What Kind of Lacquer Does Ludwig use?

jdrums22

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I have been wondering what kind of polishes/shines to use on my Classic Maples and it didn't seem safe to just slap something on there. Their finish is the Natural Maple gloss, but nowhere does it say what kind of lacquer they use. Please comment if you have any idea what it may be, or if you have any idea on what to use as a polish. :rolleyes:

Jdrums
 

K.O.

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Most modern drums are done in some type of polyurethane finish although I don't know specifically what Ludwig now uses.

I believe Gretsch is the only major company still using true lacquer (nitro-Cellulose...and then only on their top of the line USA Customs) as it is very labor intensive to use...and also a bit dangerous.
 

supershifter2

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i use that pledge funiture clearner on my 1980's tama superstars. they came from tama painted with black laquer. never had an issue with the paint, except for a few scratches and dings from broke sticks hittin them.
 

drummerfish

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generally you don't need to polish laquer drums. cleaners/polish will eat away the laquer in time. its not like a satin wood finish or a furniture piece were you clean it once a week. just a damp cloth will do the job.

case in point, a old friend of mine said he used a wood polish on his kit since i got it when he was a kit. it was a satin type finish, and something like 30 years later he asks "why are the shells cracking?" well he ate way the protective finish that was originally put on and not he's down to wood.

if you have a kit with scuffs and wear marks from time, then i would using a polish to take them out is ok.
 

Sonorlite

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generally you don't need to polish laquer drums. cleaners/polish will eat away the laquer in time. its not like a satin wood finish or a furniture piece were you clean it once a week. just a damp cloth will do the job.
With respect I'm going to have to disagree with you, drummerfish.

For a cleaner/polish to 'Eat Away" at a finish it must have a chemical added that reacts with the finish. No manufacturer makes a cleaning/finish protector that will ruin a finish because it would do the opposite of what its supposed to do. Someone might use an incorrect cleaner though, sure.

Lacquer, like chrome, will develop an oxidised layer on it when used in an environment(s) that facilitate it. Theres no harm in using a polish as its abrasive quality is pretty much, nada. It just lays on the surface.

Personally I don't like the general household Mr Scheen, etc. I'd rather use a quality car product. But a damp cloth will certainly clean the drums - before polishing them.


case in point, a old friend of mine said he used a wood polish on his kit since i got it when he was a kit. it was a satin type finish, and something like 30 years later he asks "why are the shells cracking?" well he ate way the protective finish that was originally put on and not he's down to wood.

if you have a kit with scuffs and wear marks from time, then i would using a polish to take them out is ok.
That case sounds very very strange, drummerfish. I'd hazard a guess theres more to it than him using the correct, polish. If they were old and finished in Nitro-cellulose I'd not be surprised they'd crack at some point as the plasticisers in Nitro, eventually, migrates. The finish then becomes brittle. This is one reason as to why old nitro-cellulose finished guitars, crack - another is woods expansion/contraction under environmental conditions. Using the correct polish merely preserves and protects. Using the wrong product ends in disaster - Imho.
 

esooy

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The main reason why finishes can eventually crack is because they are applied too heavily. Nitro lacquer dries by solvent evaporation. The material is suspended in solvent. When the finish is applied beyond the spec'd max thickness, solvent is trapped below the surface and continues to wick its way out for years. Hence, cracks eventually form. True nitrocellulose lacquer is not spec'd for that deep wet gloss look because it has a very low solids content. For the deep wet gloss look you need a high solids content finish like polyester.

Polyester is a 100% solids product that does not shrink because the cure is by chemical reaction and not solvent evaporation. It's great for production because it can be sprayed, cured, sanded, and buffed all within 24hrs if you do it right and you're in a hurry.

To the original question... I'm not sure what Ludwig uses. :rolleyes:
 

CaptainCrunch

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My best guess is that Ludwig uses a poly, since the enviromental regulations to use nitro are Very Serious Business (no denying that it's real nasty stuff), and only a company as dependent on making their drums as close as possible to the "good old days" would worry about it - the best way to check is to rub your thumb on them until the friction feels warm. Sniff well. If it stinks faintly like the bowels of hell, it's nitro. If it stinks like nothing at all, it's polyurethane.

I've been building and refinishing guitars for a few years now, and there are a few misunderstandings here as to what nitro is and can do.

Firstly, I don't care for Pledge on wood/clear finishes, but for a dumb reason. Pledge (and many similar products) contain silicone, which, once it touches a surface, it's incredibly hard/impossible to fully decontaminate and most products I use won't stick right, or will have weird yucky reactions. And I live in this fantasy world where I think I'm going to refinish all of my furniture one day, so Pledge is not allowed in my house. Dumb.

I don't know what exactly happened to your friend's satin finished kit, drummerfish.. but what you describe sounds odd. Nitro will crack and craze with age, but if he's down to the wood from regular hand polishing, he's using something very abrasive, or he's terrifyingly strong. A chemical reaction is not impossible.

And nitro, when done patiently and properly (both things not well-suited to modern mass production methods) can absolutely achieve that mile-deep gloss. Of course, awful things will happen if it's gooped on too thick too fast, but that goes for anything. I usually take about a month to get a finish on a guitar (for further info, check out http://www.reranch.com/, plus they have an excellent forum), let it cure for a month or two, then wet sand, wet sand, wet sand.

Remember, the nitro lacquer that's commonly available is originally formulated as automotive paint. All those great vintage Fender guitar Custom Colors were 50's and 60's car paint ordered from the same suppliers, and while the Watco stuff I prefer to use yellows and cracks with great vigor (better for a vintage-looking guitar finish), there are more modern formulations like Deft that have plasticizers and anti-yellowing properties.

And, as a final answer to the question: based on my experience, I really like "3M Finesse It II Fine Polishing Compound". It's compatible with every finish I'm aware of, and it has no oil, silicone, or wax - unlike 99% of car waxes. It's also fine enough that you have plenty of warning if you're getting into trouble.

Hope that's helpful!
 

blueshadow

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I've used Pledge on my ludwigs since 1993, the bass drum is starting to get some bubbles in the finish but I think or at least blame it on using car wax once.... maybe just getting old either way they still look good.
 

tamadrm

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Clean and dry with a good microfiber cloth and use a good carnuba wax without additives.I've been using that since the 70's on my Superstars(the microfiber cloth for the last 5 years)Aside from a few scratches,they look new,with original finish intact.

Steve B
 

esooy

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Clarification:

Polyester is not the same as polyurethane. I can't say for certain, but I highly doubt any major or middle manufacturer uses polyurethane.
 

K.O.

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Clarification:

Polyester is not the same as polyurethane. I can't say for certain, but I highly doubt any major or middle manufacturer uses polyurethane.

Sorry, I'm not a paint guy...my main point is that they don't use lacquer, at least not traditional lacquer. I got the "poly" part right :icon_smile:
 

esooy

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Clarification:

Polyester is not the same as polyurethane. I can't say for certain, but I highly doubt any major or middle manufacturer uses polyurethane.

Sorry, I'm not a paint guy...my main point is that they don't use lacquer, at least not traditional lacquer. I got the "poly" part right :icon_smile:
No prob, I actually meant to clarify my post. These finish names are losing their meaning, and manufacturers are to blame. Lacquer is a much more sexy term than Polyester, and lacquer is being used when in fact the finish is actually polyester. But whatever, as long as it's shiny and deep! Huh????!?!?!
 

K.O.

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Twenty five or so years ago my dad used to restore sports cars (Porsches mostly) as a hobby and he'd shoot them with lacquer when they were done. Lacquer was much better suited to use in someone's garage because it dried so quick you didn't have to worry about dust or bugs settling into the paint before it was dry (enamel dried slowly unless you could bake it on). Of course spraying it on was just the first step since you had to wet sand it and polish it out to get it shiny...but boy it was worth it when it was all done, it looked like wet glass. He used to favor using a Red color (called "Guard's Red" by Porsche) that was just the perfect color for a car.

I used to dabble in the hobby and even did a little lacquer painting myself but I couldn't get past all the sanding involved... sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint, ad infinitum. I never had enough patience for all that and never did much beyond fix up a couple of 914s. Eventually my dad stopped using lacquer as he couldn't hardly find any place to buy it as the catalyzed paints came into widespread use. I suppose some of the old school custom shops may still use lacquer on cars but that would be about it. It wasn't as durable as other paints either, but it was much easier to make spot repairs as necessary since it melts into itself.

But of course this has nothing to do with drums (unless they're Gretsch customs...which I do happen to own a bunch of :wink: ).
 

Sonorlite

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The main reason why finishes can eventually crack is because they are applied too heavily. Nitro lacquer dries by solvent evaporation. The material is suspended in solvent. When the finish is applied beyond the spec'd max thickness, solvent is trapped below the surface and continues to wick its way out for years. Hence, cracks eventually form.
Eric, I don't disagree a too thick a coat could be a reason for a finish cracking, but I do about there being any "trapped" solvent. Theres a reason for using the correct solvent so as it isn't, "trapped." If a solvent is trapped under the top coat it changes from its liquid state into a gas and forms small, clear, bubbles, under the surface. You then have a finish problem known as: Solvent Popping/Boiling. Off-gassing, which you are describing as "wicking its way" out is not, trapped solvent.

A surface with thicker coats will have varying surface tensions and is more a reason as to why thicker coats, crack - especially if you try to re-coat one - because you release the tension...

I'll reiterate what I posted before regarding OLD Nitro-Cellulose. Cellulose is brittle and eventually suffers from Plasticiser Migration. It loses its flexibility - just as any other cellulose product that has an added plasticiser will eventually turn brittle and crack. Think of old celluloid film. It disintegrates in the hand at its worst.
 

jrfrond

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Bingo! Or Novus Spray Polish.

The only production drums using nitro are Gretsch USA Custom, and though I'm not sure, I THINK it is catalyzed nitro, not solvent-based, since Gretsch went to battle with the EPA a long time ago and had to discontinue it's lacquer finishes for awhile until they came up with something new. Everything else is either polyester or polyurethane, all synthetics. There's no reason that you cannot polish these glossy finishes with preparations designed for plastics, because that is what they are, and this is what will make them shine their best, as well as resist fingermarks.

Oil-based products such as Pledge et al leave an oily film that might LOOK slick (and it is), but will also tend to attract dirt and emphasize smudging. These polishes are NOT meant for plastic surfaces. Likewise, you wouldn't use plastic polishes, which often contain silicone, or nitro lacquer finishes. For these, guitar or furniture polishes formulated specifically for nitro lacquer are what's needed.

You need to match the cleaner for the job. A damp rag is fine to remove dirt and dust, but it won't polish.
 

jbonzo1

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Twenty five or so years ago my dad used to restore sports cars (Porsches mostly) as a hobby and he'd shoot them with lacquer when they were done. Lacquer was much better suited to use in someone's garage because it dried so quick you didn't have to worry about dust or bugs settling into the paint before it was dry (enamel dried slowly unless you could bake it on). Of course spraying it on was just the first step since you had to wet sand it and polish it out to get it shiny...but boy it was worth it when it was all done, it looked like wet glass. He used to favor using a Red color (called "Guard's Red" by Porsche) that was just the perfect color for a car.

I used to dabble in the hobby and even did a little lacquer painting myself but I couldn't get past all the sanding involved... sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint, ad infinitum. I never had enough patience for all that and never did much beyond fix up a couple of 914s. Eventually my dad stopped using lacquer as he couldn't hardly find any place to buy it as the catalyzed paints came into widespread use. I suppose some of the old school custom shops may still use lacquer on cars but that would be about it. It wasn't as durable as other paints either, but it was much easier to make spot repairs as necessary since it melts into itself.

But of course this has nothing to do with drums (unless they're Gretsch customs...which I do happen to own a bunch of :wink: ).
Ahh, Guards Red! My dream car was always a 944 in Guards Red. About fifteen years ago I got one in Stone Grey Metallic, not Guards Red but a blast to drive nonetheless!
 

Bongo Congo

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A guy I worked with at school was a guitar player wannabe, and on wood finishes he used guitar polish but I don't remember the brand. He also used fretboard conditioner on the bearing edges of older drums once a year or so. Not quite sure whether that was necessarily a good idea or not. He thought so.
The Gibson guitar polish does a beautiful job on their guitars, I don't know what drums it would be appropriate for, probably most or all of them.....

Good old paraffin wax (or a candle) rubbed along the bearing edges when changing heads seems to seat heads quickly and smoothly. I still do that, always have, it only takes a minute and really does help the seating... I think. I might just be superstitious.
 

tamadrm

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Taylor guitars recomends Turtle wax car polish,and linseed oil with 0000 steel wool for their fretboards...for what its worth.

Steve B
 

K.O.

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Ahh, Guards Red! My dream car was always a 944 in Guards Red. About fifteen years ago I got one in Stone Grey Metallic, not Guards Red but a blast to drive nonetheless!
I've got a black one out in the garage...unfortunately it hasn't moved under its own power in about 8 years. I wish it were Guard's Red though then it would look like it was flying while sitting still.
 
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