Jump to content

Finishing a neck and body....first go!


Recommended Posts

Hurrah! well, just got my fist kit (a tele) and was hoping you could all give this a quick read before I go ahead with it and make terrible mistakes - I've never sprayed anything before in my life!! Any spraying pointers would be welcome too!

For the body (alder, bare wood) I'm going to use a wood grain filler, let it dry and then start spraying on the colour (acrylic car body spray?) about 10-12 coats. How long should I wait between each coat? is there anything to do (ie sanding) inbetween coats?

Next the laquering. spray one coat and start using wet/dry paper, starting at 400, finishing at 1200 - about 4 coats of laquer? what laquer is reccommended? done!

For the neck (maple - maple fingerboard) should I use wood grain filler first? then put on my logo using Jehle's technique - is this onto the bare wood? or do I need to laquer first? after that, 4/5 coats of laquer, using wet/dry paper inbetween. Is there any rule of thumb for the paper grades? ie 1st coat 400, 2nd coat 600? I don't like the really glossy fingerboards, I perfer the satin looking ones. How do I achieve that?

And finally(!) I guess I need to remove the laquer from the frets - how?!

Thanks to everyone who's read this far, if you can't answer all my questions or point out schoolboy errors in my plan, at least answer what you can!

Cheers! I'll be forever grateful to whoever answers!!!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Matt and welcome to the forum :D

Coen's right a wealth of information there on ReRanch that you can cross over to your project.

One thing that is very important to start with. Make sure after you do your "wood grain filler" which I take it is sanding sealer that you sand it down as smooth as possible. The smoother your body is to start the better the end product will turn out.

I'm pretty sure you won't end up needing 10-12 coats using the acrylic car body spray but thats something you'll find out as you add them on lightly. If your using spray can's remeber that they tend to start sputtering about the time there 1/2 empty and that will just lead to more frustration as you try to smooth it out while fine sanding.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Couple of things,

first, for your fingerboard, mask off all the frets before you spray, saves a ton of time. simply put a piece of masking tape over each one, push it down into the corner with a fingernail, and then use an exacto knife and trim away the leftover. You are spraying the freboard just to keep it clean I assume? if that is the case, 2 coats should do it, if you want a satin finish, just stop sanding at about 600grit. Sand all in the direction of the grain, and it won't look scratchy either.

When you spray your colors, your automotive base coat, will likely only need one or two coats. Remember, you're not building depth with the color, only putting pigment on, depth comes with the clear.

As for the clear, I'll just quote this from a thread I wrote this same thing in earlier, it's regarding Poly Urethane, but the same principle applies for Laquer, only you should expect using about 15 coats of laquer.

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

it's not my topic, but very interesting stuff LGM Guitars! Thanks.

I love building my guitar, but the prospect of having to paint it, is a drag. I hate spraying paint.

I'm a strat guy and to be honest: the strats I have (seen) aren't polished and shiny anyway. How come?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most Strats are one of 2 things, either A: in the case of a mexi strat, they are just sprayed, not polished out, just a good spray job. I've seen examples of them that actually had sags in the paint.

B: They are sprayed with Laquer's still, which will continue to shrink for about a year. Look at a brand new high end acoustic, it will look perfect, then look at that same guitar a year later, you'll see all the wood grain. My $3500 Guild acoustic looked perfect when it was new, it's a black finish, now you can see every little line in it. Not that that's a bad thing, it's just one of the negatives of laquer.

The only way to eliminate that, is either with a VERY good sealer and base coat, or with 2 part paints that won't shrink over time. That is the reason you see so many older guitars with cracks in them, laquer continually shrinks over time. Though it produces a beautiful finish, it's just a crappy product compared to what is available today. Having said that, I still use it on acoustics, why? because it moves better than a Poly Urethane would.

Alot of people hate spraying paint, but it's mostly because most people don't want to invest in the proper equipment, and spray the paints that make the job easier. You can get beautiful finishes with laquer, here is a pic of an acoustic I did with laquer........


it was all hand rubbed after being sprayed, not only that, it was sprayed from an aerosol can,

Here is one in laquer that was sprayed with a gun and polished........


and finally, here is one sprayed with Poly Urethane, I could have just left this one, it was perfect save for a couple dust spots, so it got polished out......


For more pics of the above guitar, click here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

then put on my logo using Jehle's technique - is this onto the bare wood? or do I need to laquer first? after that, 4/5 coats of laquer, using wet/dry paper inbetween. Is there any rule of thumb for the paper grades? ie 1st coat 400, 2nd coat 600? I don't like the really glossy fingerboards, I perfer the satin looking ones. How do I achieve that?

I found that I could put the logo over lacquer only if it was not polished. You can actually see where I goofed (I call attention to it) in the tutorial by trying to attach the logo on a highly polished headstock.

I just needed to sand off most of the finish. I'm sure there was a little lacquer on there. I was dry, that's the most important thing.

To cover the logo, I used a lot of lacquer. About one can to do two head stocks. It's candy coated now. B) I only used 400 grit sand paper on mine too. I would put one 2 or three coats. Sand down a little. Feel with your finger tips. Your hands can feel as little as 1/100th of an inch. If the logo is still a little proud, sand and lacquer more.

Just don't sand all the way back down to the logo. :D

And don't worry if you goof up a little. It has to go through an ugly stage for a while. It'll get there. Don't worry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, I have some questions........

How about staining bodies?

Do I just go to Home Depot and grab a can of Behr's gel stains, and slap some on?

And do I use the "Wood Conditioner" prior to that?

And how about handrubbing the clear coat?

I'm sure it would take a few applications, but wouldn't it be superior to a sprayed finish?

You can build up several (a dozen or so...) coats, but they will be super thin.

I mean, if you want your guitar encased in poly (poly = plastic) I guess you could.

Seems to me you would want as little of that as possible.

Enlighten me!!!


I'm just waiting for the word: my first project could be on the horizon!

Scary thought, considering the guy is a pro...

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...