Laquer/nitro without aging (alike PRS)


Senior member
Hey guys, I was told that PRS uses plasticizers on the top on base coat of nitro/lacquer to stop it of cracking/shrinking...

SO: I don't really like the feel of Poly urethane or poly esther, but the few laquer/nitro finished guitar I played was very nice... The problem: although in some guitars the aging is awsome (like strat with plain necks) some guitars I would NOT want to have the finish cracking and getting tan, mostly guitars with very figured woods, etc...

So anyone know what and how put those plasticizers to keep the feel and stop cracking and aging???

Thanks a lot and don't beat me to death because of the heresy :p



Perhaps I can sort of help.  Living in MD, I'm quite close to the PRS factory.  I attended the Experience 2008 last year.
All I recall is Paul saying how he had gone to great lengths with another company to have a special blend of nitro created for him.
He was talking about the DGT model.

Basically, the impression I got was it was some sort of unique nitro that he has.
It really sounded more complex than an additive to nitro.
I may just be marketing though.

It seems to have general nitro properties, because when I went on the shop tour, the guys were griping about having to use it.
It never dries, it stinks, it's slow, etc...

I have had pretty good success using a pre-catalyzed nitro.
I looked to the woodworking industry, rather than the automotive industry, for alternatives to basic nitro.


Patrick from Davis

Senior member
Well after thinking about this one for a bit, I have a couple of suggestions.  Unless you buy something that has everything in it (polymers mixed and plasticizers mixed), this is not really possible.  My guess is that another polymer is mixed in with the nitro to create a separate web of finish material that retards the shrinking/cracking.  Plasticizers are also in there, but they are going to have a different function, to keep everything from becoming too hard.  Without having a recipe, this is a science experiment I don't think will end well.

Nitro finishes come with UV protection in them so the yellowing can be avoided.  They can crack like a sheet of glass, but this is commonly done with really cold (-20) temperatures.  You can relic a body by leaving it in the freezer, or by checking it as baggage on a long plane trip and not taking precautions.  If the body is cared for, the nitro finish should not crack.  Good luck



Senior member
I suggest using McFadden’s water white lacquer.  It is non-yellowing and is a great instrument grade lacquer.

That said water white lacquers would yellow very slightly as well as many poly finishes. Also woods will get darker as they age so there is never a guarantee that a piece will look like it did the day it was finished ten years later.

Patrick is right about checking; what he said along with too much material on the surface is what causes cracking.  Plastsizers have been used in lacquers all along so it is nothing new.  I do not know what PRS is using because there are a lot of new lacquer technologies coming out all the time like CAB Acrylics, Pre-Catalyzed, and Acrylic lacquers so I have no comment regarding that.  


Senior member
I thought DEFT nitro solved those problems.  I have used it and it works well.  Easy to get too at your local home depot.