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Post new topic Difference between guitarists & steelers
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Author Topic:  Difference between guitarists & steelers
Jim Sliff

Lawndale California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Mar 2018 5:03 pm    
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The amount and strength of lacquer that goes on modern guitars would take three lifetimes to wear out so they looked like a guitar from the 60's.

Not true at all. "Lacquer" - at least the traditional acrylic/nitrocellulose blends in use since the 1920's - has changed very little as far as the resin components that actually ends up on the surface.

Pause - "nitro" lacquer, with very, very few and difficult to find exceptions, have been acrylic/nitrocellulose blends since the 1920's because pure "nitro" lacquer is very brittle and cracks very quickly. Many guitar finishers don't understand this and think their solvent-type lacquers are pure "nitro".

Anyway - solvents, flow agents and some other"volatile" components have changed because of air quality regulations, but the "nitro" and "acrylic resin parts that actually form the film are virtually identical to those used in the 50's and 60's.

Thickness of lacquer has varied depending on the applicator and/or technique and/or effect desired and/or about a dozen other variables - none involving the "date".

Abrasion resistance and other durability qualities have changed incrementally, but only in very slight amounts. Instruments competently finished with identical thicknesses of lacquer today wear no differently than those of 60 years ago.

But very few instruments today are finished in traditional lacquer. Most natural, sunburst, semi-transparent and nearly all opaque instrument coatings are UV-cure, catalyzed polyester or polyurethane and other modern-technology coatings systems that cure in minutes - or seconds and require fewer processes (less sealing/filling and rarely any sanding after preparation). Most major manufacturers' coating operations are handled by robotic systems where traditional lacquers would be impractical.

Traditional lacquers are used primarily in small shops and by larger manufacturers on custom-shop instruments, vintage reproductions and similar instruments where hand-production is feasible. It's just not economically feasible to mass-produce instruments and coat them with finishes that take days to seal, coat and polish and then days or weeks to fully cure.

(For those that don't know I was in the coatings business for 37 years, part of that time spent directly involved with development of instrument coatings. I've also been finishing instruments since the 1970's.)

Also, regarding the "start date" of relic finishes - it had nothing to do with Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar or Keith Richards. Vaughan's guitar had little influence on finish trends - that's an old story that branched out of his tonal influences; "Keef" may have had a relic produced for him but it wasn't a "trend starter" nor even the first. Both are simply "urban legends".

Quite a few finishers were producing aged finishes or "aging" new guitars in the 1970's - some earlier. The term "relic" came much later and was slow to get into regular use, with no specific date,, person or company responsible - although there are plenty of "claims" to the contrary. I did one with a buddy on a Telecaster in 1971 and would claim the "title" - except it would just create more debates!

No chops, but great tone
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Bobby Nelson

North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 14 Mar 2018 1:15 am    
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I'm sure that relicing didn't start with SRV of the Stones, but I don't remember the major companies selling relics before then.

On finishes: When CBS had Fender, I bought a brand new black on black Stratocaster for $491.00 at a local music store in Charlotte. It was a 1977 model, and was a Godawful hunk of junk (the best thing that ever happened to Fender, or the instrument business as a whole, was when they parted with CBS). One day I looked under the pick guard and saw the strands of some kind of plasticky crap that looked like it would never come off - as if it had been dipped in a vat of black molten plastic. My God was it a mess. I don't know what it was but, I got rid of it as fast as I could. I'd like to see if somebody is trying to sell it today for a lot of $$ as a classic "77" model haha. There was nothing redeemable about that guitar - CBS should've been ashamed of themselves.
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Bobby Nelson

North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 14 Mar 2018 1:24 am    
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That would have been the same as “till death do us part” for me! And if anyone here says they’re just guitars....grrrr Devil

Most people I've told that story to have asked "is she still alive?" haha! Yes, she is still very much alive and I'm very happy with her - she's just a high spirited mountain girl, kinda like Loretta actually - Loretta reminds me very much of her. Guitars are replaceable but, truly good women are as hard to find as mint 57 Strats.
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Chris Walke

St Charles, IL
Post  Posted 14 Mar 2018 5:35 am    
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Haw haw haw. Me play pedal steel. Me laugh at guitarists. They so dumb. And they so loud. Wait, me guitarist too. And me forget pedal steel is guitar too. Me conflicted.
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