Fender and Gibson Nitro finish - allergy considerations

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rokoko, Jan 26, 2014.


  1. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Hi i have googled like crazy and would like to hear your experiences:

    I own (but am selling) a Fender 62 US vintage resissue jazz bass which has a Nitro cell finish. It looks nice but my picking forearm is getting rash/hives from sweaty skin contact during rehersal and gigs. Quite uncomfortable, and as a multiallergic person i do what i can to avoid stuff that gives me allergic reactions.

    Thing is, i have always loved to own and play a gibson thunderbird, and i have a good deal on one. But as i can tell it is (like all other gibson products of today) nitro finished.

    Is the nitro on the fender a completely different animal (i should give the gibson a shot and see what happens, hopefully i wont get an allergic reaction)

    or is it the same thing (i need to get a epiphone or high end custom thunderbird in another finish).

    Hope you can help me... i know that inability to play a specific bass guitar when i have several i play and love is a clear "first world problem" but it annoys me a lot that im unsure of whether or not the fender and gibson finishes are comparable.
  2. MrTaff

    MrTaff

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    No idea on the basses but our guitarist plays a Gibson Les Paul and has the same issue as you have, he's taken to wearing a long sweatband so his arm doesn't touch the body.
  3. THE SAW

    THE SAW

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    How about a long-sleeved shirt? Or, a sports wristband that would provide clearance between your skin and the bass?
    Keep in mind that friction with any surface might cause a reaction, or in the case of hives, the cause may be unknown.

    I've had hives too, no fun. Good luck, my friend.

    @Taff-we posted about the same time, your guitarist has the right idea.
  4. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    i have considered that option (and played a gig with it), i'm just nervous that my fretting hand will still have contact with the (for me) toxic nitro.... I have been suggested to play bass with gloves, but then i'd rather just use a nice poly finished p or jazz bass.
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  6. THE SAW

    THE SAW

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Gloves? Seriously, how do you know the poly will be any better?
  7. Gougedeye

    Gougedeye Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Location:
    Central Washington
    Your plight is unfortunate. A sure fire solution would be to use only poly finished instruments. I believe Mike Lull makes a T-Bird in Poly and I'm sure there are a lot of guys on this forum who would refinish your basses in poly for you...
  8. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    @the saw:
    I have never had any problems in the past (played washburn, warwick, squier, musicman) so i guess that in particular the nitro is bad for me.

    If it was only friction that was the cause the oil&wax finished warwick that was my main axe for years should have given me the same problem. It didn't.

    The guy who suggested gloves has been watching too much scottsbasslessons.com

    @gougedeye
    im sure it would be relatively cheap in the US, thing is, i moved back to europe and labor costs are a lot higher here a complete refinish would be about 800-1000usd. And importing a Lullbird would cost way more than my budget is.



    As this is to a large extent a crapshoot i am considering giving the gibson a go and selling it again if im allergic to it as well. (and i would in the same bout have learnt that i should avoid Nitro for good)
  9. Jah Wobble Fan

    Jah Wobble Fan

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
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    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I second the suggestion of gloves, but suggest you add heels and a pill box hat to complete the combo. Sweet! :hyper:
  10. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    And thanks for giving your opinions, it is not a well descibed topic
  11. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    @jah wobble fan

    exactly, or just get it over with and play in a hazmat suit. then it could be finished in asbestos for all i care :)
  12. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    but in all seriousness: more opinions are more than welcome
  13. Rocker949

    Rocker949

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    A pertinent topic to me since I'm allergic to a lot of things in general. I'm going to keep all this info in mind.
  14. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    @rocker949, good idea. and if you havent been there already, you should consider switching to steel strings instead of nickel... (i find coated ss strings feel more like the nickel ones )
  15. Rocker949

    Rocker949

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    A friend has also just suggested Fender nylon strings which I might consider. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have thought of it.
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    NE Ohio
  17. Rokoko

    Rokoko

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Back to the original topic. Do any of you know if the Fender and Gibson nitro is similar?
  18. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Location:
    west coast
    I don't know if Fender and Gibson nitro finishes are the same. You may be able to obtain an MSDS(material safety data sheet) online or something if you contact them. Chances are the compounds/formulas aren't the same but that's no guarantee you won't react to it.

    You might look into one of those protection sleaves that cover the elbow and forearm, you see a lot of basketball and football players wearing them. They're quite thin and comfortable and come in a variety of colors. Another option would be to have the area of the bass that contacts your forearm clearcoated with poly.

    Best of luck, allergies are no fun.
  19. Tbone76

    Tbone76

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2013
    Location:
    Niskayuna, NY
    What about the Epiphone Thunderbird IV Pro? I believe it uses the same pups as the Gibson, has a poly finish and neck-thru construction? Just a suggestion, and I hope everything works out for you.
  20. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    Instead of getting rid of the bass you could try covering the areas where your hands / skin would contact with the finish with a transparent film protector like what is used for large screen monitors and creating a barrier that way. Something like http://www.photodon.com/c/LCD-Protective-Films.html, but I don't know how it would take on a nitro finish or if the silicon adhesive would cause any damage to the finish.
  21. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2001
    Location:
    California
    I have experienced severe dermatographic urticaria from skin contact with any type of finish on any instrument for a good thirty years now. Intensity varies from time to time, usually worse in summer.

    In my case, it has nothing to do with the finish or anything other than the pressure of a raised edge against my skin.

    Treatment is hyroxyzine, a very old prescription antihistamine.

    My suspicion is that the finish is not the culprit with your friend's problem.

    In any case, Gibson's finishes often stay somewhat sticky literally for years.

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