#1
I just bought an electric guitar with a white high gloss finish (Frx 407).
I'd like to sand some of the polish to make it complete matte/satin (on the entire guitar).

Any tips on how to do that?
I saw someone online using 400 and 1600 grit sand paper.
I also heard about steel wool doing the job.
Anyone here have some experience/knowledge?

Thanks!
#2
To be honest i'd probably sand the whole lot down and respray with a coat of satin lacquer. I've seen sanding down work on necks but it think your going to find it hard to do it on the body and end up with a result you like.

It's worth a try if its not valuable , you can always respray it if you don't like the result. 
#3
Quote by matthewdennis
To be honest i'd probably sand the whole lot down and respray with a coat of satin lacquer. I've seen sanding down work on necks but it think your going to find it hard to do it on the body and end up with a result you like.

It's worth a try if its not valuable , you can always respray it if you don't like the result. 


I really don't want to re-spray it.
Why would it be hard on the entire body? Because of the shapes and curves?
#4
ThoriumEx - you got to be really careful that you don't sand straight through the colour coat when your taking of the gloss. The curves do tend to sand through easier cause you cant use a flat sanding block. Sanding down the gloss will leave a lot of tiny scratches in the finish that will will make the finish look dull , you'll then have to sand with progressively finer paper/steel wool to get those out. Leave off the final buffing/polishing stage to get the flat satin type look and most of all be careful and take your time. TBH most guitar manufacturers put a massive poly clear coat on now so you should have a margin for error.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjE7_SKyoHUAhVKCcAKHWtPBFMQtwIIKDAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6iIX9XB-f7c&usg=AFQjCNGTrwF-cSSbmI_jccu3iKsD20Ux0Q

That video should help you out on flattening a finish

I probably came across unclear in that first post  , When I said respray I meant the finish not the whole thing. If you don't like it after sanding it down you can shoot a couple of coats of satin clear over it.
#5
Quote by matthewdennis
ThoriumEx - you got to be really careful that you don't sand straight through the colour coat when your taking of the gloss. The curves do tend to sand through easier cause you cant use a flat sanding block. Sanding down the gloss will leave a lot of tiny scratches in the finish that will will make the finish look dull , you'll then have to sand with progressively finer paper/steel wool to get those out. Leave off the final buffing/polishing stage to get the flat satin type look and most of all be careful and take your time. TBH most guitar manufacturers put a massive poly clear coat on now so you should have a margin for error.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjE7_SKyoHUAhVKCcAKHWtPBFMQtwIIKDAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6iIX9XB-f7c&usg=AFQjCNGTrwF-cSSbmI_jccu3iKsD20Ux0Q

That video should help you out on flattening a finish

I probably came across unclear in that first post  , When I said respray I meant the finish not the whole thing. If you don't like it after sanding it down you can shoot a couple of coats of satin clear over it.

Thank you for the input!
I am going to be very careful, and also use a very fine grit.
My only concern about find grit though is that I might get it not so consistent since it will take a lot more passes than a rough grit. Not sure if this problems even exists though...
I'm still debating on whether to use sand paper/steel wool/abrasive.

The video was helpful too.
However, I think if looked a bit "too smooth" for the look I'm looking for, I don't know if it's because he used wet sanding or because of the 2000 grit, or maybe it was just the camera.
What do you think about dry vs wet?
#6
I've used Scotch Brite pads on a few cheap guitars before to take down the bright glossiness, it's a cheap and unprofessional solution, leaves little scratches on the surface, but it feels nice and smooth and it's even possible to buff back to gloss.
#8
Quote by Matt (GGR)
I've used Scotch Brite pads on a few cheap guitars before to take down the bright glossiness, it's a cheap and unprofessional solution, leaves little scratches on the surface, but it feels nice and smooth and it's even possible to buff back to gloss.

Thanks! I might not use Scotch Brite then.
#9
Quote by Tony Done
I would overspray it with clear satin lacquer, but IIRC, Lowden used to satinise their acoustics with steel wool. Steel wool is much more forgiving than abrasive paper.

Thanks! Though I don't want to mess with sprays and stuff.
Do you have any experience with steel wool?
#11
I've heard about scotch brite pads too - saw a vid on it yesterday with a white (slightly yellowed) body and it shown no sign of scratches. I am also wondering what dry buffing may do?! No idea but could be worth some research

Maybe there is something like a scotch brite that is less abrasive?!
#12
Quote by hydreliox
I've heard about scotch brite pads too - saw a vid on it yesterday with a white (slightly yellowed) body and it shown no sign of scratches. I am also wondering what dry buffing may do?! No idea but could be worth some research

Maybe there is something like a scotch brite that is less abrasive?!

From what I've heard online there are different "grits" to abrasive pads.
Could you send me a link to the video? That would be great.
#13
He wasn't actually using the scotch brite pads in the video, but showing that a client of his had used them.

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I think at about 1:30 in you get a closer image of the guitar body and can see the difference of gloss/no gloss.

Best advice I can offer - proceed with caution Also, maybe look into some fine grit steel wool?!
#14
My suggestion is to use plasti dip. There are many tutorials online. It's completely reversible, and won't negatively impact the guitar if you decide to sell it.
#15
Here's the issue with using scotchbrite pads (or any other abrasive) on a gloss finish -- the finish is, at base, still glossy.

It will eventually be rubbed through and smoothed out in spots and become glossy again in those spots.

Matte finishes (clears) have deglossing agents built into them (it's actually very much like talc powder), and are matte all the way through. You can still have glossy spots due to greasy fingers, etc., but once those are cleaned, the paint will remain matte.

One of the guys on the AGF forum used scotchbrite on all of his guitars, grumbling that they were too shiny. He's come full circle and refinished them all at this point and they're back to glossy.
#16
Quote by guitarkid8
My suggestion is to use plasti dip. There are many tutorials online. It's completely reversible, and won't negatively impact the guitar if you decide to sell it.


Folks use Plasti Dip on Lamborghinis and the like to get a different paint look for their cars. It will actually protect the paint beneath, and can be peeled off when you eventually tire of it. Available in spray cans.

They also use transit vinyl wraps (which can be printed out on a computer for any kind of graphic content), and these are available as "axe wraps" (google) as well.
#17
Quote by hydreliox
He wasn't actually using the scotch brite pads in the video, but showing that a client of his had used them.


I think at about 1:30 in you get a closer image of the guitar body and can see the difference of gloss/no gloss.

Best advice I can offer - proceed with caution Also, maybe look into some fine grit steel wool?!

Thanks!
And yeah, I'm still debating 0000 steel wool vs 2000 grit sand paper...


Quote by dspellman
Here's the issue with using scotchbrite pads (or any other abrasive) on a gloss finish -- the finish is, at base, still glossy.

It will eventually be rubbed through and smoothed out in spots and become glossy again in those spots.

Matte finishes (clears) have deglossing agents built into them (it's actually very much like talc powder), and are matte all the way through. You can still have glossy spots due to greasy fingers, etc., but once those are cleaned, the paint will remain matte.

One of the guys on the AGF forum used scotchbrite on all of his guitars, grumbling that they were too shiny. He's come full circle and refinished them all at this point and they're back to glossy.

That looks like a really cool material, but I really don't want to mess with stuff I'm not familiar with and put this stuff on my guitar.
#18
This thread has made me curious. I have some carborundum powder, an orbital finishing sander and an old lacquered body, so I'm going to try some satinising later in the day when it gets a bit warmer. I'll report back.

The problem with hand rubbing is that it is directional, I want to see what the sander does. I've used it successfully on aluminium lap steels, but not on paint.

EDIT. I just tried it with the orbital sander, a piece of wet towel and what I think is 400 grit emery powder. It worked fine to give a very subtle satin finish, with no sander rotation marks evident at all. The downside was that guitar had a heavily checked black finish, and the emery got into the cracks and really made them stand out. A coarser grade of emery would likely have given a less-subtle result. Valve grinding paste maybe?
Last edited by Tony Done at May 23, 2017,
#19
Oh God, please tell me you haven't done anything yet.  I am a 30 year professional finisher, and was a coatings chemist years ago with two patents in polymer science, so I have a bit more experience to give you.  Not saying you received bad advice here - its pretty much on track, but no-one has mentioned a few obvious things to do first.  
Number one, is that you need to try the least aggressive method first, because you can always buff back to gloss, but if you try scotch brite BEFORE steel wool, you won't ever see the subtle difference that just steel wool can give, and if you don't use the fine Scotch brite, then the grit scratches may not be fixed by finer grade.  
Number two: Its essential that you plan your rub direction.  Fine cabinet doors with steel wool rubs are always done with a stationary belt sander with steel wool belt, and the short rails are always done prior to the stiles as the stile rub perfectly intersects and covers the rail rub right at the grain line shift - looks real professional.  So what I am saying, is you need to rub the perimer edges first, then long rub the face and back last, and make certain to rub PERFECTLY straight, no crossing, no swirling.  

Here's a couple other ideas.  Pumice powder is a uniform grit, that might work more consistently than steel wool.  DO NOT USE carborundum powder - too coarse.  Personally, I would do 0000 steel wool, the way I mention above, and it will be a satin semi-gloss, but if you want duller, then go coarser 000 or 00 steel wool, or scotch brite.  Personally, I like the unidirectional rub lines from straight rubbing, but if you like the random satin, then maybe a random orbit sander with a scotch brite pad is what you want.  

Another idea is to test all methods on the inside of one of your kitchen's cabinet doors or something else with a finish (maybe the hood of your car! - just kidding).  Your guitar will likely have a harder coating, but will still rub nice.  

2000 grit paper will work too, but it may leave non-uniform glossy / dull patches for two reasons: when it hydroplanes on the water, and when it loads quickly with finish slurry, and you are actually rubbing the plastic slurry onto the finish rather than the grit, and get gloss streaks.  This is why I prefer steel wool.  
Stratocasters are the most perfect aesthetic design ordained by God after the McLaren F1, Nudibranchs and the small of a womans back.
#21
StratsRdivine
Thank you very much!
I never expected such an answer!

So to sum up, I think I'll go for 0000 steel wool, and if it's not enough for me I'll move on to 000.

I didn't get everything you said about the sanding direction, but I think you said to rub in straight lines, and not in a circular motion?

Thanks again!
#22
Quote by ThoriumEx
StratsRdivine
Thank you very much!
I never expected such an answer!

So to sum up, I think I'll go for 0000 steel wool, and if it's not enough for me I'll move on to 000.

I didn't get everything you said about the sanding direction, but I think you said to rub in straight lines, and not in a circular motion?

Thanks again!

Yep, straight line direction.  It takes practice, as it is possible to arc when rubbing from left to right if standing in front of guitar (don't), which is why you need to stand in front of the guitar, butt or horns pointing to your belly, lock arms straight, and move the steel wool forward and backward.  This technique will create perfect "linear satin"  
Stratocasters are the most perfect aesthetic design ordained by God after the McLaren F1, Nudibranchs and the small of a womans back.
#23
I just took the gloss finish off a neck with an abrasive sponge (wet and dry sponge). Came out way better than I expected, super smooth satin. Might be worth looking at. Seems to be the step in-between sandpaper and steel wool.