Nitro finishes -- how careful?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by rainyblues, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. rainyblues

    rainyblues TDPRI Member

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    I like the sound and look of a Gibson 335 -- though not the cost :). I was considering getting one, but I've never owned a nitro finished guitar before. I was reading this http://www.gibson.com/Support/Tech-Tips/Lacquer-Finish-Care-and-Maintenance.aspx and it seems like a lot to keep in mind.

    I've only had poly-finished guitars (Fenders) and I like the fact that I can leave them out on my cheap guitar stands and play them without having to worry about the finish reacting with the strap, stand, clothes, or other materials that might come in contact with the guitar.

    For those of you who have a nitro finish, how careful are you with the guitar? Is it just a matter of buying the right guitar stand and making sure to wash your hands beforehand?
     
  2. nontiveros86

    nontiveros86 Tele-Meister

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    I leave my guitar on the stand, in the case, on the couch, leaning against the speaker... I've left the strap on for years at a time, played it without washing my hands, let my shirt come into contact with it, left it in a warm studio for weeks during the summer (on the stand, with the strap on).

    All that terrible abuse, and it still looks like it could have just come home with me from the showroom. I've cleaned dirt and sweat off of it once. The only part that doesn't still look new is the maple fretboard. This is a 2008 US Standard Tele, clear over natural southern ash, and it came with a similar notice about caring for the finish, which I still have with the other pamphlets it came with.

    I'm certain that all my other guitars have a poly finish, and they all look fantastic too. As long as you don't throw it around, any finish should do IMO
     
  3. rainyblues

    rainyblues TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the story! I had thought that the US Standards were all poly.
     
  4. nontiveros86

    nontiveros86 Tele-Meister

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    Well, I double checked, and this is the pamphlet it came with, so I'd assume it's lacquer.

    [​IMG]

    It really does have a lot of the same warnings about rubber stands and synthetic strap materials and such
     
  5. rainyblues

    rainyblues TDPRI Member

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    Oh cool, glad to hear it is not a problem!
     
  6. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    I've got several nitro finished acoustics and a Gibson nitro-finished electric. I have had damage from one brand of stand, so now I'm fairly careful. FWIW, I like nitro finishes because of the way they age and ease of repair, but they are more trouble than poly.
     
  7. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    I throw a cloth now on most stands.. I burnt the neck of a nice Hamer back in the day.
     
  8. Elias Graves

    Elias Graves Friend of Leo's

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    Watch the insect repellent. My nephew stripped half an SG with Off at an outdoor show once.
     
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  9. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I've owned dozens of nitro flattops + a four nitro Fenders over the years and hardly even clean 'em. Just keep DEET and other stuff away & play on.
     
  10. felis

    felis Tele-Afflicted

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    You will have to be at least a bit more cautious with a lacquer finish.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. frankg11

    frankg11 Tele-Holic

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    I do have a couple nitro, actually most of mine are nitro. So there is good information here about: DEET, OFF, solvents in general, etc.

    I also believe that a true nitro finish is a bit softer than a poly also. In learning this I have created some belt, button rash on the back of my guitars very quickly, so you may want to watch out for that. Also some nicks, and chips. I have some chips around the neck pockets as well.

    So play you guitar, enjoy it, and know like a new car the first dent is the deepest.
     
  12. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    The only thing I worry about with my nitro guitars is sweat. If I sweat a lot on the guitar, I wipe it down, otherwise you can get a permanent "cloud" on the finish that will not come out with guitar polish.

    Also, I seem to have to be more careful with my Gibsons in that regard. Probably a different formation of paint, but my Jazzmaster seems a bit different, and my perception is that I don't have to baby it as much, which is odd, because I've had it for two years, and it started developing arm wear after about a year.

    So maybe I should watch that one as well.

    I admit that I like the worry free nature of poly guitars.
     
  13. lineboat

    lineboat Friend of Leo's

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    I don't take care of my finishes at all. I have several nitro guitars, and no damage other than the bumps and bruises I've put on it. Sure, there's wear from sweat and rubbing, but it's taken a long time and a lot of miles to get it there.
     
  14. cabra velha

    cabra velha Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    . . . bug dope, 151 rum, deoxit (I've been told), brake fluid, usually its fairly easy to avoid these things. Temperature induced crazing can be quite common in some latitudes. On the other hand lots of folks shell out big buck for "mojo", which is another discussion altogether.
     
  15. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    ^^^^^I suppose it is much less common now, but lifting could sometimes be a problem with poly. I once passed on a nice Taylor acoustic because of some ugly-looking blisters in the finish on the neck Human nature is funny and not at all logical - I don't mind the crazing in old nitro, whereas poly blistering does bother me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
  16. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire

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    I only have one guitar with a nitro finish these days, and I am slightly more cautious with it than the others, but I think modern lacquers are less fragile than they once were. Bug spray, however, is death to lacquer. Never play the Winnipeg Folk Festival with a nitro-finished guitar unless you have no issues with having your body sucked dry by mosquitoes.
     
  17. Kestrel

    Kestrel Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a few guitars with nitro lacquer finishes on them. With some care, the finish should last quite a bit and age naturally. Nitro will age and wear unlike poly finishes, but that wear adds to the guitar's character.

    My guitar maintenance consists of wiping my guitars down after use. I use an old cotton t-shirt. You can use the cloth that comes with the guitar. Avoid the stuff that can harm the finish. Don't leave the guitar on a guitar stand for extended periods, and DO NOT use cheap guitar stands. That rubber on cheap guitar stands will react with the finish rather quickly. Also, don't use nylon straps or straps lined with nylon or vinyl. Avoid hand/body lotions, and bug repellent. Don't leave the guitar laying on anything made of/or containing vinyl or nylon, including rugs and carpets, bar stools, etc.. It's also a good idea to remove the strap if you store your guitar in it's case/gig bag. Sweat from your arm and hands will cloud and eventually dull the finish. How soon depends on your body chemistry, so just get in the habit of wiping the guitar down after playing.

    As for polishes, I like using Virtuoso Polish & Cleaner. It's safe on nitro finishes and you can use it on any other guitar finish as well. A little goes a long way, and I tend to do it once a year if I feel I need to polish the guitar. Also, if you use a capo with rubber pads, don't leave them on the guitar when it's not in use. I use a G7th capo and the silicone inserts are supposed to be inert, but I always remove the capo when not in use anyway. I've also been using Hercules stands for a couple of years at gigs and rehearsals and have never had any issues, but I never leave my nitro guitars on stands for storage either.

    It sounds like a lot of maintenance, but it's really not. It's just a matter of avoiding the stuff that will eat away at the nitro finish. Play the guitar. Enjoy it. Take care of it, but don't baby it. Nitro will wear. Don't sweat the scratches and dings you're going to inevitably get on the guitar. That's normal. Just be mindful of the stuff that can harm the finish
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  18. mimmo

    mimmo Friend of Leo's

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    My teles with nitro finish are not babied at all, I actually dig a distressed look so I simply play the heck out of them, some nice battle scarces have appeared and I am pretty fine with it. Only thing I do is to wipe my sweat down, nothing else.
     
  19. Peltogyne

    Peltogyne Tele-Afflicted

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    I read that in the voice that does disclaimers for pill commercials :)
     
  20. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've got a 60's vintage casino and 345 w' nitro and they do not seem to have any problems with their finish being particularly weak or reactive over 30 years or more playing. I make zero special considerations. Only slight crazing to show age and natural wear on neck backs.

    What kind of weak as crap are they painting on fenders that the finish falls apart if you look at it too hard? Some diluted, thin 'relic ready' version?

    The only finish problem I have is a 2012 us standard strat with ugly poly sheets falling off the back around the spring cover. Barely adhered to the wood.

    I think nitro just ages better.. Buy it , play hell out of it. Nitro will look better for it IMHO
     
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