Making guitars is one thing. Finishing them is something else altogether! As a kid I always wondered how guitar manufacturers managed to get such deep glossy finishes on their guitars. Once I started building them I learned that the “coolest” finish for guitars is nitrocellulose lacquer. This is what Gibson and Fender used in the 50’s, and while the formulas are no longer the same (the old stuff was very bad for people and the environment), one can still get a finish that’s close to the classics. On recommendation from various web sites, I started using Sherwin Williams LOVOC- a lacquer that looks and feels like the old stuff but also has fewer dangerous volatile organic compounds. It also dries faster than other finishes I’ve tried, like Behlins which took forever, I mean, literally a month or more, to dry. I found a spray gun (you need a compressor for these- the bigger the better) that works great and also happens to be the cheapest spray gun I’ve ever bought. It is a Tool Force touch up spray gun model A-C2. I think I paid about $18 for it on Amazon. I combined it with the “3M PPS system” -which allows you to work with these finishes using disposable spray cups, less clean-up and less exposure to the nasty chemicals. This makes a big difference in the enjoyment of finishing a guitar. The gun has a lot of adjustments, allowing you to get a very fine mist, great for sunburst finishes.
The $17 Tool Force is, in my experience, fantastic for guitars. The $120 Leonardo ATD-16913 is essentially useless.
these disposable cups work great and offer less exposure to harmful chemicals
In contrast- the Leonardo ATD-16913 has been completely useless to me, except it introduced me to the PPS system mentioned above because it includes the PPS cup and adapter in the package. This gun, no matter how I adjust it, doesn’t properly atomize the lacquer. I get big messy drops on my guitars. I sent email to the US distributor asking for help but no one responded. It is possible my compressor just can’t get enough CFM to properly work the gun, but I’ll never know because it is impossible to talk to anyone and they don’t answer their email requests. In short:
Tool Force A-C2 Touch Up Spray Gun highly recommended
3M- PPS system and adapters for different spray guns highly recommended (by the way the PPS adapter for the Tool Force gun is the 3M 16105 PPS Adapter #21)
Leonardo ATD-16913 NOT recommended