Rickenbacker International Corporation - Forum

Sealer and paint
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Author:  jingle_jangle [ Tue Dec 20, 2005 1:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

Paul Wilczynski here!

Dale and John are both correct. However, I personally would not shop at ReRanch. They sell a line of nitrocellulose lacquers for Do It Yourself finishing. Nitro's easy, but it doesn't offer the same protection as Conversion Varnish (CV) as RIC uses on most of their instruments. ReRanch will tell you that it's easy to put a professional finish on your guitar at home using their products! Unfortunately, many amateurs take this to heart and do mediocre refins that decrease the value of their instruments.

CV is very tough and durable and current CV chemistry is such that it provides decades of protection and beauty under normal usage. But it is quite toxic and requires specialized application equipment.

Lanztek's advice is good, as far as it goes. But note that you cannot use a primer-surfacer under any transparent or "burst" finish, if you want the woodgrain to show! For this, you must use a vinyl or polyester transparent sealer. And his suggestions of sandpaper grits are good for automotive finishes (I used to build and paint prototype show cars), but a bit coarse for guitar work. When I finish a guitar, once it's been sealed, I seldom use anything coarser than 600. And wetsanding shoulds be done sparingly if at all, because if water leaks under your finish layers into the wood, you'll have a devil of a problem getting rid of it. This is most common in the areas of tuning machine holes and screw holes (pickups and pickguards especially).

The process for painting a guitar is quite complex and every finisher has his preferred methods and materials. The most critical thing is to work within a finishing system so that your materials do not react with each other and lead to failure.

So you sorta take your chances with nitro. If originality and collectibility are important to you, seek out somebody who can refinish it to factory specs. If you just want your player back in the lineup, use nitro--it can always be stripped by a pro should you decide to do it right in the future.

The dyes that you can intermix to re-create the original FG or any variation of it that strikes your fancy, can be bought from either vendor, StewMac or ReRanch.

But if you refinish your bass in a green/black burst, you'll get coal for Christmas.

Author:  Sartori [ Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

Thank you all for the advice! Looks like this is going to be every bit as difficult as I thought. Oh well, I suppose the harder I work finishing it, the more it'll mean to me. Thanks for all the help.

Initially I considered trying to refinish it in its original color, but I ruled that out. There are a couple reasons why I'm not going to be painting it fireglo:

1. I'd probably screw up any paint job that required blending.
2. Bright red is not one of my favorite colors (it's associated with Stanford University, the arch rival of Cal, where most of my family went to college. Don't ask, it's not rational).

Also, I've always wanted an all black bass. Once I'm done working on it, I won't be parting with this bass, even when I get a new 4003 eventually, so I'm not that concerned about how much it's worth with a paint job that's not stock.

The transparent blue/red/green stripe I mentioned would be very dark, and only on the skunk stripe, because I want that to be visible. The rest will be shiny black. The finish is going to be the only thing non-standard about it.

Thanks again everyone. I'll be posting before and after pictures, and pictures of it in between on the new restoration forum.

Author:  JohnHall [ Tue Dec 20, 2005 10:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

You'll note that I moved this thread over to this forum as now it's probably more appropriate that it's here.

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Tue Dec 20, 2005 10:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

Sartori, I'm in SF if you wish to call me for tips and/or advice. E-mail me and I'll shoot you my phone number.

Author:  Sartori [ Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

Hey, dropped you a line finally. Sorry about not getting around to it for such a long time. College is turning out to actually have work.

Author:  Dave-SKG [ Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

I have finished many a guitar using Nitro. It's a good finish. Any catalyzing finish, I believe conversion varnish is, cannot easily be repaired down the road. Once catylized that's it. Nitro on the other hand "burns into" itself beautifully. It's also readily available. The reason most manufacturers have gotten away from it because it is very toxic. But remember this...everyone is always comparing the latest, best, stuff to Nitro...that tells you something. If it wasn't so volitile I amsure Gibson, Fender, and all the rest would still be using it. Make sure the body is well sanded. Seal with something like Behlens Master vinyl sealer and the use the same brand Nitro. Always use the same manufacturer when sealing, thinning, etc. and you won't have any issues. Issues arise when you spray over something and the product you are spraying doesn't adhere properly. Starting from bare wood...you should be just fine.

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

Dave, I don't know where you got your information about conversion varnish, but it is an easy repair anytime. However, it does require spray equipment, not spray cans.

The payoff is superb durability. Plus, it's the way Ricks are done at the factory, at least since 1959! Who would choose to refinish a Rickenbacker instrument in an obsolete finish?

Author:  Dr.Phil [ Sun Feb 19, 2006 12:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

So you're saying conversion varnish can be touched-up and blended without doing a total re-finish? -Dr.Phil

Author:  DaleFortune [ Sun Feb 19, 2006 7:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

I worked for Gibson and Fender in the 70's. The reason they got away from Nitrocelulos Lacquer is the production time(2 weeks to do a complete finish) it had nothing to do with being volatile, using the proper equipment (spray booths and respirator masks) the volativity of both finishes is very low. With so many instruments in demand, they went to catalyzed finishes to meet the publics demand. As for being hazardous, in my 35 years experience, I've found that C.V. is much worse than nitro lacquer in health issues. They are both excellent products and easy to apply with the proper equipment. C.V. can be touched up the same as nitro lacquer, it just takes a different approach and experience. I do both types of finishes in my shop, I do not favor one over the other, applied correctly they are both very durable. One of the main problems with nitro lacquer is: if applied to quickly or to thick it will plasticize and become hard and brittle. These are just some of my thoughts from experience on this matter of which is the best.

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Sun Feb 19, 2006 2:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sealer and paint

Dale is correct about the issue of toxicity. CV is deadly if handled improperly. Moon suits are recommended if you're production-spraying lots of it, but I believe that's the manufacturers overstating their case to avoid litlgation. A functional half-face mask with purple (organic vapor) cartridges and dust filters works fine if you're spraying a guitar.

My own experience indicates that nitro is nowhere near as durable as CV. CV will, however, check under thermal shock, mostly because of the thickness of the film. I do use nitro for the occasional Fender neck. But Ricks are 90% of my business.

Dr. Phil, I touch up CV every day. The proper techniques make the touch-ups absolutely invisible.

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