Satin vs. gloss guitar bodies

Written by gisela chavez
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Satin vs. gloss guitar bodies
A satin finish gives the guitar body a natural, smooth look. ( Images)

Whether it's for a classical guitar or an electrical guitar, many guitar players looking to buy a new guitar -- particularly those choosing a custom-built guitar -- get confused about how to pick from all the different guitar finishes available. Satin and gloss are the two prominent types of finishes you'll encounter, and knowing how they measure up will make you a more-informed guitarist.

Satin Finish

A satin finish gives the guitar body a matt appearance. In some guitars, a satin finish may give the body a dull appearance. This finish maintains the smooth feel of the guitar wood and gives the guitar a more natural look. A satin finish can change the sound in an acoustic guitar. When you play it, the guitar will make deep, natural woodlike tones.

Gloss Finish

Guitar bodies with a glossy finish look sleek and shiny. They may have a sunburst colour on the back or front that contrasts with the body of the guitar. Gloss finishes also affect the sound of the guitar. The gloss can slightly reduce the sound of the guitar, making the vibrations sound a bit muffled. A gloss finish can also make the guitar more difficult to play because of its slight stickiness. You may experience a small amount of resistance when moving your hand up and down the neck of the guitar.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Satin guitar bodies require that you treat them with a speciality oil found at most music stores. The oil helps to maintain the smooth, matt finish and clean the wood. Gloss-finished guitar bodies require a speciality polish for cleaning. The guitar polish is also found at most music stores. It will keep the guitar looking shiny and help protect the finish from becoming dull.


You can clean gloss guitar bodies by wiping them with a soft, damp cleaning cloth to restore shine while satin finish guitar bodies require speciality oil. A satin finish is also more difficult to maintain because it often wears down more quickly and develops shiny spots in areas of constant contact, such as the neck and the pickguard area. A gloss finish tends to resist scratches and nicks more than a satin finish and is generally less expensive.

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