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Help identifying what caused dark resonator pattern

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Mar 31, 2020 - 5:32:01 PM
229 posts since 12/9/2009

I have a really nice 2003 Sullivan Greenbriar, blonde. I'm the 2nd owner and it came with a dark, grayish pattern on the resonator. It is not in the clear finish, it's underneath.

1- What might cause something like this?

2- I have cleared up a cloudy finish using a hairdryer a few times and that works pretty well. Any idea what might be done to blonde it up again short of refinish?

Thanks- Dale

Mar 31, 2020 - 5:56:55 PM

1517 posts since 11/17/2018

Photos would be helpful.

Mar 31, 2020 - 6:22:21 PM

229 posts since 12/9/2009

Good point. On the way.

Mar 31, 2020 - 6:29:17 PM

229 posts since 12/9/2009

Attempt 1.


Mar 31, 2020 - 6:29:35 PM

229 posts since 12/9/2009


Mar 31, 2020 - 7:08:40 PM



21623 posts since 7/6/2005

Maple can be difficult to stain. If they applied a base coat of a tinted lacquer to bring out the figure, it may have absorbed irregularly. Or it could have reacted with the adhesive of whatever they glued the case liner in with. Those are usually contact adhesives and fairly volatile. Ordinarily such discoloration is caused by reaction to a vinyl strap, but this seems too large for a strap. Seeing that it's not a sunburst, you could refinish it easily enough or even apply a darker sunburst over it

Mar 31, 2020 - 7:33:54 PM

2040 posts since 2/7/2008

Could someone have (unsuccessfully) attempted to undo some prior damage and then shot another coat of lacquer over it?

Mar 31, 2020 - 9:09:59 PM

3943 posts since 10/18/2007

Why are there a lot fewer "tiger stripes" in the lighter area? That must mean something.

Mar 31, 2020 - 9:14:36 PM
like this

261 posts since 8/7/2007

Society Hill,

Hey thank you so much for playing a Sullivan. Sorry to hear your are having a finish issue. Does the stain look like it is actually in the wood or in the finish?

Have you changed anything that you use or do you have it in a different case?

I actually had to refinish three banjos, one Sullivan, a Huber, and a Gibson that had what looked like bruises in the finish. They would not buff out, the stain was “in” the finish. The TKL case that was used reacted with the finish.

Anyway, If there is any way I can be of help just shoot me an email.


Eric Sullivan

Apr 1, 2020 - 5:00:26 AM

3877 posts since 5/12/2010

You just can't beat such an offer of help for a Sullivan banjo than the above!

I have seen the same thing, and always thought it was from rubbing around in the case when the fit was a little loose, but see it could also be a reaction with the material in the lining. I think it may sometimes be a reaction from rubbing on someone's sweat soaked shirt.

I don't use lacquer, but do know that maple sometimes doesn't take stain as well as other woods.

Apr 1, 2020 - 9:36:48 AM

7625 posts since 1/7/2005
Online Now

Looks to me like 1. a natural variation in the figured grain of the maple that has taken the stain differently than the rest of the resonator. ( called blotching. )
Or 2. someone sanded out some roughness, scratches or other blemishes in the center of the finished resonator, tried to touch up the stain that had been sanded off, and didn't get a very good color match.

Apr 1, 2020 - 10:01 AM



1195 posts since 11/3/2016

This is an 01 Granada w/ a dark spot on the neck just below the hand stop .
One would think in that area it would be from wear but not so as the banjo has hardly been played . I'm not going to mess with it .


Apr 1, 2020 - 11:50:07 AM
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261 posts since 8/7/2007

I just emailed Society Hill and explained that there is no telling what happened to the reso finish. I just know it did not leave the shop in that condition. Not matter what caused it, we will just fix it. This is just one of those times that the warranty helps out.

With the virus slowing manufacturing and shipping down it will be about a month before the new spray booth is operating but we will get it fixed. I will post progress pics so maybe that will shed some light on what actually happened. Never hurts to learn something.


Apr 1, 2020 - 11:57:25 AM
like this

3877 posts since 5/12/2010

Now that is a response from someone who really does stand behind their product, and speaks of quality in more ways than one.

Bravo Eric !

Apr 1, 2020 - 5:47:07 PM

229 posts since 12/9/2009

I am so thankful for the great service and banjos from Eric. The pic didn't do the curl in the maple justice, in fact, the entire banjo is really beautiful with a 3-D depth in the finished wood. It really looks like the adhesive or something reacted, not really a problem with their process.

Looking forward to seeing how this goes and many thanks to Eric on this, especially during this time of moving their shop and enduring the virus pandemic.

Every boy and girl should be given a dog and a banjo at birth- C. Brown

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