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So the guitar painting summary: I’d say it was a success. Here’s what it looked like before:

And here’s the “after”. Me using it on stage at Riverpalooza:


While I can point out imperfections in my work until everyone gets totally bored, I think it looks good enough. Definitely learned a lot about guitars and painting and general craftsmanship along the way, which was the point.

I like the guitar. I installed new pickups which sound a lot better and a new switch (the old one was broken). I’m noticing some possible intonation problems which I may have to go get my local guitar guy to look at, though I’ve gotten cocky enough to adjust my own truss rod and bridge now, so we’ll see if I can fix it on my own.

A lot of people have asked me for advice as I’ve done this project, so here are a few things I’d do differently if I started it over again:

  • I would make sure to sand the sanding sealer down better. I wasted a lot of time by not sanding it properly and then the primer didn’t adhere to it. I thought shinier was better. Also any nicks and dents that are visible now were certainly visible at the sanding sealer stage.
  • I would be more careful around the edges when sanding. Everything I read said to be careful around the edges when sanding and I still wasn’t careful enough. The edges are where you can see the biggest imperfections on my guitar.
  • I’d sand the inside of the “horns” better. The two pointy things at the top. In there I did the lamest, laziest sanding job and it looks bumpy and gross. No big deal, who can see it, right? Well, whenever you look down as you’re playing it, you’ll see it and you’ll remember how lazy of a sander you are.
  • I would put more than 10 thin clear coats on the guitar. Can’t hurt to have the extra coats if you’re unsure about wet-sanding. I managed to sand through the clear in a few points and strip off some of the paint. Extra clear would have given me some extra protection and it doesn’t take that long to apply.

Sanding, sanding, sanding. If I had to do it over again it would be way easier just for the experience in sanding that I’ve picked up.

Want to do this yourself? Here’s the reference material I used:

  • Paint Your Own Guitar – I bought this eBook — it and the free videos you get were a huge help. My only complaint is that the book is geared more towards copying various famous rock guitar designs and solid colored guitars are considered afterthoughts. But really, about 90% of what I did I learned from this book.
  • Project – Great site with a lot of excellent tutorials. This is the site I got the heat stripping idea from, which was a fairly painless way to strip the guitar.

And thanks a lot to everyone who emailed and commented with helpful advice and suggestions. Part of my motivation for blogging the whole process became knowing that someone out there might be able to help if I boned things up too badly.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Posted on - August 26, 2006 [at] 10:25 pm by Brad
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23 Comments on this post

Dylan on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
August 27, 2006 at 7:04 am

Nice picture.

If I could have a guitar or bass of any color, it’d be either dark green, or blue with light blue thunder bolts. Green, like in Morningwood’s “Jetsetter” video (

chronicon on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
August 28, 2006 at 11:25 pm

Now that you have it all finished and are using it live, time to consider the most vital part of the instrument–the strings. Go out and get a can of Deoxit D5 Power Booster to clean your strings after every show, or heavy rehersal. They will last forvever and sound great. And, from what I have been told by the luthier that recommended it to me (and my own experience with it), it won’t cause your newly minted finish any harm at all. I have used it on (raw) rosewood, ebony, and (finished) maple fingerboards with nothing but positive results. Spray it on and wipe away the gunk & corrosion build up on the strings, pickups, bridge, etc. It’s simply excellent!

Steer totally clear of silicone based products. They are nothing but trouble, and terribly problematic to remove.

Caig should list guitar cleaning on the can along with all the other stuff it works on. For electric guitars it’s one of the best maintenance tips I have ever been given!

EF in FL on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
October 28, 2006 at 5:42 pm

That blue looks totally cool. I’m working up the gall to attack my strat clone with sandpaper and spray cans. Thanks for the tips!!

Mikey on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
December 7, 2006 at 9:13 pm

looks good, bud, im in the same boat as you. i was looking so forward to the project, but now i just wanna get it done. im about half done the wet sanding. im dreading the edges. ive already slightly sanded throuhg in a couple places, but fuck it, i wanna finish this bitch!

yc on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
December 19, 2006 at 7:32 pm

wao!! thanks!!

JeffM on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
February 20, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Whats up man? I’m not the all knowing expert but I did build guitars at Parker Guitar for about 4 years. I sorry you waitedto so long to between coats to paint man. You didnt have to. Especially with spray paint. Tipycally you treat the steps of guitar painting the exact same as you would with a car. For best results do the grunt work yourself. (as you did) Then just go to your local auto body shop. They’ll put the clear coat on for a side job. that sucker will look wet for the rest of its days. I doing the same to my guitar now. My last step is a trip down the street to let them spray a nice clear coat. I’ll pick it up in less than a week.Your steps made for some good reading. I laughed my ass off too. I feel your pain though.
Good job in the end.

FlyDog on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
February 24, 2007 at 10:10 am

Got a kit guitar (a Stratocaster look-alike) as a gift, and your refinishing blog was clear, concise and funny to boot. It’s one of the best I’ve seen on how to finish/refinish a guitar. The thought of trying to find nitrocellulose lacquer and using a spray gun to apply it had me daunted. Since you had good results with plain ol’ hardware store Krylon, the project isn’t going to be near as hard.

Markus on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
March 29, 2007 at 7:12 am

Just wanted to thank you for your excellent blog. Funny, informative, interesting…

Any new projects coming up?

bryant on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
April 28, 2007 at 10:38 pm

next time if you have trouble with the metal pieces holdong in the bridge and stop bar take a hot soldeing iron and stick it in for a few seocnds then screw the screw pieces in a couple o turns and pull.

the heat makes the wood contrac tthe same way cold makes it expand. and they should come out no problem.

FlyDog on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
July 16, 2007 at 3:09 pm

A word of caution! If you refinish your guitar with Krylon, be very careful about letting it come in contact with vinyl! Bought a cheap gig bag with a vinyl lining, put my guitar inside and took it to a local music store to get a fret buzz fixed. Two weeks later they called and said the bag’s lining had stuck to the guitar. There must’ve been some type of solvent lingering inside because even where it didn’t stick, I can see the fake leather grain imprinted on the surface of my guitar. And yes, I let the paint cure for a whole month before wet sanding it. I just finished stripping it, and this time I’m going to use some kind of automotive paint.

jeff on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
August 9, 2007 at 12:49 am

dude, i cant thank you enough. im doing a custom job on my viper (just like an SG but more for metal) with nice pickups and all that jazz and i havent found one tutorial that makes sense, till i found this. right now its in my basement almost done sanding. Do you think i should sand absolutely everything down? or can i leave a little bit, like in between the horns and on the neck? and how long should i wait between each step? an email would be much appriciated

Wayne on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
February 2, 2008 at 7:19 pm

I am so gled i just found this blog. I am going to start my guitar tomorrow. I have already sanded it down, BY HAND. I have a Cort M100. I have also reshaped the body, ie put more pointy horns on. It was a realy nice sunburst, but I want it black. Or maybe white.
If you ever do a guitar again follow the same spray rules for a car. Sealer, primer, colour. Then wet sand, then clear, wet sand, cut and polish.
By the way, it does look good on stage.

donovan on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
May 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm

wow. sweet sg. i’m considering buying a tele kit and i’ve been looking for a guide on finishing. this is the first one i’ve found thats actually in english. thank you. i’ll be posting the process and the results on my bands blog. we’re gonna switch from folky-acoustic stuff to hardcore punk soon, and i want a good guitar for when we do.

Ballysdad on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
August 7, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Nice guitar.. I read through your step by step.. If your body is made of Mahogany you need to put grain filler on the bare wood then apply sand sealer. If there is no grain filler over time the paint will settle into the grain of the wood. Check out then go to there message boards excellent stuff..Doing my SG now..

BOB RASSIAS on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
August 23, 2008 at 6:44 am


Kaybe (Scotland) on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
October 25, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Very neat job, and I am sure an inspiration to others to have a go.
Just out of interest what wax did use to get the final finish?

dillon on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
November 20, 2008 at 3:18 am

umm with the painting the best way to get the orange peel off and bring the shine out is to sand it with a very light grit sand paper like 2000 or 1000 use water as he said. all the water does is was th fine dust so it doesnt clog the fine sandpaper after that buff it with polish compound then finally use g3 or something like that to really bring out a glassy finish. that what i would do anyway. god job man its freakin hektic 5 stars

SargentPeppers on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
December 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Well Frig Dude it looks Great! Work of love some say. I bought a kit so I could build my nephew his first for Christmas this year (2008) and crap I don’t know whats up, every time I get to the point of clear (3rd time) the clear seems to pull the paint? I wanted to believe it was orange peel but it seems way to intense? I did try and light sand and I took off the High Points to the wood? I’ll keep trucking but vrap Christmas is in 25 days!!!!

DJ on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
December 5, 2008 at 6:11 pm

ya I started doing that sort of thing to my guitar but I’m also plugging up holes…

I actually started writing to tell you that you didn’t have to go to the extreme you went to with the first sanding all you had to do really was take the shine out of the finish.

atleast thats what I did and it looks fine and I’m at the primer stage.

paul on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
February 1, 2009 at 1:59 pm

hi ive just stripped down an old p bass sanded it all down and ready for paint the only problem is i cant get krylon paint ive decided to use the blue you have used my design is that of eddie van halen but in blue with a mirrored scratch plate `cool` is that the paint rof this job or will any paint do . good job on the gibby nice one …………paul

Matt G on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
March 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I got a Lyon Limited Edition and i was wondering if i have to use the sanding sealer?

Ricardo Romero Ruvalcaba on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
August 14, 2009 at 3:08 am

Hello friend. It´s been useful for me your instructions. I hope I´ll not fall in terrible mistakes like you said jejeje because of you I decided to paint one Fender Squire I traded some time ago. Red one but with a terrible paint job from the factory I guess. And with some horrible scratches the first owner did to it.
The reason for writting you it´s because I have some doubts. Maybe you could answer them. The first one is that you don´t mention the dry time of the sealer, primer paint and clear. Do I have to paint it all in one day? Or I have to wait first to let the sealer dries, then the primer, etc? The drying time that´s something I don´t know. Perhaps you could tell me. So far I´ve stripped almost all the paint from the guitar. In order to keep the shape of the guitar I´ve been using Paint Remover that says in the label it´s not aggressive with the wood. Little by little the paintins is getting off. The other question is: Can I sand it more in the scratch areas I mentioned before to make it flat so I can apply the sealer? If so I have to sand much more. How many primer coats do I have to apply before the sealer? Which sanders do I have to use now that I´m almost stripping the paint? Which ones for sanding the primer, which for the paint and which for the clear ones? Many shapes and sizes are in the market. Do I have to sand between each coat of color paint?
I hope you could answer me all my questions cause, see, it´s not a great guitar, but I´m planning to rewind the pickups, buy new hardware for the tunners and the paint job so I want to see a good job and work for a couple of months maybe but finish it with a great satisfaction just like you said in your experience. I always wanted a Fender. Now that I have one, I would like to be more a Fender and not a Squier one jojojo. I think I could transform it into a powerful and better guitar.
Thanx for this tutorial,
Ricardo Romero Ruvalcaba from Mexico City.

Anthony on Guitar painting: part 9 (conclusion)
July 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I liked your blog. “Time to finish this bitch” haah. Yeah sanding takes a lot of focus and work, but it’s amazing what can be done. If you ever feel like doing this again, you can get a nice even finish on corners and tight spots like the horn cut aways with 0000 steel wool. I picked this tip up from the internet and I’ve been using it on a guitar project with good results. Rock on.

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