Fender nitro finish on 70s headstocks - question re: process

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by slick4772, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. slick4772

    slick4772 Tele-Meister

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    My understanding is that Fender used nitrocellulose lacquer on the headstocks of the guitars made in the 70s because they had troubles with the decals when they sprayed with poly. My understanding is that the rest of the neck was sprayed with polyurethane (correct me if I'm wrong).

    If they sprayed the face of the headstock with lacquer - would they have masked it off to do the rest of the neck? I'm just trying to figure out how I might replicate this process. Would the overspray screw up the front of the headstock? I assume that it would be somewhat of a mess because the sides and top of the headstock are so thin, you'd almost certainly have overspray. UNLESS - the side and top were all lacquer as well. Then you could just spray the back with the poly.

    Any information would be helpful. Thanks.
     
  2. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't know what kind of poly was used back in the 70's but i have used poly over decals without any problem
    As do Mexican & Japan Fenders who have the decal beneath the finish
     
  3. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    If true, my thought would be poly all over, then decal, then just a few coats of nitro. Looking at some 73/74 Strat headstocks in google, the sides have blotchy aging in places and often have yellowing on the sharp corners. They might have masked the fretboard quite loosely and allowed any overspray on the sides of the headstock, which they then wet sanded and polished out.
     
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  4. slick4772

    slick4772 Tele-Meister

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    Now that I think about it, it seems more likely that they did spray the entire neck in poly then just nitro over the decal. I'm sure there is a thread here that says you either can or shouldn't spray nitro over polyurethane.
     
  5. Rayf_Brogan

    Rayf_Brogan Tele-Meister

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    They definitely did the entire headstock, at the least the entire front. My 76 strat had a nice orange tinted from the nut up whereas the rest of the neck was 'normal' color.

    You can check this out on ebay. Theres usually a handful of 70s starts that have an almost construction cone orange headstock.
     
  6. slick4772

    slick4772 Tele-Meister

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    Certainly they sprayed the headstock with nitro - my question is whether they sprayed the entire neck (including the headstock) with Poly first (to get the sides and top) and then maybe masked the edges and sprayed the front over the decal (which would have been applied to the poly finish).
     
  7. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    I was just looking at 70s necks necks and it brought me back to this thread from a few weeks ago. I noticed something... some 73/74s yellow pretty consistently on the headstock and neck. The Tele Deluxe I’m buying is pretty consistent (although the headstock appears to have checking on the front but not the back, suggesting it’s indeed the original finish). Others show a big contrast. What’s the defining factor? Low UV exposure but a smokey atmosphere maybe? And how quickly did they do that? It’s a very distinctive feature of those Fenders.
     
  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    They sprayed entire necks primarily with polyester, not polyurethane in the 70's. Decals were not coated with lacquer unless the entire neck was being done with lacquer, which happened with some matching color necks.

    Fronts of headstocks were not coated differently. They were coated the same as the rest of the neck. doing that would have created masking time/cost issues, color problems, adhesion issues etc.

    But there were no "absolutes" - some guitars were polyester, some polyurethane, some nitrocellulose or acrylic or nitro/acrylic blend lacquers, mostly due to due to product availability and/or cost.
     
  9. slick4772

    slick4772 Tele-Meister

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    I just saw a custom shop 70s strat and the headstock had checking and a darker color than the rest of the neck. There has to be some difference.
     
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