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back paint removal

Posted: Sun May 24, 2015 10:05 am
by henrylrjr
Hi all,

I think I read, somewhere, that the back of the zither is the primary vibrating membrane as opposed to a guitar. This led me to think about the finish or paint on the back.

Guitars usually sound best when the top has a very thin or hand rubbed oil finish. I've experienced this with, some guitars having a very thick finish sounding dull and, fine handmade guitars having a very thin finish sounding better. The finish on my great sounding Santa Cruz OM acoustic guitar is so thin one can feel the grain.

Now back to the zither. I was thinking of lightly sanding the back to remove the black paint and re-finishing it with a hand rubbed french or very thin nitrocellulose finish. Has anyone pursued this path and are the best sounding zither backs unfinished, lightly finished or the natural color of spruce?


Re: back paint removal

Posted: Sun May 24, 2015 4:03 pm
by Rudy Mueller
In the section on repairs and restoration, zither repair, page 3, describes speculation of the same thing, even going "au natural". Your suggestions sound good, but I'll leave the finishing of the bottom to a later time. Top is nearing completion, which will be a semi-gloss finish.

Next will be construction of a case.


Re: back paint removal

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:39 am
by Rudy Mueller
Au Natural:

After two years of playing with the back of the Seith zither unfinished, my impression is that the unfinished back produced an improved tone.

The refinishing of the Förg zither will start this autumn, and the back will be left unfinished.

Paul Ederegger, my father's zither partner, smoked cigars, and somewhere along the line the poor Förg was set down on a "live stogey". Hopefully the scar can be removed.


Re: back paint removal

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:04 am
by Rudy Mueller
Cigar burns went through the finish, but not into the wood itself. Whew! This will be one of my winter projects.

Re: back paint removal

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:27 am
by NutmegCT
Gruss Rudi. Are you planning to work on the entire back of the Foerg? or just to remove the cigar burn? I think you mentioned the back of the Foerg is unfinished (raw wood?), so I wondered what treatment you'd be doing. I doubt the cigar burn would affect the sound.

I'd actually never realized that zither back's might have been left "natural".

Tom M.