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Newbie Guitar Stripping/refinishing Help Please


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I have a gordon smith GS1. Its a fantastic guitar, and I got it for a great price, but the previous owner had it refinished in a horrible bright yellow.

As my 1st ever project I'd like to strip off the yellow finish , restore it to its original natural mahogany and put some kind of satin (not gloss!!) type of polish/finish/stain on it.

Here it is as it looks now.

GS1.jpg

Can anyone give me a few pointers or advice ??Its my 1st project, I'd like to keep it as simple as possible and try and get it right!!!

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I have a gordon smith GS1. Its a fantastic guitar, and I got it for a great price, but the previous owner had it refinished in a horrible bright yellow.

As my 1st ever project I'd like to strip off the yellow finish , restore it to its original natural mahogany and put some kind of satin (not gloss!!) type of polish/finish/stain on it.

Here it is as it looks now.

GS1.jpg

Can anyone give me a few pointers or advice ??Its my 1st project, I'd like to keep it as simple as possible and try and get it right!!!

You can do one of two things rather than sand until your arms fall off.

One way would be to use a chemical stripper like Zip Strip or something like that.

Another way would be to take a heat gun to it and heat the finish until it is soft enough to scrape away with a paint scraper.

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As this is your first project - I STRONGLY recommend reading some of the stripping/finishing tutorials on this site. They have given me quite a bit of insight and the KEY thing to remember is that nothing good with wood happens quickly. Enough preaching - I use either Formby's Furniture Stripper or Cirtristrip depending on the finish/age of the guitar. These strippers have both worked exceptionally well for me by placing the freshly brushed piece in a plastic trash bag and letting it sit for several hours/overnight. Make sure you clean the piece after scraping! The stripper can come back to haunt you, but if you keep it clean - give it a light sanding with 400/600 grit dry, you'll be fine.

For your satin finish, my preference is to use regular gloss clear coat and knock the shine off with 0000 steel wool. The reason for this is that I play the stuff I build and know the importance of having a good/hard finish. Depending on how much time you want to spend, here are some options and their approx. curing times (based on East Coast US weather)

1. Rustoleum Painter's Touch Clear Gloss - cheap, easy to use, cures in about 2 weeks

2. Minwax Polyurethane - comes in a rattlecan, good finish cures in about 2.5 weeks

3. Minwax Helmsman Polyurethane - comes in a rattlecan, harder finish, very durable - not very buffable (not a concern here as you're looking for satin) cures in about 2 weeks

4. Lacquer - Deft makes quite a stable product in a can. This will take several coats and upwards of 35 days to cure, then about another month to be completely ready for final buffing.

One more thing to not breeze by is the value of a good, level sanding block!!!

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I wouldn't use stripper. It'd take you about 15 minutes to get through the paint with 50 grit sandpaper.

Chances are there's a good sealer coat layer beneath the color -- you'll want to keep that.

I kind of like the TV yellow Lp Jr look though. You sure there won't be any surprises when you get to the actual wood?

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I think the stripper is worth it for the time it saves you getting MOST of the paint out of the way.

Basically just follow the directions-- (I use Strypeez) do it outside on a warm day, wear rubber gloves, don't get it on your skin, apply it in one direction, let it sit, and then scrape. Wash it down WELL with water after and you're done.

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I have used both Aircraft stripper from Autozone and I've used citristrip. Aircraft is HARSH, but works great. You have to be careful or it eats through the protective coat underneath. What I didn't realize was that the first thing it eats through is the lacquer. Then you can apply another coat to get the paint.

The last color change I did was this weekend. I followed some excellent advice. If all you want is a color change. Use a pretty fine grit paper like 600 or higher and then a palm sander. Go over it pretty well and use a lubricant like water. You'll have to get the nooks and crannies by hand, but all you really need to do is scuff the finish. What's underneath acts as a primer.

Then clean it pretty good with naphtha or a tack clothe to remove the tiny particles.

Start spraying. I went from black to red in one day. I'm already applying lacquer. That takes a long time. One thin coat per week and hanging in an unused closet inside to take advantage of the temp and humidity.

I haven't done a finish in poly, but I guess it could work and it comes in rattle cans. The advice given to me is that lacquer and poly don't mix so don't. The theory is if you start with oil, stick with oil. It has something to do with moisture coming out and being trapped.

Jef

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I also depends on what type of finish was used. If it is 2 part poly, forget anything other than marine or aircraft stripper. All the other stuff will do is waste money. It will barely soften those 2 part paints, they are made to resist chemicals. Like was already suggested, do you know that the wood will look nice when you strip it down, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

Any type of finish that is rubbed down with steel wool, or even uses flattening agents to acheive either a flat or satin finish, always over time gets glossy areas. Just playing the guitar for years will rub certain areas and polish them up.

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