How to Spray Paint a Guitar
Are you interested in changing the look of your guitar? Painting guitars can be a fantastic project, however, it must be done the right way to ensure that you get the best results and avoid causing damage.
Using spray cans to paint guitars typically seems like a bad idea. However, it’s one of the most effective methods available. Below, you’ll find one of the best tutorials for painting your guitar with compressed air and paint.
- Start by removing the guitar strings and screws, as well as any electrical components.
- When all the screws have been removed, cut the remaining wires or take it to a guitar store for them to do it for you.
- Use a hairdryer or heat gun to apply heat on a low setting directly to the guitar body. This works to soften the guitar, as well as any of the acrylic paint and professional finish.
- Heat the guitar for around five minutes before using a knife to see if it feels soft.
- Once it’s soft, score the body with a putty knife and gently lift the slightly wet paint and finish without damaging the wood.
- When the existing finish and old paint have been removed, you’ll see the wood grain.
- Apply a coarse-grit sanding sponge (ideally 100-grit) on the surface, making sure to go in the direction of the grain. Medium grit sandpaper would also work.
- Sand it down with your coarse grit sandpaper until the guitar’s surface is smooth and you have a completely flat surface.
- You can use a tack cloth to remove any dust.
- Apply a wood sealer to a dry rag and wipe it across the entire body. Let one side dry before turning it over and applying it to the other side. Wood sealer is typically available from a hardware store.
- Be careful not to get anything inside of the output jack or strap buttons.
- Allow the sealant to dry before adding a thin coat of sealer. Make sure you let the existing layers completely dry before adding the next.
- Apply 3-5 more coats before leaving the guitar to dry for three days so it can completely harden.
Steps to Spray Painting Your Guitar’s Body
- Start by choosing your guitar paint. This can be polyester, polyurethane or nitrocellulose. For a thin paint look, nitrocellulose is best. But if you want a harder finish, polyester and polyurethane spray paint are best.
- Apply tape to the neck joint before you start painting and be extremely careful not to get paint on the neck.
- Wear a dust mask and gloves before handling the spray paint.
- Apply your first layer of paint by holding the can 12-18 inches from the guitar body.
- Make sure to use a long sweeping spray pattern going back and forth across the entire guitar and cover the hard-to-reach places, such as the edges and curved areas.
- Once the first color coat has been applied, leave it to dry completely for 10 minutes.
- When the solid color has dried, turn the guitar over and use the same spray gun method to paint the other side.
- You can then start applying more paint layers, making sure that the neck pocket of the guitar is covered up completely.
- Allow each new paint layer to dry for around five minutes before spray painting the next coat.
- Repeat this process on both sides of the guitar until the color gets darker and thicker or until you achieve your desired look. Around 4-7 thin layers are ideal.
- When the final coat is done, let the guitar dry in a ventilated area for two days.
- Once it’s completely dried, use a wet sanding technique (400-grit) on the surface. This sanding process smooths out any rough spots for a perfect surface.
- Use clear coat lacquer spray paint as the second layer on the guitar. This provides it with a high gloss finish.
- Next, leave it to try for around three weeks in a well-ventilated space to dry and get that mirror finish.
- Use car polish to give it a final finish before reassembling the guitar yourself or taking it to a reputable guitar builder.
- You could also add a nitro finish, fully covering the top layer of your guitar.
Also read: How to Spray Paint Shoes
After reading through our post on the steps involved with painting guitars, we hope that you’re feeling more assured about giving it a shot yourself, although, always remember, the process of a paint job for different musical instruments will be different.
…and remember, you can always take the guitar to a guitar shop for them to disassemble and reassemble your guitar if you don’t want to do it yourself. And one final note, the process may be trickier for an electric guitar, so please research further for more info.
Can you use an orbital sander on guitars?
Yes, if there are any marks that you want to buff out, orbital sanders could be more effective than using a dry sand method.
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Written By Adam Rushton
Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.
His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.