Do you want to paint your guitar, without stripping it first? While it is possible, it’s really not recommended, but we’ll touch on the subject briefly and explain the reasoning behind this. Painting a guitar without taking it apart involves simply taping off the areas that you can and hoping for the best. If you are a pro at painting, you can probably pull it off, but I definitely would not recommend this for a novice.
Today we’ll look at this and address the difficulty level behind it, and we’ll finish it up by telling you how to smooth out your finish. Let’s talk about painting your guitar and why it’s really a good idea to strip it first.
Do you need to strip a guitar before painting?
Stripping a guitar really is the best idea before painting it – especially if you’re a novice at painting guitars. Without stripping it first, the odds are that you are going to get paint on metal parts and in all kinds of places that you didn’t expect. Paint isn’t always predictable, you know?
With electric guitars you’ve also got wired components and while you could conceivably loosen them up and mount them somehow to paint around them, this isn’t really ideal and you might well damage your guitar.
If you’ve got a few guitars and just feel like playing around with an old one, then what you should do is isolate the section that you wish to paint with some painter’s tape as best as you can. This will minimize any splashing problems or mistakes during your painting but this is really the best that you can do.
Take a look at this 3rd party link that goes over the steps including the disassembly. It’s really not as hard as you think to disassemble and reassemble your guitar and you can even make it easier by taking pics on your phone as you do it.
It’s really a much better option and trust me, you’ll be happy that you did it after you see what painting a guitar is really like!
How easy is it to repaint a guitar?
Repainting a guitar really isn’t all that hard, the difficult part comes in making the finish look professional. This is something that you learn with time and practice, so you need to keep this in mind if you are thinking about repainting your guitar on your own.
You also need to be careful how many coats you use, because a thick coat of pain can seriously dull-down your sound, and you definitely don’t want that. That said, this is what the job breaks down into:
- Disassembling the guitar
- Sanding and cleaning the area that will be painted
- Taping off areas that you don’t want accidentally painted
- Applying primer (depending on your paint choice)
- Painting the guitar
- Sealing up the finish and giving it time to properly cure
It doesn’t sound so bad when it’s all laid out like that, but painting a guitar does takes skill. If you have more than one guitar and these are not very expensive ones, then you can certainly try painting on your own and I’d even recommend it. You’ll pick up some experience on the way and with a little practice you can get them painted and even make them look profession.
Just realize that this doesn’t happen overnight – you’ll have to learn the ins and outs just like everyone else!
How do you smooth a guitar finish?
If you are looking to achieve that ‘smooth as glass’ finish, then there are two primary things that you will want to do and they both have to do with sanding. The first one is going to be sanding your guitar smooth BEFORE you start painting it. You need a smooth surface to start with, after all, and you want to do this before you’ve applied those pretty coats of the color or your custom designs.
Secondly, you want to sand it a certain way. You’ll want to work through a range of low grits and light sanding sessions. Try 60, 100, 150, and 200 grit and then use some sanding sealer, followed by a little buffing with steel wool.
Grain filler comes next and then you’ll want to then buff that out and sand as well, finally adding on some layers of lacquer until it’s reached the desired smoothness.
Now you can paint it with oil or water-based lacquer paints and you’ll have an excellent chance of a glassy-smooth finish when you are done.
Some parting words on painting a guitar without taking it apart
While online tutorials sure make it look easy, there is definitely a lot that goes into repainting a guitar and I hope that this article has driven that point home a little.
Yes, you can paint a guitar without taking it apart, but it’s not recommended and even experts might well make some mistakes. There’s simply too much that can go wrong. It’s better to strip it and if you do paint it, understand that this is something you’ll have to learn and that no one is an expert right away.
For a ‘photo’ finish, start by sanding and filling the body before you actually paint it, because this is the real secret to getting a super glassy finish. I hope that you have fun learning the ins and outs of guitar painting and that you’ll be patient with the process.
You’ll see… once you get the hang of it, there’s nothing quite like personalizing your guitar!