I've been sticking to Nitro Lacquer or shellac for my projects. However, I'd like to have the option of an acrylic or poly finish on occasion. I have looked on line, it doesn't seem to be easy to find. At least instrument grade.


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Thought of using car spray paints? They're readily available, and you have the choice of hundreds of colours, metalic finishes, clear laquer etc. The new generation car paints are water-based, they are thinned with water, and the equipment can be cleaned with water too. You should use a good quality, here in Germany I'd recommend Sikkens or Glasurit, but in your area any sprayshop will be able to tell you what they use, and why. And for smaller jobs you can buy spraycans, with the right preparation and spray technik you can achieve excellent results.
By the way, ever wondered why the Fender guitar colours have such colourful names? Yep, that's right, they're all car colours, mostly from the DuPont company. 'Check'em out, you'll find that they're all car colours from Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac etc. from the 50's and 60's, except for candy apple red, which was, as far as I know, specially created for Fender.
Of course, back then the paints were solvent based, modern car production and repair use water-based paints.



Have you used polyurethane on acoustics? What do you use for a sealer?

jerry i have been experimenting with regular old polyurethane thinned about 40%with naptha, the naptha drys off pretty quick and your finish does also. you could try some it leaves a nice gloss finish without building up heavy i dont notice much difference between it and laquer tonewise of course we all see things differently good luck jt
Have you used polyurethane on acoustics? What do you use for a sealer?

i believe shellac is a good sealeror other commercial sealers i apply the poly-naptha mix with a pad of fine new terrycloth, you can do the wipe-on finish in about a minute. hang to dry a few days sand out with wet sandpaper then recoat as many times as you like. works pretty good for me ..hope this is helpful jt
I friend who works in a commercial cabinet shop, and he told me about water based lacquer. The jury here may be out on the tonal quality and grain raising, etc., but he says it is the most durable and efficient way to make a strong finish happen fast.
I don't mean to be negative, but why would anyone want to use a poly finish when lacquer is available. I've had to fix broken headstock with a poly finish and refinish that area and it sucks. It goes on in layers and you always see that fine line where it ends. Where as lacquer, it melts in as one. It just seems like a big hassle for the next guy that has to deal with it down the road. Please do not take offence to my reply. Just a thought.
Amen>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Michael
I think there are many good reasons to use poly finishes, both polyester and polyurethane. First, both are tougher than lacquer. By this I mean they don't cold check as readily and they are considerably more abrasion resistant. They also have a lower solvent content and are therefore better for the environment and require fewer coats to achieve a given finish thickness. Additionally, they don't shink back nearly as much as lacquer so they are less likely to exhibit the sunken pore look. I agree that polyurethane is difficult to touch up seemlessly and that is a legitimate knock on it, but polyester can be touched up very seemlessly.

But I also like nitro lacquer and find many customers are more comfortable with it. For me it is easier to work with because I have been using it longer. But I think the poly finishes often get a bad rap when really they can be great finishes for both acoustic and electric instruments.
Where do you get your poly finish supplies?

Poly has a reputation out here - people generally get it in a plain brown paper bag from a guy wearing a raincoat down a dark alley. I spray car parts with acid cat two-pack and I use acrylics for metallic/candy guitar finishes but that's because there is no alternative - when it comes to my own stuff I'm nitro only because of the look, sound and repairability. Water based finishes are a function of environmental restraints - not because it works better - Our cabinet making/fine furniture operation trialed it last year - we will only use it if forced by law.

Big business with high volume, tight bottom lines and time constraints demands Poly finishes and will eventually convince the world that this is a great finish. I'm not buying it and will never lacquer my guitars with plastic. Beats me how a maker will boast about using hide glue and fine timber because of its contribution to tone and joint integrity and then dip their guitars in plastic and cure it with UV.

Remember back in the 50's when wood was replaced by Formica and chip board and coated with plastic resin (poly) - same thing is now happening to the guitar business - it didn't work then and fine furniture is once again made of wood and lacquer. Cant' find in myself to be nice about a finish that is substandard in fine instrument building - Not too many Stradivarius getting around with Poly finishes.
Earlier in this post I recommended car refinishing products as an alternative. It was well-meant, but I forgot how much choice repair men and builders have in the rest of the world: Here in Germany they have successfully outlawed nitro in all shapes and forms, as a part of their (the government here) policy of ecology paranoia. The only remaining nitro that you can buy here is clear laquer in spray cans, for spraying alloy wheels. (the last time I looked was about 3 weeks ago, only a matter of time until they take it off the market I'd think) I found it as a "secret tip" on a guitar buiders forum here, otherwise forget it: all the manufacturers of paints here don't produce nitro any more, I had a buddy who's a professional car sprayer enquire for me in the trade, and he came up empty too. I have searched the net high and low, without success. I'd be prepared to order supplies elsewhere, but there you come up against the next wall: shipping by air or outside of england or the USA not possible.
I've been to all the companies in the area, and enquired about nitro: furtive looks, talk about regulations forbidding it, can't get it any more, no extra area to spray it etc etc. I almost had the feeling they'd have been happiest calling the cops and having me taken away as some kind of paint terrorist :-)
I often get inquiries from customers about repair and respray work on nitro instruments. I can only tell them how it is, and offer to use poly or waterbased instead, which is obviously not an ideal solution. I lose a lot of potential work through this, it's very frustrating to have my hands tied by the government here. They're busy singlehandedly making the world a better place, with all the restictive rules and regulations here they're driving small guys like me out of business. I can forsee the future here: No jobs, but hey, isn't the air nice and clean :-)
You guys in America are so lucky believe me, I wish you all that it stays that way.
So, rant mode off, I feel better now :-)



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