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Is Nitro Worth The Extra Cost vs a Poly Finish on a Guitar Body ?

JB6464

Member
Messages
3,584
I'm starting to piece together a new Strat build and wondering if a Nitro finish is really worth the higher cost verses a Poly finish .
I've never owned a Nitro finished Strat or Tele body so I really don't know if it's all talk with Nitro because it's the old school way or can you really hear the difference compared to a Poly finish .
It will not have a Relic beat up finish look other than aging the hardware and Antiquity pickups so it doesn't look so bling bling new .
What would you guys go with and is it worth the extra cost for Nitro ?
 

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cap10kirk

Member
Messages
8,143
There's no tonal difference. Despite what people on the internet say, nitro doesn't "breathe". Nitro is nowhere near as durable as poly, but that's also why nitro ages the way it does, which a lot of people like. I'm not really a big fan of nitro, especially on the back of the neck. I've had far too many problems with sticky nitro, I think something about my sweat/body chemistry just doesn't react well with it. I really don't think it's worth paying extra for what is, ultimately, an inferior finish, but that's just my 2 cents. Besides, the nitro being used today isn't the same as it used to be, you just can't get the same stuff Fender and Gibson were using in the 50s.
 

smallbutmighty

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,192
I like them both, and I'm glad to have both kinds of finishes on various guitars. Poly is better. It's more durable, and looks nicer for longer. No question. Nitro scratches the nostalgia itch, but can be sticky and finicky.

Tonally there is no difference at all. When I am evaluating a guitar, what kind of finish it has is at the bottom of my priority list. However, if it's nitro I do kick my alert level up a notch, to make sure I avoid any of the problems nitro is known for.
 
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5,349
It really comes down to, do you want it to age or not. Poly will be incredibly durable and will wear out very very slowly. You won't get checking.

Nitro will wear faster and you'll get checking over time. Some people love that. Other people don't.

That's basically what you're deciding between.
 

newfmp3

Member
Messages
180
I have both. I can't stand Nitro. Nitro on my Fenders and LP's. Sticky, shows every mark, wears really fast. I just don't get the appeal. I got poly guitars from 30 years ago and still look fine. There's no differences in sound, it's all in peoples heads. Maybe 60 years ago with true nitro but not now.
 

singlecutarmy

Member
Messages
1,537
I hate poly because it reflects too much light, so instead of seeing the wood you just see a shitload of plasticy glare. On cheaper gutiars you also tend to see imperfections, areas where the light reflections distort, curve in ways that don't match the contours, etc. those are imperfections and they look terrible to me and cheap.

Purely aesthetic I know but that's important to me.
 

smallbutmighty

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,192
I hate poly because it reflects too much light, so instead of seeing the wood you just see a shitload of plasticy glare. On cheaper gutiars you also tend to see imperfections, areas where the light reflections distort, curve in ways that don't match the contours, etc. those are imperfections and they look terrible to me and cheap.

Purely aesthetic I know but that's important to me.
Interesting perspective, that you prefer nitro because you see too many imperfections with Poly. I never thought of it that way, but I understand what you are saying.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,032
If I have the choice I'd rather have nitro. The guitars wear a lot faster but in a more "natural" way. The poly guitars will look brand new until they get damaged and then it looks really off putting. But I've never bought a guitar because it was nitro or turned one away because it wasn't.
 

Neverwhere

Member
Messages
614
I much prefer the feel of lacquer finished guitars, they usually feel like the surface isn't as smooth, they feel less slick/slippery. Every poly guitar I've had with a contoured body winds up being irritating to play sitting because of how slick the poly is on my leg and they slip away. There is also something overall tactile that feels nicer with lacquer finished guitars. Most lacquer finished guitars have pretty thin finishes as well, and poly on most guitars is very, very thick, giving this impression that the guitar is coated in syrupy plastic (which is kind of true of both polyester, polyurethane and nitro lacquer as they are all polymers IIRC, it just seems extreme with the two former rather than latter).
 
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Stike

Member
Messages
14,059
Polyester or polyurethane? Nitrocellulose? Which manufacturer? Which of their formulations?

There's a lot more variables beyond just "nitro vs poly".

Different finishes have different characteristics which may be a pro to some and a con to others.
 

Milkman

Member
Messages
952
Nitro has a different look than poly. As others have pointed out, it wears more quickly than poly and also wears differently. That nice checking and cracking that many of us find appealing doesn't happen with poly, but in my opinion, that's where the advantages end.

There's no impact to tone. Poly lasts longer.
 




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