Ok, so you've got an old dented, scratched, sticker covered guitar. And that guitar cries, sometimes, at night. Cries because it wishes it could be beautiful. Cries because you neglected its looks for too long. It's time to take the matter in your own hands and refinish that baby.
Before I go on, however, I must warn you; there's danger involved.
DISCLAIMER: REFINISHING YOUR GUITAR MIGHT RUIN IT. DON'T DO IT UNLESS YOU'RE SURE OF WHAT YOU'RE DOING. I WON'T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTROYED INSTRUMENTS.
No let's go ahead.
I started out with a 2 year old Epiphone Les Paul Special II. It's a 200$ guitar, so I wasn't very afraid to break it. I wanted to give it a bit of personality so I painted some swallows on it with craft paint.
To make this story short, let's just say that I felt a refinishing was necessary.
What I did was that I stripped off the body of everything. I took off the strings, unbolted the neck, screwed out the electronics. It may seem daunting but it's quite a simple task. At the end of this post, I included links to websites that might help you around with this.
Once this was done, I used paint stripper to remove the paint, and sanded the wood very well, until it was as smooth as a casket. Afterwards, the painting begins.
In my case, I stained the wood instead of giving it an uniform color. I used acrylic washes instead of commercial wood stain; it doesn't work as well but it did it's job.
Afterwards, I painted the designs on using high viscosity acrylic paints (craft paints would work just as well)
Once the paint was dry, the real work begun.
Over the course of a few days, I applied a huge number of coats of gloss spray varnish. The trick here is to apply very thin coats, so the varnish doesn't scratch off easily and you don't end up with a huge amount of dripping. I applied a whole can of varnish this way, and should have applied a few coats more, but I didn't seek perfection.
Once the varnish was applied, it had to dry for a week or two to harden fully and lose it's stickyness.
The varnish dry, I wet sanded it with different grits of sandpaper. I started out with a grit of 220, and progressed gradually to a grit of 1500. It is important to sand until the pebbled texture of the varnish is smoothed out.
Afterwards, the elbow grease came in. Using a polishing compound and a rag, I polished my guitar until it got all shiny, by hand. A buffing wheel would have been terribly helpfull, but the results were great anyways.
If you're interested in modifying your guitar, go take a look on these webpages. They were really helpfull.
Paint your Electric Guitar
The Black Wolf
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