Jump to content



Recommended Posts

I think I might break down and buy an airgun soon. I was looking at a paint shop today and they had some nice units, but in the back of my mind all I'm thinking is eBay eBay eBay. =)

So I get on eBay and search and there are a TON of new/used guns available, and much cheaper than this crazy retail store was asking for theirs.

I'm looking for specific brand/model recommendations that you guys have practical real world experience with. I want a model that is easy to get replacement parts for, one that is RELIABLE, quality built, and won't break down. Ideally, I'd like to have 2 separate guns. One for primer, main body coats, and a smaller gun for doing detail/touch up work. I've seen some incredibly cheap ones on eBay both new and used, but do not know enough about brand reliability to know what to get... All I know is that I want an HVLP. I already have a compressor, and will just need to buy a moisture trap. Thanks a ton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You don't want HVLP unless you are spraying large large items, they are useless for guitars. I've owned them. Also, you can't use a regular compressor with 90% of them, you have to buy a complete system.

Also, getting paint to lay smooth with HVLP is very hard.

I've owned HVLP's, gravity feed, syphon feed, airbrushes, you name it LOL!!!!.

My recommendation, is get a small automotive gravity feed gun, something with a 32oz pot is nice. Reason for gravity feed? you use ALL the paint, you don't have to throw away a little bit. With the cost of some paints, you don't want to be tossing anything.

As for a small gun, I recommend the Paasche H series airbrush, they will still do a fairly wide pass with the #5 tip (about 1.5") and can do down to less than 1/16" pass with the #1 tip if you are **** about your paint consistency.

As for the big gun, the big trick is to make sure your compressor will keep up with it, when I upgraded the gun, I didn't have a big enough compressor with my regular one, thankfully I had a second larger one that I am using now.

Look to spend around $125 for an average gravity feed gun, and about $90 to $100 for the airbrush.

I don't recommend ebay for this stuff, you don't want a gun that someone has used, and didn't clean properly. Some of the 2 part paints will not clean out once they've cured. I don't like buying someone else's headache.

The other thing you MUST consider if you don't already have one, is buying a carbon filter respirator.

Laquers are bad, you want a respirator for them, Poly Urethanes are deadly, you HAVE To use a respirator for them. I use a full suit, and generally a fresh air respirator system. You can respray a guitar if you screw up, but you can't rebuild your health once you damage it with that stuff.

Also, if you are going to be spraying laquers or poly urethanes, check your local codes to make sure you aren't breaking any laws spraying in a garage or something. Laquer is fine up here, but I know it is illegal to buy laquer in quite a few states, Poly's are easily bought, but most places require it to be sprayed in a proper filtered booth. Chances are you would never get caught, but all it takes is one upset neighbor with a dead cat :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brian, thanks for the recommendation of the Harbor Freight brand. I have one of those stores about 15 minutes away from me, and if you have found that the $14.99 unit is working for you, then that is excellent and the price is right. =)

LGM Guitars thanks a TON for that information. You do NOT recommend that I go with an HVLP unit, then? All I would be using this for is guitars and basses. This one here is non HVLP and only has a 4 oz. payload, but for $14.99 that is a schwingin' deal. Harbor Freight Gun.

From your post it looks like you only recommend HVLP for doing BIG projects... cars, truckz, SUV's, etc? My compressor is a very nice Craftsman 5HP unit, so lack of power is not an issue. I bought it mostly for pneumatic tools like rotary sander and airwrench.

You said look to spend around $125 for a gravity fed gun... What is wrong with the $15 Harbor Freight Brian recommendation? At that cheap of a price I could happily buy 2 and use one for color one for clear, and a even third one to spray parmesan on my spaghetti.

The small detail gun is on backburner, but I am definitely going to be picking up a larger gun within in the week. I've read and heard many great things about polyeuro and polyester paints, and these are simply not avaiable in aerosol cans, and must be mixed and sprayed via gun. (BTW, I never realized how obscure and RARE nitrocellulose is. I think I called every paint store in Arizona, and NO ONE carries anything nitrocellulose based. All the guys I talked to were too hyped about acrylic lacquer and the polys for finishing. I ordered mine from StewMac and didn't want to wait 7 days to get another can of gloss black in).

Speaking of Nitro alternatives, are most of the finishing houses using the acrylic lacquers and polys? I am almost positive that Ibanez /BC Rich et al are using acrylic paints on their guitars.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey dude, here are the benefits of a bigger gun like I recommended.

First of all, the larger pot allows you to make sure you don't run out of paint, nothing sucks worse than having to mix a new batch of paint halfway through a job. Plus, if you ever want to do an acoustic, or a neck thru guitar, you will be spread very thin with 4oz. If you are spraying nitro (I hate nitro, and it's probably illegal in Arizona which is why you can't get it, I know it's illegal in Minnesota) you don't want to run out, you don't want to have a coat flash before you get the next on.

The other huge bonus to the 32oz cup, is, I usually mix 12oz and do 2 bodies at once, I lay my bodies flat when I spray, and flip them from front to back. No matter how you do it, you will inevetabley have to tilt the gun forwards at some point, with the larger cup, you can have it half full, and still tip a long way before the paint gets to the top of the cup and gets the lid all sticky.

Also, those little guns are fine, and as Brian told me last night, you can afford to throw them away, but, really, 8 of those little guns, and you've paid for a big one. The big one offers you more versatility. Eventually, I'm sure you'll find more than a guitar you want to spray hehehe.

As for HVLP, they are primarily for industrial use it seems. A couple friends in autobody here bought them for cars, and promplty sold them, they spray the paint on thick, without overspray, but the paint just doesnt' lay out as nice, and requires alot more polishing.

Most companies are using Poly Urethane's now. It's a 2 part automotive clear, it's expensive, about $200 a gallon, but it's worth the money, you'll get about a dozen guitars out of that amount. you can buy less, but it's cheaper to buy a gallon.

Here is a guitar just out of the booth that I sprayed, with poly, no polishing yet, just the clear.


I'd say a good gun is worth it's weight in gold :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NICE work, LGM. Very nice indeed.

As for paint choices. Obviously nitro is preferred by many... (You are right BTW, it is illegal to spray it here in Arizona). Seeing as how it simply does not EXIST here other than having to order it off the web and waiting for UPS to bring it to me, I want to paint a bass using acrylic lacquer and see how it turns out.

Most of the stuff I've read lately, a LOT of guys are using the poly's like you are. Is it REALLY that expensive? I mean, what if someone wanted just enough to do one guitar, (which I assume would be about 12oz for 3-4 really nice coats) ? Also, do you have to thin/mix the paint with some type of a lacquer thinner? After you spray the mixture or pure poly on, do you then coat it with clear poly?

Can you tell me which model gun you own specifically? My motto is ya get what ya pay for. I was going to buy that cheap gun just to get the hang of it and see what kind of results I could get, but ultimately in the end I would most likely drop a buck and a half on a GOOD gun, like a Sharpe or something. Thanks for your help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey dude, Poly Urethane is a 2 part plus reducer paint. I use PPG or RM Diamont. Yes, it is that expensive unfortunately. The smalles about I've been able to get was a quart of the clear, a pint of hardener, and a quart of reducer, that was about $100.

The paint mixes 3:1:1 for the RM and 2:1:1 for the PPG. I spray primarily either automotive base coat paint, or Createx Auto Air airbrush paint for color, and use the Poly only for clear.

You could try going to a body shop and purchasing a small amount, you only have about a 3 hour pot life once it's mixed though, and if they do sell you a small amount, even unmixed, you have to use it soon, or make damn sure it's sealed well. The hardener has a very short shelf life if not sealed well.

I can't remember the name of the gun I use right now, and it's out in the shop and it's -22 degrees here right now, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow for me to tell you the name LOL.

one other thing, if you want to save yourself many headaches, invest in a water trap for your airline as well, nothing is worse than moisture in your finish....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LGM.. Kickass, and thanks. You have a lot of talent and your work is gorgeous; (checked out your site... jeeeez). I can't STAND ego and attitude, so with you and Brian breaking the rules and fully divulging all of the info that I ask for with no attitude... it's rare and totally appreciated.

I think when people get to the level of skill you guys are at, they feel as if they become superhuman and ride this big high horse made of 2 parts ego and 3 parts asshole.

Now if you'll excuse me... I'm off to spray my fourth coat of stewmac clear nitro gloss.... AEROSOL! Grrr... :D


Link to comment
Share on other sites

made of 2 parts ego and 3 parts asshole.

No no no, you read it wrong, it was 3 parts clear, 1 part hardener, and 1 part reducer!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

There's no secret to any of this, I only wish I'd had someone tell me some of what I now know when I started (and I've only just been doing this a year)

I used to spray nitro only, then I had something go wrong, I had to strip 3 bodies I'd done. 2 bodies I had 20 hours a piece into (one of which is the body in the above picture) and one had almost 40 hours of airbrushing and **** into it. That was the day I said NEVER AGAIN to Nitro. The other downside to Nitro, is wait a good 3 weeks before you polish, it will take AT LEAST that long to stop shrinking enough that you won't polish and come back a week later and say, funny, this thing used to be smooth.

The other GREAT thing with the Poly, is I use it to seal all my bodies with now too. Just spray on a couple good coats, let it cure, it gives you a wonderful surface for paint afterwards.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LGM... Care to take a moment and briefly explain your final sanding/buffing/polishing process? How you treat the paint coat, and then how you take care of the final clear coats?

Do you get your PAINT coat very very smooth, ie wet with 1500g or higher sanding, and THEN do your clear coats? Or do you leave the paint in a somewhat textured/not totally smooth 800g dry and then clear coat and start with 800f wet working your way up to 2000g wet and then buffing and polishing? Which compounds do you use? I think I'm going to completely hop off of the nitrocellulose bandwagon and go strictly acrylic lacquer and polys. Thanks a ton, in advance.

That eagle inlay looks killer, BTW. Totally pro.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically there is no secret to a factory finish, just lots of patience, practice and elbow grease.

First step is to make a trip to www.stewmac.com and buy the product Micro Mesh.

Second step is to decide on your clear coat, I use Poly Urethane 2 part automotive clears. (PPG, DuPont, RM etc)

Now, Step 3 is patience, you need to spray and sand. I Spray a few coats (even coverage) on the body, waiting about 30 minutes in between coats, these coats are important to get on fairly thick, or in the next step you'll take off color finish on the corners. So spray them on thick, then let them cure for 24 hours. Start with 600 Grit sandpaper wet with water, DON'T ADD SOAP like some people say. Unless you use only Ivory bar soap, it has no oil in it, anything with an oil in it, you will not get a good finish in the next steps. So, take your sandpaper (block it with a hard block) and sand the body with the 600 until it is totally flat, no runs, no bumps, nothing. There will be little tiny scratches everywhere, thousands of them. Next, take 800 grit and repeat the process. If you had the clear spray out nice, this should only take about 2 hours. If you've got runs, and lots of bumps, more like 4 probably. Careful on all the edges or you'll end up right through your color coat.

Step 4, ok, now your arm is sooooo sore, you won't wanna spray another coat, to bad, we want to get the next coats on withing 36 hours of spraying the first ones. So, I generally spray 3 more "wet" coats on at this point. Then, guess what, you do it all over again, starting with the 600 grit, only this time, after we finish with the 800, we jump to the micromesh, start with the 2400, 3200, 3600 and then 4000. Each time being sure not to change grits until you've taken out all the scratches from the last grit. at 4000, it will be looking pretty good, but not factory. So.........

Step 5, now we spray again, I do 2 coats at this point, only sprayed on a little thinner. Careful, we don't want runs at this stage. You can start with the 2400, and work your way to the 4000 again after these 2 coats.

Step 6, now we've done all our spraying and sanded to 4000 again. Then go after it with the 6000, 8000, and 12,000 grit, you'll want to push hard with the 8000, and 12000, this is more like burnishing than sanding. MAKE SURE ALL THE SCRATCHES FROM PREVIOUS GRITS ARE OUT!!!!!!!! if they aren't, all you'll do is magnify the scratches with the polished coats.

Step 7, ok, last step (hmmmm, and 7? LOL) while you were ordering from stew mac, you can order some swirl remover, I like to apply it with the foam buffing pad you can buy and chuck in your dril. . once you've got it all polished with the swirl remover, leave it sit another 3 or 4 days, then, put your guitar back togehter, and enjoy it.

The process is the same with laquer only you'll end up spraying about 15 or 16 coats of laquer, and you want to wait a good 2 weeks before you do your final sanding and polishing, laquer shrinks forever.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a ton... I'm still in the 400 and 800 range right now, got a few little spots that wont go flat so I'm workin on em. I should be ready to do high grit and final buff in about 2 weeks. Need to sand and clear coat a bit more then let her chill for about 2 weeks. Thanks for all the help.

I'm now on eBay right now looking for some good used bodys to try some poly on. My pops actually has a Sharpe airgun that he is going to let me use. He bought it back in like 1990 but it looks like a great unit... He said it was $250 when he bought it, so. It's a bottom feed with two valves on it to set air/paint flow. Looks to be about a 20oz cup and it's nice n clean. He said that some people put bags in the cup, and fill the bag with paint to assist in cleanup? So the cup doesnt get paint all in it? We'll give it a shot. Gotta finish the Ibanez and Peavey bass before goin with the Poly. =) Projects rule. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...