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How To Refinish A Guitar

How To Refinish A Guitar

One of the biggest limitations when purchasing an “off the shelf” guitar is that there isn’t a large colour choice. If you require a specific colour (or if you just want to refinish a guitar), you can easily customise a guitar yourself!


STEP 1 Disassemble your Guitar

There is no way you can paint a guitar with the strings in place… clip the strings away with a pair or wire clippers.

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STEP 2 Take the Neck off your Guitar

Guitar necks that bolt on are easy to remove as all you have to do is unscrew the bolts on the back of the neck joint and gently wriggle the neck free. However, if you have a neck that is glued on, glued necks aren’t meant to be removed, so you will just have to leave the instruments neck along and repaint it to match the rest of the body.

STEP 3 Remove the Hardware from your Guitar Using a screwdriver or an Allen wrench, remove the bridge, knobs, strap buttons, pick guard, pickups and the output jack. If the output jack and knobs are wired to the pickups through the holes between each cavity, you will need to cut the wires in order to remove each piece of hardware. Ensure you know where and how the wires are wired so you can replace everything correctly.

STEP 4 Removing your Guitar Bridge Studs

Some instruments don’t have bridge studs, but the bridge of the guitar can just be unscrewed from the body of the instrument.

STEP 5 Organise your Hardware

Reconstructing your guitar may be several weeks away, so once everything has been removed from your instrument make sure each piece is labelled to prevent confusion.

STEP 6 Remove the old Guitar finish by Sanding

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When sanding the existing finish on your guitar, you have two options…

You can sand away the finish completely, or you can rough up the finish already on the guitar to put a fresh coat of paint that will stick to the instrument. If repainting with a translucent paint, or going back to an original finish darker than the colour of paint you are using, you will need to completely remove the existing finish. If repainting using a solid paint, then you will only need to rough up the surface.

Keep in mind that many guitar builders believe a thick coat of paint will diminish the tone of the instrument.

STEP 7 Sanding

Use an orbital sander to remove most of the finish. Curved areas require hand sanding, or a sanding sponge in hard-to-reach places. Work from coarse sandpaper grit through to a fine grit. Remove all of the dust by vacuuming or blowing with compressed air. Imperfections can be covered by applying grain filler.

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STEP 8 Priming

Wipe over with mineral spirits and allow your guitar to dry before touching. Apply two or three thin coats of primer to your instrument that matches the type of paint or stain you are going to use. Allow to dry.

STEP 9 Painting / Staining

If you are painting your guitar with a solid colour ensure you choose a durable paint such as a polyurethane, and apply thin layers of paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying another coat of paint. You should allow your coloured coat to dry for one week before applying a clear coat.

If you are requiring a stained finish, you need to wet the body of our guitar to make adding the stain to your body easier, while avoiding blemishes. Use a water-based stain. You can also use spray on finishes which will prevent any possibility of brush marks on the final result.

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STEP 10 Applying Clear Coat

Once your paint or stain as dried for at least a week, apply a clear coat to your instrument. Apply coats as thinly as possible, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next layer.

Finally, reassemble your guitar.