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Chroming A Guitar


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I have a few questions about chroming a guitar:

1. can I just take it to a car shop and have it done there?

2. does a chrome finish have to be sanded smooth and clear coated?

3. does the wood have to be sealed before chroming it?

4. what should i use to mask off parts that i don't want chromed (eg. neck pocket) ?

5. what are the negative effects of chroming a guitar in terms of playability, weight, sound , etc etc?

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chroming non metal objects is not the same as chroming metal.

Most of the systems require a perfectly painted and buffed black surface and then they use a special machine that sprays the chrome material. Alsa corp makes a product called mirra chrome but it really does not look like true chrome, more like shiney alum. they also make a $7000 machine that does a real chrome look.

If you contact Alsacorp.com they will do it for ou or refer to a dealer. I would expect no less than $500 for the process.

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There are threads about chrome finish on guitars. See what the forum search turns up. I don't remember all the details, but the impression those threads left with me was: it's not easy, it's not cheap, and it rarely looks like actual chrome.


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I'm no pro, but isn't the most significant reason it's difficult to chrome wood is because wood isn't conductive? Ie. it can't carry the current necessary for electroplating?

Slap me if I'm missing something obvious, but it seems to me that the whole reason you can only have "fake chrome" of varying qualities is because you can't truly chrome wood...!

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Well, you're right if you mean chrome as in the process of electroplating a guitar body, but when I hear people talking about "chroming" a guitar, I just assume they want a chrome look, not necessarily metal plating. I've seen paint jobs on metal that look very very close to chrome. If I were to go about chroming a guitar body, I might approach it in one of several ways. Personally, if I were to go for a chrome effect, I'd start by using a plasticized body blank from Gallery Hardwoods or anyone else that sells that sort of thing (though I'm no aware of anyone that does). Even though the plasticized blank will still expand and contract, your glue lines and wood pores won't show up during the expansion/contraction, so the chrome paint job should age just fine.



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That is indeed true, wood can't be easily plated because it isn't conductive. How it is done is that the guitar is painted with copper conductive paint, then that paint is plated. This type of finish doesn't work well for several reasons. Wood slowly absorbs paint like a sponge for several years after it is painted. This can make the chrome paint slightly uneven. Wood also expands and contracts with weather, humidity, and age. This will complete ruin the chrome effect after less than a year.

There is no chrome spray paint that is worth considering, except for the ALSA stuff mentioned above. I have actually experimented with most of these paints, so I can speak with experience.

Chrome spray paints are:

1. Actually silver flake, not mirror chrome

2. About as hard and scratch resistant as that silver stuff on lottery tickets that you scratch off with your finger

3. Take about 3 months to dry

4. Can't take a clear coat over it without being completely destroyed

Strangely, paints labeled as silver flake can actually be somewhat decent, even though they look just like the "chrome" spray paints.

The best ways to achieve a chrome finish on a guitar are as follows:

1. Using silver mylar foil

2. Using a cheap plastic mirror as a full body pick guard

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but next time, please search the forums. There are actually DOZENS of threads on chrome paint on guitars, and they answer ALL of the questions you asked, and in more detail than this.

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It's not a conductivity issue. Think of all the plastic you see that has a very shiny, convincing chrome look to it, even if it is not actually electroplated. I think the plastic is coated with a film (like mylar, but probably more complicated). Somehow, the film must not adhere well to wood permanently due to expansion and contraction, pores, or moisture content (or maybe all three).

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From what i read, i gather that chroming a guitar, whether through literal chrome or some chrome-looking spray just isn't going to work, right? So then the other alternative mentioned is using silver mylar foil.. about that.. how do you cover up the contoured edges of the body while maintaining an even spread of the foil?

Edited by cukaracha
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this is NOT knowledge!!!!

only theory.

First of all thermoplastic primers have already been developed. that should minimize the cracking of the top coating due to the dynamic structure of wood.

Next, in the glassfibre-industry they use a relatively thick layer of gel-coat. (app 800mu) that should allow the wood and thermoplastic primer to expand and contract underneath during the seasons.

furthermore, as mensioned before, (pure lyrics..... damn!!!) conductive paints too have been develloped, so the next big step will be who is first to get the proportions right and get someone to do the "plating" and file the patent-documents and make himself a rich man...... he he he......

Or..... have your local blacksmith make one for you in solid cast-iron, do some weight-lifting while the guitar is at the "chromer's".

And get ready to play some serious HEAVY METAL!!! :D:D

Edited by vildskud
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There are quite a few ways to create a real chrome effect.

I cannot see putting a guitar in a vat of hydrochloric solution to does the nickle and chrome plating ( chrome is clear by the way )

So the options are sprayable chrome systems or Vacuum metalization processes.

Sprayable chrome requires a perfectly polished black paint job that has cured for about 10 days if it is uro paint. The production systems do put out a real looking chrome finish. The mirra chrome and others that you do from a paint gun are not really chrome, just chromeish.

The Vacuum Metallization will also require the part to be prepared perfectly and then sprayed with a copper paint to allow the metallization process to work. Basically they vaporize the metal into a vacuum chamber adn then attract it to the part with electrical currents.

As I said before , very expensive and as others said t may not last due to the wood . I Think that with a Uro primed adn painted boby with clear and ten doing the chome it would not show much of the shrinkage.

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House of Kolor makes a much more affordable product in the Kosmic Krome products than the Alsa paints. But you will need a perfectly finished black object and a good gun and good gun control.

The new Auto - Air aluminum airbrush paints look promising for aluminum effects but not true polished chrome. After my booth is done I'm going to try it on a black Squier 51.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've got the Alsa Mirrachrome Killer Can kit. Haven't tried it out yet though.

But there is another way to get a chrome finish:

Formica Laminate - Mirror Aluminum


I got a 4'x8' sheet (they wouldnt sell it to me in smaller sheets) for about $165. That turns out to be $6-7 a square foot.

Its very thin (.040") & bendable. It can be easily cut with a scroll saw & router. I scored & cut out smaller sized sheets out with a carpet knife.

An adhesive is used to adhere it.

If the guitar top is carved, then it might be very difficult to get the laminate to form over it.

If it is flat (i.e. a Strat style body) then it shouldn't be a problem.

How to integrate the edges of the laminate into the rest of the body, is another problem to overcome.

One could use binding or just leave it as is.

The good thing about laminate is that has a wear resistance (its used for counter tops).

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  • 2 months later...

I just so happens that I am an electroform engineer. I can plate anything that will hold paint.

What I can tell you is the surface must be perfect. Electroplating will not polish a terd. To start with you spray the guitar body with a machine tool primer. Then flatten and polish the paint, being sure to not have any imperfections. Then you a reedy to spray it with a conductive paint. I use a vary expensive silver paint. Now it’s time to plate Sulfamate Nickel onto the guitar (some platers will use Nickel sulfate in stead). About .015” to .020” will do. The recesses, low current areas will be thin as compared to the edges that are high current areas. So a periodic reverse is used to even out the deposition of nickel. Once the nickel is completed, its time to buff it to a mirror finish. Then into the chrome solution for a minute or two and you are done. That’s the jist of it and it is a lot more complicated then what I described. I’ve been doing this sort of thing for 25 years now so it’s real simple for me.

Now for the down side.

1) The coefficient of expansion and contraction of wood is vary different than that of Nickel. The likelihood of failer is high.

2) Nickel solution will get into the wood some ware and will stay wet under the surface and will leach out at some point in time. Although this may or may not be a problem.

3) I’ll stop now…I could go on and on…

If you really want to do this, don’t use wood. I could recommend some products to use but they are really expensive. I am sure there is a cheaper alternative

What I do is different than the process that is used for lipstick cases but there are similarities.

I would seek out a plating shop in your area and see if they will do it for you.

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SnowGTR do you have a business doing this plating? I've been trying to chrome a plastic visor for my pickup for a year and have had no luck. One place gave me a Very Very high quote.

I have tried the Killer Chrome by ALSA it didn't look like chrome in the end. Mabey I needed more but we will never know. I suggest not using the Killer Chrome, it's an expensive experiment, trust me.


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They look good. I would like to know what the base material is. I checked out their web site and came up short on information. There wasn’t any mention of their chromed guitars.

Several years ago I remember seeing a similar guitar in my local (ECMM) guitar store but I didn’t get a chance to really look at it. So I know there are a few floating around. Perhaps someday I’ll do one of my own.

Crash6882, sorry but the company I work for got away from doing small jobs and moved completely away from plating in general. Mostly due to environmental and heath issues.

What we do exclusively is electroforming nickel for Aircraft.

Most plating companies wouldn’t be in business for long if they didn’t have a large steady line of work coming in, especially here in CT. Most of the small platers that would take on single piece jobs are gone and I suspect that’s why you are getting such a high quote. Setup time and operating cost is expensive too.

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