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A satin finish guitar has a matte finishing and moderate shine because it’s less reflective. Due to this, It’s better at covering defects.

On the other hand, a gloss finish guitar is polished with a recognizable shine on the body, and minor scratches can be prominent.

I understand how tough it can get to decide what kind of finish you want on your guitar. There are endless little details, and choosing one can get tricky.

A guitar is a long term thing, so when deciding which guitar to buy, you need to make sure you make the right decision. With the right guitar, you’ll feel confident and enjoy every minute with it.

We care for you, and that’s why this article guides everything you need to know about satin and gloss finish guitars. 

We’ll cover the following topics to assist you in making the right decision!

  1. What Are Satin & Gloss Finishes?
  2. Comparison of the Both
  3. Advantages of Each
  4. Effect on Sound With Different Finishing
  5. How to Clean Both Types?
  6. General Pricing 
  7. Can You Convert One Into Another?
  8. Suggestion on What to Buy

What Is a Satin Finish on Guitar?

A satin finish or a matte finish guitar has a more natural look and a rough feel because the wood pores are open. The satin finish is thin, and you can feel the wood on your hands. Moreover, fingerprints and marks are less visible on a satin finish.

Satin guitars have a thin coating and do not reflect light as much as a gloss finish guitar. They have a more old-school look and stay cleaner for longer times. Satin guitars tend to be less susceptible to fingerprint stains and marks.

A matte finish guitar can be more prone to weather/humidity changes and damage. On the other hand, satin guitars require less finishing and are easier to make. For this reason, they are considered to be in the low-end guitar category in the United States.

However, some countries believe satin guitars give a more natural look and don’t associate them with a low-end guitar.

Satin Finish Guitar

Satin Finish Guitar

What Is a Gloss Finish on Guitar?

A gloss finish guitar comes with a thicker, shiny finish that looks like glass. These guitars are smooth to touch and reflect light. However, fingerprint stains and marks are more visible on a shiny guitar but are easier to clean. 

Gloss guitars come with a thick coating layer and reflect light like glass. The finishing polish gives a modern feel and is smoother to touch. The gloss finish is perfect for giving your guitar a stylish and expensive look.

Because of the details involved in making a gloss finish guitar, most people put them on the high-end scale of guitars. However, you can find gloss finish guitars in a vast budget range.

Gloss Finish Guitar

Gloss Finish Guitar

Satin vs Gloss Guitar

Aesthetics and design play a considerable role for most guitarists while choosing a guitar and even while playing it. Being comfortable with your guitar impacts your performance. The better you feel about your guitar, the more you will spend time playing it.

The two most popular guitar finishes are satin and gloss finish guitars. These aren’t only physically different but have other differences that can be surprising to some.

Here are comparisons between Satin finish Vs Gloss finish guitars:



Although aesthetics are based on personal opinions and judgment, a layer of polish can enhance the look on your guitar. For example, gloss finish guitars bring out more wood grain and look aesthetically pleasing to most because of the glass-like look.

However, many guitarists would prefer a satin finish on their guitars because of the rugged look that comes along with it.

Performance and Recording

For performances, guitarists usually enjoy a satin finish neck. A satin finish neck is smoother to play in performances because they tend to get less oily. A sticky feeling can create friction and make it harder to perform. 

Oils and sweat from your hand can get attached to gloss finish guitars much quicker. However, a specific swoosh sound is more prominent while recording on satin finish guitars. A gloss finish guitar can reduce this sound.


You might have to pay more for maintenance with a gloss finish guitar because the repairman would have to work harder to match minor defects with the original gloss. For example, gloss finish guitars show more fingerprint marks but, on the other hand, are easier to clean.

Fingerprint marks and stains are less visible on a satin finish guitar, and they tend to stay cleaner for a longer time. However, cleaning satin finish guitars requires more effort.

Different kinds of satin and gloss finish guitars slightly affect the tone and feel.


Pros of Satin Finish Guitars

  1. Resistant to a sticky neck resulting in smoother chord shifting
  2. Require less maintenance
  3. Can sustain a rougher treatment and show fewer scratches


Pros of Gloss Finish Guitars

  1. Thicker guitar finish and protects the look of the guitar
  2. Great for recording and reducing unwanted noise
  3. Better in weather/humidity changes
  4. Easy to clean

How does the guitar finish affect the sound?

Finishing alone doesn’t affect the guitar sound. There’s no particular satin tone or gloss tone because there are countless types of satin finishes and gloss finishes, Instead, the sound is affected by the layer of paint, wood, and materials used.

Theoretically, guitar finish should create a tiny difference in the sound, but that’s not observable. For example, if the finish on your electric guitar affects the pickups, you might observe changes in the tone. However, finishes rarely affect pickups. 

The sound that an acoustic guitar creates comes from resonance. And, all of the noise comes from the vibration from the body. But, a lot of it comes from the top of the guitar. And the way your guitar and wood vibrates depends on what it’s coated with to some extent. 

A layer of epoxy or some other plastic can change how it sounds. By hardening the surface, you can feel the shift in tone. For example, it can get a brighter sound or make a deadening sound by limiting how the wood can even vibrate.

How Do You Clean a Satin Finish Guitar?

Use a microfiber cloth to clean a satin finish guitar and do not polish a satin finish guitar. Treat the fretboard the same way but keep the polish away from the body. 

It’s essential to know how to clean a satin finish guitar properly. 

Using polish on your matte finish guitar can ruin its body. Polish can make a shine appear, which wouldn’t go away. 

For fingerprints, you need to use a microfiber cloth. Rub it over the body, the neck, and all over the guitar. It’ll eventually rub out all the fingerprint marks without leaving a big nasty oily stain on your guitar. 

If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, you can use a t-shirt to clean the marks. It gets the work done.


Cleaning Satin Finish Neck 

You can expect to lose the satin guitar finish on the neck because of the natural oils on your hand. See here for a detailed guide on cleaning the neck properly and getting rid of the stickiness on your neck and other guitar parts.

How Do You Clean a Gloss Finish Guitar?

The best way to give your gloss guitar a fresh shine is to polish it. First, rub a guitar polish over the body and the neck, and then let it stay. Use a microfiber cloth over it afterwards, and you’ll get a fresh look on your guitar.

For fingerprints and marks, a microfiber cloth or a t-shirt can work over your gloss guitar as well, but a shine will give you a fresh look on your guitar. 

The polish can either be applied directly on the guitar’s body or first sprayed on the cloth and then rubbed over the guitar’s body. In any case, you’ll have to let it dry and, finally, use a clean, dry cloth to get the final look.

You can find multiple guitar cleaning products and shiners that work like magic on a gloss guitar as well.

See here for a more detailed cleaning guide!

Is Satin More Expensive Than Gloss? 

Generally, satin guitars are cheaper than gloss guitars. They require less effort to be made and are thinner than gloss guitars. However, you can find both kinds of guitars in a vast range of budget.

Gloss guitars demand more maintenance and cleaning. They take longer to be made and have an extra layer on them. These factors result in a higher price for gloss guitars.

However, there are countless guitars with the satin finish and gloss finish. There are many more factors that are involved in determining the price of a guitar. And you can find high-end satin finish guitars as well.

Can Satin finish be converted into a Gloss Guitar?

You can convert a satin finish guitar into a gloss or shiny guitar. You can do it yourself by following some steps or taking it to the guitar shop where they have the right tools and expertise.

You don’t have to buy a new guitar if you have a satin finish guitar but want a gloss guitar. You can convert your satin guitar to a gloss guitar yourself at home by using guitar polish and specific other tools. 

Or, you can take it to the guitar shop where they’ll do it according to your requirements. However, doing it yourself can teach you a skill, and you’ll grow as a guitarist.

Can you convert a Gloss guitar into a matte/satin?

You can convert your gloss guitar into a satin finish by rubbing out the gloss using a Scotch Brite or 0000 steel wool. You can also make a pattern with satin and shine on your body. However, be careful doing this; otherwise, you can damage your guitar.

If you’re looking to change the way your gloss guitar looks, you can give it a matte finish. There’s a proper method you can follow to convert your gloss finish guitar into a satin finish, or you can take it to the guitar store, where they’ll do it for you.

Which Guitar Finish Should You Buy?

By now, you know enough about the two guitar types. They have their own pros and cons. 

The more notable difference is how you might feel about the appearance of your instrument. It might have a significant psychological effect on your guitar technique, confidence, and style. 

You need to ask yourself whether the satisfaction you get from your guitar looks is worth the slight change in tone? 

It’s entirely up to you!

Final Thoughts

It’s all about finding the appropriate inspiration and originality for music.

The design aesthetics on a guitar are crucial in making them appealing and creating the positive feelings that can assist you in reaching your full potential.

Our advice would be to choose the guitar you are most comfortable with and forego the slight differences. Happy playing!

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

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