Guitars , Nitro and Relic
I have always been amazed by the approach of Les Paul and Gibson’s engineers used to create these legendary guitars.
The best wood, sophisticated technology and classic approach - it is worth applause. But I was disappointed with modern, simplified guitar engineering technologies. A few years ago I decided to conduct an experiment and find out what happens if I restore the exact technology of a LP guitar of the fifties. I spent about 2 years searching for information and recreating accurate drawings and construction algorithms. I wanted my replica to be as accurate as possible - without the slightest compromise. Wood, plastic, metal, dimensions, lacquer, appearance and sound recreated to within a fraction of a millimeter and accurate reproduction of voice and sensations. My research experience helped me a lot in this project. To work with wood, I turned to guitar master Valery Vaschenko. Valery is a unique master, of which there are very few. He is an adherent of the old school of
violin makers. Most wood operations are done by hand. It requires tremendous skill and experience. Together with him, we started and support this project.
My experiment was a success and now I can definitely say that all the work put into a LP guitar works - every node, every material, detail, angle or size - all these are indispensable components of that unique voice. We have the ability to make the most accurate copies of old LPs and F-Vs. Our information base is replenished every day thanks to our friends and fans of LPs around the world. Drawings are prepared based on the actual sizes of the original vintage guitars. Careful selection of premium wood for each guitar build. Valery works with wood, and I finish painting with my nitro varnish and aging for those guitars that require a reliced motif.
To order, contact Valery Vaschenko:
Work process of Valery Vaschenko here:
I started my study of the sound of guitars many years ago with guitar refinishing. I noticed that the lacquer coating of an electric guitar has a tremendous effect on its sound. Since for me, working with varnishes is very close to my profession, I began to refinish guitars and explore the effect of different varnishes on sound. I experimented with shellac and violin varnishes, cooked according to old technologies and recipes. Some of them work amazingly on acoustic musical instruments. For electric guitars, nitro varnish proved to be the most convenient and traditional coating. Its main advantage for guitar manufacturers has always been its low price compared to shellac and other varnishes. But nitro varnish is not very convenient in finishing. It gives a high shrinkage, with time it turns yellow and becomes brittle. It cracks. For manufacturers, this was a huge disadvantage and as soon as the opportunity appeared they all switched to polyurethane, acrylic or two-component varnishes, which are easier to work with. They do not crack and you can quickly make a perfectly smooth and durable coating. Just like in the furniture industry - easier, cheaper, faster. But why then doconnoisseurs of vintage guitars value nitro so much now? The coating has too many "minuses". Nitro dries all its life, gradually losing plasticizers (some evaporate, some harden), the nitrocellulose
oxidation process goes on continuously. There are microcracks. This makes it possible for the coating to vibrate with the wood, without constraining resonance and micro-vibrations. I am a skeptic by nature and I check any information on my own experience. I did tests of all brands of nitrocellulose lacquer that I came across. Most of them are only called “nitro”, but in essence they are polyurethane varnishes. Polyurethane resins and other additives are used as plasticizers. The only thing that unites them is their basis - nitrocellulose (colloxylin). Since I, in my artistic experience, have repeatedly encountered the preparation of varnishes, I began to make it myself. This gives me the opportunity to clearly control the quality, structure, aging process and the effect of varnish on the sound of the guitar. My nitro mix does not have plasticizers and after my aging process it gets the microstructure of old vintage nitro lacquer.
My idea of aging is to create maximum realism. This also applies to plastic and metal parts. I use many traditional methods of oxidation of metals from my research , aand reinvented by me. For each material I have a dozen ways to do it. I constantly experiment and invent new ways to recreate one or another effect. The aging of varnish in my concept is an important point in the formation of not only a realistic vintage look, but also in the formation of the sound of the entire guitar. My technology consists of many stages and takes about 1.5-2 months from applying a finishing coat of lacquer to the final result. You can see some technological moments in my videos. But this is far from complete technology and not all possible options. I prefer to keep some of my operations secret. All the guitars I work on have my decal label in the pickup cavity. So far,
I am not accepting guitars for refinishing from outside my country, as in my country there are strict customs limits. To order materials for work, I have to send parcels to a neighboring country and then go collect them several hundred kilometers away. But there may be problems with sending the guitar.
By this I do not take the risk. I hope that this problem will be solved soon. Now I can send all over the world guitars made by Valery Vashchenko dyed and aged by me.