Painting a guitar ala "The Fool" or "Rocky"... how?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by markom89, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. markom89

    markom89 Senior Member

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    I've been trying to sell a strat body for the past few weeks, and it hasn't sold (I dunno' why), so I've decided to keep it, and paint it myself in a theme similar to the great, hand painted guitars of the 60's and 70's. Think Clapton's "fool", Jimi's Monteray strat, Harrison's "Rocky", etc... I want to take a bit from each design and come up with my own unique thing. My question is: how can I do this? Do I just paint it free-hand? What do I need to put as a base coat? What paints should I use? What brushes? For the areas that require a larger amount of the same color, should I spray it, or use the brush? Also, what do I need to use in order to paint the neck? Does the neck need to be finished before I paint it? Do I need a different type of paint for the plastic pickguard? If any of you guys could help me out with this, I'd really appreciate it. I'm starting to draw designs up and stuff. The body I'd be using is a super light USACG mahagony body. It's about 2.9 lbs., and is done for a vintage style trem. The holes for the 'guard haven't been yet drilled. What do you guys suggest? Thanks in advance. Cheers,

    Marko M.

    :RoCkIn

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  2. todd richman

    todd richman Senior Member

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    I would contact Jim from Southbay Ampworks-aka Scumback speakers. He posts here and had a killer The Fool custom job done on an SG last year. He posted the in progress thread here also.
     
  3. markom89

    markom89 Senior Member

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    Yeah, I found the thread, but it doesn't share which paints and all that stuff. That's an awsome guitar hes got, though.
     
  4. mlongano

    mlongano Member

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  5. markom89

    markom89 Senior Member

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    Thanks, Mike. I'll check it out, if it's on his site.

    What kinda' paint, though, guys? and what color should the base be? and lastly, how should it be finished? clear coated over the paint?
     
  6. Motorhed

    Motorhed Member

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    I don't know about Clapton's SG as far as clearcoat, I'd assume its the same but I got an upclose view of Jack Bruce's Bass VI at the Hard Rock museum in Orlando and the clear coat on it was so thin you could still see the brush strokes.

    The problem with those artwork guitars is I don't think they were worried about making it last. I'd almost recomend poly if your going to brush by hand, it'd be thick enough to smooth out the surface and shouldn't chip too badly. Of course you have to make sure to use compatable paints though.
     
  7. ford

    ford Supporting Member

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  8. Mikey Likes It

    Mikey Likes It Silver Supporting Member

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    The best replicas I've seen are by Jeff Levenson. He's posted on several forums as Jokerace72, and I seem to recall his telling us about the technique at the Guitar Refinishing board, but their server crashed and the thread was lost. Jeff is in Michigan and I don't know if he'd give you all the details, but he's a nice guy and it's sure worth asking. I'll send you his e-mail address.
     
  9. BettyFjord

    BettyFjord Member

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    I don´t know how Hendrix or Harrison painted their guitars but I´ll wager a couple of things were true (less so for The Fool who were an artistic collective). They were all high at the time. It was a bit of fun. It was done with whatever they had lying around or easily bought.

    One and two are up to you but number three is undoubtedly acrylic paint. Those colours, particularly, are only going to be acrylic. And, from what I remember, Hendrix´s guitar was done with nailpolish. Anyway, acrylic paint is the easiest thing in the world to use. Just buy a tube of poster paint and paint it on. Straight out it´ll be thick and able to cover anything. No basecoat should be needed. A light sanding of the shiny plastic bits at most. Any brush is fine, just swirl it on. If you want crisp definition between the colours, let each dry before applying the next. And an ancient rule of painting you want to keep in mind: dark colours first, then lighter ones on top.

    That said, if you want it to last or feel good, or whatever, you are probably better off going with someone who knows what they are doing. But that´s not really in the spirit of one and two.

    EDIT: I found this on Ron´s thread, "George’s original Rocky was painted with 1960’s era Day-Glo poster paint..." w´hay, I was right. Asked what type of paint he using, he replied: "It's an acrylic paint used by the auto industry for art on automobiles... It's available from many of the online auto finish suppliers... I got mine from House of Color a few years ago"

    Also, Ron clearly knows what he´s doing. Look through the thread at what´s done. Amazing.
     
  10. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    All of the paint used on my guitar was nitro lacquer, including the mixing of the air brush paint, and the clear coats on top.

    If you want more specific details, I'm not sure he'll divulge them, but Jim O'Connor, the artist who did my Fool SG, can be contacted at his new site.

    http://www.jimoconnordesign.com/index.html
     
  11. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

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    Clapton's guitars, and the 60s originals you've mentioned, were mostly painted with whatever the individual artist had on hand then clearcoated as much as needed for durability. I once read an interview where someone from the Fender Custom Shop said some of those paintjobs had a good deal of texture and required a tremendous amount of clearcoat to make them smooth.
    I've done one myself and since I'm a fine arts painter, I used artist's acrylic paint. Arcylics made for professional easel painting are extremely lightfast. While reasonably durable on their own, I recommend clearcoating with lacquer to make the surface tough enough to withstand normal use.

    Here's the Tele I painted a couple of years ago:

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  12. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    That would be Crash right? IIRC he worked with spray cans...not surprising since his start was as a graphiti artist tagging walls in NY.
     
  13. Roark

    Roark Member

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    I've seen people actually use GESSO to build little swirls and paint that with acrylic, and use 50 in 1 on top of that. btw don't buy cheap gesso, some of that stuff is horrid and cracks.
     
  14. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

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    Actually it was Crash and some others, graffiti artists as well. I think it was in Guitar Player Magazine and several different examples were shown. I guess they just gave the artists bodies and let them have at it. When they got them back, they were clearcoated as much as necessary to produce a smooth finish. Some required quite a buildup.

    When I paint mine (I have a Strat in progress right now), I'm after a "painterly" look. So I want brushwork to show. But I've found with the acrylics I'm able to make it look very brushy and still keep it fairly thin. So I'm after the illusion of texture rather than the actual texture I would use on a canvas. That way it doesn't require a thick clearcoat to feel smooth enough.
     
  15. lchyi

    lchyi Member

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    Jeff sold me one of his Jimi Saville prototypes which is a KILLER looking guitar. I love bringing it to jams cause of the wow factor it has. I also have a Monterey pop in the works and that was done with acrylics I believe and then clear coated until it was covered.

    Saville here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lychyi/2219624003/
     
  16. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    I was under the impression that Crash was the *only* guy to paint EC's guitars. In fact they're pretty good friends which all started with EC's interest in collecting art.

    I'm staring at an $80.00 Peavey that I bought used a couple of years ago with the intention of painting, just to try it out. Haven't gotten around to it yet...watching this thread to pick up some more tips.
     
  17. syxxstring

    syxxstring Member

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    I would look at One Shot sign painting enamels, or House of Kolors Stripping paints. Single stage slow dry time and designed not to be cleared over. Basically the stuff you see on hot rods everywhere and VonDutch did his work with.

    If your looking for cool people to help you with paint selection I would contact the crew at coast airbrush(coastairbrush.com). Dave and the folks over there are super helpful and their prices are hard to beat.
     
  18. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    Whatever y’all decide to use, do several tests, over an extended period of time to be certain that aren’t any incompatibility problems that will be rearing their ugly heads at a later date.

    You don’t want to spend months doing a quality replica, only to have the paint start pealing off in the middle of a set. Sure, reliced guitars are en vogue today, but if you spend this much time recreating something, you want the finished appearance locked in time.

    For instance, “Rocky” was done with water based acrylic day-glo paints. Before I ever touched the Sonic blue Strat, I tested the acrylic on a test of the Sonic Blue. I had sprayed a test piece when I was spraying the body. I allowed it to dry for a couple of weeks, Then I slopped some of the Day-Glo on it very wet, and let is sit, giving the solvents and other chemistry in the paints a change to “get acquainted”. When it was dry, again about a week, I shot is with a good wet coat of nitrocellulose lacquer, and again let all the different types of paints “party”. Once they all passed the test of not reacting badly with each other, I began work on the real body.

    Once the art was completed, as you see in the “rocky” thread, I clear coated the guitar. Admittedly, Harrison’s was not clear coated, but George, didn’t care about permanence. I did.

    Anyway, go for it, I started messin’ ‘round over 40 years ago, and still love it every time I start another. I began 9 bodies this morning. Life is good.

    Ron Kirn
     
  19. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Joe Lapierre sometimes does guitars, he uses I believe oil / acrylic and uses a style called palette knife painting.
    http://www.joelapierre.com/guitar/index.html
    I think if you want to create something yourself it is pretty straightforward (besides the paint compatibility).
    Get paint, paint it as thin as you can, clear coat it, sand and buff.
    Have some fun with it I say, you can always strip it and redo if you don't like the end result.
     
  20. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Armchair Rocket Scientist Graffiti Existentialist Gold Supporting Member

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    That is the coolest looking Tele I've ever seen. Wow.
     

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