Finishes and Glues

The manufacture of musical instruments requires the best products.

The choice of glue, polish or varnish is essential in the construction of the instrument, so much so that it can even influence the final sound of the instrument.

In Maderas Barber we are aware of the importance of a good finish, so we offer a selection of the best products on the market; natural wood oils, glues, wood stains, guitar lacquers, solvents and the best application tools.

What finishes are used on guitars?

  • Waxes and oils: They have always been used to treat wood. It is one of the oldest methods of preservation and embellishment. Although this method offers less protection than other finishes, it is generally appreciated for its naturalness and warmth to the touch. It is mainly used to treat guitar necks.

    Unlike other finishing materials, it requires quite a bit of maintenance. With time and use, it will need to be reapplied a new coat of oil and wax.

  • Shellac: The second most commonly used natural material in guitar finishing is shellac. The natural resin obtained from the secretions of the shellac cochineal. It is mainly used for instruments with soundboard, such as Spanish guitars and acoustic guitars. Due to its lightness, crystallinity and brightness, it has always been the favorite treatment of master guitar makers in the manufacture of classical instruments. The use of this material is more difficult and complicated than oils and waxes. It can be applied with wadded cloth. (muñequilla)

Advantages and disadvantages of nitrocellulose finishes vs. polyurethane

  • Nitrocellulose finishes: In the 1950s and 1960s, electric guitar pioneers like Fender and Gibson chose nitrocellulose as a finish for their instruments. The semi-synthetic materials allow a very thin layer to be applied so that the wood resonates and breathes more easily.

    It would be perfect for acoustic instruments. But for instruments without a soundboard, amplified and often distorted, it may be less suitable.

    The application of nitrocellulose is usually done by spray or spray, and given its high toxicity, we will have to apply it in a well ventilated environment and with a protective mask. 

  • Polyurethane finishes: Currently, nitrocellulose in the construction of electric guitars has been largely replaced by polyurethane in both low-end and high-end guitars. It is a less toxic and faster drying synthetic material, with a stronger and more durable gloss. It offers better protection due to its high resistance. Another advantage of using this material is that it preserves the color of the guitar better than nitrocellulose. Nitrocellulose acquires a yellowish color with time.
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