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Darkanus 09-09-2012 10:47 AM

Best way to strip off guitar paint-Sanding or heat scraping?
Since I'm a sucker for natural finishes, and tired of looking at my black cheap Strat-like Ibanez, I want to try and use it as my first guitar modding project.

From a couple of videos I found, sanding the body seems like the fastest and best way to remove the paint, but some people say it can possibly ruin the grain and leave some serious damage. These people recommend heating the paint with a heat blower and then scraping it with a special tool for that.
Since I have an electric sander, and sanding paper for the final handwork is cheap, I prefer sanding it. I don't have a heat blower [using my moms hair dryer isn't an option I guess] and scraping tools, and they aren't cheap.
What do you guys think? sand=risk?

The guitar is probably made out of Alder, if that matter. I plan to stain the whole body to make the wood look darker and more grainy. Then I'll tape the edges and stain the back of the body a bit more, for a darker looking body and brighter top. Finally, I'll put some tung oil all over the body and that's it. I think it'll come up really nice if I won't screw up anything.

Here's a pick of the guitar:

bobafettacheese 09-09-2012 11:05 AM

I sanded my guitar with pretty great results, then again the body was basswood. A lot of Ibbys use basswood, check the wood prior to use of sander just to see what you will be uncovering. I did not have great grain in the body of my guitar. The next one I plan on doing will be a swamp ash body so hopefully the natural staining will turn up great. Good luck.

side note: not to familiar with it, but I have heard people use chemicals to strip the paint. Once again I am not too sure about this others might have more help.

MrFlibble 09-09-2012 11:11 AM

Chemical stripper is the best for thick poly finishes. Sanding is best for nitro finishes or thinner, better poly finishes. I don't know why anybody would ever use heat, it's too easy to mark the wood.

whoomit 09-09-2012 12:03 PM

Sweet talk it, buy it a drink, maybe take it out for a meal. Light some candles, pour a glass of cognac, and it'll be putty in your hands.

Darkanus 09-09-2012 06:13 PM

I heard bad things about chemical strippers on guitars, so I'll probably use a power sander for the first run and then sand it by hand until I'll get a smooth and clear piece of wood.
The wood is probably Alder or Basswood. Every tiny bit of the guitar is painted so I can't really see it. There's a pretty big crack on the bottom of the body which reveals some bright and uniform type of wood, pretty much like Basswood, or Alder. I'll find out the exact type when the sanding will start.
People get AMAZING results with really cheap looking guitar bodies with no interesting grain at all. With the right choice of stain, the results can be really good from what I saw.

Do you guys have any recommendations for wood stains that will match Alder\Basswood? I want to darken the wood and make it look more interesting and grainy, to give it a Walnut-like look.
What do you think about the idea of taping a thin part from the sides of the guitar and make some additional stain layers on the back and sides of the body? I'm aiming for a body+top like kind of look. [The guitar doesn't have a body top]
The stain won't reach out of the tape's boundaries and stay only where I applied it?

MrFlibble 09-09-2012 06:48 PM

You can sort of stain alder to look vaguely similar to walnut. Can't recommend particular stains because what's available varies from country to country. Suffice to say, walnut stains are very common and alder tends to stain pretty evenly. Use a lightly tinted gloss top coat and you should end up with a very rich look. Use black grain filler if you want to replicate a really dark, highly-polished wood look.
Basswood does not stain well. It has very little figure to the grain and it can absord a lot of stain in uneven patches. It's not really worth trying. This is why basswood is almost always only used with solid-colour finishes, or under a veneer of prettier wood. There's not really much more to say when it comes to basswood. It may be disappointing, but it's simply not a wood that works well with transparent finishes.

Usually when you see people turn cheap wood into something looking expensive, it's poplar. Poplar is a wood that often has ugly sewage-green streaks in it and what looks like poor figure, but if you stain it with a dark wood stain the colour becomes uniform quite quickly and the grain really comes alive. In fact as far as getting a fake-walnut look goes, poplar is pretty much the best choice.

As for the taping idea, that should work with alder so long as you're careful and use a pretty hefty stain. It likely won't work with basswood, chances are the stain will bleed through at random points.

Darkanus 09-09-2012 08:00 PM

Stains for furniture will work on guitar bodies as well? Do I need to look for something specific?
How are these?: Walnut Light Oak
I think It'll be better to go with a lighter stain since I can always apply more and make it darker, while with a darker stain there's no turning back...

Yeah, I really hope it's Alder, but basswood looks pretty good too: link1 link2
The first one is clean, and the second is stained, right? I prefer the clean look on Basswood. Maybe I'll sand off some paint in the bridge cavity to find out before going for the whole body. If it's Basswood-I'll stain it a bit for a darker look, hoping to achieve an even look, and then put some oil on it. If it will come up ugly-maybe I'll consider getting a nice veneer top.
Gloss top coat will be harder to apply than Tung-oil, no? I like the look of a natural wood, and as this is my first finishing project, I prefer something easy to execute. A glossy tung-oil will look great, I think.
The black grain filler sounds like a great idea. It will make the grain look darker and pop out?
The right order will be: grain filler>stain>oil\gloss lacquer?
How would I benefit from a grain sealer? I'm not sure about what it does.

Thank you very much and sorry for all the questions. I'm pretty paranoid even though it's a cheap guitar... :shrug:

LeviMan_2001 09-10-2012 05:06 AM

Using a power sander be very careful not to gouge it up. Also, you need to be 100% sure you've sanded all the way through the sanding sealer when you strip it. Otherwise you'll end up with a nasty and blotchy looking finish.

Darkanus 09-10-2012 06:48 AM

Originally Posted by LeviMan_2001
Using a power sander be very careful not to gouge it up. Also, you need to be 100% sure you've sanded all the way through the sanding sealer when you strip it. Otherwise you'll end up with a nasty and blotchy looking finish.

I'm using the power sander just for the first run, to save me some work with the sanding papers. I'm not planing to reach to the wood with it.

There's always a sanding sealer on a solid color guitars? It seals the wood to make a flat and clean surface for the paint?

Darkanus 09-10-2012 11:46 AM

Well, apparently the guitar is made of plywood, lol.
Any recommendations for what I can do with it?
I thought of gluing a veneer top, but the guitar has rounded edges+a small body slant for the right hand. Is it possible?

Here you can see the round edges and slant in the right: edges plywood
Sanded some paint near the spring cavity, looks bright and grain-less: link

guidothepimmp 09-10-2012 01:17 PM

Bad luck

I Wouldn't bother trying to prettify ply

Can you not buy a replacementbody and leave it natural or oil finish?
Rather than buying veneers and all that?

Darkanus 09-10-2012 02:04 PM

Originally Posted by guidothepimmp
Bad luck

I Wouldn't bother trying to prettify ply

Can you not buy a replacement body and leave it natural or oil finish?
Rather than buying veneers and all that?

I can get a lot of different veneers from local stores in cheap prices, but replacement bodies are hard\impossible to find. I live in Israel and if I want quality parts eBay is my only option...
The guitar sounds really good and strat-like, and it's the cheapest of my guitar. I'm doing it just for experimenting, this is not my main guitar.
If the rounded body edge won't be a problem with the veneer, this is the best option in my opinion. If it is a problem, I guess that I'll just paint the whole guitar with a solid color..

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