Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Acrylic Lacquer vs. Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by hackworth1, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 8, 2007
    Norfolk UK
    Its just as likely to be the string change after a refinish that "improves "the guitars overall sound .Any comparisons have to keep the same strings on the guitar and tuned up ,otherwise its useless .I like Nitro /acrylic for its look and also it dents not flakes.The best guitar I have ever played cost 100 dollars and is covered in poly .Frankly I just dont believe it makes any difference ,too many other factors like wood ,routing , pickup height ,strings ,etc .There is far too much hype about this and that, that is just mumbo jumbo .Ron Kirn is honest and practical IMHO .The sound doesnt come out of the wood work .Electric guitars dont work like that .

  2. Schizotronic

    Schizotronic Tele-Meister

    Jan 9, 2009
    I completelly disagree. And I'm not saying it's impossible to have a poly finished guitar to sound fantastic.
    I had a strat copy covered in poly, I have a Washburn (poly) and have dealt with dozens of poly guitars and a whole bunch of them sound terrific.
    What I'm telling is, if you have the chance to choose the finish, why not choose the best one as you do with hardware and the rest?;)

  3. stucliff

    stucliff TDPRI Member

    Oct 11, 2009
    Madrid, Spain
    First things first. Shellac is the best finish you can get. Period. I think it's not industrially used just because it's more "messy" to deal with. For a small shop/craft production is simply the best. It has nothing to do with the subject, but I "have" to say it.

    Now, back to reality. I can't tell you that I have a "proven - rock solid method" because I don't. I'm trying for the first time Catalyzed Acrylic Polyurethane (due to new environmental VOC regulations) the one is used to finish cars. But after doing some research and with some advise made by people I really respect on that matter this is the method I developed...

    A: Translucent / Natural Colors
    1.- Shellac Washcoat
    2.- Epoxy Pore Filler (If needed) (Z-Poxy finishing resin)
    3.- Shellac, again (if pore filler if needed, if not steps 2&3 are skipped)
    4.- 2 consecutive layers of Poly (with flash time, as per manufacturer instructions) - 24 hour dry time - light sanding.
    5.- Color coat/s (If are needed)
    6.- 2 consecutive layers of Poly (with flash time, as per manufacturer instructions) - 24 hour dry time - light sanding.
    7.- 2 more as described before. 2 weeks cure - Sanding and buffing.

    Finish thickness 180/200 microns. Pretty good for a solid body.
    The drawback of this method is that you can't "sand trough" the layers applied from 2 to 2. Witness lines appears... So the best thing to do is to apply every coat as thick as you can.

    If I want a solid color I replace steps 1,2 & 3 with automotive primer and apply the color coat over that. (It's possible to skip step 4 in translucent finish if you do a really nice job with the pore filler/shellac).

    The manufacturer says that in 24 hours you can start sanding / buffing, ten days are great and I think that in one week it's OK (but. Have you ever seen a car paint shop wait for a week for buffing? I think I'm being too cautious). You can even accelerate that process by "baking" the finish at 50 Celsius degrees.

    That's pretty much all...


    "Ate logo"

  4. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 8, 2007
    Norfolk UK
    I think we actually agreeing... mainly .I will always go for nitro if possible .I would never think of refinishing a guitar in poly .But its not for the actually overall tone/sound etc .Its for its better, less shiny look, and natural patina even when highly polished
    It may also be that cheap and nasty guitars dipped in poly ,however much they cost , are poorly made and have poor fittings and wood values .Stripping down and refinishing will often mean upgrading as well ,thus making the guitar much better .I did a severe upgrade of a Dot ,changing everything except the actual guitar .It was vastly superior .If I had also stripped it and done a nitro finish that may well have been a supposed reason .:cool:

  5. Schizotronic

    Schizotronic Tele-Meister

    Jan 9, 2009
    LOL!!! We, are funny sometimes! I can picture your face thinking about "OMG, how can I tell this? OK, I will ONLY TELL!!!" :D

    Interesting description about the process. But the stuff you are applying is the catalyzed one, I mean, the one where you make the mixture and you have, at most, 30 minutes to apply, otherwise the solution hardens, right?

    I did use too the car finish (modern one). I found it messy to deal with, and again (awaiting offenses) the SOUND was lame. ahahahahah!

    Tell me, what about the "simple" one liquid, "open-the-can-dillute-and-paint" kind of acrylic?? Have you ever used it?

    And I will try your method in two weeks in a pedalboard "lid" that I use sometimes. I'll post some pictures so you can tell me if the method is being fully followed. I have black poly here as well the other chemicals....

    Dude, NICE Portuguese. Até logo (that sign above the E letter is necessary, otherwise it will be taken by the past of EAT ):lol:

  6. Schizotronic

    Schizotronic Tele-Meister

    Jan 9, 2009
    Good!!! I agree. Anyway, is my English horrible or this "Dot" thing you mentioned is cultural and I cannot get it?:oops:

  7. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 23, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    The blue Tele in my avatar used to be natural, with just a thin sander/sealer coat. It spent three years like that. I put the blue over it, which made the finish thicker. I thought it sounded better because the thicker finish made all the parts fit together more tightly. Mostly, though, I just like the way it looks. Highly figured ash can be very pretty, but I just wanted a Sonic Blue guitar.

    I've since changed the pickups as well. That certainly made a much, much bigger difference than changing the finish.

  8. Schizotronic

    Schizotronic Tele-Meister

    Jan 9, 2009

    But your blue, was it acrylic?

  9. Stike

    Stike TDPRI Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    Durham NC
    I have not actually used acrylic lacquer because historicly it's been an automotive product and due to environmental regulations and the fact basecoat/cleat coat urethane systems just work better for auto refinish/repair work, acrylic lacquer is just harder to come by, at least at autobody supply stores (not counting rattle cans).

    The solids content of acrylic lacquer might be a little more than nitro. but as with anything it will differ from different manufacturers or even in a product line of one manufacturer. Nitro and acrylic are not that different BUT by all accounts it does cure faster. I can't vouch for if it sands better than nitrocellulose.

  10. True statment
    Acutally theres a lot of good ones, and Ron is spot on.
    The truth is the "thinner" the better. I've been in the autobody and refinishing biz for 35 years. Pretty soon its all going to be regulated out by the EPA anyway.
    Its all going waterborne, happening in California & Canada now.
    The urethanes for automotive use particularly of the last decade are more durable than the laquers of years past. Your guitars are not exposed to the elements and the ultavoilet rays of the sun like cars are.
    With so many variances like Ron said does it really matter what you finish it with as long as you are satisfied with the appearance ?


    Whoops, edit the tone really is in the fingers. Try it !

  11. billcurley

    billcurley NEW MEMBER!

    Sep 17, 2011
    Londonderry, VT
    Crackle effect

    This is a great thread, thanks to everyone for their input. Can anyone tell me about creating a crackle effect using Nitro, or acrylic. My son wants a shattered metalic candy apple red over black on a Strat. I have never built an axe before but am going to give it a shot. Also, will an inxpensive airbrush work or would I be better off just using prevail sprayers?

  12. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    Here you go.

    I think you could easily modify this for the results that you want.

    BTW prevail ≠Preval


  13. billcurley

    billcurley NEW MEMBER!

    Sep 17, 2011
    Londonderry, VT
    Thanks, saw that one already, not so sure that he wants a linear crackle which I believe is created by brushing. What he said he wanted was for it to look like safety glass that had been shattered, so I was thinking spraying a thin coat of crackle laquer might get that effect. found some crackle laquer on but figured I'd ask here if anyone has any additional recomendations. Think I'm going to add some blue pearl flames in the clear coat afterwards and not tell him, see if he notices. Project is still in the planning stage at present.

  14. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Tele-Holic

    Oct 13, 2009
    Johnson City, TN
    To my knowledge nobody has ever reported on the results of taking a guitar with 'X' finish, removing all the hardware, stripping the old finish, re-applying a new 'X' finish, re-installing all of the hardware, properly setting up the guitar, then seeing if it still sounds exactly the same as before.

    You simply cannot isolate a change in the finish type from all of the other operations that are involved in the process.

  15. surfoverb

    surfoverb Doctor of Teleocity

    Jul 17, 2007
    Sorry not buying this argument. The amount of torque on a screw will change the tone yet finish type doesnt? Seems rather silly.

    I refinished my CIJ and it did change the resonance a bit. But as soon as I plugged into the amp that change was null. It was definitely louder unplugged though. Noticeably louder and you could feel it vibate more.

    Was it because the screws werent tightened in the same exact order? Doubt it.

    Ive never heard anyone say, "you wanna change the tone of your guitar? Take it a apart and put it back together-it will sound different!"

    Of course not because it wont.

  16. Bolide

    Bolide Friend of Leo's

    Nov 21, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    The whole post is fandamntastic, but this section needs to be engraved in granite and displayed prominently. And not just about guitars.

  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Wasn't the original question

    If so, here you go -

    Most of the products bought from paint stores or manufacturers labeled as "lacquer" or "nitrocellulose lacquer" are nitro/acrylic blends, and have been since the '70s' (and many were FAR before then, as already noted).

    I have never heard a player identify one or the other, ever.

    Most applicators would not be able to recognize the difference either. One clue - if you read a product description and it mentions "plasticizers" or "additives for film toughness and flexibility necessary for instrument applications" - you can bet it's acrylic/nitro.

    Is that bad?

    No. It doesn't make a bit of difference. You can apply one over the other, alternate them - it just doesn't matter.

    Also, whoever said "Acrylic lacquers don't yellow" is wrong. They yellow a bit less than "pure" nitrocellulose - but they STILL yellow as there's still a cellulose content that is UV reactive.

    Do they need different thinners?


    Is one "tougher" than the other?

    It depends on the formula, as the ratio of acrylic to nitro varies by manufacturer (and by product by the same manufacturer), and is also dependent on the other 20 or so components that make up a lacquer formula (it's not "nitro" and "thinner" - it's FAR more complicated).

    Note: "Water-based lacquer" is NOT "Acrylic lacquer". It may have acrylic resins, but it is a different product.

    Unfortunately most paint counter people don't know squat about lacquers, so you need to do your research on line - but if you JUST read the descriptions you won't be able to tell much at all.

    But don't worry about it. If it's single-component, solvent based lacquer it's nitrocellulose or acrylic/nitrocellulose, and unless it's made by a low-budget hack manufacturer it'll work (also, many of the different label...i.e. brand see of lacquers, especially in the instrument trade, are actually the products of only a few manufacturers. Lacquer manufacturing is VERY hazardous and it's difficult to get a manufacturing permit anywhere. "Relabeling/repackaging" is VERY common. USUALLY...but not always you can recognize a private-labeled (made by someone else) product by the words "distributed by", "manufactured for", "labeled as" and other similar wording.

    OK -now we go back to the lacquer vs poly debate, already in progress....

  18. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    These threads never die.

    Oh well, back to the regularly scheduled program.

  19. PapaLion

    PapaLion Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 19, 2010
    SW AZ
    Ron> old, fat , bald, humorous, smart, knowledgeable, sincere.

    I'd like to talk but i gotta go practice now.

    I vote nitro if given a choice.

  20. HOBBSTER01

    HOBBSTER01 Friend of Leo's

    Nov 23, 2007
    Ringgold, Ga.
    On a chambered or sound hole guitar, finish might make all the difference in the world.
    On a solid body?
    Finish schminish.
    I don't buy it.
    Never will.
    A great sounding guitar will sound great regardless of the top coat.

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.