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Painting My Early 90's Peavey Predator Strat Copy

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This is my first guitar, an alder Strat copy, bought in the early 90s. As a teen, I had no idea about guitars, but it served its purpose. Years went by and I went onto other guitars, and one day, seeing it looking lonely in a corner, I took it to the excellent Graham Noden on Denmark Street for a stone and setup. This made the guitar play incredibly well, like night and day, and was a big influence on how I feel about the "big name" guitars these days.

So I decided to refinish it from boring black, and change the stock pickups for some Bill Lawrence (Wilde). I read lots about refinishing, and I used car paint in spray cans, as I didn't own a compressor. I sanded the old finish off, applied primer, sanded, applied about 8 coats of metallic British Racing Green car paint (great sparkles!) and finished with about 8 coats of lacquer. I don't remember exactly what went wrong, but in final sanding, mistakes were made, I think I sanded through for some reason, I got annoyed and the body sat in a cupboard for a few years. Perhaps it wasn't flat, or perhaps I hadn't applied enough coats. Either way I was fuming as until then it had looked pretty good apart from some dull patches (see questions below).

Finally, it's time to get back on the case! I saw this site and I hope you guys can help me get it right the second time. I've sanded it back down to wood as I think that the dull patches may have been a problem from the start. I've taken some photos - all photos can be found at https://picasaweb.google.com/antony.gelberg/PeaveyPredatorGuitar, and I'll be updating the album as I proceed. (I like Picasa Web as I can upload the photos in high resolution and you can zoom in easily.)

I have some specific questions, some pertaining to mistakes I've made in the past, and some to the upcoming refinish:

1. Is the recommended number of coats the same for spray cans and compressors? I read somewhere recently that spray cans need more coats, but it wasn't clear.

2. Looking at the photos, have I sanded through the sealer? Could that be the reason that I had dull patches first time round? They didn't appear until after a few coats had been applied. I think my concerns are most visible on https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/BVf32GdPat--2JyzPiGaag?feat=directlink and https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/n3YIaTbIcmcBYDEDCEZtlA?feat=directlink. See the light patches in the top curve and on the right side of the tremelo cavity. I think that these are the areas that came up dull in the end. If it's not a sanding sealer issue, what is needed? Grain filler?

3. I sand with a block as much as possible, but it's not really an option in the curvy bits. I try to do these by hand, but try to "feel" what is level. Is this acceptable or am I heading for problems, and if so how do I do the curvy bits?

4. I sanded the old paint off with 75 grit. I'm now tidying it up by sanding flat with 300. Is this necessary / advisable?

5. I don't want to go on, but do I need to apply sanding sealer and / or grain filler before I start with the primer?

Hope somebody will be interested enough to give me some insight, and look forward to getting involved here in this community.

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