NitrocelluloseNitrocellulose, also called "cellulose nitrate", is a mixture of nitric esters of cellulose and a highly flammable compound that is the main ingredient of modern gunpowder and is also employed in lacquers and paints. Nitro has been the mainstay for guitar lacquer, ever since it was first developed in the 1920s. When nitro first came out it was much faster drying than other finish options, but since the mid-60s, poly (polyurethane lacquer) has become the standard due to its faster dry time and increased durability. Though it is commonly used in all major guitar factories, poly is much thicker, and that affects the wood's resonance.
Unlike polyester and polyurethane, Nitro is not an unbreakable chemical bond, nor does it act like a cocoon, permanent and unmoving, wrapped tightly over your guitar’s body. Rather, Nitro is constantly evaporating. A thin finish to begin with, it gets thinner and thinner with time, allowing the wood molecules to literally dance to your music. The process of applying it on the guitars, however, takes a bit longer and adds 3-4 weeks to the build time.
We use Nitrocellulose lacquer to seal, paint, and coat our Private Builds. Although it takes longer and the process is more delicate, we think that our Private build guitars deserve only the best of the best.
UV-CURED POLY FINISHConventional lacquer needs time to dry - it contains solvents and these need time to evaporate, leaving behind a hard-shiny finish which is then buffed and polished to the mirror-like surface we are used to seeing on guitars. However, the process of applying conventional lacquer such as a Nitrocellulose finish takes up to 3 months curing time, and even then, solvents will continue to evaporate, causing the lacquer to ‘sink’ into the grain of the wood. This is great for musical instruments, and part of the reason why old guitars resonate better than new ones, but it means a lot of time and labor. For our Crossroads series, we needed to find a solution that would be both affordable and fast-drying, while still thin enough to allow the wood to change, move and evolve. The UV-cured finish was the answer.
UV lacquer can be sprayed, brushed, or wiped on, and is dried (or ‘cured’) in minutes with UV light. It still needs buffing and polishing, but there's virtually no drying time. UV is thinner and harder than Polyurethane, and also better for the environment.