Nitrocellulose Statement

Guitar Finish Full Disclosure 


The high-quality padding material used on our cradles, floor, and wall racks has shown thus far not to chemically react and eat into the nitro finish of instruments unlike most inexpensive foams and rubbers can do. 


We have a long customer list of high-end instrument makers who exclusively use our products on their poly and nitro-finished products. We are confident that we offer the safest protection for finishes in the display market. That being said, there are some factors that are out of our control and prevent us from putting an unconditional guarantee against any possible marking. 


In response to these factors, we have developed a product to help mitigate the possibility of marking on specific sensitive finishes. This is a dye-free soft instrument case lining cloth to slip over the hangers that will reduce pressure which will prevent the finish from being completely sealed from airflow. You can buy those covers here:



If you still have questions please continue reading as we address those factors and reasons below. 


Many display companies and individuals have shared information over the years to help prevent the marking of sensitive instruments. “Stand rash,” as some call it, has been an issue since the rise of the commercial guitar industry when most were finished with nitrocellulose (nitro) lacquer. In more recent times, Polyester and Polyurethane finish have become the industry standard given their durability, economic, and environmental benefits. These poly finishes appear, for the most part, to be resistant to guitar stand padding types. 


Any type of instrument storage comes at a slight risk, but we believe the benefits of beauty, organization, and playability are worth having them out to be seen and played. If you disagree, we can still be friends. We do make a great mic stand cup holder! 


Given our time in the industry (est. 1987), and experience with various finishes, we want to expand upon our previous statement made at the top. 

Our purpose is to be informational as we know this cannot be applied to every instrument or situation. This is in part due to the theory that each manufacturer and applicator may use varying finish recipes based on their opinion of what looks and applies the best. 


Here are the biggest uncontrollable factors that prevent us from putting an unconditional guarantee against any possible marking: 


1) If an issue with marking arises there is no definitive way for us to discern if the marks were caused by our products, or if they were caused by a previously used display product from another manufacturer. 



2) Applying an instrument polish or cleaner introduces another chemical to the equation yielding unpredictable results. Along these lines, we advise not to use any chemical cleaners on our padding material. Water is fine to remove dust when needed and necessary. This is best for when a hanger is left empty for a period a time to remove particles that can press into the finish of a guitar. 



3) Nitro finishes remain soft, or partially a liquid for its lifetime. Any extended periods of time and pressure on the finish can result in pressure marks almost like a smear. This is worsened if the instrument was not given proper cure time when the finish was applied. While no manufacturer will ever admit this, we have seen an increase in “undercure” on units built in 2020 and 2021. This could possibly be due to the labor and supply constraints mixed with the high demand of COVID-19 rushing instruments into the hands of the end user. An interesting note here, in instances where this occurred and the guitar was stored differently (the pressure removed), the marks dissipated over time and in some cases were no longer noticeable. We believe this is due to the fluidity of nitro.



4) Any heat, but especially direct sunlight, can have numerous negative effects on guitars. The finish can sag, pressure marks can worsen, and the colors can change over time. Also, the adhesive that holds the lining to a guitar case can destroy a guitar in a few hours with enough heat. So be careful storing instruments in cars and cases that are exposed to heat/sun! 


To further understand the variability of this problem, here is a small case study we did for two guitars that are known to be specifically sensitive: 


        -White nitro-finished Gibson/Epiphones 


-Clear nitro Fender NOS Customs 


Both of these guitars have had rare instances of the smearing mentioned above, along with pink colored marks where it was contacted by guitar hangers. 


In 2006, and again in 2021, String Swing purchased one of each of these guitars brand new in the case to test and find out why this occurred. After a year of testing with our padding material under clean normal conditions, no marking appeared. We did find that foams, dyed cloth, and excessive pressure did leave marks on both guitars. 


In late 2022, the pink mark mystery was solved with the help of Dave’s Guitar Shop in La Crosse, WI. They discovered multiple brand-new guitars had developed pink marks after being hung for a short period of time. One employee noticed it was primarily in an area where Les Paul’s with red aniline dye was previously hanging and there could have been some dye transfer. String Swing then purchased an aniline-dyed red Les Paul to conduct a controlled test for dye transfer possibilities. 


We found clear and immediate results. We contacted the surface of the red-dyed Les Paul with foam, rubber, leather etc… for just 24 hours. Then we placed the previously purchased white nitro-finished Gibson guitars against the same surfaces for 24 hours, and pink marks appeared. 


In the same testing we found that undyed cloth and case lining material do not transfer the same dye. In our testing and from limited reports of customer-marked guitars, the marking was all from Gibson’s marking red/pink. It has been brought to our attention that aniline dyes come in many colors, and are used by several manufacturers. So any guitar with dye applied could present this same risk. 


In response to this testing, we have developed a product to help mitigate the possibility of marking on specific sensitive finishes. This is a dye-free soft instrument case lining cloth to slip over the hangers that will reduce pressure which will prevent the finish from being completely sealed from airflow. It will also prevent the transfer of aniline dye. That cover is available here:


This product is one more step toward safety, but not necessary for most customers’ display needs. In order to stay in line with the rest of our products, we source the material and complete the stitch and sew all within the USA. It is difficult to find mills within the USA and this process comes at a higher cost. 


With all of this in mind, we still promise to have the safest material on the market for nitro and standard finished instruments.Millions (we counted) of people trust hanging instruments in our products every day with no cloth covers. If you still have questions or concerns about guitar finishes email travis@stringswing.comor call me at 888-455-6628. 


Thank you, Travis Thieman VP