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Unread 07-29-2013, 10:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Nitro fumes?

I've been a long-time reader and have learned tons from all of you. I've finally got a question warranting my first post.

I just opened the case of my Billie Joe Armstrong Junior and played it for the first time in a month or so. While playing, I noticed the usual strong odor which I believe is from the nitro finish. I also noticed I found my eyes watering--the aroma was that strong.

I was thinking it's the fumes from the guitar outgassing, but was wondering: has anybody else experienced this?

I got this guitar on eBay about a year ago and think it's a fairly early one, as the SN starts with 06 and it has the 3 on a side tuners. The seller told me he found it in a music store where it had been in a case since new and he only played it a couple of times before storing it away for a year.

It hasn't been out of the case much at all.

It's a very cool guitar and sounds better with the Duncan Antiquity P90 I put in. Just wish it wasn't making my eyes water so much.

Am I the only one who's experienced the eye-watering?

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Unread 07-29-2013, 10:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

I don't know, but maybe keep the case open in a room for a while until the smell goes away. No need to baby it.
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Unread 07-29-2013, 10:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

Nitro off-gassing is quite normal. I cherish that smell 'cos it means I just got a new gitfiddle!

Leave your guitar out of its case (like I do) and it will dissipate after a few weeks.

I LOVE THE SMELL OF NITRO IN THE MORNING!
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Unread 07-30-2013, 06:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

I've read speculation here that it isn't the nitro that smells, but the glue in the case.

Either way, keeping them apart for a month or two with the case left open should alleviate the problem.

There are few reported cases of nitro causing health problems, but it should be noted that in most guitarists (including me) people are inclined to attribute physical and mental problems simply to the fact that we are guitarists. At least we fare better than drummers in that regard.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 06:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by winexprt View Post
Leave your guitar out of its case (like I do) and it will dissipate after a few weeks.

I LOVE THE SMELL OF NITRO IN THE MORNING!
Thanks. I normally leave my Gibsons in the cases, closed, but I'll leave this one open for a couple of weeks and see if the smell goes away. I'm surprised it's still out-gassing after this many years.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 06:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by boyscout View Post
I've read speculation here that it isn't the nitro that smells, but the glue in the case.
I think it's the guitar. The case has no smell at all, put when I put my nose to the guitar I can really smell it. My 2011 Bonamassa Studio, on the other hand, doesn't have any smell on it at all but the white lining in the case has the sweet vanilla smell that I love so much

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There are few reported cases of nitro causing health problems, but it should be noted that in most guitarists (including me) people are inclined to attribute physical and mental problems simply to the fact that we are guitarists. At least we fare better than drummers in that regard.
I use that on my wife all the time. Still doesn't always get me out of the doghouse!
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Unread 07-30-2013, 06:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

Strike a match near it. If it explodes or goes up into flames, you'll know it's the nitro . On a similar but slightly more serious note related to my response: Looked up nitro cellulose on the internet as I thought cellulose was plant sugar. Can't confirm on deny that, but the nitro part is the same component used in explosive nitroglycerine. Pretty wild. It would suggest the finish on our gibbys is highly flammable.

John
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Unread 07-30-2013, 07:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

Never noticed anything on mine, but now I want to go home and smell it..
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Unread 07-30-2013, 08:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Never noticed anything on mine, but now I want to go home and smell it..
My new LP Trad Pro has the sweet smell of vanilla. Just picked it up new about 2 weeks ago. Hanging in my studio and I can smell vanilla every time I play it. I like it! Funny but the case smells neutral. I am guessing with everyone else it is the finish. No eye watering issues here. Just that each time I finish playing it I have this overwhelming urge for a vanilla milk shake.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 10:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by bobswinea View Post
My new LP Trad Pro has the sweet smell of vanilla. Just picked it up new about 2 weeks ago. Hanging in my studio and I can smell vanilla every time I play it. I like it! Funny but the case smells neutral. I am guessing with everyone else it is the finish. No eye watering issues here. Just that each time I finish playing it I have this overwhelming urge for a vanilla milk shake.


That 'vanilla' smell is the new nitro. Was overwhelming on my new Trad Plus back in '11. Was there on my 2013 R8 but nowhere near as strong as with my Trad when it was new. My guess is the R8 doesn't have as thick a finish as the Trad.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 11:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

So the vanilla is nitro? I thought it was to cover the smell of glue used in making the case. Someone make up thier mind on this one already.

My Les Paul case has that vanilla smell.

I just finished a guitar in nitro and it smelled like what one would think nitro would smell like; very paint fumey.

The glue used in the Fender tweed case for my Tele will make you eyes water. That is an obnoxious smell.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 11:10 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

If you fart in a paper bag and seal it quickly then close the bag in the case with the guitar the gasses in the fart will counteract the smell of the nitro....without making the guitar smell like farts.

GIve it a try.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 11:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

The vanilla smell is 100% the case glue. Take your guitar out of the case for a few weeks and smell it, nothing. Put it back in your case overnight and then smell it in the morning. Vanilla.

Sometimes i'll leave my Gibson cases open in a room for few hours just so i can have that smell in my house.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 04:44 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by boyscout View Post
There are few reported cases of nitro causing health problems,
More than a few, and those health problems can be life-threatening, which is why it's banned in most states. It's mostly the folks that work with it that are affected, but it's both toxic in the short term and carcinogenic in the long term. It outgasses VOCs when fresh (due to the solvents used). When it begins to break down (which usually begins within a couple of years) it begins to outgas its basic components, sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Those components attack, among other things, the metal components on the guitar, hastening the corrosion of frets, strings, pickup wire, covers and screws.

The "scent" can be caused by aldehydes in the solvents of both the finish and the glues of the case.

Breathe Deep.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 08:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

My reference to health problems was tongue-in-cheek, but thanks for clarifying since there do seem to be small risks I didn't know about.

I've just done some reading and as you point out most of the risk is to those applying the finish, but during drying and breakdown over time nitro does release compounds that can be toxic.

To the OP, I read that nitrocellulose dries to the touch quickly, but can take several months to dry completely. (It doesn't "cure", it dries, and can be quickly re-dissolved with lacquer or lacquer thinner.) Maybe yours is fresh off the line?

I also read that "better instruments" are these days covered with a more-durable polyurethane coating which is more resistant to chipping and cracking. What will the next generation of Tom Murphys do?
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Unread 07-30-2013, 08:19 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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The vanilla smell is 100% the case glue. Take your guitar out of the case for a few weeks and smell it, nothing. Put it back in your case overnight and then smell it in the morning. Vanilla.

Sometimes i'll leave my Gibson cases open in a room for few hours just so i can have that smell in my house.
I have to disagree. I feel it is absolutely NOT the case glue that is responsible for that vanilla aroma.

I bought my 2011 Trad Plus new in the Summer of 2011. Took it out of its case and sat it on a stand in my living room like I do with all my LP's. And there it sat for months (still there actually). Case went in a closet in another room. My living room had a strong scent of vanilla for several weeks...case nowhere in sight. The intensity of the aroma died down about two months later.

My 2013 R8 has the same oder of vanilla, albeit to a lesser degree, and has also sat on a stand in my living room for a few weeks now. Its Lifton case is also in a closet a couple of rooms away.

I literally just picked up both my Trad and my R8 and put my nose to the finish: oder of vanilla. Go figure...

The cases smell like vanilla because the off-gassing guitar was in there. Not the other way around.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 08:23 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

Your eyes are watering because it's so beautiful.

It's ok. No reason to go back to Epiphone.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 09:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by Markpilip View Post
I'm surprised it's still out-gassing after this many years.
You shouldn't be, hell I'm in my 40's and I'm still out-gassing and I didnt' start till my mid 30's.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 09:36 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by christianpaulanderson View Post
Your eyes are watering because it's so beautiful.

It's ok. No reason to go back to Epiphone.
It is a sweet-looking guitar. Although I'm new to Gibson, I've never owned an Epi although I bought my brother a Bonamassa Epi and it's a nice guitar. Plus, no fumes!
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Unread 07-30-2013, 10:33 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by Markpilip View Post
...but the white lining in the case has the sweet vanilla smell that I love so much...
My Les Paul Pro also has the vanilla smell when I open the case. It gives me the munchies.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 10:55 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by christianpaulanderson View Post
Your eyes are watering because it's so beautiful.

It's ok. No reason to go back to Epiphone.
I was going to say the watery eyes are due to paying that much for a guitar. Or the leopard spots?
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Unread 07-31-2013, 01:53 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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I have to disagree. I feel it is absolutely NOT the case glue that is responsible for that vanilla aroma.
The vanilla smell is from case glue, and hangs around a new guitar for several weeks after they're taken out of the case. It'll come straight back if you put it back in there for a few hours though.

I keep a cheap 10 year old Chinese copy in a Les Paul Trad case, it now reeks of vanilla.

Seriously, try it. It would be a great way to convince a buyer that your off-brand POS or fake Les Paul was finished in nitro.
"Mmm, just smell that yummy vintage-correctness..."

Really, it's the case.
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Unread 07-31-2013, 07:12 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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The vanilla smell is from case glue, and hangs around a new guitar for several weeks after they're taken out of the case. It'll come straight back if you put it back in there for a few hours though.

I keep a cheap 10 year old Chinese copy in a Les Paul Trad case, it now reeks of vanilla.

Seriously, try it. It would be a great way to convince a buyer that your off-brand POS or fake Les Paul was finished in nitro.
"Mmm, just smell that yummy vintage-correctness..."

Really, it's the case.
I'm soooo confused!!!!!!!!!
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Unread 07-31-2013, 08:40 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

It's the P-90 leaking awesomeness.
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Unread 07-31-2013, 01:49 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Originally Posted by jc2000 View Post
I'm soooo confused!!!!!!!!!
Why? Put an Agile copy in a white-lined Trad case for a while and it'll smell like a Trad.
Buy a nitro finished Les Paul Studio in a gig bag and it won't smell of vanilla.

I know it's not a romantic enough answer for this forum, but the vanilla smell is the case. If you buy the guitar with no case, it doesn't smell of vanilla. If you buy the case from a dealer with no guitar in it, it does smell of vanilla. They don't sit an "out-gassing" Les Paul in it for a week before they sell it to you just to give it the correct aroma.
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Unread 07-31-2013, 03:41 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

The leopard case is cool.
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Unread 08-01-2013, 11:02 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

OK Guys. Some say the vanilla smell comes from the case. Others say the nitro finish. I am of the second school of thought. Took my new Trad Pro out to a gig last night and played it about two hours. Driving home I noticed my left [fret] hand smelled strongly of vanilla. I wasn't rubbing the inside of its case. So I believe it is the finish that has the luscious vanilla smell. I walk into my studio and I can smell vanilla. The case is closed and put away. My geetar is hanging there on the wall. Like a VERY expensive vanilla air freshener! Really doesn't matter where the vanilla smell comes from but its fun to discuss.
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Unread 08-02-2013, 02:01 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobswinea View Post
OK Guys. Some say the vanilla smell comes from the case. Others say the nitro finish. I am of the second school of thought.
Use the same case with an Epiphone and the guitar will smell of vanilla after a while, and your hands will too.
Keep your Trad out of the case for a while and it will dissipate, but come back with a vengeance when you use the case again.

Incidentally, my living room smelled of vanilla for weeks after I bought a Trad, even though the case was in a different room. It's worn off now though, and the guitar only smells of vanilla if I use that case.

Believe me, you'll be back in six months' time saying it's not the nitro you fool, it's the damn case!
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Unread 08-02-2013, 03:41 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

I thought it was the guitar making that smell but it is the case for sure. I have a Gibson that has that vanilla smell. I also have an Epiphone in a new case and it smells just like the Gibson.

Really...I too thought it was the Nitro until I bought the new case for my Epiphone...




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Unread 08-02-2013, 08:21 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Nitro fumes?

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Use the same case with an Epiphone and the guitar will smell of vanilla after a while, and your hands will too.
Keep your Trad out of the case for a while and it will dissipate, but come back with a vengeance when you use the case again.

Incidentally, my living room smelled of vanilla for weeks after I bought a Trad, even though the case was in a different room. It's worn off now though, and the guitar only smells of vanilla if I use that case.

Believe me, you'll be back in six months' time saying it's not the nitro you fool, it's the damn case!
OK. I am willing to do a "scientific" experiment to test the hypothesis of "its the case" Gonna put my LP Studio into the new Gibby case and see what .. er, smells. Right now my Studio is smell neutral. Thanks for the idea of an unusual guitar project.
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