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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the market for a Gibson Memphis 1963 ES335TD guitar - http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/2015-Memphis/1963-ES-335TD.aspx

However, I wondered if I could ask you some questions about the use
of aniline dye in the finishing process?

I have read lots of reports about aniline dye being dangerous, poisonous, and with adverse health affects for people. I assume this is why it was stopped being used in the 60s guitar making?

So I wondered what has changed that means it is now ok to use aniline
dye in the finish of the guitars?

And are the dangers involved specifically to the person applying the
finish, or is there some danger to the end user of the guitar as well?
(For example, if the nitro finish wears off over time, would the end
user be exposed to some chemicals / aniline that could be considered
toxic in some way?)

I apologise if this sounds very paranoid...I just like to be sure of
the instrument that I buy I figured that this would be a good place to ask the question.
 

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The danger is only to the finisher using it. As long as he uses a paint respirator the danger is nil. It can be absorbed through the skin but I don't know of any finisher that isn't careful not to get it on them. It stains your skin like ink and won't wash off.

I'm not a finisher at Gibson so I couldn't say why they may are may not be using aniline dyes. I can only tell you a aniline dye isn't as color fast as many other stains. I primarily use aniline dyes to make color adjustments with the oil stains I use.

For you as the consumer, I wouldn't give any finish done in this country a second thought as to the safety. Some Chinese manufacturers are still trying to sneak lead base paints into the products they make. Even the risk of lead based paint is overblown. Lead was used as the pigment in white paint and only a risk if you are eating the paint. How many people you know snack on their guitars. :laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It was more a case of whether there would be any worry as to when the nitro finish wore off, my hands would be at risk of getting dye from the wood on them and therefore being put at risk as the consumer?

Or is it a case that all of the "dangerous" parts of it are extinguished once the finish has cured?
 

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An aniline dye soaks into the wood just like ink. If the finish wore off the dye you might be exposed to would be so little it wouldn't be worth worrying about. I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I have gotten the liquid dye on my hands and I'm still here. I've even sprayed small amounts of it without a respirator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Many thanks for the replies guys. Really appreciate it.

Maybe this question would never come up for most people, but I just found it odd that Gibson brought it back into production without an explanation of why it was safe now.
 

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I seem to remember that the water based aniline dyes are more light fast than the alcohol soluble dyes. I really like using them for their transparency to show the figure in the wood (I primarily use water based). I've used them for about 30 years and they aren't bad at all except for the long lasting stain to your hands, assuming you aren't wearing gloves.

On another note, I doubt you're going to wear the Nitro finish off unless you're unusually rough on the guitar. I've seen plenty of vintage instruments with the finish still intact so I think you're safe there.
 

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SW supplies most all finishing material for Gibson guitar. I have asked around, and found out that they use the S61 series, which are dye concentrates. If I had my choice, I would use dye concentrates as well.

Aniline dyes are only as dangerous as the solvents you put them. You can also use water. There is nothing wrong with aniline dyes of today. Technology is different, and they are much more light fast than decades ago.

About 15 years ago, a worker spilled some aniline dye powder on the pump room floor in a factory that I was in. After cleaning it up, we were walking back and forth through the pump room working. That night in the shower, I looked like someone shot me, as there was red dye coming off of me. 3 days later, after a rain storm, I went to get in my truck and noticed red stain on my floor mats. That came from the dye still being embedded on the soles of my shoes and reacted with the water. That stuff will follow you around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Final question on this, from a technical point of view...

Gibson Historics guitars are known to have bleed on the binding when you play the guitar. This is apparently the aniline dye seeping into the binding when you hear up the binding as it's played. Out of curiousity (and this is more like a physics lesson), what is stopping the dye "seeping" onto your hands from the dye?
 

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After the guitar is finished there would be a coating of cellulose between the dye and your hands.

I find it hard to believe the dye is bleeding out after manufacture unless a persons sweat is getting through the joints and under the cellulose re-wetting it.
 

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Final question on this, from a technical point of view...

Gibson Historics guitars are known to have bleed on the binding when you play the guitar. This is apparently the aniline dye seeping into the binding when you hear up the binding as it's played. Out of curiousity (and this is more like a physics lesson), what is stopping the dye "seeping" onto your hands from the dye?
That is actually an "authentic" feature. The original cherry red finished guitars of the 50's and 60's did that quite regularly. Its actually bleeding through the wood, but will not come up through the finish. Sometimes it will almost disappear over time.
 

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Just send that guitar to me and I'll play the blues o nit until the blues goes away.Miss my '69.Get it back to you when it stops crying.
 
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