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

Why Nitro?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by 04renostar, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. hackworth1

    hackworth1 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

    You've got to be a damn good painter to do a good poly finish. You only get one chance to spray it on right.

    With Nitro, you can do it over. You can wet sand and compound most of your bad painting skills - mistakes. You can wet sand to remove overspray.

    If I create overspray with enamel paint, I don't know how to get it off. Or how to paint without any overspray somewhere.

  2. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    I like nitrocellulose lacquer finishes... so I finish my guitars with nitrocellulose lacquer...

    I don't mind Poly but I would not choose poly if nitro was an option. I have 2 poly guitars and 2 poly basses and 3 of them have chips in the poly. I probably prefer nitro because I have a number of older guitars and I like the nitro finish on them so I try to make guitars like them. If you don't know what you prefer then all the opinions on the forum won't help you... go and handle and look at guitars with both finishes and decide which one you like best.

  3. jimd

    jimd Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Nov 3, 2006
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I am working on my second build, a strat. I would much rather finish my guitars in poly, because it is more durable and I don't buy all the bs about tone. But, based on my research and personal experience, nitro is the way to go for home builders. It is much easier to get a good job using nitro. I'm finishing up my 2nd guitar and both projects would have been disasters if I used poly. I wouldn't have been able to fix my mistakes nearly as well or as easily with poly.

    If I am buying a guitar, a nitro finish is not a selling point for me. Modern finishes are better, if I'm not doing the finish.

  4. MontereyKid

    MontereyKid TDPRI Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    I am up to 4 builds now.
    The last was a metallic blue deltron paint with clear poly.(deadly stuff-cyanide base-calls for a positive air flow resperator) I really had no idea what I was getting into but I found it to be very demanding compared to the dyed guitars I had done previously. I will likely never do another metallic if I can avoid it.

    On poly versus nitro for the clear coats, the nitro yellows more rapidly and seems more more susceptible to temperature change checking and so on.

    for nitro products, I used Reranch with good success. though I recommend going easy on the vintage tint for necks unless you like them dark.

    I like both nitro and poly, but for necks, I have had very good success with wet sanding multiple coats of Flecto Varathane glossy to a satin finish(2000grit) then playing it until it is glossy.
    my hand does not stick to the neck finish and it looks great.

    heres a link to a couple. The orange tele is all reranch nitro over alcohol base dye and the blue tele is flecto varathane over alcohol dye.
    the orange dye was rubbed in while the blue is more of transparent and was airbrushed on then sprayed with a clear.

  5. DMichel123

    DMichel123 Tele-Meister

    Feb 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    :rolleyes: I don't like nitrocellulose lacquer, but it is better than lacquer. Stevie's lacquer must not have been nitro, cause it chipped off. Gibson never used nitro, but some inferior lacquer.


    None of your post made any sense. Your Lead II is poly. You know those Gibsons you've seen with cracked lacquer? That's nitro lacquer. Number One was finished with nitro lacquer. If you've never seen a nitro finish with checking, you've never seen a nitro finish older than 5 years or so.

  6. telideli

    telideli Banned

    It's only allowable on days in which strong winds are blowing towards the US.

  7. jdm61

    jdm61 Tele-Holic

    Jan 6, 2010
    St. Petersburg, FL
    Lets take this in two opposite directions. Why did poly replace the REAL vintage finish of varnish like you saw on fine stringed instruments for hundreds of years? Was purely a cost issue?
    Second question. What about a really high grade oil finish like you see on very expensive custom guns? They seem to be pretty darned durable and you can definitely repair them. The limitation with them would be you would have to stick with either a natural or tinted wood color. No opaque colored finishes there.

  8. kekebay

    kekebay TDPRI Member

    Jan 6, 2010
    It's only allowable on days in which strong winds are blowing towards the US.

  9. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Nitro is easy to spray with good results - which has benefits not only for us weekenders but also for production situations. If one coat winds up with too much of a pebbled or orange-peel surface, you just dust it with the next coat and everything levels out. You can shoot the next coat almost immediately. If you forget to clean the spray gun, or just leave it too long, you can still dissolve the dried stuff with more thinner. That capability carries over to repairs and recoats later on, since the new nitro will always melt a little of the old nitro and "burn in" perfectly. For spot repairs, you can't tell where the old finish left off and the new finish started. The color you see is the color you get so tinting and color matching are pretty easy (other types of finishes change color as they cure, most obvious of these are the milky emulsions like water based coatings, so you have to do more test boards before plunging in).

    Nitro has its down side, starting with the fumes and the need for a spray booth with an explosion-proof fan. It's pretty but it's not very durable.

    Mind you, I prefer water based coatings and some of them have the same burn-in attributes, look just as nice when cured and buffed, and are more durable, not to mention the low volatile organic compounds issue (Target Coatings, for instance are free of hazardous-air-polluting-solvent, HAPS, which are now regulated for commercial use starting with California as usual). It's true that I'm screwed if the stuff dries inside the gun, but then again it's not difficult to clean a spray gun with soapy water which you can't do with nitro.

    Then again, when experienced people like Ron get such spectacular results from nitro -there are others here who have posted beautiful pictures as well - then it's pretty silly to expect them to try anything else so long as the stuff is still available. Lumberyards and woodworking catalogs that carry Mohawk finishing products may have their hobby line which goes under the Behlen's name, and they carry a musical instrument lacquer that's meant to be flexible for temperature changes but still hard and durable. Stew Mac carries McFadden's nitro which is fantastic. If you need rattle cans there's always Reranch. Interestingly enough, if the paint store is a Sherwin Williams outlet, they do carry (or can order) industrial supply products including solvent and waterborne lacquers. I suspect it's true that it's really only guitar guys who are looking for nitro these days. Even an antique restoration expert would snicker at nitro since it's a twentieth century thing and Nana's tables with the built in lamps and the fringed lampshades aren't ready for archival preservation yet.

    When you start getting into industrial supply for lacquer, you'll see a whole new category of solvent borne finishes like cellulose-acrylic-butyrate (I think I got that right) or CAB-modified nitrocellulose lacquer. They guy who refinished my dining room set didn't even know what the stuff was, but he sure did get good results.

  10. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I'm shocked that you're still shocked.

    The breathing guitar is dead. We killed it a long time ago. Over.

  11. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

    Wahh killed the last fantasy I ever had....

    Now the only thing left to look forward to is when global warming is finally and officially denounced by Al Gore. :( :D

  12. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Global warming sounds like a fuzzy momma animal to me.

    The correct term is Climate Collapse. Next, you'll be telling me Katrina never happened.


  13. ddlooping

    ddlooping Tele-Meister

    Sep 27, 2009
    Essex - UK
    Who's Katrina. :confused:


  14. Blackdogxx

    Blackdogxx TDPRI Member

    Jan 15, 2010
    Richmond VA
    I know a luthier of classical and flamenco guitars and he uses water based laquer. French polish (varnish) and later Nitro was for classical guitars back in the old times. But the build quality and wood selection are more important as long as the finish is just enough to protect the guitar. It's fair to assume a good builder can use either finish and shoot it well and in the correct number of coats. But the finish is less important than the builder skill at wood selection and workmanship.

  15. ramseybella

    ramseybella Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 12, 2006
    Santa Fe New Mexico

    Turning on the truth!!!
    My friend Gary S (you may know him) lives by that rule, he can play a crapy SX Lap Steel and sound like a King and still say "it was OK it could be better".

    I was a cook and Chef for almost 25 years, to this day "It was OK but it could be bettter" point well spoken Ron.
    A craft that you never stop learning is one worth doing it keeps me from going crazy, I like to build and I like to play guitars thanks for helping us understand what you know to help in building our own.;)

  16. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    the truth lies in the eyes (and the rest of the senses) of the beholder.

    you wanna believe in the mojo of nitro, so be it. false gods are prayed to every second of the day.

    so, what's the most important aspect of any guitar?

    yes, this is a test and your relative wisdom, or lack thereof, will be graded accordingly.

    and no, it's not the finish. doh.

  17. tcarp

    tcarp Tele-Holic

    Feb 1, 2009
    rockaway nj
    I've used nitro on two necks so far and plan on using it for my partscaster for no ther reason than that it seems to be the conventional wisdom on this forum.

    I still consider myself a newbie about all things Telecaster, and the advice I've received from the folks here has been invaluable, and so far on the it pick ups, pots, tone woods, etc. I see no reason to deviate from what seem to be tried and true methods utilized by the experts here.

    For the record, I've used Mohawk toners and clear on my necks...both nitro. They're readily available locally, and at under $6 per can, much less expensive than other brands. I plan on attempting a full body with their products.


  18. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    'conventional wisdom on this forum'? :rolleyes:

  19. Tonemonkey

    Tonemonkey Poster Extraordinaire


    I can't find that anywhere on MP3, does he sort of Jazz it up? :neutral:

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