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Heritage Nitro Finish Question

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I have had my H535 for about a month now and have played it many hours.  Wonderful guitar!  It appears the nitro finish is much more resilient than other nitro finished guitars I have owned.  The other nitro finished guitars I own are Martin acoustics.  Perhaps the Martin finish is thinner and softer.  But when I was shopping for the H535, I found nitro finished electric guitars in stores seemed to be more susceptible finish wear than the Heritage.  The H535 just seems to have a very tough and high quality finish vs. others I have seen.  Does Heritage have a better nitro finish process than other guitar makers?

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Heritage had a real tough spell with Finish and lacquer problems a several years ago with the "Golden Era" team and the company made it through a very tough time, They resolved all issues long before they sold the company and finishes have never looked back.  The new owners have invested even more money in the finishing department with a new spray booth, healthier equipment and a curing room to shorten the entire process.

I am a purist at heart, my old school thinking is to have a light finish that allows the guitar to continuously breath and become more resonate with time... I do believe the finishes have become heavier and more durable.

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I don't know anything about the issues but, yeah, every Heritage I had the finish was done right. By that, I mean, incredibly thin on close inspection but at the same time perfectly even with a high gloss not to mention the shading on the 'bursts was just sublime in terms of symmetry. Getting a lacquer finish that good is a dying art. No faux drying methods, just wait until it cures and when sanding be very careful & very patient because it's much easier to sand through the lacquer than it is other modern finish materials then....rinse and repeat!

That's one of those things that's sadly going away thanks to modern production etc but thankfully that's still the process at Heritage.

Meanwhile folks are buying "VOS" from Gibson Custom to which you get the finely finished with steel wool look and the more uneven the shading the more "vintage correct" it is thanks to natural fading over time. It's sloppy-proof! No perfection needed! But, when those guitars were new in the 50's you got a thinner perfectly shaded high gloss lacquer finish the way Heritage does it today.

We go out and buy guitars then brag about the "perfect _____" then forget just how much time the other company saved by bucking tradition, for better or worse.

The new finishes (2017+) don't look any thicker in the photos (??) but's it's near impossible to tell online anyways. 

 

 

 

I wish some company would go full old school though and spray with old fashioned junk lacquer & fading dyes then put a sign on the packaging "This guitar was finished like guitars selling for 300 thousand dollars, with a lacquer formula that will yellow, check, wear in and colors that will fade, all excessively so in the first years of ownership. If you the buyer don't want this please get a different guitar." 

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8 minutes ago, deytookerjaabs said:

 

I wish some company would go full old school though and spray with old fashioned junk lacquer & fading dyes then put a sign on the packaging "This guitar was finished like guitars selling for 300 thousand dollars, with a lacquer formula that will yellow, check, wear in and colors that will fade, all excessively so in the first years of ownership. If you the buyer don't want this please get a different guitar." 

Here's a great pic of the "mixing area" that used to be upstairs on the 3rd floor of 225. I took this pic in March of 2016 which was a few weeks before Plaza Corp officially took over ownership on April 1st, some will remember that they're first order of business was to shut down operations for 2 weeks to "clean house".

a7fxTKW.jpg

 

Here's the article that MLive did for the reopening tour that took place a few weeks later on the 4/19.

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2016/06/heritage_guitar_expansion.html

 

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1 minute ago, Polo said:

Here's a great pic of the "mixing area" that used to be upstairs on the 3rd floor of 225. I took this pic in March of 2016 which was a few weeks before Plaza Corp officially took over ownership on April 1st, some will remember that they're first order of business was to shut down operations for 2 weeks to "clean house".

a7fxTKW.jpg

 

Here's the article that MLive did for the reopening tour that took place a few weeks later on the 4/19.

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2016/06/heritage_guitar_expansion.html

 

 

 

Great pic! I gotta admit, the OCD in me would definitely change that if I ran things too. "Uh, fellas, can we label the jars? How about each container has a logical place, you know, on a shelf, where everyone knows where it's at? How about leaving these tools in some thinner so they're clean for the next use?" 

There's a book written by a former Fender head of operations, he said when Leo hired him in the 50's his first and biggest task was "to organize everything in the work shops so people knew where the heck stuff was, we were losing hundreds of man hours just in looking for things." 

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1 hour ago, deytookerjaabs said:

 

I wish some company would go full old school though and spray with old fashioned junk lacquer & fading dyes then put a sign on the packaging "This guitar was finished like guitars selling for 300 thousand dollars, with a lacquer formula that will yellow, check, wear in and colors that will fade, all excessively so in the first years of ownership. If you the buyer don't want this please get a different guitar." 

I’d love that too, but I  thought our good friends at the EPA outlawed most all of those old lacquer formulas years ago.

Edited by davesultra

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32 minutes ago, davesultra said:

I’d love that too, but I  thought our good friends at the EPA outlawed most all of those old lacquer formulas years ago.

 

You can still get the same basic "McFadden formula" if you're counting the cured finish, the solvents are a bit different but that only effects the curing process. Manufacturers these days are more worried about of finish stability because of returns/etc so the modern softer formulas are everywhere.  Lots of makeover people use formulas such as "Behlen Qualalacq" which yellows pretty early, under the right conditions dries brittle like glass and is VOC compliant nationwide.

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2 hours ago, Polo said:

Here's a great pic of the "mixing area" that used to be upstairs on the 3rd floor of 225. I took this pic in March of 2016 which was a few weeks before Plaza Corp officially took over ownership on April 1st, some will remember that they're first order of business was to shut down operations for 2 weeks to "clean house".

 

 

Here's the article that MLive did for the reopening tour that took place a few weeks later on the 4/19.

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2016/06/heritage_guitar_expansion.html

 

The serial number on my new 535 is AG28501.  I think that means it was finished on March 21 2016.  Is that correct?  If my calculations are right it is one of the last guitars completed before Plaza Corp took over.

How deeply was Plaza Corp involved with day to day operations prior to official ownership on April 1?

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12 minutes ago, Budha said:

The serial number on my new 535 is AG28501.  I think that means it was finished on March 21 2016.  Is that correct?  If my calculations are right it is one of the last guitars completed before Plaza Corp took over.

How deeply was Plaza Corp involved with day to day operations prior to official ownership on April 1?

I’m not exactly sure on that issue, and would be curious to know as well. I have a Silverburst H-157 that has a serial number indicating Jan 27 2016.

Edited by davesultra

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43 minutes ago, Budha said:

The serial number on my new 535 is AG28501.  I think that means it was finished on March 21 2016.  Is that correct?  If my calculations are right it is one of the last guitars completed before Plaza Corp took over.

How deeply was Plaza Corp involved with day to day operations prior to official ownership on April 1?

If I owned your guitar I'd def consider it a PRE-PLAZA Heritage.

It does get a little dicey though considering that the guitars get "painted" quite awhile in front of being "finished". 

FWIW-  Plaza Corp was on site "reviewing" operations at 225 for about a year in front of the sale. I recall hearing a story about them wanting the workers to wear "go-pro" cameras so they could go back and review the footage to help identify any area's where efficiency could be improved. Laughs out loud.

Edited by Polo

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Just one thing, that always bugs me. Nitrocellulose lacquer NEVER cures. It dries, and when exposed to the solvent again readily dissolves. When something has cured, it is irreversible, like concrete or polyester.

The solvents in Nitro continue to evaporate over time, which is why if you get a guitar new, in a few years, the grain may be much more visible in the finish reflection after a few years. This is also true of catalyzed finishes to some extent, as the wood expands and contracts over time. However, you never really can see the grain like you can in some nitro finishes.

As for breathing, nitro is impermeable. There is no air exchange going through it, unless it is starting to check/crack. It was originally an automotive finish, and was designed to protect steel from rusting. If you ever play near a body of water in the summer with a two nitro guitars, a vintage one with a well-checked finish, and one with a new one, you'll probably notice some setup issues after a few hours.

Anyhow, nitro formulations differ from company to company, and also vary over time. The idea is to make a durable and attractive finish that dries in a reasonable amount of time, and doesn't need a day between coats. The additives control how soft or hard it is.

Does anyone know what type of color coats Heritage uses? Water based? Nitro? Acrylic?

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Industry wide the term "cure" for lacquer is used in a very different context than it is for enamels/latex/etc all across from literature to word of mouth so if that bugs you you're not gonna have a good time pretty often, lol. As in, "cured enough" to sand/handle/etc even though it never technically cures in the sense that other materials do. 

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On my my first H150 I was really unimpressed with the stain/finish job, but on the two H150s that I kept, I'm totally impressed with the Nitro finish, ESPECIALLY, the back of the necks which are hard as a rock and smooth as glass. On most of my gigging guitars, mostly Martin and Gibson acoustics, the finish isn't that good! 

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9 hours ago, Millennium Maestro said:

Heritage had a real tough spell with Finish and lacquer problems a several years ago with the "Golden Era" team and the company made it through a very tough time, They resolved all issues long before they sold the company and finishes have never looked back.  The new owners have invested even more money in the finishing department with a new spray booth, healthier equipment and a curing room to shorten the entire process.

I am a purist at heart, my old school thinking is to have a light finish that allows the guitar to continuously breath and become more resonate with time... I do believe the finishes have become heavier and more durable.

I have a Millie DC that was a victim of that "real tough spell" where the finish is checked in places, but I really don't mind it because you cannot see it unless you are viewing it up close. My 2016 Heritages seem to have a glossier and more even finish than those from years earlier. So I would concur with guy that the finishes have never looked back. 

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16 hours ago, Polo said:

Here's a great pic of the "mixing area" that used to be upstairs on the 3rd floor of 225. I took this pic in March of 2016 which was a few weeks before Plaza Corp officially took over ownership on April 1st, some will remember that they're first order of business was to shut down operations for 2 weeks to "clean house".

a7fxTKW.jpg

 

Here's the article that MLive did for the reopening tour that took place a few weeks later on the 4/19.

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2016/06/heritage_guitar_expansion.html

 

A bit of a tangent, but please indulge me.

This photo reminds me of the conversations I had with Marv while he was building my 357. I was thinking of a VSB type finish on my korina 357, but Marv wasn't certain he could get that look on korina, so we had many conversations about a finish that wouldn't be a korina natural. One day we were talking and he offered up orange as a finish he could shoot on korina. I had seen Frankie Ballard's orange maple 357, which is beautiful, but I just hadn't considered an orange korina 357. So Marv said he would shoot some scrap korina to see how it would look. He called me a few days later and indicated that he was happy with the orange he mixed. He said he would send me a picture so I could decide if  liked it. Ren sent me a couple of shots and they looked pretty good to me. I called Marv and told him I liked the sample he shot, well after we talked for a bit he said "Dave, you shouldn't have to make a decision by looking at a picture. let me send you the sample so you can see it in person" 

I was stunned that he FedEx'ed me the sample he shot for my approval. It was perfect and I called to tell him I loved it and to go ahead and shoot the guitar. Then he said laughing

" I hope I can remember how that one looked. I can't remember how I mixed up that color!"

I answered "Are you serious Marv?"

"Yea, I don't write down any of these mixes. I should probably start writing them down."

So I said "How about if I send it back for a reference?"

Marv said "Yea, that would probably be a good idea."

I snapped the sample in half so I could keep a bit as case candy and sent the other half to Marv so he could mix "that pain in the ass korina orange"

I asked him to put "pain in the ass korina orange" on the label, but he laughed and said " I can't do that" So I had to settle for Korina Orange.

 

 

This is the piece he sent me.

IMAG1250_zps5acc05ce.thumb.jpg.59fca31f57968c2f07922fb64fd06b14.jpg

 

IMAG1358-1_zpsbd5197b3.thumb.jpg.5644a0b3dee496512545ce16036b5460.jpg

dnm.JPG

Edited by DavesNotHere
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2 hours ago, DavesNotHere said:

A bit of a tangent, but please indulge me.

This photo reminds me of the conversations I had with Marv while he was building my 357. I was thinking of a VSB type finish on my korina 357, but Marv wasn't certain he could get that look on korina, so we had many conversations about a finish that wouldn't be a korina natural. One day we were talking and he offered up orange as a finish he could shoot on korina. I had seen Frankie Ballard's orange maple 357, which is beautiful, but I just hadn't considered an orange korina 357. So Marv said he would shoot some scrap korina to see how it would look. He called me a few days later and indicated that he was happy with the orange he mixed. He said he would send me a picture so I could decide if  liked it. Ren sent me a couple of shots and they looked pretty good to me. I called Marv and told him I liked the sample he shot, well after we talked for a bit he said "Dave, you shouldn't have to make a decision by looking at a picture. let me send you the sample so you can see it in person" 

I was stunned that he FedEx'ed me the sample he shot for my approval. It was perfect and I called to tell him I loved it and to go ahead and shoot the guitar. Then he said laughing

" I hope I can remember how that one looked. I can't remember how I mixed up that color!"

I answered "Are you serious Marv?"

"Yea, I don't write down any of these mixes. I should probably start writing them down."

So I said "How about if I send it back for a reference?"

Marv said "Yea, that would probably be a good idea."

I snapped the sample in half so I could keep a bit as case candy and sent the other half to Marv so he could mix "that pain in the ass korina orange"

I asked him to put "pain in the ass korina orange" on the label, but he laughed and said " I can't do that" So I had to settle for Korina Orange.

 

 

This is the piece he sent me.

IMAG1250_zps5acc05ce.thumb.jpg.59fca31f57968c2f07922fb64fd06b14.jpg

 

IMAG1358-1_zpsbd5197b3.thumb.jpg.5644a0b3dee496512545ce16036b5460.jpg

dnm.JPG

These are the stories I will miss!  I have a bunch of them.

 

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Heritage had a real tough spell with Finish and lacquer problems a several years ago with the "Golden Era" team and the company made it through a very tough time, They resolved all issues long before they sold the company and finishes have never looked back.  The new owners have invested even more money in the finishing department with a new spray booth, healthier equipment and a curing room to shorten the entire process.
I am a purist at heart, my old school thinking is to have a light finish that allows the guitar to continuously breath and become more resonate with time... I do believe the finishes have become heavier and more durable.

If you want a completely authentic 50s-era reproduction then talk to Ron Luczak.
http://kalamazooclassicseries.webstarts.com/index.html?r=20130203155743



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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On 3/14/2018 at 4:54 AM, skydog52 said:

These are the stories I will miss!  I have a bunch of them.

 

I think right there is probably the root behind all the current discord with the current management. We had quite the inside track. 

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1 hour ago, tulk1 said:

I think right there is probably the root behind all the current discord with the current management. We had quite the inside track. 

Been my thought for weeks.  Would explain a lot of the fierce loyalty, wounding, and blinding subjectivity of so many posts on "changeover" threads.  And I don't think those things are, to a point, necessarily bad....

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On 3/14/2018 at 12:54 AM, DavesNotHere said:

A bit of a tangent, but please indulge me.

dnm.JPG

Wonderful story and awesome guitar, Dave.  Would you please share what the serial number is on yours?  Thanks!  

Did you keep the P-92 pups?  How do you like them?

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On ‎3‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 12:52 PM, yoslate said:

Been my thought for weeks.  Would explain a lot of the fierce loyalty, wounding, and blinding subjectivity of so many posts on "changeover" threads.  And I don't think those things are, to a point, necessarily bad....

I too will miss those kinds of stories/posts.

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