10 Best Nitrocellulose Guitar Paint In 2023?

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10 Best Nitrocellulose Guitar Paint In 2023?

Nitrocellulose lacquer has been a popular choice for guitar finishes for many decades, known for its durable and glossy finish. Some popular brands of nitrocellulose guitar paint include Fender, Gibson, Reranch, and Mohawk.

In 2023, these are deemed to be the top 10 paints for guitars made from nitrocellulose:

  1. Retrench Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  2. Mohawk Classic Instrument Lacquer
  3. StewMac Color Tone Nitrocellulose Guitar Lacquer
  4. Deft clear wood finish nitrocellulose lacquer
  5. House of Kolor Nitrocellulose Guitar Lacquer
  6. Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish
  7. Behlen Stringed Instrument Lacquer
  8. Gibson Old-fashioned Reissue of the Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  9. Fender Custom Shop Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  10. Stewart-MacDonald Nitrocellulose Lacquer for Guitars

Factors To Consider When Choosing Nitrocellulose Guitar Paint

Factors To Consider When Choosing Nitrocellulose Guitar Paint

When selecting nitrocellulose paint for your guitar, several aspects must be considered to ensure you choose the best choice for your needs. Here are a few important aspects to take into consideration:


Be sure the paint you select matches the type of wood and finish of the guitar. Certain paints work better with certain types of wood. It’s crucial to do your research before choosing a paint that will adhere to the surface of your guitar.

Color and Finish Options

Take a look at the colors and finishes. Paints for your guitar made from nitrocellulose  Nitrocellulose is available in various colors, ranging from solid to matte, and in finishes like gloss, satin, or matte. Pick a color compatible with your preferred aesthetic and the instrument’s design.

Application Method

Think about the method of application of the coating. Nitrocellulose lacquers can be applied with an aerosol can or by hand. Find out your level of comfort with the application method and ensure you have the equipment or experience to get the professional appearance you want.

Drying Time

Be aware of your paint’s drying times. The majority of nitrocellulose lacquers dry quickly, which allows for quicker execution of your work. However, certain lacquers might require longer drying before applying further coats or using the device.

Durability and Protection

Take into consideration the durability and protective characteristics that the coating offers. Nitrocellulose finishes are well-known for their thin, breathable properties, which allow the wood to reverberate and deteriorate naturally. But they do not offer the same protection against moisture or scratches as other finishes. Consider your needs in terms of protection and select a paint that meets them.


Examine the possibility of reversibility should you decide to modify or refinish your instrument shortly. Nitrocellulose finishes are more difficult to remove than other finishes and require more complex refinishing procedures. If you plan to change your guitar’s finish on the road, consider the possible implications and select the appropriate option.

Brand and Reputation

Be aware of the reputation and brand of the paint maker. Established brands usually have a history of creating high-quality paints with regular outcomes. Read customer reviews, talk with experienced luthiers, or seek recommendations to ensure that you choose a trusted brand.

When you consider these aspects by weighing these factors, you can make an informed choice in choosing a nitrocellulose guitar paint that is not just suited to your aesthetic tastes but also provides the needed protection and longevity for your guitar.

The Selection Process: Criteria For Evaluating Nitrocellulose Guitar Paints

The Selection Process: Criteria For Evaluating Nitrocellulose Guitar Paints

When looking at nitrocellulose guitar paints, there are a variety of criteria that can determine your choice. Here are some of the most important criteria to think about:

Quality and Clarity

Check the quality and transparency of the paint. Find paints with an excellent cover, flawless application, and minimal visible lines or imperfections. A top-quality nitrocellulose paint will increase the natural appeal of wood and give it a clear and crisp appearance.

Durability and Protection

Take into consideration the durability and protective characteristics that the coating offers. Nitrocellulose finishes are renowned due to their thin and breathable properties that allow the wood to reverberate. However, more durable finishes don’t offer the same amount of protection from scratches, dust, or moisture. Find paints that strike a good balance between preserving the instrument’s tonal characteristics and providing adequate protection for daily use.

Application and Ease of Use

Examine the process of application and the ease of application. Find simple paints to apply using a spray gun, aerosol bottles, or by hand. Consider the time to dry and the capability to sand or polish the finish, if needed. An easy-to-use nitrocellulose paint can assist you in achieving an expert-looking finish, even if you’re only a beginner.

Compatibility and Adhesion

Make sure the paint you use is suitable for the type of wood and previous finishes you have on the guitar. Certain paints made of nitrocellulose may stick better to certain kinds of wood or base coats. Find out if the paint needs special primers or preparations to ensure maximum adhesion and lasting outcomes.

Color and Finish Options

Think about the wide range of color and finish options that are available. Paints made from nitrocellulose are available in various shades, from translucent to solid, and come with various finishes like gloss, satin, or matte. Pick a piece of paint that fits your desired aesthetic and the instrument’s design.

Brand and Reviews

Choose paints from trusted brands that have received positive reviews. Established brands usually have a record of producing high-quality, reliable nitrocellulose paints. Find out customer feedback, talk with expert luthiers, or ask for advice to make sure you choose a paint that has the experience of producing satisfying outcomes.

Value for Money

Be aware of the overall price. While price alone shouldn’t be the only factor to consider, it is important to evaluate the features and quality of the paint in relation to its price. Find paints that provide an appropriate balance of price and performance.

Suppose you examine the paints for your guitar made of nitrocellulose based on these factors. In that case, you will be able to make an informed choice and pick one that is compatible with your particular requirements in terms of durability, quality, ease of use, aesthetics, compatibility, and overall worth.

Top 10 Nitrocellulose Guitar Paints Of 2023

In 2023, these will be considered among the best ten nitrocellulose guitar colors in the world based on their quality, reputation, and satisfaction with customers:

1. Retrench Nitrocellulose Lacquer: Retrench is a brand that has earned its reputation as a reliable brand in the guitar finishing industry. Their nitrocellulose lacquer provides great durability, easy application, and a silky, shiny finish that improves the resonance inherent in the wood.

2. Mohawk Classic Instrument Lacquer: Mohawk is known for its high-end finishes, and the nitrocellulose formulation is no exception. It offers exceptional clarity, depth, protection, and clarity, allowing the grain of the wood to shine through while also providing outstanding durability.

3. StewMac Color Tone Nitrocellulose Guitar Lacquer: StewMac is an extremely well-known brand for guitar repairers and builders, and their Color Tone Nitrocellulose lacquer is highly considered. It comes with a variety of colors, a great cover, and a high-end look that is reminiscent of vintage.

4.The Deft Clear Wood Finish Nitrocellulose Lacquer: The Deft brand is reputable in wood finishes, as is their nitrocellulose lacquer, which many guitarists highly regard. It is quick-drying, offers superior protection, and has an attractive, glass-like appearance that improves the look of your guitar.

5. House Of Kolor Nitrocellulose Guitar Lacquer: House of Color is known for its automotive finishes. In addition, nitrocellulose lacquer is a popular choice for guitar makers. It is a durable, high-gloss finish that resists fading and yellowing with time, bringing lasting beauty to your instrument.

6. Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish: While it’s primarily targeted for gun stocks, Tru Oil is a versatile nitrocellulose finish that performs exceptionally well on guitars. It improves the natural beauty of the wood, provides a soft feel, and is easy to apply, making it a popular choice among guitarists who build their guitars.

7. Behlen Stringed Instrument Lacquer: Behlen can be described as an established brand that is known for its top-quality finishes. Musicians extensively use lacquer made of nitrocellulose. It has great clarity, depth, and durability, providing an excellent finish that adds to the appearance of your guitar.

8. Gibson Old-fashioned Reissue Of Nitrocellulose: Gibson is a renowned guitar maker that uses nitrocellulose lacquer for their vintage replica guitars. The formula for lacquer replicates the classic finishes of old instruments, providing an authentic vintage appearance and feel.

9. Fender Custom Shop Nitrocellulose Lacquer: Fender’s Custom Shop utilizes nitrocellulose lacquer on their premium guitars. The lacquer offers a stunning vintage-inspired finish with outstanding sound and clarity, bringing value to every instrument bearing the Fender brand name.

10. Stewart-MacDonald’s Nitrocellulose Guitar Lacquer: Stewart-MacDonald is a highly regarded company in the guitar world, and their nitrocellulose lacquer is highly respected. It is and has to be applied with excellent coverage and an elegant finish that improves the guitar’s appearance.

These paints for guitars made of nitrocellulose have earned their reputation because of their high quality, durability, user friendliness, and ability to create an elegant, vintage-style finish. It is important to consider your individual preferences, requirements for the project, and the specific colors available when selecting the best color for your instrument.

What’s The Difference Between Nitrocellulose And Other Kinds Of Finishes For Guitars?

What's The Difference Between Nitrocellulose And Other Kinds Of Finishes For Guitars?

Several significant differences arise when comparing the nitrocellulose finish to other finishes on guitars. Here are a few important distinctions:

Application Process

Nitrocellulose: The lacquers of nitrogen are usually applied as thin coats using an aerosol sprayer or can. They require expertise and knowledge to get an elegant, professional look.

Other finishes: Different finishes, like polyester and polyurethane, can be applied using a brush, spray gun, or even by dipping the guitar. They could offer more flexible applications, which makes it easier for beginners or people who do not have the right equipment.

Thickness and Build-up

Nitrocellulose: Nitrocellulose finishes are renowned for their light and breathable characteristics. They let the wood resonate freely, which can help improve the overall tone. Most finishes with nitro require several thin coats to create the desired look.

Other finishes: Other finishes, such as polyester and polyurethane, tend to be dense and grow more rapidly with every application. They may provide the most robust layer of protection, but they can also dampen your instrument’s inherent resonance to some extent.

Repair and Refinishing

Nitrocellulose: Nitrocellulose finishes are typically more durable and easy to repair when compared to other finishes. They’re more accommodating when mixing, requiring new coats, or fixing tiny imperfections. However, extensive refinishing could require more labor-intensive procedures because of how the paint is applied.

Other finishes: Different finishes, especially ones with dense build-ups, such as polyurethane and polyester, could be more difficult to fix or finish. Removing these finishes might require sanding or stripping to remove the wood before applying an entirely new finish.

Aging and Yellowing

Nitrocellulose: Finishes made of nitrocellulose  Nitrocellulose tends to age and turn yellow with time, especially when exposed to ultraviolet light. This natural aging process may create an appealing patina and add to their overall appearance.

Other finishes: Different finishes like polyester or polyurethane are more resistant to yellowing and can keep their original appearance for longer durations. This is desirable for those who want a sparkling and clean appearance.

Environmental Impact

Nitrocellulose: Finishes made of nitrocellulose are regarded as more eco-friendly than other finishes. They’re typically solvent-based and could be harmful in the wrong hands. However, the latest formulas for nitrocellulose lacquers could be made with less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to lessen their environmental impact.

Other finishes, like water-based ones, have been created to be more environmentally friendly alternatives. These finishes have a lower VOC level and are generally safe to use, which makes them eco-friendly alternatives.

Every type of finish for a guitar comes with its own distinct characteristics. The choice is based on personal preferences, desired aesthetics, and the guitar’s purpose. Things like tonal impact repairs, accessibility to application, and environmental factors are to be considered when selecting the best finish for your guitar.

Can The Nitrocellulose Be Repaired And Re-raced?

Finishes made of nitrocellulose can be refinished and repaired, but the process might require more attention and care than other kinds of finishes. Here are a few important things to take into consideration:

Repairing Small Imperfections

The nitrocellulose lacquer is fairly tolerant in the case of repairing tiny imperfections, such as scratches or dents. The minor damage can usually be fixed by sanding down the area affected, feathering the edges, and then applying fresh layers of lacquer nitrocellulose to blend with the finish. This procedure may require experience and patience to produce the desired result.

Blending in New Coats

If the nitrocellulose finish wears out or is damaged in particular locations, applying a new coat of nitrocellulose lacquer that blends with the existing finish is possible. The process usually involves gently sanding the surface to encourage adhesion before applying the coats of lacquer and carefully polishing and buffing to create a uniform appearance. The correct color match and focus on detail are vital for ensuring a smooth transition between the previous and new finishes.

Complete Refinishing

In certain situations, a complete refinishing of the instrument could be required or desirable. This may involve stripping the old nitrocellulose finish to bare wood with appropriate stripping agents, sanding the area to create a level and uniform appearance, and then applying fresh coatings of the nitrocellulose lacquer to get the desired look. Refinishing in full is a more complex process that may take longer and require more effort; however, it gives you a new start and an opportunity to alter the appearance or color of the piece.

Considerations and Challenges

It is important to remember that nitrocellulose finishes could pose certain challenges in repair and finishing. Because of their thinness, the nitro finish means that the extensive refinishing process could alter the instrument’s resonance and general tone. In addition, removing the previous nitrocellulose finish, especially in the case of several layers, is long and laborious. Be cautious during the whole repair or refinishing procedure to prevent damaging the wood or harming the instrument’s structural integrity.

While nitrocellulose finishes can be repaired and refinished, it is essential to handle the work with care and skill. It’s a good idea to seek out the help of skilled professionals or look up comprehensive sources to get the best outcomes when working with nitrocellulose finishes.


What is nitrocellulose guitar paint?

Nitrocellulose guitar paint, also known as nitro lacquer, is a type of finish commonly used on guitars. It is made from nitrocellulose, a highly flammable and fast-drying substance dissolved in solvents. Nitrocellulose finishes are known for their vintage appeal and ability to enhance the natural resonance of the wood.

Why is nitrocellulose paint popular for guitars?

Nitrocellulose paint has been popular in the guitar industry for decades due to its unique qualities. It offers a thinner and more breathable finish compared to polyurethane or polyester finishes, allowing the wood to resonate more freely. Nitro finishes also have a reputation for aging gracefully and developing a natural relic look over time.

Is nitrocellulose paint easy to apply?

Applying nitrocellulose paint requires some skill and experience. It is often sprayed on guitars in multiple thin layers, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. The process may involve sanding and buffing between coats to achieve a smooth and glossy finish. It is recommended to follow proper safety precautions when working with nitrocellulose paint due to its flammability.

How long does nitrocellulose paint take to dry?

The drying time of nitrocellulose paint varies depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the thickness of the applied coats. Generally, each coat of nitro lacquer can take a few hours to a day to dry. However, the complete curing process can take weeks or even months, as the finish continues to harden over time.

Can I apply nitrocellulose paint over an existing finish?

Nitrocellulose paint can be applied over an existing nitrocellulose finish or certain other compatible finishes. However, it may not adhere well to polyurethane or polyester finishes. It is crucial to ensure proper compatibility and perform necessary surface preparation before applying nitrocellulose paint over an existing finish.

Is nitrocellulose paint durable?

While nitrocellulose finishes offer a beautiful aesthetic and tonal characteristics, they are generally less durable than modern polyurethane or polyester finishes. Nitro finishes can be prone to scratching, checking, and reacting to certain chemicals. However, with proper care and maintenance, nitrocellulose finishes can last a long time and develop a desirable patina over the years.