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Questions Regarding Clearcoat Done At Auto Body Shop


ibanez5150
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I have an Ibanez RG guitar body that I just finished painting. I stripped it, and followed all of the suggested guidelines for sanding, sealing and priming (using B.I.N.S.).

Once it was ready to paint, I chose to swirl it. After reading all of the posts and debates that I could find regarding paint types, I decided to use polyurethane, and chose PPG Global paints. I am happy with the results, and I’m ready to apply a clearcoat.

After reading all of the posts about how to get a quality clearcoat, I don’t feel confident in my abilities to spray it myself. In addition, I don’t own any of the spraying equipment required to do this adequately.

I have seen a few people on this board mention getting a clearcoat done at an auto body shop. I’m considering this option, but I have a few questions that I need answered before I contact a body shop.

  1. I chose to use PPG Global polyurethane paint because I have read several posts that recommend using PPG’s Global Refinish Polyurethane Clearcoat (specifically D894 High Solids Clear), and wanted to keep the paint and clearcoat types the same (polyurethane). Does anyone see a problem with this logic?
  2. To locate a body shop to do the clearcoat, I used PPG’s locator option and found a local shop with PPG CertifiedFirst certification. They only do cars (as opposed to helmets, motorcycles, etc.). Does this type of certification qualify someone to be able to spray a range of objects, or should I find a shop that specifically handles a broader range of objects (and not just automobiles)?
  3. Other than the type of clearcoat that I want to use, I don’t know other guidelines to tell the spraying technician when spraying the guitar. Does anyone have any good experience with this that I can use when talking with the technician who will be doing the clearcoat? Some examples would be spray thickness, number of coats, etc.
  4. I don’t know much at all about curing the clearcoat. I assume that they use a baking process of some sort, but I have also read that some places may use ultraviolet curing. Does anyone have any guidelines for what works best, and what I might have available to me at a body shop? Also, will baking the guitar body damage it?
In general, if anyone has any experience (good or bad) with having a clearcoat done at an auto body shop, please reply. Not only do I not want to ruin the guitar by rushing into the clearcoat process, I want to be knowledgeable about the process prior to talking with a body shop.

Sorry for typing so much, but I want to make sure that I provide enough info for anyone who chooses to reply.

Thanks in advance for the much needed advice!

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I don't have the experience or technical knowledge of paint compatibility, but I would have swirled some scrap whilst you were at it and experimented with the clearcoat that way.

As for baking - it depends on the temperature, but i'm sure it will be "very warm" and probably a drier heat what with the extraction and all. Can't see it being an issue for the wood as long as it's not an issue for the glues....

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I would look for a custom painter in your area. Talk to the local jobbers,ie suppliers, for companies like House of Kolor or PPG. If you can paint a car or motorcycle you can do a guitar.

The difference may come down to standards, most car paint jobs have an expectation of some orange peel, look at a factory car finish. Production or repair shops have to match factory finishes so they don't do perfectly flat show car style clear like you'd expect on a guitar. However, custom painters for bikes and cars will offere you options and pricing for perfection. You can always choose to do the buffing and wetsanding to perfection yourself if you have them lay it on thick enough to allow for this.

If I were paying someone else I'd look to Kal Koncepts or someone like that. (www.gotpaint.com) You'll find many custom painters do more work out of thier home area than in it.

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I would look for a custom painter in your area. Talk to the local jobbers,ie suppliers, for companies like House of Kolor or PPG. If you can paint a car or motorcycle you can do a guitar.

The difference may come down to standards, most car paint jobs have an expectation of some orange peel, look at a factory car finish. Production or repair shops have to match factory finishes so they don't do perfectly flat show car style clear like you'd expect on a guitar. However, custom painters for bikes and cars will offere you options and pricing for perfection. You can always choose to do the buffing and wetsanding to perfection yourself if you have them lay it on thick enough to allow for this.

If I were paying someone else I'd look to Kal Koncepts or someone like that. (www.gotpaint.com) You'll find many custom painters do more work out of thier home area than in it.

I completely agree with this. Your typical Maaco-type paint shop will only spray one or two coats, and they will not rub it out. When you try to wetsand and buff you're likely to go through the clear. If you find a guy that does custom paintwork on bikes and stuff, he's much more likely to do it right. Be aware that it will not be cheap. I talked to a motorcycle guy once and he quoted me around $300. For that amount of money you can get a gun, compressor, and respirator (important!!!!) and do it yourself, provided you have somewhere to spray. Your first job won't be perfect, but you will save a lot of money in the long run by doing your own finishes (if you plan to keep building, that is). Also, I would be extremely wary of baking and/or UV catalyzed finishes.

Honestly, if you don't want to do it yourself, I would just send it to Wilkins.

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Thanks for all of the replies.

I forgot to mention that when I swirled the guitar, I also swirled a few test boards for later testing.

Based on what I read in the replies, it appears that I should look for a shop that does custom painting on motorcycles, cars and other items. It makes sense that they would hopefully have higher standards for the finished result. I will have to do some research to find a place that can do this, as I’m sure they exist locally, I just need to find them.

I’m a bit cautious about sending the guitar body to someone in the mail, but only because I prefer doing business face-to-face whenever possible. If I found a trustworthy painting expert who could do the clearcoat work, I would still consider it. Along these lines, fookgub, you mentioned sending it to Wilkins. Is this the same Wilkins from this site: http://www.wilkinsguitars.com? Have you (or anyone you know) had any experience with them?

Thanks, and I welcome all additional replies to my posts.

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Thanks for all of the replies.

I forgot to mention that when I swirled the guitar, I also swirled a few test boards for later testing.

Based on what I read in the replies, it appears that I should look for a shop that does custom painting on motorcycles, cars and other items. It makes sense that they would hopefully have higher standards for the finished result. I will have to do some research to find a place that can do this, as I’m sure they exist locally, I just need to find them.

I’m a bit cautious about sending the guitar body to someone in the mail, but only because I prefer doing business face-to-face whenever possible. If I found a trustworthy painting expert who could do the clearcoat work, I would still consider it. Along these lines, fookgub, you mentioned sending it to Wilkins. Is this the same Wilkins from this site: http://www.wilkinsguitars.com? Have you (or anyone you know) had any experience with them?

Yes, Wilkins Guitars. I haven't had any personal experience with them, but there are one of the biggest players in the guitar finishing game. They do OEM finishing for a number of companies in addition to their refinish operation, and their quality is well known. It would be worth it to call them just to see about their paint systems and whether or not they're compatible with your guitar.

I put an ad out on Craigslist when I was looking to farm out the finishing on my seven string. Didn't get many responses, but one guy in particular seemed very knowledgeable. He was a custom bike guy (they tend to have very high standards) and had even done a guitar before, but I eventually decided to do it myself simply because of the cost. On my first refinish, I drove the guitar around to several local body shops until I found one that would do the clear coats for me. He only charged me $30, but he did it to typical car standards, not guitar standards (two coats, slight buildup on the edges... I ended up sanding through the clear in a couple spots). I also took that guitar to a couple luthiers, who wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Mark Erlewine, a renowned luthier who just happens to have a shop down the street from me, quoted me the "get out" price of $800, while Chris Forshage flat out said he wouldn't do it.

Another thing to be aware of is that poly is more difficult to level and buff than nitro. The payoff is that it's much more durable, but for a first timer, I would recommend finding someone that will do the buffing for you.

Anyway, I guess my basic recommendation is to stick with guys that have high standards. Either custom paint or guitar specific. Talk to them about what you've got so far and see if they can answer your questions. DIY is probably the best option if you plan to do more of these. Finishing can be a real pain in the butt (that's why it costs so much), but you will save a lot of money in the long run if you learn how to do it. Otherwise, find a pro and get it done right the first time (and bring your wallet!).

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The guys I mentioned at Kal Koncepts do work for Jackson custom shop guitars, and quite a few others. Spaun drums, etc.

This time of year they are busy doing cars for House of Kolor, Auto Air, etc. for the big Sema show, but right after the show they might be slow waiting for the money to roll in from the big dollar jobs. Craig Frasier from that shop designs a lot of the air brush stencils that are out there. He's a stand up guy and really works to keep his prices fair. Long story short, I wouldn't hesitate getting a quote from them.

Where are you located? I hang out on a kustom paint forum populated by top level painters I can see if any of them are in your area.

As far as doing it yourself. Yes it can be done. I'm realy working on the process myself now of doing full automotive clears with pro level spray guns. Figure the price of a good gun to be $100-$400, a compressor a minimum of $200 to meet hvlp specs, hvlp compliant hose and fittings (yes there are specific specs), respirator, paint suit, buffing, wet sanding materials, the list could go on. The point is unless you want to do it a lot and really work at the technique its not worth putting together a pro level set up. You can do a lot with an amatuer's set up, but its a lot more work, while not saving a ton of money unless you skip out on the saftey equipment. Feel free to skip the saftey equipment if cancer, infections, and neurological disorders are your cup of tea.

Edited by syxxstring
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The big question is....how long ago did you finish the swirl? ALL of the PPG clears I use have to go over the basecoat within 24 hours or you have to resand and shoot the color coats. I haven't worked with the Global stuff and if you used a single stage paint instead of a base you may still be able to shoot a clear on it and have good adhesion.

Most body shops would be able to shoot it and buff it, but don't expect it to be ANYWHERE near $30. The clear is expensive as hell and worth it. IF you can find a shop willing to throw it in the booth with another project that's getting cleared, you can save some money that way.

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I didn’t realize it, but “rooster”, you appear to be correct about the 24 hour window for spraying a clear coat. I reread the product information for the PPG paint, and it says this:

“Allow the Global BC Colour to flash off for 15 minutes (but no longer than 24 hours) before applying D894 Clear.”

So, unless what “syxxstring” suggested (with the HOK intercoat clear (sg100) and scuffing) works, I’ll have to either sand it and repaint or find another way.

What surprises me here is that out of all the posts I’ve read, I haven’t seen any mention of the clearcoat “window” until now. This “window” appears to be very important, though, so I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t come across it until now. Out of curiosity, what might happen if the guitar body is clearcoated beyond the 24-hour window?

Since I’m not planning on any future guitar projects at the moment, I think I’m going to contact some custom guitar shops (Wilkins, Kal Koncepts, etc.) and see what they can quote me to do the clearcoat. That way I can get it done right the first time, and I will also have the benefit of discussing the paint/clearcoat compatibility with someone who paints guitars for a living.

Speaking of custom guitar shops, are there any others that anyone has personally had good luck with?

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Sorry I wasn't specific. I know about the recoat window between clearcoats, but I didn't realize that you had to apply the first clearcoat within 24 hours of painting the guitar.

I keep reading about people who paint the guitar, then mail the body to someone else to do the clearcoat. If this is the case, unless you ship the guitar body overnight, it probably wouldn't arrive and be painted within 24 hours. Is there some other kind of paint/clear coat combination that people are using that allows for a clearcoat to be sprayed beyond 24 hours of painting?

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Every good paint manufacturer has tech sheets. These give you recoat windows, clear windows, etc... They also explain what you can do around those windows, in the case of House of Kolor its Sg100. Sg100 is an intercoat clear designed for protecting artwork but also can be used when clear windows are missed.

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If you don't clear it in a 24 hour period, there is a chance that the clear won't adhere to the color coat and delamenate (peel off!). Also, on the recoat time, If you shoot a coat of PPG Polyurethane Clears, and you don't spray your next coat within one hour, you're done for 24 hours before you can touch it again. If you shoot it after an hour it will lift and ruin everything under it. Simple rule, shoot it within an hour or don't touch it for 24.

As far as what you CAN use without the 24 hour window, any of PPG's Concept single stage paints can be cleared after the 24 hour period, butwould need to be scuffed with 600-1000 grit before clearing. The most effective solution is to spray a clear base coat (DBC 500) over your swirl when it's finished and dried ( but still before your 24 hour window is up ) and then you can sand and respray the DBC without disturbing your finish under it and clear when you're ready. You could also try using some of the airbrush water based stuff. I have zero experience with that, but it would eliminate the window issue.

Hope that helps.

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If the paint is not metallic it should not be a big issue to scuff t with a scotch bright pad( I would use gold )

Windows can be worked around by using intercoat clear like sg100 from HOK ( I prefer dupont hot clear ) as already mentioned.

What intercoat does is not extend the window but allow you to scuff and not damage the paint or fragile airbrush work.

Now even after 24 hours if you spray intercoat over the base it will melt into the base because the solvents rewet the base and then you would have good adhesion and a fresh in-window surface for the clear. I like to use dupont 222s midcoat adhesion promoter if my base is out of window along with scuffing.

For clearing you should clear with 2-3 wet coats and let dry 24 hour and then sand out all of the peel and imperfections and reclear .

By having a cleared and sanded surface you can get it really clean and the final clear will lay like glass. You could sand and buff the first session of clear but I find it less work to relear adn then sand and buff an almost perfect surface ( if needed )

I paint a lot of odd things so I would say find a shop that does custom work to do your clear if you cannot do it yourself. The for odd shapes they paint the better.

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