What's the hardest part about building a custom guitar? Finishes

Finish is the hardest part of the guitar, usually.  Today guitars are finished with car finishes at most big shops. Why? Guitar players demand fancy high gloss finishes, and those type of finishes are labor intensive and difficult to achieve.  Car finishes are designed for high-speed industrial production, which makes them easier and more efficient to use. They can be sprayed, cured and buffed in the same day! They also allow for brilliant colors and a rock hard clearcoat. 

So why doesn't Born Guitars® use car finish?  - Car finishes are horrible for the environment and us.  It releases toxic chemicals into the air, it requires toxic chemicals to clean it out of spray guns, and any leftover finish is toxic.  To give you an idea of how strong the chemicals are in car finish - If you simply take the lid off a can of car paint without a mask on, you might pass out from the fumes alone. Some of these finishes have warnings like - 'if finish contacts your eye...you will lose your eye'

Born Guitars® uses waterborne finishes to achieve the car finish look.  These water-based finishes clean up with water, require no additional chemicals, and are fairly harmless if we have an accident and get some on our skin.  They also have minimal chemicals in them, and are similar to interior house paint in terms of VOCs (Volitile Organic Compounds - The bad stuff).  

So why don't all guitar builders use waterborne finish? - It can be a complete pain in the rear.  Water-based finishes are much less forgiving, and for the inexperienced finisher they can be an absolute nightmare to spray compared to more traditional finishes such as nitrocellulose finish (most common guitar finish traditionally) and modern car finishes.  At Born we've developed specific methods to achieve excellent results with water-based finish, and we are also willing to deal with the slow and artisanal methods required to use waterborne finish.  We don't use it because it's easy, we use it because we feel its the only right thing to do.


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