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Microphone Month 5

Thin-Skin Nitro

Today, many of the finest Fender guitars get a special nitrocellulose lacquer finish that the company is calling “thin-skin nitro.” This finish is amazingly close to the original lacquers that Fender used during its early years (an exact match is not possible because some of the solvents used for finishes in the 1950s and ’60s are now banned by the EPA, but most people would never be able to see the difference in any case). The lacquer is applied in a manner that enhances the look of the ash or alder body whether it’s stained or a solid color. What’s more, by keeping the finish to a minimal thickness, it allows the instrument to resonate much more freely. Nitro finishes are also popular because of the way in which they age; quite different from polyurethane and polyester finishes, which change very little over time. Depending upon the stain or solid color, a nitrocellulose finish gradually ages over the years and takes on a warm amber hue. The older the guitar, the deeper (and richer) the finish will look.

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