Hello all. I am a first-time guitar re-builder who is in need of some paint and finishing help!

My buddy gave me an early 90's Samick strat copy. I laughed at the name on the headstock until I plugged it in and played a few chords. The neck is VERY comfortable! This gave me the inspiration to re-paint the guitar (the original paint is trashed). As this is my first time re-painting a guitar, I need some help. I am quite meticulite about my handy-work so I want to take my time and do a great job. I'd like it to look as awesome as it could for the least amount of $$ possible (It is a Samick!).

So far I've stripped off the clear coat and nearly sanded down to the wood using various sandpaper grits. I've filled the deep gashes with putty, sanded it again, and spray-primed it. I will sand the primer tomorrow and consider spraying another coat of primer before paint.

Here's where UG community comes in! I've watched a SLEW of youtube videos and have seen a variety of different techniques so I don't know whats "right". I want to paint the guitar baby blue. Here are my questions:

Will a simple spray enamel work? Is 1 can enough?
Is there any specific paint I should use? How many coats?
Should I sand or wet-sand between coats?
What kind of clear coat should I use? How many coats?
Should I wet-sand between coats of this as well?
What do I use for final polishing?

Thank you so much in advance for any feedback. I realize I'm wasting a lot of time on this cheap Korean made guitar. However, I want to use this as a learning experience so I feel more confident in tackling jobs like this in the future. Again, I want to do this right so it really shines and looks amazing!


I've painted a few guitars now doing this and have gotten factory like results.

All spray cans.
Duplicolor color coat
Krylon white primer (on most things)
Minwax spray nitrocellulose clear

400/600/800/1000/1500/2000/2500 sandpaper
Mcguires ultimate shine or something like that buffing compound.

I usually let the clear coat cure until I can't smell it any more before buffing it out. (about 2-3 weeks)

It's really not as hard as people make it seem. Good luck to you!

Thanks for the response. I hate to be so knit-picky but could you be little more specific? How long do you wait after you put 1 coat of paint to sand? Which grits do you use in between paint coats? Which do you use between clear coats?

I found a Meguiars "Ultimate Compound color & clarity restorer" in my garage. Will this work for the buffing process?

Thanks much!

I'd recommend against using enamel. Unless you're going for a finish that will 'relic' quickly. It never gets very hard. Dupli-color is really great and an acrylic lacquer (hard to find any more) so it's easy to spray and bonds perfectly with any lacquer clear (be it nitro or acrylic). I've used duplicolor with great results and enamel (krylon, valspar, etc) with shit results.
Bought a can of baby blue today and sprayed a coat on. Per instructions on the can, waited a bit and sprayed another coat. Now there are runs EVERYWHERE! Cmon UG community help!
Here's what you need to do, get better at painting. It's that simple. It's a talent, takes practice. Yes, you'll screw it up the first time. My advice would be to keep your coats light. Maybe start with a mist coat where you're just lightly dusting the body with it. After that cures (almost instantly) you want to come back with heavier coats. Even then when I say heavier, it's really not the much heavier. Always keep your spray pattern moving, keep even passes and keep a wet edge.
I think I'm asking for too much. Basically I'm looking for an in-depth step-by-step from someone who's done great work before. Maybe I'll have to just go for it and learn from my mistakes.
I followed ReRanch's basic refinishing tutorial except I used Acrylic Lacquer (different drying time vs. Nitro). Krylon still makes Acrylic Lacquer. I have a picture that differentiates the new Krylon Enamel vs. the preferable Acrylic in the refinishing thread.
Check out the links here: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=542726

Enamel vs. Acrylic: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showpost.php?p=15704829&postcount=535

Quote by Ippon
Here's what I remember from when I called Krylon or maybe Sherwin-Williams, the parent company of Krylon: the colorcoat and clearcoat that you have are both Enamel. So, at least they're compatible and won't crinkle or crease when you apply them together. This is assuming your primer/sanding sealer is also Enamel.

Here are the things to differentiate the old Acrylic Lacquer Krylon from the new Enamel Krylon based on the spraycan descriptions:

Acrylic Lacquer (old formula):
  • Interior-Exterior
  • Dries in 12 Minutes or less
  • Cover is not bullet-shaped
  • 5 balls in a circle forms a circle (front view)
  • Nozzle is not adjustable

Enamel (new formula):
  • Indoor-Outdoor
  • Dries in 10 minutes or less
  • Cover is bullet-shaped
  • 5 balls in a circle is laid flat
  • Nozzle is adjustable

This doesn't mean yours won't work ... it'll just take a bit longer to harden/dry to the point that you can wetsand or sand. You need to be even more patient.

Good Luck!

Quote by Chad11491
Minwax spray nitrocellulose clear

Is this what you're talking about? I've been looking around town for a few days now, stuff's hard to find. I'll probably have to order some, but it's hard to find online too. I didn't know it was nitro, all I knew was that it was a lacquer and is compatible with Duplicolor. (I'm in the painting process of my own build.)
I pride myself on my humility.