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Old December 16th, 2009, 09:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Achieving A Good Poly Finish?

I know nitro is like the thing in the guitar world but I'm going to commit blasphemy and refinish my already polyurethane coated guitar with another polyurethane finish.

My American Standard has a ridiculously thick poly coat that falls off in chunks. So any natural wear just looks like crap. I've noticed that my 98' Strat Deluxe on the other hand has a poly finish so thin that if I were to accidentally scratch or scrape this thing I would see wood. I love how this finish looks and feels. It has some really nice natural wear on it that I really like and prefer over the nature wear that one might see on a nitro finished guitar.

So I have a few questions and if anyone can point me in the right direction it would be great.

1) What kind of paint should I use? I'm just doing a solid black finish.
2) Is it going to be necessary for me to use a primer first. I can't see any primer under the paint of my Deluxe.
3) Who is a good supplier for polyurethane clear coat?
4) How many coats of clear coat should I do? I'm looking for as thin of a finish as possible while still having a enough poly to protect the paint.

Also, there are a few spot of my standard that were banged up and the finish basically just cracked and fell off in chunks. In other words the finish seems very brittle. I've noticed that on my Deluxe, the finish almost seems soft, almost like it could be scraped off without cracking. Does anyone know how this type of finished is achieved? Is the finish on my Deluxe even polyurethane? Is it possible that its some other kind of plastic that is softer than polyurethane? I'm asking because both the guitars have finishes that feel very different each other. I though guitars were either finished with polyurethane or nitrocellulose. So is there another type that Fender might have used in the late 90's?

Sorry for the long post. Thanks to anyone who can help. PEACE!

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Old December 18th, 2009, 03:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old December 18th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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poly is an excellent barrier to moisture, it is tough and lasts well - it does have a habit of spalling [chunks breaking off] and that is usually because it is too thickly applied and not bonded well to the wood - as it is tough and resists abrasion it is harder to sand level than standard guitar lacquers

the other finish you speak of is likely nitro which is not a good moisture barrier, cracks peels and is soft
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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I really don't think its nitro. I've played and seen a few nitro guitars and doesn't look or feel even close. The only way I can describe it is a soft thin poly, or something similar to poly.

Is there anyway I can see what paint or painting method they used on the Strat Deluxe in 98'? I know the specs don't say. Anyone know anyone at Fender that could answer me this question?

I love this finish so much that I really wouldn't mind having it on every guitar I end up owning. It might come to the point where I only buy late 90's Strat Deluxes.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I really don't think its nitro. I've played and seen a few nitro guitars and doesn't look or feel even close. The only way I can describe it is a soft thin poly, or something similar to poly.

Is there anyway I can see what paint or painting method they used on the Strat Deluxe in 98'? I know the specs don't say. Anyone know anyone at Fender that could answer me this question?
Poly is an oversimplified abbreviation/internet slang for anything that isn't lacquer. There's polyester, polyurethane enamel, acrylic urethane, CAB urethane, and so on. I know a lot of folks use acrylic urethane for topcoat clear. It's nice and thin, actually all these products can be thinly applied it's just all the imports with thick finishes cause everyone to think anything that isn't lacquer is thick.

As for what's on your guitar, I'd try calling Fender but they might not divulge any info even if records were kept. Also good luck even getting someone on the phone who could answer your question. You'd probably have to go through a gaunlet of sales and marketing doofusus before you got to talk to anyone in production.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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what is Poly

Iteresting. I didn't realize "poly" was being used in this way - when I say Poly I mean Poly-Urethane which - atleast at one time - was a particularly plasticky finish (it is plastic - but then so it nitro)

thanks for the info
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Old December 19th, 2009, 09:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I think i might just go out and buy a bunch of top coats, test them on strap wood and see what I like the best. Thanks for the info though.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 09:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If it has chunks out of it are you planning to take it down to bare wood ?
I think a car painter is the best person to talk to.
I had one paint an alder body for me in what ever poly they use and it turned out beautiful.
He didn't like the primer I used though, he said the paint softened it, I can't remember whether I used Kilz or Bins.
So he removed it and used his primer, then he laid down the color and cleared over it with out sanding
After about a month he buffed it out.
It's a nice thin paint job that has taken some small whacks and it just dents, no chipping so far
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Old December 19th, 2009, 10:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think i might just go out and buy a bunch of top coats, test them on strap wood and see what I like the best. Thanks for the info though.
Not to poo on your plans but...........
How much money are you planning on spending testing? Urethanes and their catalysts/reducers are not cheap and often not sold in small quantities. As I said earlier the stuff labled polyurethane at the hardware store is not what is on your guitar.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 12:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Damn, well I don't really know what to do than. I really want to refinish my guitar but I don't wanna use nitro cause I hate that relic nitro look and its eventually gonna get like that.

What really are my other options?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 11:33 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Damn, well I don't really know what to do than. I really want to refinish my guitar but I don't wanna use nitro cause I hate that relic nitro look and its eventually gonna get like that.

What really are my other options?
Have someone else shoot it for you. With the money you'd spend on equipment and materials You could buy another Deluxe, maybe 2.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 12:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The biggest head ache is the prep work
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Old December 20th, 2009, 12:39 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The biggest head ache is the prep work
No, that comes from spraying nasty chemicals in a makeshift area with little to no ventilation and a respirator that is not up to the task.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 04:26 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I know nitro is like the thing in the guitar world but I'm going to commit blasphemy and refinish my already polyurethane coated guitar with another polyurethane finish.

My American Standard has a ridiculously thick poly coat that falls off in chunks. So any natural wear just looks like crap. I've noticed that my 98' Strat Deluxe on the other hand has a poly finish so thin that if I were to accidentally scratch or scrape this thing I would see wood. I love how this finish looks and feels. It has some really nice natural wear on it that I really like and prefer over the nature wear that one might see on a nitro finished guitar.

So I have a few questions and if anyone can point me in the right direction it would be great.

1) What kind of paint should I use? I'm just doing a solid black finish.
2) Is it going to be necessary for me to use a primer first. I can't see any primer under the paint of my Deluxe.
3) Who is a good supplier for polyurethane clear coat?
4) How many coats of clear coat should I do? I'm looking for as thin of a finish as possible while still having a enough poly to protect the paint.

Also, there are a few spot of my standard that were banged up and the finish basically just cracked and fell off in chunks. In other words the finish seems very brittle. I've noticed that on my Deluxe, the finish almost seems soft, almost like it could be scraped off without cracking. Does anyone know how this type of finished is achieved? Is the finish on my Deluxe even polyurethane? Is it possible that its some other kind of plastic that is softer than polyurethane? I'm asking because both the guitars have finishes that feel very different each other. I though guitars were either finished with polyurethane or nitrocellulose. So is there another type that Fender might have used in the late 90's?

Sorry for the long post. Thanks to anyone who can help. PEACE!
I'm finishing right now a Tele in Black Polyurethane. The results are quite good (IMHO) but the whole process is a pain in the ass.

I'm using automotive 2 component acrylic urethane. Here in Europe the manufactures are different than in the USA, but i would go for the Dupont Hot Hues Paint. Seems the best to me. Automotive finishes give great results, but they're not cheap at all...

Here it's what I do:

1.- Primer on wood (you can skip this step, but if you have a body with a very porous wood i.e. Mahogany, Ash, prepare to sand a lot afterwards). Sanding and levelling. Maybe you must repeat this step until all pores are filled and the surface is even and smooth.

2.- Color coat over primer. Best results are achieved with a "bilayer" kind of paint in which the color is applied in one coat, and after clear lacquer is applied over that. The color coat is very thin. Be sure to cover all well, is your only chance.

3.- Coat of lacquer and "scuff sanding". This is the starting point of the messy job. You have to mix the lacquer and activator and usually you'll have an hour or so to apply it (the "lifetime" of the mix). After this you have to clean your equipment very well. The lacquer is sticky and the overspray is terrible. After the first coat is dry (usually 24 hours) I make a light sanding with P320 Fre cut 3M sandpaper. Clean the body and apply next coat as soon as you can.

4.- Coat of lacquer and "level sanding". As in step 3, after the lacquer is dry I made a level sanding with P320. Unlike nitro, poly doesn't "fuse" between layers, so the final one should be applied on an even surface, to prevent "witness lines" on the finish.

5.- Final coat of lacquer, curing time, sanding & buffing. After the final coat is applied let the finish a week at least to fully cure. After that a standard schedule of wet sanding & buffing can be made on the finish.

The final thickness depends on the product itself, but for a High Solids Lacquer it'll be around 4 to 6 mils (100 to 150 microns). You can calculate this by readings the specs on the specific lacquer that you'll use. The one I use says that 50 to 60 microns are applied in each coat. To that I calculate what I take off in sanding (1 mil or so).

2 components HS laquer give a really nice result, but is very messy to handle. I think that if you're patient enough you'll get surprised...

Hope it helps

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Old December 20th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Damn. I was under the assumption that I could do this all myself with a few spray cans. I didn't think it was gonna be that expensive. I was aware that it was gonna be labor intensive but if its gonna be that much trouble than I might have to just leave it be. Thanks for all you guy's help though. Def learned a lot.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Damn. I was under the assumption that I could do this all myself with a few spray cans. I didn't think it was gonna be that expensive. I was aware that it was gonna be labor intensive but if its gonna be that much trouble than I might have to just leave it be. Thanks for all you guy's help though. Def learned a lot.
I'm in the process of refinishing my tele, going the automotive poly base coat + catalyzed urethane top coat route. So far I've sunk about $200 in materials. This includes a $30 respirator, two aerosol cans of base coat at $20 each, and two cans of Aeromax top coat at $40 each. For that much dough I probably could have had a body shop do it for me.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:14 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The guitar I had done was finished in stock paint left over from a previous job, I told the guy I didn't care what color it was as long as it wasn't green or yellow.
He came up with a metallic red with some pearl added in.
It is a stock Uncle Mat. Bobcat from the eighties that I got in parts in a box for nothing ,the painter owed me a favor.
So for the price of some strings I have a brand new looking guitar that plays great too.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:19 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Clear nitro is about $14 a quart. Lacquer thinner around $9.00. Respirator $18.00. Disposable Compressor Dryer/Filter $20.

I don't know if solid colors can be had in nitrocellulose lacquer. Anybody know?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:26 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Black lacquer is nice stuff and I don't think I would even clear it be cause it yellows,
just polish it every so often.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 12:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Damn. I was under the assumption that I could do this all myself with a few spray cans. I didn't think it was gonna be that expensive. I was aware that it was gonna be labor intensive but if its gonna be that much trouble than I might have to just leave it be. Thanks for all you guy's help though. Def learned a lot.
I think you might be satisfied with these three products by VHT. It's a base/clearcoat system for wheels. All 3 cans for around a 21 dollar bill. I've used it on another non guitar project and it's both thin and tough after curing for a week.

VHT is showing to use their SP 184 clear coat over the black basecoat. Beware they also have a SP145 and SP29 Clearcoats. I suggest phoning VHT to ask about what the differences in makeup of the three clears along with compatability . If you do , please post and pass what you learned along to us. I've only used the 184 in the past.

http://www.vhtpaint.com/wheelpaint.html
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