Duplicolor Metal Specks Clear Coated with Nitrocellulose Lacquer

I was asked to do a pink-purple metallic sunburst for a very young lady. My first thought was to use a Crescent silver bronzing powder as a base, but I didn't want to order a pound ($45) since I only needed a half ounce and may never need it again.

I saw photos and read postings at the reranch and tdpri forums where guys were getting excellent results using Duplicolor's Metal Specks. For those of you who haven't encountered this product, it is a metallic acrylic lacquer spray can sold at auto supply stores like O'Reilly.

The best results were obtained, as you would suspect, by guys who did excellent prep, used a spray rig to shoot clear coats, and sanded and polished as usual.

One of the best photos was of a bass said to have been clear coated using nitro straight over the Metal Specks. Another said they tried polyurethane but that it peeled.

What do you guys think? Will nitro adhere to acrylic lacquer? I normally use shellac to bind dissimilar products. Recently, with the change in the weather and lots of rain, I've had a hard time getting shellac to lay flat.


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If your gonna refin it from the ground up you might think about this....

Check out the House of Kolor on the net.  They sell all sorts of metallic/flake painting materials geared for autobody but work just the same for guitar finishes.  You can buy them in smaller quanities.  You can mix these with your regular nitro lacquer and just shoot it like a regular color coat, then clear over it with the same lacquer and you don't have to worry about any incompatibility issues.  Just make sure the size of the metallic/flake you buy you can shoot through your gun.

I've recently just had to shoot some refins for a red "bass boat" sparkle projects and can offer 2 good tips to save you some major headaches:

Don't shoot your metallic through your good spray rig.  It will take forever to totally clean it out.  Just go buy a cheaper gun to use for just for these color coats.

Don't spray or mix this in your shop cause the stuff WILL get everywhere.

If you do it right it will really pop after you shoot your clear coats on it.  Check it out:

Thanks, Eron! Very nice looking bass. I looked at House of Kolor when I started the project as well as various application methods such as using a DIY air gun to blow particles over a wet base coat. Any particular size nozzle (or HF gun) you recommend for spraying flakes in lacquer? I will definitely do this at some point.

As you probably know, Gibson finishes Gold Top LPs by mixing Crescent Bronzing Powder #256 into lacquer. Fender Candy Apple Red guitars are done similarly. I'm basically doing a candy apple red but applying a pink-purple sunburst (It's a Christmas present for the 7-year old daughter of a customer). I'm trying to keep costs low.

Ponticat, over on the tdpri forum, used Metal Specks to replicate the look and he sprayed nitro clear coats over the acrylic lacquer. He emailed me today saying

"I never even considered using shellac between nitrocellulose and acrylic lacquer coats. The two different lacquers behave as if they did not have the slightest idea that their origins are different. The finish I get is very durable. Do yourself a big favor and skip that shellac step!"

Here's a thread on Metal Specks with lots of photos:

I've sprayed the silver Metal Specks coat and it's as smooth as the proverbial baby's bottom. I guess I'll shoot some lacquer and report back.

hi Robbie,

House of Kolor medium/small flakes require a HP Gun @ 40 PSI min and a 2mm tip or bigger.  Mix the flakes into the lacquer and I agree with Ponticat - lose the shellac.  Nitro over acrylic is a finish that Fender uses (my daughter's 69 Reissue FCS Relic is exactly that) and providing you let the acrylic go off fully you will probably have no difficulty.   Standard rules for nitro overcoats - 50/50 mix and lots of thin coats.   You will need to practice with HOK flakes and also avoid the Bass Boat size  flakes until you have some feel for the finish.   

Regards, Rusty.

Thanks, Rusty, for the great information. I did nitro over acrylic and it worked fine. Here's a shot of it mocked up prior to clear coating:


Looks pretty good and good info. Ive wondered a bit about using metallic aerosols under nitro but never really pursued it as i had no immediate need. Did you do any levelling or primer coats before the metallic?

Andrew...I used two coats of a white pigmented shellac primer which is thick like vinyl sealer. I leveled it then did the metallic. Metallic can't be sanded so cleanliness and spray technique are important.

This thing started out as a right-handed single cutaway but the client's daughter is a lefty. I filled the rear control cavity with a piece of alder, routed a new cavity, reshaped the headstock, mirror imaged the cutaway, made a Strat-type rear contour, a pickguard, and a matching truss rod cover and decal. It would have been easier to build it from scratch!

Now I'm trying to find a long shaft concentric pot to use with stacked Jazz Bass-type knobs.

The headstock was made to look like a reverse Rickenbacker: The tuning keys will "wilt" like a Warwick or Dingwall bass.

Good finishing info!

Theres two things Ive noted about changing stuff after the fact when doing a build. One, that you end up with unique challenges youre bound to learn from. Two, that you probably wont endeavour to learn those lessons a second time. :p

True dat!

Excellent Robbie,

That's a high five result!  R.


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