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In general, lacquer is most often a clear coating that dries when the solvent evaporates or is accelerated by a curing process. Lacquers produce a hard, durable finish that’s perfect for most acoustic and electric guitars (and basses). If a manufacturer says an instrument has a lacquer finish, it most likely is nitrocellulose, which was the predominant finish during the 1950s and ’60s. More recently, lacquers made using acrylic resin, which is a synthetic polymer, were created in the 1950s and have the advantage of fast drying times, though the use of polyurethane and polyester finishes, both plastic-based coatings, have become the most widely used clear coats on musical instruments today. Nitrocellulose continues to be used, mostly on high-end instruments and reissues of models from the past.

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