Why Do So Many People Want Nitrocellulose Lacquer On Elecric Guitars

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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 5629
    edited October 13
    ICBM said:
    thegummy said:

    That's it in a nutshell.

    Poly is more resilient but when it does get dinged it looks like a chip of plastic has came out.

    Whereas nitro is more prone to signs of wear but looks a lot better when it does.
    Which of these is "poly" and which is nitro?





    None of those look like nitro. 2nd pic perhaps but hard to say from a photo. 
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 4219
    ICBM said:

    My point is that the pictures show that the reason is wrong . Despite many people believing it to be so...

    Clue - one of them is nitro, two are "poly".
    I would genuinely be interested in any example pics of a poly finish with nice looking damage the way vintage guitars and relics look if you have any.
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  • TINMAN82TINMAN82 Frets: 1554
    ICBM said:
    thegummy said:

    That's it in a nutshell.

    Poly is more resilient but when it does get dinged it looks like a chip of plastic has came out.

    Whereas nitro is more prone to signs of wear but looks a lot better when it does.
    Which of these is "poly" and which is nitro?





    These get rolled out every time this question pops up…so I won’t give away the answer ;) !

    However it would be interesting to know if the “poly” ones represent natural playwear or poly that has been relic’d in order to mimic aged nitro (can’t remember if that’s been discussed on previous threads). 

    Most forumites seem to agree that nitro ages better, but this suits some guitars (especially Fender) more than others. Glassy, pristine poly finish teles just don’t look that great IMO, unless it’s a modernised model with a modern colour scheme. A cobra blue Fender ultra tele with metallic finish and body countours looks appropriate in pristine polyurethane. The beat up butterscotch or blonde vintage style teles in the current thread suit nitro.

    I used to think I preferred the feel of nitro but I’m now 50:50 on that having had a couple of spectacular playing poly finished guitars, including my current archtop. 3/4 of my stable are nitro though.
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  • SlopeSoarerSlopeSoarer Frets: 478
    ICBM said:
    thegummy said:

    I don't like the look of any of them but I was just giving Bill the reason why so many people want nitro, I don't have any myself.
    My point is that the pictures show that the reason is wrong . Despite many people believing it to be so...

    Clue - one of them is nitro, two are "poly".
    I thought you said there was no such thing as 'poly' ;-) 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 58101
    edited October 13
    thegummy said:

    I would genuinely be interested in any example pics of a poly finish with nice looking damage the way vintage guitars and relics look if you have any.
    Well, one of those is a genuine vintage guitar, and one is arguably so now .

    TINMAN82 said:

    These get rolled out every time this question pops up…so I won’t give away the answer !

    However it would be interesting to know if the “poly” ones represent natural playwear or poly that has been relic’d in order to mimic aged nitro (can’t remember if that’s been discussed on previous threads).
    I was trying to avoid the original three! Although if anyone else hasn't seen them, they're these...

    All of them, and the ones above, are natural wear.







    For anyone else who doesn't know the answers, another clue is that the sunburst one is the same guitar as the worn maple fingerboard, and both of the red ones with the worn edges are by the same manufacturer. The red flame maple one is a different company.

    The polyurethane ones might not look exactly like a worn nitro finish, but the point is that the idea/claim that "poly" does not age and wear softly, it chips and cracks, is simply wrong. That's a function of the thickness and hardness of the finish, not its chemical type.

    SlopeSoarer said:

    I thought you said there was no such thing as 'poly' ;-) 
    There isn’t. Notice it’s always in double inverted commas ;).

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • TINMAN82TINMAN82 Frets: 1554
    ICBM said:
    thegummy said:

    That's it in a nutshell.

    Poly is more resilient but when it does get dinged it looks like a chip of plastic has came out.

    Whereas nitro is more prone to signs of wear but looks a lot better when it does.
    Which of these is "poly" and which is nitro?





    None of those look like nitro. 2nd pic perhaps but hard to say from a photo. 
    Agreed. Also, if top/ bottom are indeed poly, is the wear natural or not. I’ve seen a poly maple board wear through like that (not that it looks like nitro or bare maple). But the top one looks a bit like manually relic’d poly.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 4219
    ICBM said:

    I was trying to avoid the original three! Although if anyone else hasn't seen them, they're these...

    All of them, and the ones above, are natural wear.

    For anyone else who doesn't know the answers, another clue is that the sunburst one is the same guitar as the worn maple fingerboard, and both of the red sunburst ones are by the same manufacturer. The red flame maple one is a different company.

    The polyurethane ones might not look exactly like a worn nitro finish, but the point is that the idea/claim that "poly" does not age and wear softly, it chips and cracks, is simply wrong. That's a function of the thickness and hardness of the finish, not its chemical type.
    Of the 6 pics, only the last (blue) one looks decent to me but that's the cracks rather than dings.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 58101
    I'll post the answers later :). Yes, all the wear is definitely natural.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • LewyLewy Frets: 2223
    edited October 13
    Whilst in principle polyurethane can be thinly applied and age gracefully, people can’t help but be influenced by how the finishes are nearly always applied in the real world and the overwhelming majority of polyurethane finishes are way too thick. And it’s not just on cheap Fenders either. The thickest poly finish I ever encountered was the base coat on a US made AVRI 52 tele which ironically then had a thin layer of nitro on top. It was like the flat bit on the top of a toffee apple!

    So for many, poly = too thick, looks like a sucked boiled sweet, feels plasticky. Because it nearly always is those things.

    Doesn’t have to be that way. Pretty sure the finish on my Collings dreadnought is poly and that’s thin and feels great. I had a Reverend Gristlemaster and that was the same. 
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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 24565
    I don't like thick, glassy polyester but properly sprayed polyurethane is fine. I don't think it's a lot different to nitro apart from being more stable.
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  • AlexOAlexO Frets: 857
    Nitro was what was on the "golden age of guitars."

    We all know we can't get away from that as the way things should be. If it was Poly that would be the finish we all want


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  • PabcranePabcrane Frets: 294
    Are Rickenbackers done with catalyzed polyurethane? That's what I have heard. They're pretty thin yet shiney and age well.
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  • stonevibestonevibe Frets: 5591
    One day in the distant future, nobody will give a toss what they are painted with...  ;)
    How much does it weigh? & Does it play like butter?

    You can now read my insane guitar ramblings daily here http://www.gearnews.com and here https://guitarbomb.com 

    https://www.instagram.com/jefstone/
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 4219
    AlexO said:
    Nitro was what was on the "golden age of guitars."

    We all know we can't get away from that as the way things should be. If it was Poly that would be the finish we all want


    Would be interesting to see an alternative reality where poly was available and used back then - would relics have ever become a thing?
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  • mark123mark123 Frets: 831
    3 pics my opinion
    The top 2 red guitars poly
    The maple neck nitro
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 58101
    edited October 13
    Pabcrane said:
    Are Rickenbackers done with catalyzed polyurethane? That's what I have heard. They're pretty thin yet shiney and age well.
    They used to be - about ten years ago they switched to UV-cured polyester. It’s still pretty thin, but I haven’t yet seen a new one in bad enough condition to really tell how it ages.

    thegummy said:

    Would be interesting to see an alternative reality where poly was available and used back then - would relics have ever become a thing?
    It was. Just not on Gibsons and most Fenders - although some custom colours were acrylic, which is another form of “poly”... including Lake Placid Blue.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 884
    Modern UV cured Poly can easily be applied thin. Also doesn't have to be just gloss.
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 2168
    edited October 13
    A good question. 2 potential answers:
    1. People believe that nitro looks, feels (and sounds?) better.
    2. Nitro ages faster/better. You get a patina that you don't get with poly. People like patina.

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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 17716
    I know the answer because I recognise the binding on that flamey red one… 
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  • TTBZTTBZ Frets: 2062
    Nitro smells nice and feels nicer to me too. I've not had any issues with mine reacting to anything and it's holding up well, it's not exactly a case queen either.
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