' use. I dry them with another fluffy microfiber cloth.

2. If I see swirl marks, which almost never happens since I don't overpolish my instruments with abrasives, I polish them out using a very fine polish like Virtuoso using a soft microfiber cloth. If you're going to use a polish, remember that it works when the abrasives break down to microscopic particles. The smaller the particles, the fewer swirl marks. So you want as mild an abrasive as will do the job, and you want to use lighter, faster strokes instead of grinding the abrasive hard into the paint.

Keep in mind: all polishes contain abrasives. They work by removing finish, like sandpaper, and they create ultra-fine scratches that progressively beome finer and finer until you can't see them with the naked eye. You don't want to be sanding your guitar all the time.

Yes, it seems like babying the guitar, but it's very easy to overdo it.

3. Maybe once a year I'll put a little of PRS' cleaner on a soft microfiber cloth and shine 'em up if they need it; they don't always need it. This stuff has no abrasives and leaves a nice shine. It's what they use at the factory before shipping the guitars.

That's it. Keep it simple, protect the guitars using cases, and do no harm with abrasives in polishes.
 
Last edited:

Sybo

Jim
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
1,087
Location
Nashville Tn
I am a freak about my car, but I make sure I am educated on what I use on it…..same with guitars.
( there are some peoples cars I will NOT ride in. ) People can be really gross sometimes…….. I can’t believe how poorly some people treat things they had to work really hard for.
 
Top