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Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:26 pm

Stumbled across this webpage claiming that all the stuff about old Fenders having thin nitro cellulose coats of paint is just a marketing scam as they'd been using thick poly underneath since 63. Is this correct?

Secret Fender Lacquer Process
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby agent funk » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:51 pm

if it's true who says it's a bad thing? Maybe it's the reason Fenders work :D

Seriously though, a lump of wood "breathing" may not be such a good idea, cracks, warps, size changing due to the weather etc. would I'm sure cause more problems. Surely having it sealed would be a benefit?

Slightly off topic, having recently seen how poor a finish there was on a Gibson Les Paul Junior I think I would prefer the Fender method he describes. £600 my student paid, what a terrible guitar. It just seems like any cheap guitar for a 1/4 of the price. The finish is wafer thin and is coming off already (couple of months), plays poor to average but the worst is yet to come. His strap came off and it dropped and a fret fell out. Fell out.......!!

Sorry I know it's not the issue of this thread, but what I'm saying is if they cut the manufacturing costs with the finish, well if that means more time is spent on the guitar itself maybe it's for the best.
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby zenguitar » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:20 pm

Fits in with what I've always known, and it's never been much of a secret either. A rather sensationalist telling of the tale, creating some nasty conspiracy theory where there is none, and dark mutterings. Certainly not a marketing scam. Where nitro is used, it's there for a reason, and the sealer coats and base coats have been common knowledge since they first started.

Finishing wood evolved precisely to stabilise it and protect it from changes in humidity. Once that was established it then expanded to include finishing for appearance. The problem these days is that more attention is focused on the secondary purpose than the primary one, as in so many things.

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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby zenguitar » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:31 pm

Was that Les Paul Jr bought new Fletcher? If so, back to the shop it should go.

Nothing wrong with a thin finish, that's a good thing. But it really should stay attached to the guitar ;)

I'm less concerned with a fret falling out believe it or not. It could be a sign of poor workmanship/quality control but could equally be that the fretboard has dried out way too much and the shrinkage has opened the fret slots. If so, a period of re-humidification and then conditioning the fretboard with lemon oil or similar will make it as good as new.

I see a lot of guitars that left the factory in good order, but by the time they go through shipping in containers, distributors and dealers warehouses, they show very dry fretboards. A few months in a centrally heated house on top of that can be asking too much of a poor, defenceless, piece of wood.

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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby Goddard » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:42 pm

Alas, IME Fender still haven't worked out a finish to prevent "fret sprout" very well, especially on their maple neck + fingerboard models. Perhaps if they just seasoned the wood better/longer...
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby Random Guitarist » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:50 pm

zenguitar wrote:
Nothing wrong with a thin finish, that's a good thing. But it really should stay attached to the guitar ;)

Seems like Gibson don't always agree, for the 60s/70s tribute series LP Studio guitars with a dark finish on the back the thin flakey finish seems to be part of the deal. I know a couple of paople with these and the finish flakes off really easily. The things seem to be designed to distress easily, there must be a market for this I guess. Some people want their guitar to look all beaten up and 'bad-ass' without taking the time to do it themselves.

The first run of 50's tributes on the other hand seem to have the finish stuck on quite well.

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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby agent funk » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:29 pm

thanks Zen I will pass on what you said. I had told him to take it back. I saw it saturday after they "fixed it" . The fret is now raised so he gets fret buzz on all the frets lowerr than it, all strings, and it sticks out at the top side of the neck (by which I mean it's not been fitted in the centre - clear as mud - I mean it sticks out about half a mil on one side of the neck). I told him it was a bodge job but he can't face them anymore, he wants to get it set-up by someone else. Up to him I guess. For what it's worth my Westbury Standard is a much better guitar, which is in the Les Paul mold.

thanks Rhino as well, sorry again for the slight hi-jack of the thread.
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby Random Guitarist » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:24 pm

I wish he could bring himself to face them again, this kind of c**p needs to be held to account.
His guitar has the capacity to be a good instrument and they've messed it up in what sounds like a completely inexcuseable way. So now he has to pay for someone else to sort it out. Get in touch with Gibson, name and shame the store if they won't actually make it right. In this instance making it right probably means paying the bill for a repairer of your choice to fix it, they've clearly displayed their own incompetence.

But if he can't, he can't.

Regards,

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(I may be overreacting. This stuff really annoys me, I just had to fix a 'luthier' set up of a nut where the g string slot was cut half a milimetre lower then the radius of the rest of the strings, resulting in a buzzy unuseable guitar.)
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:18 am

I did the Gibson factory tour in Memphis (where they make the hollow body/semi models) last year. I was quite surprised at what a small low-tech operation it was. Essentially there's pretty much one bloke/woman who specialises in each job & if they're off, there's someone else available who can have a good go. The only CAD-CAM type process is the fret dressing, which they estimate is accurate to 2 human hair widths more than the bloke it replaced!

Overall, it's definitely closer to Project Ukulele than it is to NASA.

Personally I think if anyone thinks they can 'hear' the paint finish on a solid body electric guitar, they have bigger issues to address!
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby agent funk » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:25 am

I agree with you. He's a young lad 17, maybe 18, I forget. Lacks a bit of confidence. I did tell him to go back, but I think he finds the confrontation difficult. They sort of played it as, "well you dropped it, and we fixed it for free" line. But you and I know we could take most guitar necks and smash them onto the floor all day, without a fret falling out. Pity because he was really happy to get that guitar. I will talk to him again next time I see him.

If I had the skills I would do it for him, but I'm afraid I don't.
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby mick.n » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:51 pm

Dynamic Mike wrote:I did the Gibson factory tour in Memphis (where they make the hollow body/semi models) last year. I was quite surprised at what a small low-tech operation it was. Essentially there's pretty much one bloke/woman who specialises in each job & if they're off, there's someone else available who can have a good go. The only CAD-CAM type process is the fret dressing, which they estimate is accurate to 2 human hair widths more than the bloke it replaced!

Overall, it's definitely closer to Project Ukulele than it is to NASA.

Personally I think if anyone thinks they can 'hear' the paint finish on a solid body electric guitar, they have bigger issues to address!

I saw on the telly a few months ago, on the "How it's made" program, a Gibson Les Paul being made from the wood selection process to the final testing.

It did indeed seem quite low tech as you mentioned.
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Re: Is this correct about Fender using Nitro over thick poly?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:50 pm

Personally I think if anyone thinks they can 'hear' the paint finish on a solid body electric guitar, they have bigger issues to address!


Absolutely agree, which is why I posted this thread--quite amusing to think that all these people swearing that this finish sounds better (whatever THAT means!) than another might have been talking through their hat all the time!
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