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Re finishing 87-87 strat


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I have a 1986-1987 Japanese Fender Strat. At some point before I owned this guitar someone has re painted it in an unknown type of paint and the finish is very poor. I would like to re-finish the guitar but I'm not sure of the best way to go about it with regard to retaining it's value and also restoring it to something like it's original finish. I realise it's never going to be original and the new finish will look new unless it's artificially aged. It also requires a new scratch plate as the one on it has got gouges in the surface, I don't think this is original either. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Hi and welcome!

A lot depends on how the repainting has been done. If the previous owner has just painted over the existing finish you may be able to scrape and sand to reveal the original finish. The Japanese used quite heavy clearcoats so it's possible that the original finish is intact. You can't tell until you've carefully done some scraping. FWIW I've got a natural coloured Eko that was painted grey with regular indoor wall paint. That peeled off with a plastic scraper and the original clearcoat is as good as new!

If however you see sanding scratches under the current paint it most likely means that it has been roughly sanded to bare wood. In that case scraping and sanding to bare wood and starting fresh is the best option IMO.

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biz makes a good point... if you can you should at least try to get back to orig finish.  you might go into the cavities and see if there is any new finish there... if so (in unseen place) you can "speriment".  if it's a week finish rubbing alcohol might take it off.  acetone will remove lots of things... but I don't think it would go through poly... that said it may mar it.  might try some in an unseen area in ctrl cavity.  zip strip will remove almost anything.  if those don't give satisfaction... a more drastic measure is a heat gun.  it makes it pretty easy to scrape off most finishes.  then there's plane old sanding and elbow grease.  

if you want to get really close to fender production finishes... reranch makes great matches... also stew mac has some good 'uns.  mohawk has some really high quality nitro "toner" finishes... if you can't have "original" nitro finishes are very popular among strat owners and it isn't going to increase the value... but some might see it as more valuable than a poly finish.  getting professional results from any of those three... with a little patience... is pretty straight fwd.

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Just a warning: If you take the chemical/heat gun route you'll very easily end up to bare wood. If the original finish is still there and you want to save it, mechanical removal is the safest choice. All methods are messy and require respirators and eye protection - you don't want a chip of paint into your eye or paint dust/smoke into your lungs!

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