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FDP Forum / Fender Custom Shop / If a nitro finish sounds better, why do so many expensive gutars use a urethane finish?

Next 20 Messages   Newest 20 Messages
Figaro
Contributing Member
*

South Carolina

I kicked cancer's ass!
Oct 25th, 2010 08:46 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It seems like everyone says that nitro finishes sound better. Then why do so many expensive strats and teles come with urethane finishes?

Does the type of finish really make that much of a difference in the sound?

stratcowboy
Contributing Member
*****

USA/Taos, NM

Oct 25th, 2010 10:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Some will most certainly say yes. I'm not one of them. Too many other factors go into making a guitar sound good/great.

stratlester

australia

Shut up and play yer guitar some more!
Oct 26th, 2010 06:22 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The decision to use it is more to do with economics and safety. Poly is more durable and easier to work, it isn't as hazardous as nitro.

Nitro will check very easily. That wasn't a big deal in the 50s but today its considered to be a defect in the product. Builders have had some complainst from customers about that in the past.










(This message was last edited by stratlester at 06:25 AM, Oct 26th, 2010)

Figaro
Contributing Member
*

South Carolina

I kicked cancer's ass!
Oct 26th, 2010 03:17 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So a guitar with a nitro finish will sound about the same with a urethane finish?

stratcowboy
Contributing Member
*****

USA/Taos, NM

Oct 26th, 2010 04:56 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

That would be an interesting experiment. But straight outta the blocks, it becomes "who knows?"

DPH
Contributing Member
*

Massachusetts, USA

Oct 29th, 2010 09:21 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So,
1. Nitro is more hazardous to workers/environment.
2. Checks easier.
3. More difficult and expensive to apply.

Is there any advantage, and if so, what?

Danny Nader

usa

Oct 29th, 2010 09:47 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So,

4. And doesn't provide a good barrier against water / moisture.

5. And a thick, gloppy finish of any type is not good!

A properly applied, relatively thin finish, will have negligible effect on the sound of the instrument. If it's cured properly and hard, it will allow as much of the wood to contribute as possible. When the wood is a contributing factor.

As has been endlessly debated, more factors go into the sound of any instrument than the composition of the finish and associated sealers.

Danny

Mike Eldred - Fender

USA

Oct 29th, 2010 08:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm confused.
define: "better"

ME

Achase4u
Contributing Member
***

U.S. - Virginia

Oct 29th, 2010 08:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have to disagree that nitro is somehow more dangerous. At least to the degree people talk about it. If your wearing a mask and spray in a proper booth, neither are going to get to you. Nitro came from paper/cellulose - sure its got thinners and stuff in it, but urethane is dangerous too. I never liked breathing either of them. Urethane isnt safe to breathe in.

An advantage to nitro is that it melts previous layers which can make it easier to apply. Poly wont melt previous layers. Just my opinion from my experience.

Now, if you want to talk cure times, sure nitro takes a while...

Voodoo Blues

Mississippi

Oct 30th, 2010 07:15 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

People who think nitro sounds better then poly are just plain wrong and are simply repeating what some other internet hero claimed. My '78 Strat had a poly finish and I had it refinished in nitro by the Mark Jenner. It sounded just as good before as it does now.

rfrakes331K

USA

RonHalen Jokingly He Says
Oct 30th, 2010 05:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

+1 No Diff! FAS!

littleuch
Contributing Member
********

Michigan

Nov 1st, 2010 06:29 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I'm confused.
define: "better""

From Fender's description about the Hwy 1.


"The thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish lets the body wood's natural tone shine through, making for one of the most exciting new instruments in the Fender family!"

I can see the notion of "better" being implied.

(This message was last edited by littleuch at 06:30 PM, Nov 1st, 2010)

Figaro
Contributing Member
*

South Carolina

I kicked cancer's ass!
Nov 1st, 2010 07:57 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Exactly littleuch. Fender seems to promote nitro as better. They use nitro on some of their custom shop and many high end guitars. Some models even have a thin nitro finish such as the Eric Johnson model, and guitar players know how picky he is about tone. Also, vintage Fenders from the 50s and 60s came with nitro finishes and many people say they sound the best.

All this gives the impression that nitro is better, or at least sounds better.

I'm just trying to understand the reasons for a nitro finish, and if it really affects the tone of a solid body guitar? Or is the difference just the durability?

So if "The thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish lets the body wood's natural tone shine through", what does urethane do for the tone?

(This message was last edited by Figaro at 07:58 PM, Nov 1st, 2010)

Voodoo Blues

Mississippi

Nov 2nd, 2010 05:58 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Of course Fender is going to imply nitro is better, it's a selling point.

Of all the elements that come together to produce a guitars sound, from strings to pickups to effects to amp to speaker and the million other things... the finish probably has the least affect on tone.

Mike Eldred - Fender

USA

Nov 2nd, 2010 10:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

This is the FCS thread. I don't know about Highway 1 stuff. That blurb didn't say "better". It actually echos what consumers feel.

You guys seem smart. Why and what would make nitro "better"?

If Fender wanted to promote that as a "selling point", then why am I asking you?

ME

ECS-3
Contributing Member
*****

USA / Virginia

Nov 2nd, 2010 12:31 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A nitro finish smells better, for sure. But I don't know how it would make an instrument sound better.

labeau

Keweenaw, MI

Nov 2nd, 2010 12:42 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

People think nitro is better simply because all of the vintage guitars were finished in it.
Since anything vintage is better than anything we could make now, of course it would impart a magical ability for a dead piece of wood (used in a solidbody electric guitar) to 'shine' through like a freakin' lucky charms rainbow. That could never be possible with silly urethane based finishes.



littleuch
Contributing Member
********

Michigan

Nov 2nd, 2010 03:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think a nitro finish has a more elegant appearance than poly. I think it ages nicely with the instrument and also has a certain tactile aspect that differs from poly. All my favorite guitars had a nitro finish. I claim nothing scientific to the above. There is all kinds of voodoo guitar players subscribe to and its all about what makes you happy. It would be interesting to scope out a guitar with a before and after test with a poly vs nitro finish with identical setups. I'd suspect the differences in tone would be negligible.

Figaro
Contributing Member
*

South Carolina

I kicked cancer's ass!
Nov 2nd, 2010 05:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Mike Eldred,

I guess "better" was the wrong word to use. But guitar players have been told that nitro finishes sound better, let the wood "breathe", etc... ever since guitar companies stopped using it and switched to polyurethane.

We are always trying to learn more about about guitars, and what makes them sound the way they do. Surely, from your years in the Custom Shop you know how anal some players can be about the details. One way for players to learn is to ask luthiers like you who have many years of experience with the wood, pickups, finish, etc... that makes a guitar sound the way it does.

I know the Hwy 1 is not a FCS model. But when Fender makes a statement in the description of a nito finish guitar "The thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish lets the body wood's natural tone shine through", it gives customers the impression that a nitro finish sounds better.

You have been involved in making the best, most respected guitars in the world for many years. And I think if anyone knows finishes, you do.

So please, in your opinion, does the type of finish (nitro vs poly) make a difference in a guitars tone?

(This message was last edited by Figaro at 05:21 PM, Nov 2nd, 2010)

Mike Eldred - Fender

USA

Nov 2nd, 2010 06:02 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yes, it does. But, is it "better"?
Beck, Clapton, Hendrix, Blackmore...all poly or urethane.

ME

(This message was last edited by Mike Eldred - Fender at 06:02 PM, Nov 2nd, 2010)

Next 20 Messages   Newest 20 Messages

FDP Forum / Fender Custom Shop / If a nitro finish sounds better, why do so many expensive gutars use a urethane finish?




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