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There are a plethora of reasons to repaint a guitar. Maybe you desire a particular custom guitar shade, or the original finish is damaged, and you wish to reinstate the guitar back to a new condition. There is also the possibility there were only a few color options to choose from at the time of purchase.
Now, for a superb look, yes, you can spray paint a guitar without any side effects. But this is after you sand it down, clean and dry it, disassemble it, and tape up the areas you do not want to get paint on.
We will guide you in great detail on the various steps to repainting a guitar. Using automotive or other types of paints on your guitar, and why you should avoid just painting over it.
Can You Spray Paint A Guitar?
You can spray paint a guitar like other surfaces and instruments. When it comes to painting your guitar, spray paint comes with a lot of options for it to look outstanding.
Repainting a guitar is more complicated than simply purchasing a spray can and painting on the existing finish. For a meticulous outcome, you will need to strip the original finish, prepare the wood, prime, paint, and then finish with a clear coat.
Having all you need before you start the procedure narrows the chances of a ruined finish, which could happen from poor preparation.
Advantages of Spray Painting Your Guitar
Although aesthetics are vital, spray painting a guitar goes beyond the need for beautification. The following are other advantages:
- Spray painting gives a broader scope and range of color choices, even your favorite color.
- It is easy to use paint sprays, and they are very versatile.
- Spray painting is excellent for easily achieving exceptionally even coverage.
- It enables the quick transformation of a damaged guitar finish back to a new condition.
What Kind of Paint do you use on a Guitar?
Guitars were initially manufactured using automotive paint, and subsequent paints used on guitars generally followed that trend. For instance, if painting the whole guitar a solid color, for the finest results, a polyurethane or a nitrocellulose paint will do. Both are the best and most common choices for a car.
They are durable, inexpensive, and add volume and strength to the guitar. These give a thick finish, the guitar wears well, and there’s less grain filling. The most notable disadvantage is that both require a long period of drying time. Here are other options:
- Acrylics can do a neat job of sealing in a flawless look for the layout or logo chosen. It is normal to use acrylic paint on guitars if the purpose is to showcase a style or for a decorative purpose and not necessarily to revamp the entire color.
- Lacquer paint is a good option if a guitar has a lacquer finish, just as enamel paint is an excellent choice for a guitar with an enamel finish. Water-based enamel is preferable and easier as it has a faster dry time than oil-based ones.
- If it is no trouble to sand the guitar down to the bare finish, then, in that case, you can paint with whatever your preference – lacquer, enamel, or acrylic paint. So long as your coats are as thin as possible.
See Also: What Is the Drying Time for Spray Paint?
How to Spray Paint A Guitar?
For a quality lifespan, the best way to spray paint your guitar comes down to disassembly, sanding, priming, painting, and sealing.
When repainting a guitar, much effort and concentration will be needed to achieve a pleasing, factory finish appearance. This is because spray paint can drip, or dust particles could get stuck in the guitar. The steps are below:
1. Disassemble Your Guitar
You start by detaching the strings, the neck, knobs, the hardware, and electrical components that link the bridge and pickups. Spray painting a guitar with strings is impossible when looking for the best result.
2. Clean and Sand Surface
The guitar must be satisfactorily sanded, cleaned, dried, and grease-free. When sanding the existing finish, there are two options: either sand off the finish entirely, or you can rough up the existing finish to apply a new coat of paint.
Always utilize a fine grain of sandpaper to smooth the wood on the guitar. Curved areas on your guitar will be tricky for your sander to do. Use coarse grit sandpaper or sanding sponges to clear the finish in these hard-to-reach places.
3. Use A Grain Filler
A grain filler powder will fill the gaps naturally occurring in wood grain without drenching the tone or changing the wood behavior. It will form a much finer surface to paint on, which will, in turn, give the best possible finish. Doing this will cause the filler to fill only the crevices and prepare the paint surface.
4. Strip the Old Finish Off the Guitar
The guitar’s surface comes with body paint and seal from original works, so extracting the original skin begins the process of repainting the guitar.
Suppose you spray paint directly on the old finish, especially for a polyurethane coat. In that case, new paint will ineffectively stick, resulting in color bleed. And even if it dries evenly, the peel-off time will be quick. When starting with bare wood, the finish will be even and with fewer coats, which can help the guitar’s tone.
5. Apply Protective Coverings
If there is any area that you do not want to apply paint to, then wrap with paper and tape. Examine carefully and confirm that there are not too many bubbles beneath the tape and that it clings securely to prevent paint from bleeding.
6. Clean the Surface
Using mineral oil paint thinners, apply a light dose to the entire surface that requires the paint job. You’ll have to complete one side before moving on to the next. The purpose is to strip away any oils left on the bare surface. When they come in contact with the paint, these oils can develop into uneven coloration. Once dry, the first coats of primer begin next.
7. Apply the Coating
If you’re looking to stick with a more realistic appearance and prefer the wood grain to peek through, you’ll want to look into staining as against painting your guitar. The more coats of stain you apply, the darker the look will be.
8. Apply Primer
Here, the primer will stop the wood grain from peeking through the paint and provide the perfect surface for the paint to bond. When spraying on your primer, begin with the guitar edges before proceeding to the front and back.
Ensure you’re working in an adequately ventilated room. Shake the spray properly for the paint pigments to be mixed uniformly. Hold the spray at the correct gap of approximately 25 cm between the spray and the surface.
Begin spraying your color of choice onto the guitar. When spraying, target fifty percent overlap on each slide; so, if you start a four-inch spraying pattern, move the nozzle two-inch lower for the next slide. Expect lower than a hundred percent coverage on your first coat.
Paint the complex and hidden areas of the guitar first. Apply several thin layers in cross directions, first vertically and then horizontally. A rule of thumb is to make multiple thin layers of paint rather than a single thick one.
10. Apply a clear coat
Once you have dry paint, maybe a week after painting, you should apply a clear coat to the guitar. A nitrocellulose clear coat is highly recommended. Keep applying your coats as thin as possible, and apply the second layer only after the first layer has dried, and so on.
11. Polish The Finish
When sanding the polish, do not sand through the clear color coat and into the color while working near the edges.
12. Reassemble Your Guitar
Once the paint is dried, and the sanding is complete, return your guitar’s hardware piece by piece.
How Much Does It Cost to Have a Guitar Custom Painted?
There’s no fixed answer as it depends on some factors:
- Is it a complete stripping of the original finish or just a rough-up to apply a fresh coat of paint?
- What percentage of the guitar needs repainting? (Neck, or body, or all)
- What paint type or material of finish?
- Any preparatory work, sanding, etc.
- Any custom design, logo work, etc.
- The price for a solid color finish will begin at about $200, which will rise as more custom colors and designs are selected. Varnish and lacquer are pricier, usually around $300-400 just for the single finish.
- Stripping the body and neck goes for around $100 each. However, a finish with polyurethane is the most problematic and priciest to strip.
- A custom repaint job on a guitar is both time-consuming and tiresome, causing them to be expensive, sometimes more than the guitar’s worth. A complete standard repaint job with custom design, stripping the neck and body can be around $750-1000.
Repainting a guitar is not a procedure that is as simple as it appears. For a first-time attempt at a guitar repaint job, it is advisable to buy one of the cheap and unfinished bodies for practice before attempting the expensive guitar. The key to a thorough and exquisite job is patience, keeping a clear workspace, and using quality products.