All right, the finish is ****ed up on my SG because it ate concrete recently but it's only the lacquer, varnish, poly, or whatever it is that's messed up.

I decided I want to keep the flame sunburst look of the guitar but thought i don't think I'll bother putting another finish over it.

Now, I want to preserve the look of the stain in the wood and keep the flamed sunburst finish. If I want to remove the original lacquer, do I need to just sand it off, or is there any kind of chemical I can use that won't hurt the stain in the wood? I will be doing the entire guitar. The end result I have in mind is something like the les paul bfg's finish.

1954 Gibson ES-140 Hollowbody Tobacco Burst (all original)
1966 Univox UC-2 (Fender Jag Wannabe) Red Burst
2002 Epiphone G-400 Deluxe Flametop Vintage Burst

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i was going to say, try sand or buff off the outter layer with a very fine sand paper.

but ive never tried to remove the lacquer (clear coat) without also removing paint. so i looked it up and found this at "guitarattack.com"


I have a Epi archtop with a sunburst finish and a thick, gloppy coat of clear (polyurethane?) finish. is there a way to take some or all of this finish off without effecting the sunburst stain? I am experienced with lacquer finishing but know little about polyurethane.


Removing the finish will require restaining, unquestionably. The finish may be entirely done in shaded paints with no actual staining of the wood. This what you hope for most. If you try to use any solvents to remove the finish, you're certain to cause some staining in the wood, so it'd be MUCH preferable to sand off the finish instead of trying to chemically strip it.

I took the finish off of a cherry Epiphone archtop last summer. The finish is made up in layers of this clear stuff that makes it look "deeper", then I hit a matt red colored layer. If you keep sanding (for a long time as this is the thickest layer), eventually you'll get to a layer that is just a dull color. Mine was duller red compared to the first red layer that I hit. When you get to the point between the first red layer and the second layer, you'll see a kind of white shiny ring of a layer between them. The second colored layer can potentially be sanded, but once that layer is gone, I got down to a wood color so you have to be careful. Underneath that wood there is still a bit of clear coat. So if you really wanted to do it, you could probably remove all the outer layers of finish and get a thin sunburst finish, but it will be dull like acrylic paint. I am not sure if the sunburst is finished differently though. It took me maybe a week to sand it all down. I heard that a heat gun will work in removing the finish. As for strippers, even aircraft stripper didn't work on mine.

I'm assuming that the Epi that you're referring to is one of the newer Korean ones. The finish on these, as I understand it is a catalyzed polyester and is basically a very hard plastic that is usually between a sixteenth and an eighth of an inch thick. There is no sensible way that I know of to remove any or all of this stuff without making big mess and you'd end up spending more time on it than any guitar is worth!

sounds like he's saying to sand it off, and then at the end he sats that it might not work if it's an epi treated in this way. so ill leav it up to you.

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