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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    How to remove VOS finish

    I'm curious if the VOS finish can be removed, and if so, how to do it. I've googled this and found mixed info, although generally it sounds like it can be done with a little bit of polish and elbow grease. So I guess what I'm actually curious about is if anyone has actually done it, how they did it, and how it looked after. Or any other info. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Youze be needin' my product Ren's VOS Remover And Pork Rub©®℗™℞

    Remember:

    Don't let VOS be your boss! Buy Ren's VOS Remover And Pork Rub©®℗™℞ TODAY!

    Ren's Vos Remover And Pork Rub©®℗™℞ is a class 3 flammable substance. It is available in finer stores everywhere. Apply 3 hours before cooking when used as a pork rub. Your hog will love it. When applied to a guitar the finish may begin to smoke. We suggest keeping a garden hose handy in case flames actually appear. No one has yet reported flames, but several have died because of fume inhalation. We are still waiting on reports of the flames though. That scares us. IF the smoke clears your guitar will be clear of that pesky VOS finish. And the dyes, paint, plastics and metal coatings.

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    Renderit's PUP Sealant Too©®℗™℞ which both taste awful and are offered by Ren Industries Division of Pets, Guitars and Home and Scary Castle Chemicals Inc. Ren Industries. Better Life Through Frightening Experimentation™
    Last edited by renderit; 04-03-16 at 04:38 AM.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Joe Desperado's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    There is nothing to remove. It is something that needs to be added or done. The guitar never goes through the final buffing. I have a Custom Authentic (VOS old name). I used white dupont polishing compound and got a nice sheen without the over the top buff. Big improvement IMO. I like it better than a full buffy gloss.

  4. #4

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    To remove the VOS gunk. Virtuoso Cleaner, all over. Looks good, gunk is gone, finish improved without the gloss. Follow with Virtuoso Polish if you'd like, buff a little.

    If you want Gloss, then you'll need to do more work, per Joe D's advice.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member sws1's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Desperado View Post
    There is nothing to remove. It is something that needs to be added or done. The guitar never goes through the final buffing. I have a Custom Authentic (VOS old name). I used white dupont polishing compound and got a nice sheen without the over the top buff. Big improvement IMO. I like it better than a full buffy gloss.
    I don't think that's accurate. VOS definitely has something added on top of an unpolished finish.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by sws1 View Post
    I don't think that's accurate. VOS definitely has something added on top of an unpolished finish.
    Goat sweat.

  7. #7

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by sws1 View Post
    I don't think that's accurate. VOS definitely has something added on top of an unpolished finish.
    Over at Gibson, there are several stages of buffing a guitar goes through once the finish cures. Typically, the guitar goes to a "red wheel" first (buffing wheel with red buffing compound, or "rouge") then over to a yellow wheel. The yellow buffing compound applied to this wheel has a finer grit than the red compound. The final stage is a white wheel (clean buffing wheel, possibly with a spray similar to glass cleaner sprayed on).

    Older posts here & elsewhere say the VOS finish stops at the red wheel. These posts suggest the goop pictured in other places might be the crud applied to the hardware to give it an aged look. It also explains the real meaning of comments which say "the VOS finish is thicker." Of course it is, but only by a few mils, because the buffing (or wet sanding) process takes off some of the clear coat to level out the orange peel into a smooth finish.

    Looking at my VOS R9, I see some minor orange peel (which was reduced from the raw finish by the red wheel and would have been eliminated by the yellow wheel). I also see buffing scratches in some places from the coarse red wheel. I took a dampened paper towel to part of the top & scrubbed in circles. There was a faint residue of the red compound on the paper towel. So I believe the previous info that says the buffing simply wasn't done all the way. That explains the faint scratches, red compound and lower price for VOS.

    If you just want to clean the guitar, you can use a given product, or you could just use some naphtha (lighter fluid) and plenty of paper towels. Naphtha cuts crud very well and is probably cheaper than anything else. If you really want to gloss the guitar up, use whatever polishing compound (not a wax polish, but a polishing compound) you like.

    I usually use 3M's Finesse It. This has a very fine abrasive in a liquid that can be used to polish out small scratches & swirl marks. I like this stuff because it's basically the same as many other compounds, and you can find it at any auto parts store (which is probably closer than a guitar shop & faster than waiting for an online order). You might need to do some wet-sanding with some fine grit paper (in the 600-1000 grit range) to get rid of all traces of orange peel, if that's a goal for you. Successively finer wet-sanding will allow a mirror gloss with less time spent using the Finesse It (because you're doing the same work a different way up front). Auto parts places also have kits for restoring plastic headlights which have fine grit sandpaper from ~400 grit up to 3000-4000, and a tiny packet of Finesse It; you can make plastic (and your guitar) shine like glass if you go through all those grades.

    Know that you should strip ALL the hardware, pickups, pots, etc off the guitar if you want to do the full gloss finishing. You don't want sanding scratches or polishing compound on your other hardware. If you wet sand, it's also on you to check frequently that you're not sanding through the clear and into the color coat.

    Note also that some gunk on the back of the neck will make it feel smoother than glossy nitro; very slick gloss nitro looks great, but your skin sticks to it when you try to move around the neck. So having some gunk on it or breaking up the smooth surface with ~600 grit actually makes it feel smoother in your hand.

    Knowing all that, you may want to decide how far to take the gloss treatment. I haven't decided whether to gloss the top of my R9, but it does have some great flame which would probably be accentuated by being gloss. For me, the back of the guitar is smooth enough already. I might try to get the buffing scratches out of the headstock face, but I only see them in reflected light. And since playing my guitar has worn most of the red compound off of the back of the neck, I might rough that up a bit to get a nicer feel. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just play the guitar and leave it at that.
    Last edited by B Ingram; 04-02-16 at 11:44 AM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Almost. If you don't remove the orange peel with the red theres slim to none you will remove it with the finer grits. They are there for the shine not cutting. And it is called Rouge not Rogue. "RUUUUUUUJE"

  9. #9

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by renderit View Post
    ... If you don't remove the orange peel with the red theres slim to none you will remove it with the finer grits. They are there for the shine not cutting. ...
    Who said the finer grits are for removing orange peel?

    I recommended starting with 600 grit precisely because it would remove material slower, and offer less risk of cutting down to the color coat. Additionally, some just want the fine buffing scratches gone, and 600 is good for that.

    You can go coarser and remove material faster if you know what you're doing, but if you did know what you're doing you wouldn't be asking the question about how to remove a VOS finish.

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by B Ingram View Post
    ...

    Looking at my VOS R9, I see some minor orange peel (which was reduced from the raw finish by the red wheel and would have been eliminated by the yellow wheel). I also see buffing scratches in some places from the coarse red wheel. I took a dampened paper towel to part of the top & scrubbed in circles. There was a faint residue of the red compound on the paper towel. So I believe the previous info that says the buffing simply wasn't done all the way. That explains the faint scratches, red compound and lower price for VOS.

    ...
    You kinda did. This is a problem at Gibson. They are maybe using your suggestion? I am finding orange peel on everything they do. Even the ones they used "many colors" on (Gloss finish). I know you know what you are talking about and I kid. It can be removed with finer grit. But that is kinda like sanding a bowling ball into a poker chip with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Sure, it can be done but you ain't got that kinda time. Unless you work for nothing. Also the real danger is rubbing too hard in frustration and melting (pulling) finish when using too fine a grit.

    For those of you that do not know what we are talking about here; hold your guitar up to the light and look across it with your eye close to the top. Those "dimples" you see most likely ain't grain. It's a crap finish job. For sure you will find it on the sides of the headstock, back near the neck joint or on 13 and 14 gloss versions, virtually everywhere. The TH and HS's it's not as evident and it is handled much better. It is easier to see on a shiny guitar. When they have been partially buffed out they look like a flat surface with many dimples or worse, a bunch of little flat mesa's with undulations between them.

    Best example that is the easiest to see: If you have a car made in the last 10 years (that ain't a Ferrari or Rolls or something fancy) look at it in the light. Looks like a golf ball. That, friends, is an unacceptable paint job. Welcome to the "good enough" generation. I'd say it is left that way on Gibsons to reduce the cost. But, you know, Collings and PRS and many others sell guitars at the same price points as these or cheaper and they don't have crappy paint. Just sayin'. Pet peeve.
    Last edited by renderit; 04-03-16 at 07:37 AM.

  11. #11

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    I haven't looked closely at any Gibson's finish (aside from my recent R9 acquisition) since 2000, when I last worked there. So I have no comment/insight on finish quality of non-VOS Gibson's.

    I also hold a lingering bias against all black guitars (although I'd dearly love a '55/'56 style Black Beauty) because of my experience in the plant: the black paint job mercilessly exposes every flaw (orange peel, bump, scratch, fingerprint, etc) in the surface of the finish.

    In any event, the low spots forming the orange peel on my guitar are extremely shallow and about 1/5-1/6 the width of the flat spaces between the dips. Unless you really look for it, it's invisible. Perhaps my guitar is not representative, but is also why I recommended the fine grit: it literally has only a mil or 2 to be removed before a flat finish emerges.

    I have noticed what you said on cars... I'm convinced that a significant portion of the cost of a custom rod is the wet sanding of the color & clear coats, which has to add enormously to the time and expense of those builds. Then again, the thinnest coat of wax will bring out a glass shine...

    Looking at my Taylor, the only deviation from mirror-flat gloss I see is where the finish has sunken slightly into spruce grain or slightly shrunken rosewood pore filler over the past 21 years.

  12. #12

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Polish it just like you would clean a office table.
    Simple as that.
    I used the Virtuoso pump polish, others use Gibson...
    Don't pay extra money to clean your guitar for you.
    Last edited by Ivan; 04-26-16 at 03:43 AM.
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  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member TM1's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    If you have Orange Peel, then use the Micro Mesh paper from Stew-Mac. Wet sand it with those and then use Novus #2 Fine Scratch Remover. Novus is what they use to polish Jetfighter Cockpit windscreens..

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member Jackyrhode's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Add me to the ranks of Virtuoso believers. I bought my VOS used on craigslist. It was the best sounding LP I ever played but between the dings and the VOS finish it always felt like I was playing someone else's guitar. My family also thought it was the ugliest guitar I owned.

    I read about Virtuoso but wasn't sure I could really do a good job (I'm handy with a soldering iron but when it comes to woodworking I'm lost). Nevertheless, I picked up the polish and cleaner on reverb for a Black Friday sale.

    It came today while I was working from home so I was able to try it right away. A couple of hours with the cleaner and polish made a world of difference. I threw in some Fret Doctor and metal wipes for good measure. Not only does it shine as well as its flamey brother but it plays smoother and the polish brought out patterns in the grain I never saw before. And it's still the best sounding guitar ever.

    Before (the VOS is the plaintop):
    18193750_10210889571688108_2880152924261175188_n by Clarke R 04-24, on Flickr

    and AFTER:
    IMG_2160 by Clarke R 04-24, on Flickr
    'Mozart used to play loud. He had no amplifiers so he mashed his head right up to the keyboard. His mother would yell, "Mozart! Mozart! Don't play loud!" But he would anyway.'
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  15. #15

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Good job. I always like a nice one piece plain-top with some wild grain.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member J.D.'s Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    B Ingram is right on, and I agree, the recent VOS guitars I've seen are trainwrecks under the VOS haze.

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member Jackyrhode's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by jb_abides View Post
    Good job. I always like a nice one piece plain-top with some wild grain.
    Thanks. It's actually a two-piece top but there's very little contrast near the seam. You can definitely feel it in the finish though.
    'Mozart used to play loud. He had no amplifiers so he mashed his head right up to the keyboard. His mother would yell, "Mozart! Mozart! Don't play loud!" But he would anyway.'
    -Nigel Tufnel

    www.notinmybook.com

    My rig

  18. #18

    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    I like Virtuoso, but I've found this stuff works better and gets stuff that Virtuoso didn't.... https://www.guitarscratchremover.com...tar-polish-kit

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    Quote Originally Posted by jb_abides View Post
    Good job. I always like a nice one piece plain-top with some wild grain.
    Always? Really? Just how many one piece plaintops are you always liking? I know about Stirngs Jrs figured one piece top Deluxe and one flamed out R9.

    I do like flowing grain on the figure challenged maple.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Member StSpider's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove VOS finish

    I used naphta, lighter fluid, to remove the vos finisho off my ES330. Works nicely enough.
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