You’ve no doubt noticed that the 2014 model guitars have some of the most eye-catching finishes and colors ever seen on any guitar. Like the other 2014 features, this wasn’t by accident.
Part of the vibrancy was simply a decision to open up the guitars to more color choices, like the “candy” options and brighter dyes. But for the maple tops, research started over a year ago on a new grain enhancement process that really defines the maple crossfire and makes it “pop.” The hardest part was bringing out the wood’s beauty without having it look gaudy, but lots of trial and error eventually led to the correct balance. This process also requires multiple coats of different stains—a time-consuming and difficult procedure—to avoid a monotone look, but these guitars make it obvious the results are worth the effort.
Another change is that Gibson no longer does wet sanding; if water migrated into the grain, there could be swelling that damaged the wood. Although the alternative requires doing a lot more buffing, the overall look is as good or better than wet sanding, and there’s zero possibility of water migration.
Even satin finishes—used on less expensive guitars, as the process takes much less time than the several days required for high-gloss finishes—came under the microscope. Gibson has now switched to a waxing lacquer for satin finishes, which improves over previous options not only because it looks better, but feels super-smooth and more playable to the touch.
So if you thought Gibson had added some additional mojo to the finishing process, you’re right—and the result is guitars that are as dramatic to the eye as they are to the ear.