Hand-rubbed nitro

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
User avatar
Brian McCombs
Posts: 1556
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:55 pm
Location: Union City, Michigan

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Brian McCombs » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:59 pm

Do CG players consider lacquer to be cheap? I think I've gleaned that most CG players prefer french polish over lacquer on the top plates....but lacquer on the back and sides is acceptable. I say gleaned because I really have no idea, I've been building seriously for 5 years and I hate to admit it but.....I don't personally know a single person who plays the classical guitar! I live in a slightly rural area and it just isn't common. I just used lacquer for the first time on my last guitar and in all honesty I absolutely LOVE how it finished out. It's a really nice durable finish... I REALLY like oil for the neck shaft so, I'm thinking I'll oil the necks, lacquer the B&S and FP the tops on my next two I've got on the bench.

But it has me wondering. Any players or builders that actually know someone who plays the CG could chime in.

How about a general consensus...do players sneer at well applied Lacquer?
Last edited by Brian McCombs on Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

gauchita
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 9:35 am
Location: Brighton,England

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by gauchita » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:24 pm

I believe cellulose finish is the best for Guitars. Nicer looking than the modern polymers, almost as durable, but still has all the repair and restoration advantages of shellac.There are some problems with spraying cellulose in a small workshop, but you can apply it with a brush and hand rub it to a high gloss.There there are some that believe that shellac has better sound qualities. personally I don't think it makes much difference unless the finish is too thick.

User avatar
Vlad Kosulin
Posts: 1356
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:00 am
Location: Verona, NJ

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:52 pm

I also would prefer fast oil finish for neck, durable lacquer for b&s, and FP for top.
Regards,
Vlad
(still testing various strings with 2006 Sebastian Stenzel and Olinda OC-300)

rounie
Posts: 618
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:58 pm
Location: New delhi-India

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by rounie » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:00 am

Hi Guys,

Been through the post and i say the finish has its own advantages and disadvantages....I'm a staunch lacquer fan and can accept Tung Oil for the neck/soundboard but not a hint of FP as i consider it to be a "Touch me not" finish and too difficult to maintain esp if in contact with the human body and too expensive to retouch....BTW my Richard Howell is 100% Nitro( on request) and it the best i have heard so far and i have played quite a few from visiting performers like Gee,Kwakkel,Thames,Gropp and the list goes on
Renowned luthiers like Sahlin, Howell,Dean,Ramirez,Contreras,Robert Ruck,Robert Mikhail,Redgate,O leary, Brian Dunn cant be wrong in offering Nitro either fully or 100%-just my 2 cents.....
Let Music Unite All............
Richard Howell No.408 Cedar/Indian-2007

Vesavekkuli
Amateur luthier
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:24 am
Location: Rovaniemi, Finland

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Vesavekkuli » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:07 pm

Japanese fine classical guitars like Kohno - the finest models - and for example Shiro SR 80 ("nobody" knows about these Shiros), which I' ve been just fixing, have nitro on the top. This Shiro is one of the nicest guitars I've ever played. Regardless of the finish, licquer finished guitar can sound as nobel as shellaq/FP ones. I have had both - on the moment I play Korbellari-Kappeler classical guitar ( FP/sedar), Lacote-copy (Southwell, Spruce top/FP), Reino Vanhatalo Ahma-guitar (spruce top/Nitro). The Shiro (from 70's) guitar is really doing very well with them.

simonm
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 7988
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Germany, Würzburg. Spain, IB

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by simonm » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:56 am

Echi wrote:
Sayerlack (I use their product being an amateur luthier,not out of commercial interest) produces different products for the mentioned purpose : SAYERLACK SU 236 is the name of the pore filler; SAYERLACK SA 1000 is the proper nitro varnish to be hand rubbed, while SAYERLACK SA 40 is the name of a varnish made mixing shellach and nitro in an alcohol basis, aimed for the last hands.
Here is the link.
http://www.sayerlack.it/scripts/default ... on=seconda
The link has been changed. http://www.sayerlack.com/en/products/ch ... product/31 The company is owned by Sherwin-Williams and has some international distribution.

User avatar
Manuel Najera
Amateur luthier
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 6:16 pm
Location: Yucatan, Mexico

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Manuel Najera » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:57 pm

IMO, I do not think sprayed finishes are cheaper. You have to have compressed air, a good quality sprayed gun, hours and hours of practice (as FP), safety equipment, a nice ventilated area to apply it.
It may be faster, once you have achieved a good technique and if the weather allows you to spray (not windy, moisture below 70%, not to hot …) unless you have a special room to spray, which is even more expensive.
In my case, I use lacquer for everything but the soundboard.
And on the next two instruments I’d like to try a water based lacquer to eliminate the use of hazardous solvents. It has been said already, that, if well applied, it won’t make much difference on the sound. At least, not on a bad way.

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2809
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:45 pm

I see you live in the Yucatan. Humidity must be an issue for spraying lacquer sometimes?
I agree, there's nothing wrong with a good lacquer finish if it's done well.
I used to spray nitrocellulose lacquer on the back, sides, and neck.
I've used KTM-9 water based lacquer. It's OK. Does not dry as hard as nitro lacquer but it's more durable than french polish.

User avatar
Manuel Najera
Amateur luthier
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 6:16 pm
Location: Yucatan, Mexico

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Manuel Najera » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:11 pm

Marcus Dominelli wrote:I see you live in the Yucatan. Humidity must be an issue for spraying lacquer sometimes?
I agree, there's nothing wrong with a good lacquer finish if it's done well.
I used to spray nitrocellulose lacquer on the back, sides, and neck.
I've used KTM-9 water based lacquer. It's OK. Does not dry as hard as nitro lacquer but it's more durable than french polish.
It is definitely an issue when spraying lacquer. That is why I want to try now the water based products, which in theory, should not have any humidity problems as they are composed and thinned with water. And they are way more healthy.
On a good day, I only have from 1 to 4 PM to spray lacquer. :chaud:

Did you used the KTM-9 on the soundboard as well?

Jabberwocky
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:46 am

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Jabberwocky » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:35 am

The greatest issue with spraying nitrocellulose is health concerns for the person spraying the finish. Since this thread was started in 2012, 3 archtop luthiers, relatively young in their 60s, have died. No proof but little doubt that decades of spraying nitrocellulose had been a major cause of their early demise. Two of them were old Gibson hands.

I am all for French Polish because it is much less harmful to the luthier applying it. Just don't be tempted to drink the Everclear. Much as I love a beautiful finish i don't want my luthier to sacrifice his health to give me a beautiful guitar.

User avatar
Manuel Najera
Amateur luthier
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 6:16 pm
Location: Yucatan, Mexico

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by Manuel Najera » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:18 pm

Jabberwocky wrote:The greatest issue with spraying nitrocellulose is health concerns for the person spraying the finish. Since this thread was started in 2012, 3 archtop luthiers, relatively young in their 60s, have died. No proof but little doubt that decades of spraying nitrocellulose had been a major cause of their early demise. Two of them were old Gibson hands.

I am all for French Polish because it is much less harmful to the luthier applying it. Just don't be tempted to drink the Everclear. Much as I love a beautiful finish i don't want my luthier to sacrifice his health to give me a beautiful guitar.
You are right. Nitro is a very hazardous product, and that is why is extremely important to use safety equipment at all times (mixing the product, spraying it, and cleaning the equipment). Right now, I am changing to water based polyurethane, way less dangerous. I do like to use shellac, but not on wear areas like the neck, back and sides.
Now, regarding health problems for luthiers, wood dust is more dangerous than any of the mentioned finishes. And we are more time exposed to it than we are to finishes. :shock:

gauchita
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 9:35 am
Location: Brighton,England

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by gauchita » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:51 am

Hi
Cellulose is, I believe, the best finish for guitars. It was originally developed as a more durable french polish. The thing it has in common with French polish is, each layer dissolves the preceding one, so effectively you only have one layer regardless of the number of coats applied. It is also has a lovely warm colour. Modern polymers dry and each coat is a new and separate layer and most polymers have a cooler colour. The point being cellulose is a better-looking finish and enhances the wood. The downside of using cellulose on an industrial scale, the fumes are toxic and explosive. Both problems are enhanced when sprayed. The solution for the guitar maker is to brush it on, in a well-ventilated room. It is impossible to achieve the same finish as sprayed, so you need to rub it down and polish it by hand. I use the same approach to finishing as the car crash repair workshops. Using finer and finer abrasives and finishing with a paste.

James Frieson
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:09 am

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by James Frieson » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:35 am

Echi wrote:
Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:05 pm
Hi,
the procedure was used in the past, whereas nitro varnish was used to be handled by artisans quite skilled in french polishing. It is described in a very well done italian book (650pages); the author is Antonio Turco (page 238 and followings).
That's the link if you are interested:
http://books.google.ie/books/about/Colo ... redir_esc=
Sayerlack (I use their product being an amateur luthier,not out of commercial interest) produces different products for the mentioned purpose : SAYERLACK SU 236 is the name of the pore filler; SAYERLACK SA 1000 is the proper nitro varnish to be hand rubbed, while SAYERLACK SA 40 is the name of a varnish made mixing shellach and nitro in an alcohol basis, aimed for the last hands.
Here is the link.
http://www.sayerlack.it/scripts/default ... on=seconda
Thank you . Truly interesting , even if the said products are not available where I am .
I did mix shellac and nitrocellulose lacquer roughly half and half , and sprayed it on guitars , in attempt to achieve a more resistant finish . It did work but I stopped it because I was not sure what the long term effects would be . I suspected shellac was also mixed with lacquer in some of the old piano finishes I worked on , because I could smell the shellac .

James Frieson
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:09 am

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by James Frieson » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:46 am

Vesavekkuli wrote:
Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:07 pm
Japanese fine classical guitars like Kohno - the finest models - and for example Shiro SR 80 ("nobody" knows about these Shiros), which I' ve been just fixing, have nitro on the top. This Shiro is one of the nicest guitars I've ever played. Regardless of the finish, licquer finished guitar can sound as nobel as shellaq/FP ones. I have had both - on the moment I play Korbellari-Kappeler classical guitar ( FP/sedar), Lacote-copy (Southwell, Spruce top/FP), Reino Vanhatalo Ahma-guitar (spruce top/Nitro). The Shiro (from 70's) guitar is really doing very well with them.
Kohno Sakurai in Japan ; Mr Masaru Kohno used a varnish made in Japan , called Cashew Varnish . Mr Sakurai still uses it .
If a new guitar has been introduced with plastic or nitro lacquer , I have not heard of it . But Cashew is still used .

James Frieson
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:09 am

Re: Hand-rubbed nitro

Post by James Frieson » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:08 pm

Brian McCombs wrote:
Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:59 pm
Do CG players consider lacquer to be cheap? I think I've gleaned that most CG players prefer french polish over lacquer on the top plates....but lacquer on the back and sides is acceptable. I say gleaned because I really have no idea, I've been building seriously for 5 years and I hate to admit it but.....I don't personally know a single person who plays the classical guitar! I live in a slightly rural area and it just isn't common. I just used lacquer for the first time on my last guitar and in all honesty I absolutely LOVE how it finished out. It's a really nice durable finish... I REALLY like oil for the neck shaft so, I'm thinking I'll oil the necks, lacquer the B&S and FP the tops on my next two I've got on the bench.

But it has me wondering. Any players or builders that actually know someone who plays the CG could chime in.

How about a general consensus...do players sneer at well applied Lacquer?
Brian , I am in Japan ; where , in general , french polish is desired on tops , but not desired on bodies , because of the high temperatures and humidity .
If the filling and preparation work is really well done , not much buildup of lacquer is required ; I do not think a thin lacquer finish on the body at all harmful to sound .

Return to “Luthiers”