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Nitro vs Poly, Is It Relevant Any More?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Shades of Blue, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. Shades of Blue

    Shades of Blue Most Honored Senior Member

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    I'm beginning to get back into Strats and Teles for the first time in around 10 years or so. I have been focusing on acoustics and Les Pauls the past few years, but I'm ready to get back into the Fender game.

    As I look around, all of my main players have a Nitro finish. Is this something that people still look for these days? I really like the idea of guitars aging gracefully, and I just don't think that you get the same aging process with poly.

    I really want to get a new Strat or Tele, but I also feel like I "need" Nitro. However, the Vintera series looks like killer bang for the buck, but am I being ridiculous in my desire for getting something Nitro?

    Heck, I can get two Mexican guitars for the price of one American with Nitro...
     

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  2. Oldduck

    Oldduck Strat-Talk Member

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    After finishing and refinishing many guitars, I think I have sprayed my last nitro. I get tired of having to do a dozen coats to get the same looking finish I get with one or two coats of poly. IMO, the only "advantage" to nitro is that it is a little easier to repair when damaged. Makes no difference in tone or appearance that I can see.
     
  3. Nadnitram

    Nadnitram Senior Stratmaster

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    Yes, because no self-respecting pirate ever named his parrot "Nitro."

    upload_2020-3-19_10-20-45.jpeg

    What's generates your desire for nitro? Is it sound-based? Is it appearance based? Is it because it will age well? Do you plan to keep this guitar for decades?

    Does the guitar have to be "new"? Can you track down a used version for closer to the price of a MIM?

    Come to think of it, weren't there some models of Mexican Strats that had nitro? Maybe the Classic Player series (don't quote me on that one)?
     
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  4. chicago slim

    chicago slim Strat-O-Master

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    For the past 20 years, they have been changing nitro to make it more eco friendly, and more like the poly finishes. I've had issues with nitrocellulose lacer from the early 2000's (and earlier). Now it is more user friendly, but I'm still not willing to pay more for it.
     
  5. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

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    It makes a difference to me. I probably wouldn't buy a guitar finished in nitrocellulose lacquer because of its low durability and sensitivity to every little thing that might contact it, like foam rubber on a guitar stand, or fur in a case, or a sweaty arm.

    By contrast, my Warmoth walnut Strat body is finished in clear polyurethane, and things I've accidentally done to it that made me look to see if there was any damage haven't even made a scratch.
     
  6. sgarnett

    sgarnett Senior Stratmaster

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    Nitro is easier to damage, and easier to repair. If you want the guitar to look aged though, are invisible repairs a requirement?

    All poly is not created equal. First of all, there’s polyester vs polyurethane. Second, finish thickness can vary a lot depending on the process used.

    Personally, I don’t like a thick finish, but thin poly is fine.
     
  7. Agtronic

    Agtronic Strat-Talker

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    It depends on what you mean by relevant. Do people still argue about it on the internet? Hell yeah.

    If nitro is important to you, (and you should not have to justify this to anyone), the AVRIs or thinskin guitars may fit the bill.

    I've seen some really nice early '80s '57 and '62 re-issues that were quite affordable on the used market.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
  8. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I don't think it makes any difference at all. I like thinner and less glossy finishes but there's no reason you can't have those with poly. The MIJ Fenders usually come with thin poly finishes that look and feel great, I still haven't figured out why they don't do those on the MIA and MIM models.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
  9. Shades of Blue

    Shades of Blue Most Honored Senior Member

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    Aging is my main concern. That and damage. I want a ding to look "graceful" and not like a dent in a thick plastic coating.
     
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  10. knh555

    knh555 Senior Stratmaster

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    My view is to get a guitar that makes you want to play it. If that means lacquer over polyurethane or polyester to you, then it's relevant to you. In terms of the guitar itself, I have wonderful guitars in both lacquer and polyurethane, so while I have a preference, it's clearly not the most important thing to me. For what it's worth, my Gretsch and Gibson lacquer finishes seem to be more durable than my Fender American Vintage finishes, so I think there's a lot of variation even among the same type of finish.
     
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  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    it's only relevant to those hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of internet Mythology.. Worshiping at the alter of the impossible tone quest..

    r
     
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  12. knh555

    knh555 Senior Stratmaster

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    Tone is not the only (your word) reason people have. I simply like how the lacquer finish feels in my hands. Not enough to really care to put that over other considerations, but I do like it.
     
  13. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    The only place it matters to me is if I'm the one shooting the product. It is just hard to screw up lacquer if you have any knowledge of the product and use a bit of care. The term "poly" is confusing to me. If you mean polyurethane, I've used it many times on furniture with OK results. If you mean polyester, I've never used it other than in body filler or fiberglass resin.

    If I used something other than lacquer on a guitar, I would use auto clear-coat with hardner. I don't know exactly what that is these days, but have used it once on a guitar and on a few motorcycles and an aircraft. Very nice if you don't create a run.

    If I'm buying a guitar, I don't care at all what the finish is. If I have to repair a guitar, I wish it was lacquer.
     
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  14. gilmourstrat

    gilmourstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    I have a MIM Road Worn 50's Strat which is not poly (I don't know if it's actually real nitro and with real nitro I mean nitro as in the old days) but I really like the feel of it :)

    In terms of tone I don't think it makes that great of a difference actually... more important is the pickups/amp ;)
     
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  15. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Strat-Talker

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    I dunno...the 69 Tele that I just flipped was poly and it still looked great.
    Maybe I'm getting old, but I remember when we wanted to keep our guitars looking as good as possible.
     
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  16. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    those that have followed my contributions to the Forums for the past 17 years, know that I have often said "you" do not need any rationalization for any feature you prefer on your guitar.. All you need to say is, "I just plain wanted it that way." Thats one that's hard to argue with..

    However far too many are chasing "Tone" using any mention of any feature ever spelled out in these forums.. the majority of which, If they do many a sonic change, it doesn't rise above the threshold of noticeability, in fact most COULDN'T under the best of circumstances..

    r
     
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  17. RL21980

    RL21980 Strat-Talker

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    Someone please start a "Talking Coatings with Ron" thread. Pretty spot on each time one of these topics comes up. However, I like nitro. How about resale value in the current market. nitro is reserved for higher end instruments. Labor to apply. etc etc etc. (more cost) Usually get more bang for your buck if you're going to flip an instrument. They do look cool as they age too, if you dig "damage" (subjective)
     
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  18. knh555

    knh555 Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree whole-heartedly. I was responding to your post, not your 17 years of contributions. I tend to be allergic to all-or-nothing wording on most topics however.

    But yes, I do know your views and for the most part, share them. I very much appreciate your contributions.
     
  19. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Strat-Talker

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    What is your intended use for the instrument? The durability of Poly makes it a better choice for gigging, unless you want the guitar to "age" more rapidly for some reason. I have two Poly guitars and I love the fact that they can be played out without extra worry about preserving their finishes.
     
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  20. Antstrat

    Antstrat Senior Stratmaster

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