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DaveGrima

Best Spray Paint for Guitars?

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Whats the best non-nitro spray can paint for guitar bodies? Like what brands? Ive been trying to refiinish some guitars with the Reranch nitro and its not coming out real good. Im thinking nitro is just to hard to use in a spray can. So I wanna try using something else. Also, can I spray another kind of paint over nitro or do I have to strip it first? Thanks!

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The nitro from Reranch isn't hard to use. That said I prefer the Duplicolor acrylic lacquer available at most good auto parts stores. Large selection of colors and they have clear too. I've done quite a few with it and had great results. Another advantage is WHEN the guitar is dinged. Really easy to get a match.

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What exactly is the problem you're having? One of the keys to any finish is the surface prep. Years ago, before I switched to a compressor and gun, I was using the SM spray cans of clear nitro. I found you had to spray quite a few cans of the stuff before the levels became useful. Spray gun does a much better job. Are you spraying over a color coat or???

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Well mainly a lot of orange peel. Also the surface just looks a little uneven. How many cans of clear should I use? I used 2 whole cans on it.

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You won't get away from orange peel even with the best spray equipment and the best technique. Read Reranch refinishing 101. I always go very light coats. 3 coats, 3 hours apart. 3 super light passes is one coat. Then I'll wait 3 days before going over it with a green scotchbrite pad to knock down the high spots. I do this at least 3 times. I only do this with the clear. The color coat I just use enough to make it evenly colored. Once I've done the clear I wait at least 3 weeks before polishing begins. This is called the rule of threes for good reason.

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If you want a better finish you need to go to a sprayer. A can only has one dencity. When a factory sprays, they gradually thin the laquer with laquer thinner till its nearly 70~80% thinner on the last few coats. This gives a glassy coating. You can try to get a thinner coat by ghosting very thin layers on, but its just not the same. The one good thing about laquer is you can buff out flaws to a mirror finish even if you havent applyed it as well as you should have or taken care of flaws as you go.

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If you want a better finish you need to go to a sprayer. A can only has one dencity. When a factory sprays, they gradually thin the laquer with laquer thinner till its nearly 70~80% thinner on the last few coats. This gives a glassy coating. You can try to get a thinner coat by ghosting very thin layers on, but its just not the same.
The one good thing about laquer is you can buff out flaws to a mirror finish even if you havent applyed it as well as you should have or taken care of flaws as you go.

 

Exactly. I moved to a touch up gun for my clear just because my father pulled it out of his pack rat stash (yes, it runs in the family). It's a Devilbiss that's older than I am and I was still able to get a repack kit. It does make for way faster work because of the super thin coats toward the end. But lacquer can be made to shine like a new dime on a goat's ass even if you brush it on.

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You can. I suggest misting the first few coats on and allow the new finish to acclimate to the old. I prefer to use clear nitro on nitro, but the acrylic has the advantage of not yellowing and shrinking with age. Nitro uses cotton to give it its hardness, Acrylic uses acrylic resins called polymers or thermoplastics. Both use lacquer thinner as a dryer and acrylic should melt into the nitro finish fine.

 

I'm not sure the difference in feel, but you shouldnt have a problem using one over the other. Some say the Acrylic has a more plastic look like polyuerothans, whereas the Nitro has a softer sheen to it which is why its a favorite on instruments. many will use acrylic first then use the nitro over because it will yellow with time giving a more vintage look.

 

Where you get into problems might be with using a water based lacquer, Oils, or polyuerothanes over a laquer based finish. You want to stick with the same chemical grouping and in your case, it should contain the same lacquer thinner. Lacquer is different than other finishes that create a new skin with each layer applied. Each new coat of Lacquer melts into the old making one thick coating. I dont think water based Lacquers will melt into a Nitro finish. It may work the other way around having nitro melt into a water base, I dont know. I wouldnt waste my time experimenting on a work in progress. Those cans are expensive enough and its a bitch to strip it down and start over if it fails.

 

Anyway the short answer is yes it will work but it is a clearer more plastic looking clearcoat is thats what you want.

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I've used acrylic over nitro and nitro over acrylic. Let it dry for at least 3 days and go real light mist coats at first. One beauty of lacquer is you can go heavier coats after the first one sets up. The melting action keeps sags from happening. But, just to be safe, it's always a good idea to go mist coats at first when changing types of lacquer. And NEVER, EVER spray lacquer over non baked enamel. Unless you're a big fan of Salvador Dali.

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Yes I've only done one guitar in enamil and it was a huge mistake. It grows a skin and remains liquid below the surface for a long time. I was still getting stand rash 6 months after the paint was on there. Enamil is for painting your metal patio furniture or maybe wood surfaces where you want an eggshell finish to resist dirt and grime. Its not a good instrument paint unless you want to wait 6 months to a year for it to fully cure.

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Hmmm in that case maybe Ill just get another can of nitro satin clear. Might as well get another can of black as well ... .. my hanger broke and i dropped the body onto the floor putting some more "relicing" on it. .

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Just sand the rash smooth then repaint over it. Buff the new finish into the old if needed. Apply the clear coat last after the patch is done.

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Just sand the rash smooth then repaint over it. Buff the new finish into the old if needed. Apply the clear coat last after the patch is done.

This is the beauty of lacquer. More paint, some clear and some elbow grease. Bye bye dings.

Not quite that simple, but damn near.

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I've had great results with Krylon rattle cans--even withe their new formula. Here's the latest refinish:

RG550SI.jpg

I've also had great results with Duplicolor--just did an Iceman in purple chrome:

IcemanHeadstock.jpg

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Well mainly a lot of orange peel. Also the surface just looks a little uneven. How many cans of clear should I use? I used 2 whole cans on it.

 

Orange peel is caused by a number of factors, but mainly the amount of paint & air coming out of the nozzle in relation to temp and humidity of your surroundings, and toss in the viscosity of the paint. With paint in a can, you have no adjustment to any of these factors.

 

If you have a compressor and gun, you can adjust these settings, so you have a better opportunity for a good job, but even then it doesn't mean you'll be successful. Next time you're walking through a parking lot, take a look at the paint on most vehicles (especially vertical surfaces like door panels). Even robots in big factories make orange peel.

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You can minimise orange peel with proper equipment and technique. If you could completely eliminate it with relative ease, rubbing and polishing compounds would never have been invented.

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If you want a better finish you need to go to a sprayer. A can only has one dencity. When a factory sprays, they gradually thin the laquer with laquer thinner till its nearly 70~80% thinner on the last few coats. This gives a glassy coating. You can try to get a thinner coat by ghosting very thin layers on, but its just not the same.
The one good thing about laquer is you can buff out flaws to a mirror finish even if you havent applyed it as well as you should have or taken care of flaws as you go.

 

You can do the same with poly.

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You can do the same with poly.

I've polished all types of paint with success. Poly is harder to polish out. True polys aren't practicable for the average home guy. What you get in small cans is a type of poly, but it just ain't the same shit as what the auto painters use. If you plan on painting a hundred geetars it's doable. But I've yet to find an automotive grade poly in anything less than a gallon. Plus reducer. Sorry, I ain't spending a bazillion bucks to finish one stinkin' geetar only to have enough left over to paint the Grand Canyon.

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I've polished all types of paint with success. Poly is harder to polish out. True polys aren't practicable for the average home guy. What you get in small cans is a type of poly, but it just ain't the same shit as what the auto painters use. If you plan on painting a hundred geetars it's doable. But I've yet to find an automotive grade poly in anything less than a gallon. Plus reducer. Sorry, I ain't spending a bazillion bucks to finish one stinkin' geetar only to have enough left over to paint the Grand Canyon.

 

Valid points. Although, you can get quarts of ppg's clears. i just used their flexed n' flat to finish a guitar in flat and polished it up to satin. Definitely agree poly is a little more difficult. The only true 2 part poly i've seen used in a can for home use so far is Alsa's speed clear with their killer cans. Pretty nice paint. Their cans are supposedly designed not to have a pressure drop during the emptying of the can. Still pretty expensive, but then again so are those reranch cans.

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Might as well add my 2 cents here since I have spray painted 5 guitars, only junk ones though.

Call me an abomination but I been using Krylon, yah the stuff at home depot. here's how its done, from experience not from some joke pdf

First get yourself some 1200-1500 grit sand paper

Lighty spray on Krylon matt grey or white or which ever color you want to use for primer, your not going to cover the entire body, just a light spray, let it dry for a day Repeat that process for 4 days, by the forth day you'll have a good 4 coats of primer. let it sit for 72 hours or so after the 4th spray

Now get your 1500 grit sandpaper and use distilled water to lightly wetsand the body ....LIGHTLY!

You want a smooth surface so that a wash cloth will slide off the guitar when you tilt it at a 45 degree angle, if its not sliding off, keep sanding.

Once you have a baby bottom smooth surface you can move to the next step. Here you tape off parts of your guitar like edges where you'll be able to make a binding like accent

Ready for final color coat. Get your favorite Krylon color, I like tangerine, lightly spray your guitar like you did with the primer, resting a day before each new coat is sprayed on...be syure to hold your can far away from the guitar, this will minimize paint sputter and runs

its important to note that you'll need to examine your guitar every day for blemishes, paint sputter runs, etc. if alls good , put on 7-10 layers...

Now heres the trick, after paining 7-10 layers you want o cook that bad boy, yah cook it...in your oven...120 for about 15-20 minutes

Once your done cooking let it cool at room temp, dont use a fan or anything. get out the finish grain sand paper you can find, 1500-2000 grit should do, again with distilled water lightly sand it till it can pass the tilt test....

From there you can use whatever clear coat you wish but be warned if your over anxious with your clear coat you might screw up and have to redo the whole process.

Don't try this with a guitar you really care about til you get it right! it will take a few times to perfect the process, but you'll come out with a paint job that will pass for pro

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I Put this guitar together for my daughter. Its a 70's strat of some kind, I sanded it down , primered it with krylon primer, painted several coats of "bubble gum" color krylon, wet sanded it and added several coats of krylon clear and wet sanded them as well once I got it flat , made a good final coat and then light scotch brite to make it not so shiny. added new hardware , a genuine fender purple cracked ice pickguard, reshaped the headstock to a more fender type shape(cleared it after pic) and finished her "Dad'o'caster" for her to keep. came out pretty nice once I done a fret level and polish and setup.demsguitarpartdone.jpg

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