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Painting a guitar - Steps before painting?

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,111
So I'm looking to spray a guitar. I stripped off much of the previous burst finish. Pretty much bare. The intent is to spray it with acrylic enamel (solid auto paint color) and use a semi-gloss poly for the clear coating.

My question is mostly around what needs doing before the base coat is sprayed. Should I be extensively sanding it AND putting a primer coat on too, or will one or the other suffice?
 

lespauled

Member
Messages
777
I make sure everything is completely bare. A solid color, especially black, will show any imperfections. Sand and sand. Use a sandable primer and get it perfect. Then start spraying. Very, very thin coats.

Thin coats with your clear coat also. Let each layer cure before the next coat. Don't rush it, or you risk some soft spots. My first paint job took 3 months to completely cure because I rushed it and put on thick clear coats, and put on subsequent coats before letting the previous coat cure. Learn from my mistakes.
 

wox

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,401
In short, the steps are
  1. Preparing the wood (assuming you're starting from raw wood) - sanding it up to 320 grit
  2. Sealer/flash coat - the need for sealing depends on the wood and finish type. Blocks off any deep wood pores and makes the next step easier, can use lacquer, shellac, etc.
  3. Grain filling, again, depends on finish and wood, usually done with an oil or water based filler, filler can be clear or colored for finish effects, gets you a nice even coat for paint, vinyl sealer and sand sealer are common, can also use thicker shellac, oil slurry, and other stuff.
  4. Sanding out the grain filled body, to a nice smooth surface
  5. Primer, again depends on you finish, designed to give you a nice even, light coat to start layering color on
  6. Color coat
  7. Clear coat
  8. Final cure time, sanding, buffing
This is a good overview, if not a bit dense: https://www.reranch.com/101.htm
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,111
Thanks for the info guys...I'll be tag teaming this. I'll do the prep up through primer I think and then hand off to a guy to shoot the paint and the clear coat. He's got a better set up, does woodwork (and guitars on occasion) for a living, and would only charge me $150. Seems worth it to me.
 

Jim85IROC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,224
I make sure everything is completely bare. A solid color, especially black, will show any imperfections. Sand and sand. Use a sandable primer and get it perfect. Then start spraying. Very, very thin coats.

Thin coats with your clear coat also. Let each layer cure before the next coat. Don't rush it, or you risk some soft spots. My first paint job took 3 months to completely cure because I rushed it and put on thick clear coats, and put on subsequent coats before letting the previous coat cure. Learn from my mistakes.
Probably good advice with Nitro, but poly clear is a different story. Dust the first coat on, then the next couple coats need to be wet enough for the clear to flow and self level. Catalyzed urethane will harden on it's own no matter how thick it is. For gloss finishes I spray it as heavy as I can without runs. It saves time wetsanding. For satin you aren't wetsanding, so you can dial it back a tad, but you still need it to go on good and wet so it will flow out and self level before it dries, otherwise you'll get a rough textured surface.
 




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