Can anybody recommend a cheap clear gloss lacquer?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by paulblackford, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

    Aug 30, 2011
    Unless you need something very specific, there's little reason to patronize StewMac. They're seriously overpriced, their shipping is expensive, and they have such a mediocre/cookie cutter vibe. There are certain things you just can't get anywhere else, but for the most part, it's just overpriced, generic junk.


    Nitro and acrylic lacquer are compatible. There is no problem applying either one of them properly over the other. See Fender in the '60s. All of their '60s metallic finishes except for Sherwood Green used acrylic lacquer (Dupont Lucite) color coats with nitrocellulose lacquer (Dupont Duco) clear coats. Olympic White was the only opaque Custom Color that was acrylic color with nitro clear (though there are some non-clear-coated examples, especially earlier in the color's history, as there are non-cleared examples of several Custom Colors, even Lake Placid Blue Metallic). Sherwood Green was the only metallic that used nitro color coats and nitro clear coats. Opaque Custom Colors, and standard sunbursts and blondes, use nitro color and nitro clear (except Olympic White, as mentioned). And all went over the catalyzed varnish sealer/filler Fullerplast from 1963.

    Acrylic is a type of binder material, while "lacquer" specifies the mechanism by which a finish hardens. Your statement makes about as much sense as, "Paragraph isn't a pencil." Well...sure. Paragraph isn't a pencil, simply for reasons of logical tautology. But a paragraph can be built with a pencil, among other tools. Acrylic isn't lacquer, simply for reasons of logical tautology. But acrylic can be applied in lacquer form, as well as using other methods.

    In modern parlance, "lacquer" = solvent based finish. I.e. something that is a mixture of a solvent and a binder when wet, and binder only when dry (solvents escape and leave the binder behind after application). Whether it's a "lacquer" or not has little to do with the binder material used. There are even lacquers that use catalytic binders, making them a hybrid of a lacquer and a catalyzed finish -- two descriptors that are traditionally at odds. The solvent carries the catalytic binder onto the surface, then evaporates out, as the catalytic reaction takes place. Even though the binder is catalytic, it's still a lacquer when applied.

    In other words, of course, "Acrylic isn't lacquer," because the words "acrylic" and "lacquer" describe different things. But "acrylic lacquer" certainly is lacquer...or else it would be called "acrylic [something else]."
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  2. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Yep. Good post.

    Acrylic lacquer is a coating that dries strictly by evaporation - which is the same as any "lacquer" - and does not "cure" though a chemical process. The only exceptions are "precatalyzed" lacquers and two-component lacquers consisting of a resin component and an "activator". But they are a small percentage of the market and not easily available on the retail market.

    As mentioned earlier they "nitro" and "acrylic" resins are SO compatible there are coatings formulated using a blend of nitrocellulose and acrylic resins. To really understand how this works takes some experience in coatings chemistry and product formulation.

    The bigger concern is the solvent blend, which is what determines the dry time. If you look at a product's MSDS and see naphtha, mineral spirits or petroleum distillates listed (all generic terms for essentially similar materials) it will be an obviously slow-drying material - hours per coat vs 30-60 minutes for most lacquers.

    However, there are very complicated blends of solvents that can't easily be deciphered via the MSDS. So you need to adhere to the manufacturer's product data. Colortone and Deft are the two best-known aerosol finishes used on guitars where dry times are specified as hours; or days; or weeks before buffing. Colortone isn't "junk" - but it *IS* unusual as far as dry time and application go - and it's very expensive. Deft is very similar at about 60% of the price.

    The dry time of both is a huge difference from most conventional nitro and acrylic lacquers, where buffing can be performed the next day - the same day in many cases.

    The point being - read the manufacturer's product data sheet AND MSDS; understand the products' working qualities; and do practice applications until you can apply the whole system without problems.

    To the OP. @Skydog1010, @SacDAve, @Fretting out and @Vibrolux59 :

    Acrylic lacquer *IS* lacquer. I have no idea where that misconception comes from, but the three most common lacquers are nitrocellulose; acrylic; and nitro/acrylic blend. They can be applied over each other without problem if proper application rules are followed.
    Fretting out likes this.
  3. Vibrolux59

    Vibrolux59 TDPRI Member

    May 30, 2019
    I apologize for my opinionated retort. My saying acrylic isn't lacquer was a careless offhand way of saying acrylic isn't musical instrument lacquer in my opinion. I did spray acrylic lacquer on cabinets and furniture frequently for about 50 years so I have opinions. I don't like the feel of acrylic lacquer on a guitar. I'd add too that there is a lot of "material" in some cans and not in others, also the amount of thinner varies from brand to brand so comparing price per can isn't necessarily a reflection of the finished product IMO. Good luck with your project.
  4. Festus_Hagen

    Festus_Hagen Tele-Holic

    Jul 6, 2016
    Jeff City, Mo.
  5. Chief101

    Chief101 TDPRI Member

    Sep 7, 2015
    Not far from Nashville
    Behlen instrument lacquer, available in multiple iterations, including spray can, on amazon
    Buckocaster51 likes this.
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