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Ok,

I have been seeing multiple posts about chrome finishes, I get emails everyday from people on PG about it, I get PM's and I get tired of answering it LOL!!!.

So, here is MY experiences with chrome paints, chrome systems, and guitars.......

1. Alsa Corp Mirrachrome:

This is a pretty good looking finish, nice and shiny, looks almost like chrome.

Some of the downsides to it however are:

It is expensive, by the time you buy everything you need to work with it you've spent over $300. You will have ended up with enough to do one guitar body with IF you are lucky and don't screw up.

You HAVE to have a PERFECT finish for it or it will not look good. This means you absolutely CANNOT use laquers or ANY single part paints. They will react to the mirrachrome and they shrink which will make the mirrachrome look awful.

Over wood you will never have a finish that looks perfect forever, as the wood moves it will create lines in the chrome finish guaranteed.

Before you use it you will HAVE to have a perfectly smooth black finish. Then your final clear has to be perfect or you will have problems. Yes, this product HAS to be cleared afterwards, no exceptions. Any scratches in your clear will be seen double as they will reflect in the chrome.

It is all 2 pack Urethanes which means you cannot skimp on your respirators, full face forced air systems are required.

You need the BEST guns you can get if you want a nice finish. Any spec of dust or inconsistency in the spray finish will show badly.

2. Goldtouch Cosmichrome plating system.

Probably about the best looking chrome paint system out there. More durable than most as well.

I can't really tell you much about it because I've only read about it, the reason I haven't tried it?

The SMALL application system is $2995 and that doesn't include the spray guns. The small application system is designed for items about the size of a hubcap, I'm assuming it would be difficult to do a full guitar body with that system. Their large system is $4950 and doesn't include the spray gun.

3. Real Chrome plating. Yes it can be done on wood, yes it looks the best, yes it's the most durable, but, it's also the most expensive and most problematic on wood.

When I say it looks the best, that is for a very short time. As the wood expands and contracts the chrome will crack. It will start to look very uneven. This is why the original JS2 chromeboys did not last and why they went to the JS10 made of luthite.

In order to chrome plate wood it is a VERY involved process. First the guitar body must be flawlessly finished with Poly Urethane or Polyester (2 pack, not the furniture crap)

Then it must be sprayed with a conductive paint, usually a copper based paint. This must be sprayed perfectly. Then it is subjected to an acid bath and then the dipping process.

Typically a layer of brass or copper will be applied first, followed by nickle, and then finally chrome.

The heat of these baths isn't excessive, but it's enough that it can move the wood significantly and give an uneven finish.

Look at the Nickle plated guitars that girls guns and guitars have done, they look like crap in person.

This also plates every single part of the guitar which means you have to mask off things like neck pockets, or any cavities where you haven't made an allowance for the thickness of the plating. When you remove that mask you first must grind through the plated surface.

Finally, after all the plating is done, it is only a matter of time (short time) before the wood in the body shrinks a little further and the chrome starts to buckle and crack.

Cost, about $10,000 for one body or 100 bodies. It's all in set up and materials. There are a few bumper shops and such that would probably do them in with other parts, but when doing a wood surface you have to consider temperature, most metal parts being chrome plated use a far higher temp. Also, most metal parts don't require a triple plating system.

4. Chrome mylar:

This is a very inexpensive alternative. It looks ok, not dead smooth but very chrome like. It's not without it's problems though.

First, it is adhesive backed and again your finish must be flawless before laying on the mylar. Since it is a foil based mylar it does not conform to curves well. If you use multiple pieces you will see the seams. Clear does not bond well to it, it will peel and look poor. Even if you do get a perfect clear over it, you are at the mercy of the mylars adhesive for actual bond to the wood. As it gets older it will eventually start to dimish leading to new problems.

So, basically, this is why you don't see much in the way of chrome guitars. Cost is prohibitive as is the end result. The new Chrome Jem I'm almost sure is using the mylar finish, they also state it is a reflective surface, NOT a chrome top. For all I know they could simply be using a full body sized pickguard type idea on it. The chrome pickguards are simply the mylar I was talking about applied to the backside of clear plastic.

I have people ask me about chrome guitars everyday, I am more than happy to do one as long as the customer pays the full shot and they agree that regardless of what happens to the finish down the road they will not hold me responsible.

If you are intent on doing a chrome finish on a guitar body, build your guitar body out of a stable material, plastics, plexi, metal, just not wood, As wood moves it will degrade the chrome finish no matter WHAT method of chroming you use.

Wish I had better news for everyone, but I've invested a lot of time into chrome finishing (before I built guitars I used to get parts chromed as a machinist/tool and die maker) and I have yet to find a good solution for a wood based item.

Jeremy

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Thanks, Jeremy, that clears up a lot of things! I didn't realize how important the stability of the substrate was, but having had it pointed out, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing the results of your research.

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Thaks Jeremy, I always pointed people on to ALSA because I have seen a few of their work, but I wasn't aware of the difficulties involved with the wood issue. I will point them here from now on.

I think this should be PINNED under your tutorials. We get a lot of questions in this topic.

Edited by Maiden69

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I wish I would have found this site a year ago before I let GGG screw up my guitar. I had them chrome my yamaha pacifica and after about 2 or 3 months, the chrome starting bubbling and pulling away from the body. Is there anything I can do to remove the chrome and brass beneath it to get it back to the original wood? I figured I could cut and peel off the chrome since it's already buckled up quite a bit, but I wasn't sure about the underlying brass that still seems to have adhered to the body. Thanks.

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Jeremy,

have you seen the video on the ALSA chrome paint applicator, it looks like they are shooting a lot of paint, this thing is not sprayed like regular paints, there is a lot of material waste and the applicator machine cost like $7000. I love the way it comes out but like you I'm skeptic on the durability of it.  On their web site they have some pics that are hints of manufacturers that are using their product and I was surprised when I sae the new Gillete razor there because when I saw it I thoght about ALSAs paints. Then they have a mockup of the Terminators head, I would love to be able to get one of this, but, I'm only dreaming because I don't think it will be cost effective.

Alsa has 2 different chroming systems. Mirra Chrome and Chrome FX. I've never tried the chrome FX as I'm not about to buy a $7000 application system for a product that I know will still look crappy on wood guitars after a few months.

The Mirra Chrome system is very hit and miss, I've spoken with quite a few people who have used it and they don't like it. It's actually much easier to spray a curved surface though, so the terminator head and razors would be easier. This is because it is easier to control overspray on a curved surface, it is also easier to fool the eye into missing blemishes on a curved surface as the light reflections are curving and bending around already. Flat surfaces are very difficult to do. The curved surface also fools you into thinking it's a perfect reflection becuase you expect the distortion in a curved reflection, when you look at a flat surface all distortions are evident because you are expecting a mirror finish.

The cost of this stuff is retarded, I've already spent over $1000 on the product trying to get results I would put on a customer guitar, haven't gotten there yet, but sooner or later it will happen :D

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That car was done I believe with Alsa's dhrme FX system (the expensive one LOL)

Oddly enough, I was talking to a friend last night on an airbrush forum who was just at the SEMA show in Vegas, he saw that car, he said it looks great, it looks like polished aluminum in person, not chrome, but it looked really good. Like me, he has been trying to find a good chrome alternative for a long time. My tests aren't yielding results that I'm happy with either :D

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Interesting point would be, I wonder what the legallity of a finish like that would be where-ever that car is located. I have known people with all chrome bikes who get hassled regularly because of the "Hazard" that driving it causes, the reflections off it are blinding to other drivers. I don't know if they are tickets that hold up in court or if there is an actual law to it, but they've been nailed with "stunting" "causing a disturbance" and "creating a distraction to other drivers" all for just riding their chromey bikes down the road :D mind you, we've got the most bored cops in north america here in red deer I think.

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I got that off of the forum for a car club I belong to. Apparently the car would be completely illegal in most places and was built specifically as a show car with SEMA being its first stop. I haven't seen the whole thing completed (the pictures on that forum have still having it on stock wheels), but it was something that I hadn't seen before and seemed cool nontheless

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hi all,i've been searching and read a lot of chrome topics,each all refering to this

well soon i am going to buy an ibanez 350dx.its bassically looks like a jem with no handle or gold hardware.

was planning on stripping it down,mybe painting it white again,but in mettalic,or possibly a chameleon colour.but i really like the chrome idea

so i'm in the uk,and have searched for 2 days straight,and so far alsa corp looks the best.but are there any company's wich privide cheap spray cans of the stuff?i would rather spend about £50-£70 rather than £350,only to find that both will distort and crack,plus stripping down the cheap stuff and spraying again/trying new colour wont hurt.

and has any1 in uk tried chroming wood?

thanks

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hi all,i've been searching and read a lot of chrome topics,each all refering to this

well soon i am going to buy an ibanez 350dx.its bassically looks like a jem with no handle or gold hardware.

was planning on stripping it down,mybe painting it white again,but in mettalic,or possibly a chameleon colour.but i really like the chrome idea

so i'm in the uk,and have searched for 2 days straight,and so far alsa corp looks the best.but are there any company's wich privide cheap spray cans of the stuff?i would rather spend about £50-£70 rather than £350,only to find that both will distort and crack,plus stripping down the cheap stuff and spraying again/trying new colour wont hurt.

and has any1 in uk tried chroming wood?

thanks

DID you read any of what Jeremy wrote at the top of this thread?

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never mind then,i like to research days on end without reading anything :D

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Is anyone ever tryed powder coating a guitar and if answer is positive how cool it turned out and + vs -?????

I dont even know if that is posible ('cos of static electriciti and so on)

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Man, im not trying to be rude. A dumb question gets a dumb answer. And that can of "chrome gold" will look exactly like gold paint when you spray it. THe shiny mirror effect is one that you cant get without special equipment.

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Is anyone ever tryed powder coating a guitar and if answer is positive how cool it turned out and + vs -?????

I dont even know if that is posible ('cos of static electriciti and so on)

You need a metal surface for powder coating, so a guitar body won't work. Also, the heat needed to cure it would probably cause the wood to crack, if not when it gets hot, then when it cools down and the powder coat would flake if you could even get it to stick at all.

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You need a metal surface for powder coating, so a guitar body won't work. Also, the heat needed to cure it would probably cause the wood to crack, if not when it gets hot, then when it cools down and the powder coat would flake if you could even get it to stick at all.

You can powdercoat anything that can withstand 400F. Theres a page on the web I cam across of a fella that coated a rock with clear powder. It looked pretty cool. Wood however, i would be worried about splitting as well.

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as pointed out the stability of crome finishes is a pian however there is an alternative. the latest steve vai model uses the same material as a chrome scratchplate an is simply gled onto the top (whitey you may want to consider this) and the forarm contor is created by vacum forming. this yeilds pretty good reuslts as well

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as pointed out the stability of crome finishes is a pian however there is an alternative. the latest steve vai model uses the same material as a chrome scratchplate an is simply gled onto the top (whitey you may want to consider this) and the forarm contor is created by vacum forming. this yeilds pretty good reuslts as well

Already been said around here a lot, infact if you check out my latest project im building the steve vai model using that material.

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