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What is a Fender "THIN SKIN"?

shawntp

Member
Messages
1,797
It means its a thinner nitrocellulose lacquer similar to what Fender used to use back in the 50's and 60's (though not the exact same thing). This finish is used on models like certain custom shops, Eric Johnson Signature, and various "Thin Skin" models.

A standard stratocaster would have a thicker polyurethane finish on it. Many feel the nitrocellulose lets the instrument resonate better though it has less protection against time.

The highway 1's were something different - I believe an Acrylic lacquer and not the same as the nitrocellulose thin skins.
 

Bikedude

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,911
Thin Skins are FSR(Fender Special Run) guitars for select dealers. Wildwood, Dave's and Music Machine. Correct that they are finished in nitro cellulose. The have custom spec'd necks(9.5 radius 6105 frets) The latest run of these are, Strats, Tele's 52's & 62's, Jaguar's, and Jazzmasters. The strats and teles come with Custom Shop pickups. Don't know about the Highway 1's.
 

railfanespee

Member
Messages
117
The highway 1's were something different - I believe an Acrylic lacquer and not the same as the nitrocellulose thin skins.
Fender lists MOST of the Highway 1's as having a nitro finish. The exception is the texas tele, which does have an acrylic lacquer finish. But both are different from the thin skins. For one, only the bodys on Hwy 1s are nitro. The necks are poly. I think thin skins are all nitro. And the nitro on the Hwy 1s is flat, vs gossy on thin skins. Also, some say that the Hwy 1 bodies are thin nitro over a thick poly. I've never seen pictures proving or disproving it, and I've heard conflicting reports from owners. I don't know the answer to this, so I'm not going to pretend like I do.
 

Blues Fuse

Member
Messages
425
The "Thin Skin" is a nitrocellulose finish that is applied right to the wood. There is no sealer or base coat.
 

devilrob1979

Member
Messages
3,126
When I got my Texas Tele it was a nitro body. At least it came with a nitro care booklet so I assume it was. By the way, the finish is very thin on it.
 

sqadan

Member
Messages
943
The Special Run Thin Skin's have no Poly base coat like the AVRI's for instance... the finish is more like the original pre CBS Fender finishes. It also wears quicker than the other Fender finishes... perfect for natural "relicing" over time ;-)
 

ginormous

Member
Messages
84
I have a Highway-1 body (honey blond transparent) that I am using for a partsocaster project. Having sanded it down in areas and attempting weather checking on it, I believe 100% that there is a poly sealer under the satin nitro. The nitro EVER SO SLIGHTLY checked, but you could see the cracks floating on top of a sealer coat that was completely unaffected by the severe temp changes.
The poly didn't seem to be too thick, though. It sanded off pretty easily.

From what I have read on similar threads, it sounds like only the Thin Skins are actually poly-free. By most reports, Nitro takes a lot longer and apparently Fender doesn't have time in their production schedule to even do any Thin Skins this year. Sorry I don't have the links accessible to reference all of this info at the moment.
 

Gas-man

Unrepentant Massaganist
Messages
18,611
So how are the "Thin Skins" different in terms of finish from the Road Worns?
 
Messages
23,951
The Texas Teles all had acrylic lacquer over a catalyzed undercoat. The Nitro Care booklet was intended for owners of the "Upgrade" regular Highway One. The original (Pre-Upgrade) Highway Ones all had acrylic lacquer over a catalyzed undercoat. Probably the same or similar to the undercoats on AV52s, AV62s, etc. The satin finish nitro and acrylic on Highway Ones will buff out to a degree but nothing like the hot gloss on AVs, Thinskins will. The "Nitro" Highway Ones should yellow a little; the acrylic ones, not so much so.

The "Thin Skin" is a misnomer, except to say the lacquer skin WILL be thin one day. They have grain filler, the ash ones do, then non-catalyzed finishes go on over that which will degrade, offgas, and shrink in volume over time as the nitro lacquer goes through what can only be called a "life cycle". I think they called it "Thin Skin" because many people were appalled by a few batches of AV52s that went out with a VERY heavy layer of plastic undercoat. And Fender wanted to wipe away that memory.

My 2006 AV52 FSRs are a form of Thin Skin tho they have 7.25 radius and "vintage modern" frets. I've watched the finish get thinner and thinner as I've owned them. Just as the finish on my homebrew nitro bodies gets thinner also.

So, keep your Thin Skins out of the case and the finish will get even thinner, faster.
 

Polynitro

Member
Messages
23,616
I have a Highway-1 body (honey blond transparent) that I am using for a partsocaster project. Having sanded it down in areas and attempting weather checking on it, I believe 100% that there is a poly sealer under the satin nitro. The nitro EVER SO SLIGHTLY checked, but you could see the cracks floating on top of a sealer coat that was completely unaffected by the severe temp changes.
The poly didn't seem to be too thick, though. It sanded off pretty easily.

From what I have read on similar threads, it sounds like only the Thin Skins are actually poly-free. By most reports, Nitro takes a lot longer and apparently Fender doesn't have time in their production schedule to even do any Thin Skins this year. Sorry I don't have the links accessible to reference all of this info at the moment.

I heard the early hwy1s were all nitro but later they had the poly sealer. My 52RI Tele has I believe the poly sealer/nitro finish on the body and straight nitro neck. The nitro clearly has sunken into the wood on the neck but nowhere on the body. I have several chips on the body and although the finish is thin its a lot thinner on the neck.

I thought besides 'thinskin' only these models had straight nitro:

Nocaster
Hotrod 52 Tele
early HWY1
RWs
 

ginormous

Member
Messages
84
:dunnoI don't know how reliable this info is, but for discussion's sake this is where I read what I had mentioned above:

http://www.tdpri.com/forum/stratocaster-discussion-forum/110092-nitro-finish-ej-strats.html

"This may already be common knowledge but...

I haven't been able to find any definitive info. regarding whether the Eric Johnson Stratocaster "Thin Skin" finish (as well as the nitro finishes on other Fender models) is truly Nitro-ONLY, as opposed to a synthetic (polyester or polyurethane) sealer with Nitro top coats. So today I called and spoke with a rep. at Fender.

He described that not only is the EJ "thin skin" finish nitro over poly sealer but that ALL Fender guitars have a synthetic grain sealer. So even all those very expensive Custom Shop Relic guitars have this. I even specifically asked about the current '58 Tele Heavy Relic Custom Shop Limited Edition (which I really REALLY like!!) and he confirmed that yes, even the heavy relic guiatrs have the sealer.
"
 

ginormous

Member
Messages
84
:bowI should add that Boris and Polynitro (as the name would imply) obviously know more about this than me! Just passing along a few bits...
 

XmasTree

Member
Messages
3,960
OK so MOST Nitro finishes have a Poly undercoat, right?
My Hwy1 has Poly underneath and a thin coat of Nitro. ??
 

ginormous

Member
Messages
84
I think that is most likely the case with your Hwy1, unless you got one of these fabled early ones that were all nitro. If Fender uses poly sealer on even their 7k Custom Shops, then chances are that is the case on an lower level 80% USA Hwy1.

But I've liked the Hwy1s I've played -- for my tastes, much more than the Amer Std. I like the "Relic Deluxe" guy's take on the whole poly vs nitro issue:

"I definitely prefer Nitro for relicing, but I think many people exaggerate its benefits over other finishes. Some of the best guitar players around use a Poly finished guitar, and I guarantee all the know-it-alls couldn't tell the difference from listening! If I were making a list of factors that determine the quality of a musician's play, things like talent, creativity, amplifier quality, and pickup quality all come before the type of finish used. I'm not saying Nitro isn't great or even preferred, but let's not act like everybody out there with a different finish sounds like crap. OK, I'm now stepping off the soapbox..."

Sorry if that is off topic... You can get an all nitro body from Guitar Mill or some of the other replacement and boutique builders.
 

SAMCRO

Member
Messages
2
OK so MOST Nitro finishes have a Poly undercoat, right?
My Hwy1 has Poly underneath and a thin coat of Nitro. ??
I know it's an old post, but I just picked up an AVRI 1959 Strat with the thin skin. There is a poly grain seal applied to all instruments to protect from humidity. Otherwise the thin skin will act just as it would on unsealed grain. Just like they use modern flame retardant treated material when making movie set furniture and clothing? It's safer. Pardon the analogy - I work around that industry.
 




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