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What is VOS and exactly what is done

wmachine

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2016
Messages
246
First of all, I realize that the process may have changed since they started it, so answers should be in the context of what year(s).
Second, I can guess all day long too, so I'd like to stick to what what is known.

I'm trying to find out what exactly is involved and can't find anything all encompassing.
I have been looking closely at the ES reissues that are VOS over the last few years of production, Memphis is particular.
Did not have a lot of trouble finding that VOS = Vintage Original Specification.
So (at least) there is specifically a VOS finish. Which is perplexing, but the originals were *not* finished like this. Does VOS apply to anything except the finish?

Re the VOS finish, contrary to posts I've seen, it is *not* a thinner finish. It has exactly the same (wood) finish specs (on the Gibson site) with the VOS models additionally saying "Finished in V.O.S." Which means what? It looks like it is more than just the same finish not buffed out. It is pretty well known that the VOS finish can be buffed to a gloss of desired.

Also contrary to posts I've seen, the hardware is also VOS, with specs for plating reading "V.O.S nickel, V.O.S. gold" etc. My personal observation is that the hardware looks like it has an irregular haze to it making it look aged. But not to the point having pits like actually aged metal could get.
And even some of the plastics have a VOS spec and look like they are hazed like the metal parts.
It appears that the "haze" is an applied film that could be removed and one would have perfectly plated parts underneath. Meaning that none of the VOS processing is "into" any of the parts.
That said, I wonder if what it is that they apply for the VOS finish would actually help protect it.

So it also appears to me, if you simply don't like the VOS finish, it can be entirely removed with a little elbow grease.
Which leaves the question, is the anything else to VOS except finish?
 

mdubya

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2010
Messages
853
I have two VOS guitars: a 2013 ES 330 VOS with a Custom Shop COA and Case, and a 2015 ES Les Paul.

The VOS treatment on each is very different.

The ES 330 has a soft finish, not gloss, but not aged and no "gunk" slopped on. The nickel is lightly aged but no heavy pock marks or anything.

The ES LP, by contrast, has heavily aged (IMHO) nickel parts and was treated with what basically amounted to a layer of filth. It reminded me of the residue left behind after a dirty snow melts. A little bit of carnauba and a soft clean cloth removed the gunk and left the cloth black and dirty. I rubbed some of the aging off the nickel parts too. New out of the box, the guitar felt like it had been gigged several nights in a row and was left with a dirty sweaty residue. No longer. The guitar is clean and almost as clear in its finish as the soft ES 330 VOS finish.

TmbnIYn.jpg


Out of the box ES LP

BmB8fOb.jpg


That's all I've got. FWIW - the ES 330 is perfect in every way. The ES LP is fine now it's cleaned up, but the "gunk" treatment was a little startling and not particularly to my liking.
 

indravayu

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
398
"VOS (Vintage Original Spec) Finish

"Our acclaimed VOS finish is also uses genuine nitrocellulose lacquer, and it starts with several thin hand-sprayed layers to build up a hard, breathable “coat”. Rather than complete the effort with the same buffing as our High Gloss finish, however, Gibson Custom uses a unique proprietary process to give the VOS a glowing, gently-aged patina that you’d swear you can almost feel as well as see. The result is a guitar that looks and feels like an instrument from the golden era—one that has been lovingly cared for, while naturally exposed to the gentle mellowing that time brings, without actually being distressed or physically hand-aged. This is the finish that was used for many years on Gibson Custom’s Reissue models, and which now comes as a popular option our Standard Historic guitars, and some others."

http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Gear-Tech/en-us/Gibson-Nitrocellulose-Finishes.aspx
 

wmachine

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2016
Messages
246
I have two VOS guitars: a 2013 ES 330 VOS with a Custom Shop COA and Case, and a 2015 ES Les Paul.

The VOS treatment on each is very different.

The ES 330 has a soft finish, not gloss, but not aged and no "gunk" slopped on. The nickel is lightly aged but no heavy pock marks or anything.

The ES LP, by contrast, has heavily aged (IMHO) nickel parts and was treated with what basically amounted to a layer of filth. It reminded me of the residue left behind after a dirty snow melts. A little bit of carnauba and a soft clean cloth removed the gunk and left the cloth black and dirty. I rubbed some of the aging off the nickel parts too. New out of the box, the guitar felt like it had been gigged several nights in a row and was left with a dirty sweaty residue. No longer. The guitar is clean and almost as clear in its finish as the soft ES 330 VOS finish.


That's all I've got. FWIW - the ES 330 is perfect in every way. The ES LP is fine now it's cleaned up, but the "gunk" treatment was a little startling and not particularly to my liking.
Thanks for the input. So on the LP, you were basically about to remove the VOS finish? Metal and wood?
 

wmachine

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2016
Messages
246
"VOS (Vintage Original Spec) Finish

"Our acclaimed VOS finish is also uses genuine nitrocellulose lacquer, and it starts with several thin hand-sprayed layers to build up a hard, breathable “coat”. Rather than complete the effort with the same buffing as our High Gloss finish, however, Gibson Custom uses a unique proprietary process to give the VOS a glowing, gently-aged patina that you’d swear you can almost feel as well as see. The result is a guitar that looks and feels like an instrument from the golden era—one that has been lovingly cared for, while naturally exposed to the gentle mellowing that time brings, without actually being distressed or physically hand-aged. This is the finish that was used for many years on Gibson Custom’s Reissue models, and which now comes as a popular option our Standard Historic guitars, and some others."

http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Gear-Tech/en-us/Gibson-Nitrocellulose-Finishes.aspx

Thank you! Finally getting somewhere. Lots of rhetoric in their explanation, but at least there is something there to go on.
 

mdubya

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2010
Messages
853
Thanks for the input. So on the LP, you were basically about to remove the VOS finish? Metal and wood?

I was able to remove the coating they put on there. This is the first time I have encountered that part of the process. I have heard of it before, but thought it was a thing of the past. The finish on my ES 330 is much more like is described in the link above.

I think the ES LP has a similar finish to the 330 under the coating. It is not nearly as beautifully done, though.

On the nickel, it is hard to tell if it was coated or heavily aged, or both. :hmm I was able to remove some of the tarnish though. I wasn't trying to bring it up to a fully polished look (lacquer or hardware), just trying to remove some of the excessive aging.

I was also trying to point out that you will find lots of inconsistencies in the VOS finishing process.

I think most would like the finish on the 330. I think a lot would have sent the ES LP back. If I had paid a premium for the ES LP, I would not have been very happy.
 
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