Applying a French Polish to a Musical Instrument

In the guitar world, the term “French polish” is understood to be the finish applied to most fine old musical instruments in Europe, and now to the majority of fine classical guitars handmade today

Date(s):March 14, 2020 – full dayMarch 14, 2020 – morning only
Time:9am – 3pm (6 hrs)9am – 12noon (3hrs)
Registration Deadline – seven days before class

Click on Course Code (above) to enroll

Course Fee: $150 for the full 6 hours (includes lunch); $70 for the morning only

Instructor: Bruce Scism

Class Description: French polish, as a guitar finish, is generally regarded as the best finish for tone, and the beauty of the wood under this finish is undisputed. It is a process that is very “organic”, very personal and tactile. The finisher can watch the surface closely and can minutely adjust material and method as the finish slowly builds and improves through multiple polishing sessions. Applying a French Polish does not require any expensive equipment of materials. The vapor and material are not hazardous or toxic, so it can be done is small spaces without the need for air ventilation or a face mask.

In preparation for learning the French polishing technique, we will start with thorough directions for making the cotton application pads, for preparing the shellac solution, and guidelines for using the alcohol, oil, and polish during the French polishing process. After these physical elements are described, we will move forward with a detailed description of the use of the pad to build a French polished shellac finish.

As these elements are more thoroughly understood and practiced by the finisher the easier and simpler the French polishing process will become.

Skill Development:

  • Preparing the surface for a finish
  • Selecting and preparing French Polish pads
  • Preparing shellac solutions
  • Application processes
  • Judging the finish

Class Size: 3 – 8 students

Online Enrollment: Just click on the Course Code (above) of the session in which you wish to enroll; our standard class Policies apply. For sessions without a Course Code link (i.e. works-in-progress), please send email to and include the Course Code (or date and time) of the class that you wish to take. We will make sure that you are enrolled in the class!

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