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Old September 18th, 2010, 02:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Clear coat layer under nitro finish

I posted this picture on the 'Dealer Select Thin Skin Strats' thread, because the discussion had gone in this direction, but thought it perhaps this is a separate discussion.

I have a 60s RW strat and was curious enough to take nail polish remover to a small portion of the finish, in order to see what was under the nitro. There is indeed a base coat layer that does not appear to be nitro (it would have melted away on contact with the nail polish remover, were it nitro). The picture below shows the base layer. It has absorbed some of the colour from the nitro layer.

The base coat is VERY thin, and soft enough to scratch with a fingernail, so I doubt it would affect the guitar tone in the same way as a thick poly finish. I would suspect it will wear in quite naturally over the years.

BTW, I owned a Jeff Beck strat a few years ago, and chipped a piece of the finish off accidentally - it was as thick as the candy coating on an M&M - so I have seen how thick the 'regular' poly finish can be.

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Old September 18th, 2010, 02:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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First off welcome fellow Canadian, I don't know if you have a ? or not , but will say the Poly Vs. Nitro has been betten to death ,example

http://www.strat-talk.com/forum/stra...oly-blues.html
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Old September 18th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh ya what picture?
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Old September 18th, 2010, 03:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Don't know what happened to the picture - it was there on the preview. Here it is again.
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Clear coat layer under nitro finish-rwstrat.jpg  
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Old September 18th, 2010, 03:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Where exactly did you put the acetone? Was it to the bottom right of the flash?
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Old September 18th, 2010, 03:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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First off welcome fellow Canadian, I don't know if you have a ? or not , but will say the Poly Vs. Nitro has been betten to death ,example

http://www.strat-talk.com/forum/stra...oly-blues.html
Thanks for the welcome eh. I read that thread but thought it a different discussion. The Poly v. Nitro debate seemed to compare the thick poly finish to a pure nitro - I was wanting to discuss the base coat on the new 'nitro' guitars. I should do a full search on the forum though, as this horse may have been beaten already.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 03:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Where exactly did you put the acetone? Was it to the bottom right of the flash?
The area where I removed the nitro is just below the flash reflection and to the right. You can just barely see the slightly darker area - darker than where the finish was sanded to the wood.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 03:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The old fenders also had a non-nitro undercoat. Only the custom shop fenders are pure nitro, AFAIK.

The finish is IMHO, thr least important part of the guitar. If Leo had use poly back then,
People would be cork sniffing about how the stiff poly resonates better.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 04:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BeefTinn View Post
Thanks for the welcome eh. I read that thread but thought it a different discussion. The Poly v. Nitro debate seemed to compare the thick poly finish to a pure nitro - I was wanting to discuss the base coat on the new 'nitro' guitars. I should do a full search on the forum though, as this horse may have been beaten already.
Ya I guess your right . The whats a RW finished with has been an on going thing . It is of only passing interest to me , but from the little I have read and your own obsevation , they do appear to have a thin coat of something other than nitro. IMO should have no affect on the tone , voice . I do not think even the thicker poly finished guitar lack compared to a thin nitro. Or no finish at all . IMO ya either got a good sounding guitar or ya don't, great guitars found in any Fender line ploy or nitro, CS , reg. production CBS , pre CBS etc. etc.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 07:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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IMO should have no affect on the tone , voice . I do not think even the thicker poly finished guitar lack compared to a thin nitro. Or no finish at all . IMO ya either got a good sounding guitar or ya don't, great guitars found in any Fender line ploy or nitro, CS , reg. production CBS , pre CBS etc. etc.
I agree that there is good tone out there in all of the models, regardless of the finish. I have noted the general debate on the base coat used on the newer nitro guitars - I think I just wanted to post a picture of the nefarious base coat - to show how thin it is. I can't see how it would affect the timbre of the instrument versus a pure nitro finish. Also, I suspect it will wear away fairly quickly after the nitro is gone, but only time will tell.

Last edited by BeefTinn; September 18th, 2010 at 08:16 PM.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 04:26 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BeefTinn View Post
The base coat is VERY thin, and soft enough to scratch with a fingernail, so I doubt it would affect the guitar tone in the same way as a thick poly finish. I would suspect it will wear in quite naturally over the years.

BTW, I owned a Jeff Beck strat a few years ago, and chipped a piece of the finish off accidentally - it was as thick as the candy coating on an M&M - so I have seen how thick the 'regular' poly finish can be.
Please spare any other holy instruments from this nail polish remover torture.

If it's the same nitro over poly as on the HWY1, then Fender's stated intention is that it wears in more easily and has better acoustic properties. My HWY1 vibrates so well it nearly jumps out of my hands so something works. Natural acoustic sustain to burn.

As to the type and thickness of undercoat, from http://www.strat-talk.com/forum/stra...ro-finish.html :

Quote:
I have stripped a poly coated strat and a Hwy 1. The under coat is the same on both, however, the nitro is much thinner than color and clear coats on the poly finishes. I would say that from my experience, the Hwy 1's finish is about half that of a poly finished guitar.
Quote:
Apparently the undercoat is something called Fullerplast which is supposed to be very tough:

http://www.fender.com/community/foru...529def56e00a71
Quote:
I have a 60s RW strat
Hang on - you do mean a reissue or something don't you?
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Old September 19th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I posted this picture on the 'Dealer Select Thin Skin Strats' thread
The interview with the guy from Fender on that thread seems to say the 69 and 70s (RIs or Classic I presume) all have a WLS undercoat under the nitro topcoat? Not Fullerplast. He said WLS was more period correct. At the risk of thread hijacking, makes me wonder what version of plastic is underneath the HWY1 finish.

It would be nice to have a definitive list of all the coats on all the strat lines. Sigh.

btw on nitro versus poly: I notice the cranky but redoubtable Ed Roman says that it all comes down to thickness and the use of crap filler layers in the finish. He says thin poly done right can sound very good but not thick poly or thick filler undercoats and that the wearing down (thinning) of the nitro finishes on old guitars is a big factor in why these sound so good. He also says he believes the very best finish sonically is oil. He believes the early PRS guitars sound so much better than current PRS because of the finish.

http://www.edroman.com/techarticles/polyvsnitro.htm

Interesting info here, don't know how correct it is: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/arc.../t-520382.html

Quote:
The Texas Teles all had acrylic lacquer over a catalyzed undercoat. The Nitro Care booklet was intended for owners of the "Upgrade" regular Highway One. The original (Pre-Upgrade) Highway Ones all had acrylic lacquer over a catalyzed undercoat. Probably the same or similar to the undercoats on AV52s, AV62s, etc. The satin finish nitro and acrylic on Highway Ones will buff out to a degree but nothing like the hot gloss on AVs, Thinskins will. The "Nitro" Highway Ones should yellow a little; the acrylic ones, not so much so.

The "Thin Skin" is a misnomer, except to say the lacquer skin WILL be thin one day. They have grain filler, the ash ones do, then non-catalyzed finishes go on over that which will degrade, offgas, and shrink in volume over time as the nitro lacquer goes through what can only be called a "life cycle". I think they called it "Thin Skin" because many people were appalled by a few batches of AV52s that went out with a VERY heavy layer of plastic undercoat. And Fender wanted to wipe away that memory.

My 2006 AV52 FSRs are a form of Thin Skin tho they have 7.25 radius and "vintage modern" frets. I've watched the finish get thinner and thinner as I've owned them. Just as the finish on my homebrew nitro bodies gets thinner also.

So, keep your Thin Skins out of the case and the finish will get even thinner, faster.

Quote:
I haven't been able to find any definitive info. regarding whether the Eric Johnson Stratocaster "Thin Skin" finish (as well as the nitro finishes on other Fender models) is truly Nitro-ONLY, as opposed to a synthetic (polyester or polyurethane) sealer with Nitro top coats. So today I called and spoke with a rep. at Fender.

He described that not only is the EJ "thin skin" finish nitro over poly sealer but that ALL Fender guitars have a synthetic grain sealer. So even all those very expensive Custom Shop Relic guitars have this. I even specifically asked about the current '58 Tele Heavy Relic Custom Shop Limited Edition (which I really REALLY like!!) and he confirmed that yes, even the heavy relic guiatrs have the sealer."
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Old September 19th, 2010, 09:40 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by philzxyz View Post

If it's the same nitro over poly as on the HWY1, then Fender's stated intention is that it wears in more easily and has better acoustic properties. My HWY1 vibrates so well it nearly jumps out of my hands so something works. Natural acoustic sustain to burn.
It is NOT the same as the Highway One.

With all due respect, no-body takes this marketing fluff FMIC had printed about these Highways seriously. I hope they let the fool that wrote those words go because he's not worthy of belief - embarrassing.

+++

Back to the Poster's question.

Here's my speculation: You're right, the base coat is not lacquer. It is some kind of low molecular weight polymerized coating. I think they "vacuum bag" the bodies with this initial sealant/protective coat to drive it deep into the wood - to protect it. Bodies but especially Necks. But what it is and how they do it is Proprietary. Won't be seeing any tours of this part of the finishing process anytime soon, I predict.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 10:29 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Please spare any other holy instruments from this nail polish remover torture.

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It a road worn RW = Road Worn the MIM relic guitar you know the one (model) thats already beat up a extra little spot orf finish removed , isn't gona hurt.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 10:31 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Finish shminish. It is a guitar. Play it.

...I'm not dissin' the OP, I'm just sayin'.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 04:00 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Finish shminish. It is a guitar. Play it.

...I'm not dissin' the OP, I'm just sayin'.
I agree. I bought it because the sound and feel of this particular guitar was better than half-dozen CS strats I compared it with - plus the super comfy neck. I didn't get it for the relic job. I actually don't really care for the relic look - more of an NOS person myself (a little tarnish but no damage). If I still love the sound of this thing in six months I may refinish it.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 06:15 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It is NOT the same as the Highway One.

With all due respect, no-body takes this marketing fluff FMIC had printed about these Highways seriously. I hope they let the fool that wrote those words go because he's not worthy of belief - embarrassing.
Well, with all due respect or not, say what you will and believe me or not, but my HWY1 definitely has good acoustic sustain - for whatever reason. Better than an Am Deluxe at twice the price which was cold. I can't say why, but it is known that the hwy1 does have a thinner overall finish than poly overcoat strats. That has been verified by people who have stripped them down. You can say it's not because of the thinner finish but due to some other factor if you like. However plenty of knowledgeable people do say thinner finishes change tone eg Ed Roman Poly vs Nitro Guitar Finishes - Ed Roman Guitars believes thinner is better generally (whether poly or nitro) and is a key factor in the sound of vintage guitars. However I'm sure that topic has been beaten to death and you either believe it or you don't. Clearly you don't.

I've worked in product development and, while marketing depts will seize upon whatever seems to be appealing in the design spec and product requirements document, that does not mean the designers were necessarily being disingenuous in the first place or that marketing definitely just made it all up. That happens but even so I don't assume this means the premise about thinner finishes is false from the get go.

Cork sniffing, marketing hype notwithstanding, in the end I only believe my ears and fingers. If my observations happen to support Fender's marketing blurb then I have reasons to be less cynical about Fender.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boris Bubbanov View Post
Here's my speculation: You're right, the base coat is not lacquer. It is some kind of low molecular weight polymerized coating.
The guy in thegearpage quote claimed that he was told by Fender: "ALL Fender guitars have a synthetic grain sealer. So even all those very expensive Custom Shop Relic guitars have this."
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