There are many methods to finish a guitar body, some are simple, others are multi-step and difficult to understand. This tutorial is made simple, so hope you can follow the instructions on how to paint guitar.
The truth is that you should not expect the finish of your first guitar to be good. You may have to do this several times before you get to the stage where you have the confidence to finish a guitar body that you truly value.
How do I complete my guitar kit (to look) like a professional?
There are generally three ways (of varying difficulty) to make your guitar look great without investing in expensive equipment, fancy polishing and polishing wheels, or a paint booth.
- Application of an oil finish (with or without stain)
- A matte finish over solid colors or tints
- Glossy finish on solid colors.
These don’t require any expense other than the materials themselves, possibly some brushes, thinner if needed, and sandpaper of a different grit.
All of these methods have pros and cons, although the low budget and lack of equipment can be offset in two ways: patients and a lot of “elbow grease.”
Regardless of the final finish, you want to get your surface ready to finish first and get the most out of it. You probably also want your guitar to be smooth, both for comfort and looks. This is achieved by treating the grain and extensive sanding. Guitar kits come sanded 100 grit, which is a good starting point. When done evenly, you can start scaling through 220, 320, and 400 grit. You can grind down to 600, but in most cases this may not be necessary.
Steps to paint a guitar
Painting or polishing your guitar requires more effort than simply cleaning the parts. So keep in mind that upgrading and painting your guitar will take a lot of time and effort. It could take weeks to complete.
Make sure you don’t rush the process of painting your guitar to get the desired result. Below is a simple step by step guide to painting a guitar.
1. Prepare your work area
If you are going to paint a guitar, we recommend doing it indoors so that the smell of the paint does not attract insects.
Prepare a strong table to put your guitar and other tools also materials. You can use a work mat or other cloth and put it on the table to prevent the guitar from slipping.
2. Start disassembling your guitar
You’ll want to start the process of refinishing your guitar by first disassembling the instrument.
You can start this process by removing your guitar strings by simply cutting the strings with a pair of wire cutters or string cutters.
There is no way to repaint a guitar with these strings, which means that after you paint the guitar, you will most likely have to readjust the truss rod once you’ve reassembled the guitar.
3. Loosen the neck of the guitar
After removing all the strings from the guitar, unscrew the neck of the guitar from the body. However, some guitar necks have screws that can be easily loosened with a screwdriver and you can gently pry them out of the body.
Other necks are glued to the body of the guitar. When using this type of guitar, do not remove the neck from the body. Instead, cover it up or match the color to its body.
4. Remove your guitar hardware
Once you’ve removed the guitar neck, you’ll work to remove all of the hardware from the guitar. You can use a screwdriver or Allen key to remove the bridge, knobs, strap knobs, pickguard, pickups, and output jack.
There are some guitar models that have the output jack and controls connected to the pickups through holes between each cavity. So all you need to do is cut the wires to detach each piece of hardware.
5. Organize your hardware
Once you have removed everything from your instrument, you should store all hardware and fasteners in plastic bags and label the bags.
Restoring your instrument can take a few weeks (or even a few months), so you’ll really want to make sure all the bolts and screws are labeled, as this will help avoid confusion when you put your guitar back together.
6. Warm up the paint on your old guitar
Using a heat gun or hair dryer, move it around the body of the guitar. The heat will help soften the old finish on the guitar and loosen it from the base. Continue heating the surface of the guitar for 3 to 5 minutes. You can use a knife or scraper to pick up the old paint. If the old paint begins to crack, it is a sign that the paint is heating up. Be careful not to damage the wooden base below.
7. Use sandpaper
If the old paint doesn’t come off after heating, you can use 100-grit sandpaper to sand down any remaining old paint.
Sanding the surface smooths the wood and removes any imperfections. If you want to repaint your guitar with a clear tint, you’ll need to remove all of the excess paint.
However, if you use a solid, darker color, you need to scratch the surface of the guitar.
8. Use fillers
After sanding, fill bumps and holes with commercially available putty. Next, spread it around the guitar’s body. After that, let it dry and sand one last time with a finer grit to smooth the surface and then clean off the sanding dust.
9. Use wood sealants
If you choose a light color for your guitar, choose a white finish, and if you prefer a darker color, a gray finish is for you.
Apply and then spread the wood sealer alongside the grain of the guitar. Do not rub the surface and let it dry for 10 minutes. If desired, you can apply 2-3 coats of sealer. Then let your guitar dry in a well-ventilated place for 1-2 days.
10. Use primer
Apply 2-3 coats of foundation of your choice. Be sure to match the primer to the type of paint you’ll be using on your guitar.
11. Start painting your guitar
Apply thin coats of paint to make sure it dries quickly and doesn’t drip off the body of the guitar. If you want to apply more than two coats of paint, let them dry for another two days.
12. Paint with clear coat
After painting with paint, spray or apply a clear coat. Clear coats give a clean, shiny finish. You can apply 2-3 coats in an hour for it to dry properly. After using the solid color and clear coat, allow it to cure 2-3 weeks without touching to achieve a deeper color for your guitar.
13. Polish your guitar
Polish the surface with guitar or car wax to make the guitar shine more. Using a microfiber or soft, dry cloth, soak in polish and gently apply in circular motions. Wipe off excess polish with a dry cloth separately to avoid scratching.
14. Reinstall the guitar parts
After all the painting procedures, reassemble your guitar into its individual parts. Connect guitar cables, output jacks, knobs and tips. Finally, replace the guitar neck and carefully screw it into place.
Completing your guitar or guitar kit can be a lot of fun and an opportunity for a lot of creativity and ways to make it unique. A professional-looking finish can be achieved with simpler tools, but the trade-off will be a lot more work. If this is something you think you will enjoy, you can surely achieve beauty. If you prefer a simpler option, there are wonderful solutions that require much less time and effort. Or just enjoy it.