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Guitar Finish Resonance Fact or Fiction?


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Ok, so we've all long heard the opinion that a guitar finished in polyesther or polyeurethane resonates less than one finished in nitro or some other thing finish because supposedly the finish dampens the wood/doesn't let it breathe etc.

 

Ok, well I have a mexican strat with thick thick polyesther finish on it and it's got an absolute ton of sustain and resonance even unplugged. I've also got various nitro-finished instruments that resonate about the same.

 

Here's my question. Is the theory behind this idea, that a thick hard finish can reduce resonance and sustain, even sound? I mean, the finish on my strat chips away when you ding it and it's very hard. If this is bonded properly to the wood, why wouldn't the finish itself resonate as well as the wood? Wouldn't nitro, which is a softer finish, actually resonate more poorly if it's the same thickness?

 

We know that lucite guitars resonate very similarly to wood guitars. Why would it be different to use hard plastic as a finish?

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a lot of sustain is in the neck and how it's joined to the body, what its shape and thickness is, etc... there are just so many variables that go into make a guitar sustain more or less and I would imagine body finish would be pretty low on the list. all things being equal I would say your theory is sound, but different pieces of wood (even the same type of wood) will have different densities and thus have different sustaining properties...

 

:idk:

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There was a thread which touched on this about Suhr guitars in the E Guitars forum. John Suhr weighed in with this:

 

 

It isn't about the chemistry of the paint but about the properties of the paint. It is about the properties and the thickness, simple as that.

I have done the vibration analysis with a LinearX LEAP system and accelerometers to confirm this all to myself.

I prefer the properties of Polyester or Acrylic Urethane by the simple fact that they are catalyzed and not air dried like Nitro. For this reason I prefer the "tone" of polyester because it is consistent and controllable.

I also prefer the "tone" of polyesters compared to no finish since in comparison to nitro they have consistent properties unlike Nitro. When Nitro is hot it gets soft and when cold it is brittle, it is also easily degraded by sweat, any mild cleaners, water etc..

Polyester, Acrylic Urethane stay way more consistent over a a wider range of temperatures. So in this sense I prefer the tone of the Polyesters compared to inconsistent Nitro.


If Nitro allowed the wood to "breath" and Polyester or Urethanes didn't then you would never need to adjust the neck of a 1 piece maple neck with a urethane finish. Obviously this isn't the case. The only reason to choose Nitro is for a certain look. Personally I find it very sticky for a neck finish. The acids in your sweat will attack it. Paint in itself doesn't have a "tone" I think everyone knows what I meant. It is tough sometimes when doing a quick video tour like that to explain things clearly that cant be misunderstood. I also had no chance to review it and did not approve it being put on youtube.

As far as "internet experts" I think I have a bit more experience than most of them.

 

 

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?2821783-John-Suhr-on-Nitro/page2

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I like the way nitro feels and ages, but as far as resonance I've never noticed a difference.

 

 

These.

I believe that the neck(thickness), the way it's attached, the quality of the wood, hardware, and pickups make most of the sound on an electric. However, I wish that some new guitars would age a bit nicer.

My #1, a Warmoth Tele, still looks like on day 1 with its thick shiny plastic coat. Bits of the finish have chipped of but other than that ....

 

Acoustics are a totally different story.

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The thickness of the lacquer makes a difference, higher quality lacquer requires less coats to get all purdy yet durable. The lower quality lacquer, the more theY gotta put on to get it durable and shiny, the more it impedes the resonance. On electrics its minimal, but often the finish is what hurts cheaper acoustic guitars. Makes for a very boxy tone.

 

Nitro vs poly is very apples and oranges because there are many different approaches to poly finishing.

 

The only real positive to nitro is the vintage look and feel. There is no tonal benefit IMO. It does however play a big part in the feel of a maple necks fingerboard!

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I have 2 nitro SGs and I have big trouble with sticky neck syndrome.

 

A while back I bought an unfinished Warmoth neck and did some research on instrument finishing. Apparently back 80-100 years the method used for finishing was French Polishing. During the 1920's to keep up with manufacturing demands they started using nitro. It is not a very good finish for many reasons, but at the time it was much more efficient than French Polishing.

 

 

 

 

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