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  • Clear Nitrocellulose Guitar Lacquer Bottle and Aerosols

Nitrocellulose Lacquer (Clear Nitro Top Coat)

Stock Details
Stock Status:
   Only ships to UK and Europe.

Product Description

Clear nitrocellulose (nitro) top coat lacquer for use on guitars and restoration pieces. Ours is the highest quality nitro, made here in the UK to our own spec. This is a true vintage finish making it ideal for vintage guitar builds, repair work and high-end handcrafted instruments.

Available in three sheen levels (gloss, satin, matt) and five pack sizes (handy 400ml aerosol, 60ml touchup pot for small spot repairs, 250ml bottle, 1 litre bottle and 5 litre tin for use in sprayguns and HVLP kits).

If using neat nitrocellulose lacquqer in a spray gun or HVLP kit it should be thinned beforehand using Anti-Bloom thinners. We recommend thinning no more than 30%. I.e., a ratio of 70:30 (lacquer:thinners). This is merely a guideline, though, not a firm rule - judgement is required as particular thinning ratios depend on a number of factors including equipment, temperature, weather, experience and desired results.

Nitrocellulose Lacquer FAQs

Q. Are there general Spraying Guidelines?

  • Thin neat lacquer up to 30% before spraying.
  • Spray from a distance of 12 inches.
  • The first coat should be a few fine mist sprays, 15 minutes apart. This helps the lacquer adhere to the finish underneath.
  • After this, leave 4 hours between coats. After the 4 hours have elapsed key in the finish lightly with 600 grit before spraying the next coat.
  • Leave to dry for 2 weeks before polishing.
  • Remember that polishing will take some of the lacquer off, so ensure that sufficient thickness is built up prior to polishing to prevent rubbing through to the undercoat.

Please note these are guidelines only as we have absolutely no control over your specific spraying conditions.

Q. Which finishes can Nitrocellulose Lacquer be used over?

Finish Compatible? Comments
1K Lacquer No Nitrocellulose lacquer will not adhere to 1K.
Acrylic Sanding Sealer No Typically causes bubbling and damage to the acrylic base coat. 
Bare Wood No For a natural finish first use Clear Cellulose Sanding Sealer, then finish with Clear Nitro Lacquer as a top coat. 
Cellulose Paint Yes For either vintage finishes or to achieve a Satin or Matt shine. Otherwise, Cellulose Paint is a top coat and can be polished directly. 
Cellulose Sanding Sealer Yes  
Metallic Cellulose Paint Yes Metallic paint must have a clear top coat, unlike solid colour cellulose paints which can be polished directly. 
Oil No It simply won't stick. If refinishing an oiled body put a lot of work into removing the old oil finish, if possible, otherwise a lacquered finish will never work. 
Polyurethane/2K Paint/Lacquer No..ish Not recommended as the nitro typically won't stick, and so will peel off easily. Try at your own risk. 
Pre-Cat Sanding Sealer No One of the most common causes of cracking is using over an incompatible base coat, such as Pre-Cat. 
Waterborne Paint No Similar effects to acrylic - bubbling and damage. 
Waterborne Sanding Sealer Yes Only dartfords, can't vouch for any other brand as formulations and characteristics vary massively.

Q. Does Clear Nitrocellulose Lacquer look clear in the bottle?

In its neat bottled form it has a light amber colour to it. However, when it dries it dries to a clear finish. Only over time does the dried finish then naturally age and discolour to a slight yellow tinge.

Q. Does this lacquer need to be thinned before use?

Our aerosol spray cans are sealed and ready to spray - simply shake for two minutes before use.

Our bottled lacquer, available in 250ml, 1 litre and 5 litre containers, is intended for use in spray guns and HVLP kits. It needs to be thinned before use using our Premium Anti-Bloom Cellulose Thinners. We recommend a thinning ratio of between 80:20 and 70:30 (lacquer:thinners). So, for example, to mix 100ml of ready-to-spray finish you would need approximately 70ml of lacquer and 30ml of thinners.

Q. How much lacquer do I need for a guitar body?

We recommend two aerosols, or 200ml of neat lacquer for an average Stratocaster-sized guitar body. This can vary depending on how you spray, the precise size and shape ofyour body, and what is underneath.

Q. How big are your aerosol spray cans? 

Our aerosol spray cans have a capacity of 400ml. This is made up of:

  • 150ml neat lacquer
  • 50ml premium anti-bloom thinners
  • 200ml propellant

This compares favourably to aerosols from most other suppliers and manufacturers, who use a 1:1 ratio for the lacquer and thinners. I.e., you get less useful lacquer per can. Being a thicker mixture closer to that you would use in a spray gun ours also gives a finer more consistent spray that is less prone to drips.

Q. Can this lacquer be tinted?

Yes, our Clear Nitro can be tinted with a variety of products such as:

We also stock a wide range of pre-tinted lacquers which are ready to use, available here.

Q. Will this lacquer crack?

Eventually, yes, it always cracks. The real question is how long it takes, and this is really difficult to say. If sprayed properly onto a well prepared base coat and kept at steady room temperature then it will be many years before the finish shows any signs of aging. a number of factors can reduce this time, some significantly. These include:

  • Using an incompatible base coat.
  • Spraying onto a contaminated surface.
  • Spraying lacquer which has been over-thinned.
  • Spraying too many coats too quickly.
  • Exposing the finish to large variations in temperature.
  • Spraying in very hot conditions.

The most common scenarios where cracking occur are:

  • Leaving the finish to dry overnight in somewhere like a garage which goes from warm to very cold.
  • Spraking many coats of very thin lacquer.
  • Spraying over an old finish which has been contaminated with silicones.
  • Using plumber's Pipe Freeze or similar on the finish to cool it very quickly.
  • Placing the body near a very hot radiator.

Cracking of the lacquer through poor adhesion or over thinning tends to be a crazing effect all over. Cracking to to wood expansion/contraction tends to be larger cracks focussed around drill holes.

Q. Does Nitro Lacquer discolour?

Yes, eventually. It gradually turns from clear to yellow. The effect of this is that any colour(s) underneath will take on a yellow tinge, so blue paint will look more green, red finishes will look more orange etc.

This discolouration is commonly seen on vintage guitars. This effect is the result of two effects:

  1. Discolouration of the lacquer itself through age.
  2. Buildup of dirt, grime and other external contaminants such as tobacco smoke.

If an instant discoloured/aged look is desired then once this clear coat has been sprayed one of our Tinted Nitrocellulose Lacquers can be sprayed over the top. We recommend our Light Brown or Weakest Amber lacquers for this purpose.

Q. How do I polish this finish?

We recommend the following process for hand polishing nitro finishes:

  1. Allow the lacquer to dry for two weeks.
  2. Wet sand the finish, starting with 600 grit. Work in straight lines, first across the workpiece and then lengthways.
  3. Repeat with 800 > 1000 > 1200 > 1500 and finally 2000 grit.
  4. Use our RF3 Liquid Polishing Compound and a clean soft microfibre cloth. As with the wet/dry paper, work in straight lines, first across the workpiece and then lengthways.
  5. Repeat with our RF5 and RF7 Liquid Polishing Compounts. Use a different cloth for each grade to prevent contamination.

All of the materials detailed above are part of our R&F Complete Polishing Kit.

Individual product SKUs are FS5039,FS5000,FS5001,FS5040,FS5080,FS5081,FS5113,FS5114,FS5279,FS5293,FS5294,FS5295,FS5699,FS6115

Product Reviews

Showing reviews 1-10 of 18 | Next

  1. Excellent product

    Posted by Steve Bell srb-guitars on 9th Nov 2017

    I've used a lot of spray can Nitro products from various companies over the years and this is, by quite a large margin the best. Easy to use. Good spray pattern. No bloom. Looked like the guitar had been dipped in glass.

  2. Nice simple to apply

    Posted by Mark on 20th Sep 2017

    This easy to apply lacquer gives a great finish with no issues.

  3. Top Coat spray can

    Posted by Derek Fern on 9th Sep 2017

    This is the first time I have used a spray can on any guitar and it made the whole job simple it gives a fine sheen after two coats rubbing down in between with 800 grit wet and dry . it dries quickly and hardens in about 5 days . fist class product I will be ordering and using on my 2nd guitar

  4. Fender Neck Topcoat

    Posted by Unknown on 28th Feb 2017

    I rarely give 5 stars so don't let that deter you.
    I didn't have the best working conditions so after spraying with the aerosol I had a bit of a mottled finish.
    After 15 minutes this had smoothed out nicely and the finished product is very nice.
    Perhaps the aerosol could have a smoother output but that could have been my doing as outdoors.
    I top-coated over Tobacco tint nitro and the end result is a treat.

  5. Excelleent quality laquer

    Posted by Stuart on 27th Jan 2017

    Great product for either touching up damaged finishes or for complete refinish

  6. Perfect

    Posted by Mike on 13th Sep 2016

    This has been my first attempt at spraying lacquer and have to say it has worked better than I expected. Coverage is excellent, really flat with very little orange peel. Once you get a feel for it sprays very nicely. Will be buying again.

  7. Excellent coverage

    Posted by Steve Jarman on 20th Apr 2016

    I used the grainfiller/sealer/nitro top coat usinga £40 spray gun. All I can say it's the best system I've ever used. Thinning with 30% thinners makes it flow just right - I used the gun on several settings and never managed to make a sag or a run! If you spray a burst, use 70% dye, 30% lacquer to bind it. You will be impressed. I'm waiting 3-4 weeks now to polish it out.

  8. Nitro Cellulose Lacquer

    Posted by Unknown on 20th Sep 2015

    I'm extremely happy with this. Both the build and the drying time were better than I was expecting, and it mixed perfectly well with the light-fast toners that I have, to produce a very satisfactory amber.
    I was using it more as an experiment to finish a neck, but the results have been so encouraging that I've gone on and used it on the body as well.

  9. Good, for the price.

    Posted by Tom on 26th Jul 2015

    Impressive coverage for the price, good finish. Not too thin so it runs, not so thick that it doesn't at least try to create a nice smooth finish. The finished sheen is pretty much as you would expect before doing the finishing steps.

    I didn't put 5 stars only because I feel the spray could have been just a touch more uniform than it was, but don't let that put you off. One of the better spraycans of anything I've ever used.

  10. Simple to use, good finish

    Posted by Jake on 3rd Jul 2015

    Very easy to use and get a good finish with, the satin feel is wonderful. Got a great finish first time ever spraying a guitar body, would definitely recommend. The only slight issue with the product is that the label on the can has a very strange feel and I didn't like it personally. However, this has no bearing on the application of it, which is great.

Showing reviews 1-10 of 18 | Next

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