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What's an average cost of refinishing a guitar?


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I have a USA HWY1 Telecaster in 3-tone sunburst that I'm looking to have refinished in shell-pink. I am not capable of doing this myself, so I'm looking to have someone else do the job for me.

 

For those of you that have had this kinda work done in the past, what is a ballpark estimate I can expect as far as the cost of having this done?

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I got my Tele for approximately $650. The reason I'm asking is because I had someone quote me for a refinishing job of $495, and it seemed a little steep to me, so I wanted to get other opinions and see if I was right.

 

Around $200


Its really not hard to do yourself, but the process takes a long time to do it right.

 

It's not that I'm worried about the difficulty. I just don't have the necessary tools and space to do it.

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I got my Tele for approximately $650. The reason I'm asking is because I had someone quote me for a refinishing job of $495, and it seemed a little steep to me, so I wanted to get other opinions and see if I was right.




It's not that I'm worried about the difficulty. I just don't have the necessary tools and space to do it.

Seems a little steep. Should be able to get it done correctly for $350-400.

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$200 is pretty low, but $500 is more than I'd be willing to spend on a solid color refinish. However, that's the general price range you're looking at - around $300 is about "right" IMO.

 

I have refinished / painted three guitars now, and I had zero experience in doing so prior to doing the first one. All three turned out pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. :o

 

AllThreeShortscales1.jpg

 

There's considerable time involved in DIY, and the costs for materials is probably going to be about $100 or so per guitar (especially for the first one you do...), but if you go slow and take your time, you CAN do a good job on a DIY refinish. It just takes patience and a good amount of elbow grease, and a place (even outdoors) where you can safely paint, and a place where you can hang the guitar safely while the paint is hardening (it dries to the touch in minutes, but takes weeks to fully harden).

 

If you really must send it to someone else, plan on being without it for at least a month, and plan on paying in the neighborhood of $300 for a decent nitrocellulose lacquer paint job in a solid color like shell pink.

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$200 is pretty low, but $500 is more than I'd be willing to spend on a solid color refinish. However, that's the general price range you're looking at - around $300 is about "right" IMO.


I have refinished / painted three guitars now, and I had zero experience in doing so prior to doing the first one. All three turned out pretty darned good, if I do say so myself.
:o

There's considerable time involved in DIY, and the costs for materials is probably going to be about $100 or so per guitar (especially for the first one you do...), but if you go slow and take your time, you CAN do a good job on a DIY refinish. It just takes patience and a good amount of elbow grease, and a place (even outdoors) where you can safely paint, and a place where you can hang the guitar safely while the paint is hardening (it dries to the touch in minutes, but takes weeks to fully harden).


If you really must send it to someone else, plan on being without it for at least a month, and plan on paying in the neighborhood of $300 for a decent nitrocellulose lacquer paint job in a solid color like shell pink.

 

Hey Phil, thanks for your input! The amount of time it would take was another issue I had. He said to expect an 8-week delay minimum. I don't know if I can go without my Tele that long.

 

I have a Strat copy I built for my senior project a few years ago; I might sand that down to wood and practice on it and see if I like the results if I can ever find time to go home from university.

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Hey Phil, thanks for your input! The amount of time it would take was another issue I had. He said to expect an 8-week delay minimum. I don't know if I can go without my Tele that long.


I have a Strat copy I built for my senior project a few years ago; I might sand that down to wood and practice on it and see if I like the results if I can ever find time to go home from university.

 

I think eight weeks is a bit long. I can't see it taking more than four or five to do it right... but it depends on what his schedule is like too. If he can schedule it so he can get to work on it as soon as it arrives, then four weeks (plus shipping time) is reasonable - five tops. It shouldn't take more than that.

 

You just want it shell pink? What condition is the body currently in? If it doesn't have a lot of dings that have to be fixed / filled, you can prime it and go right over the existing nitro on it. It's a Hwy 1, correct? Would you mind having the new color "over" the old (sunburst) color?

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I think eight weeks is a bit long. I can't see it taking more than four or five to do it right... but it depends on what his schedule is like too. If he can schedule it so he can get to work on it as soon as it arrives, then four weeks (plus shipping time) is reasonable - five tops. It shouldn't take more than that.


You just want it shell pink? What condition is the body currently in, and what color is it? If it doesn't have a lot of dings that have to be fixed / filled, you can prime it and go right over the existing nitro on it. It's a Hwy 1, correct?

 

Correct, just a simple shell pink. This is essentially what my guitar looks like, minus the rosewood fretboard:

 

Picture169.jpg

 

There are a couple of dings in the finish (which is why I got it on discount). As far as having the shell pink done over the existing color, I haven't given it much thought.

 

Might I add that is one beautiful relic job, Phil. :thu:

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Correct, just a simple shell pink.

 

Gloss, or satin? I'll assume you want gloss...

 

There are a couple of dings in the finish (which is why I got it on discount).

 

Edges, or on the sides or top or back? Edge dings are the hardest to repair, while dings in the "flat" parts of the guitar are relatively easy.

 

As far as having the shell pink done over the existing color, I haven't given it much thought.

 

Here's the details. Fender uses a poly undercoat on all guitars made since around 1963 or so - even the ones with "nitro" finishes, such as your Highway One. Some people hate the idea of that, but OTOH, I doubt they'd toss out or refinish a stock '64 Tele just because Leo put an undercoat beneath the nitro. ;) Anyway, some folks think it doesn't allow the wood to "breathe" as well, so they want that off - and that means extensive stripping or sanding work. Poly is HARD to get off of there...

 

You can remove the nitro easily enough - get a can of acetone at the local hardware store and a roll of paper towels and go to town - it will come off fairly quickly and leave just the poly undercoat. You could then patch and smooth any dings and then prime and finish... or you could just go nitro over nitro and paint right over the existing sunburst by patching any dings and then either priming and then painting the color and clear gloss coats, or by fixing the dings and then going straight to color and skipping the primer - which takes more color to accomplish. All of these things are not unheard of with vintage Fender finishes. I've seen custom colors over 'bursts; both with and without primer in between... as well as custom colors over custom colors.. again, both with and without primer between them.

 

This is also not unheard of - Fender used to do it fairly regularly; whenever a body had a flaw in painting (a run or dust particle or other imperfection), it would be set aside, and at a later point, would get a "new" finish sprayed over the old one - sometimes with primer between the two, sometimes without it. That's the "effect" I was going for with the relic (above). I actually sprayed the body with clear shellac (to "simulate" the poly), then white shellac primer, then sea foam green, then white primer, then shell pink. As a multi-finished guitar ages, those previous color(s) will "show through" the wear marks and dings, as you can see in the relic. I think it's kind of cool looking, but if you'd rather go the other way, it can be done - by stripping off the current nitro sunburst. Like I said, getting rid of the nitro that is on there is easy, and getting rid of the poly underneath that is possible; it's just a LOT more work if you want to strip it all the way down to the bare wood and start from scratch.

 

Might I add that is one beautiful relic job, Phil.
:thu:

 

Thanks. :o I was nervous about dinging it up (I tried to do a "nice" finish first, then "age" it), but I'm happy with how it turned out.

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you could buy a new/used body for $200.00-$300.00 and turn around and sell your body for around $200.00.

 

If he was looking for a more common color, then a "sell / swap" would be a good idea IMO. But shell pink? You don't see too many guitars out there in that color - it's probably the rarest of Fender's custom colors. The only thing that approaches it in terms of rarity in the classic custom colors is probably Burgundy Mist. :idk:

 

If he doesn't mind a poly finish, then he could get a used MIM body for $200-300, but getting a gloss body in nitro lacquer tends to run a bit more than that... and again, I can't recall ever seeing a shell pink Tele body up for sale, regardless of finish type.

 

don't be insane and try and do your own refin.

Phil may have pulled it off but he's not a normal human being obviously.
;)

 

:o:lol:

 

I would have agreed with you before I actually gave it a try. It was indeed a lot of work, but I pulled it off not once, but three times, so I know it's not a fluke. And if I can do it, then practically anyone should be able to do it; assuming they have a suitable place to actually spray and then hang the guitar.

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Gloss, or satin? I'll assume you want gloss...




Edges, or on the sides or top or back? Edge dings are the hardest to repair, while dings in the "flat" parts of the guitar are relatively easy.




Here's the details. Fender uses a poly undercoat on all guitars made since around 1963 or so - even the ones with "nitro" finishes, such as your Highway One. Some people hate the idea of that, but OTOH, I doubt they'd toss out or refinish a stock '64 Tele just because Leo put an undercoat beneath the nitro.
;)
Anyway, some folks think it doesn't allow the wood to "breathe" as well, so they want that off - and that means extensive stripping or sanding work. Poly is HARD to get off of there...


You can remove the nitro easily enough - get a can of acetone at the local hardware store and a roll of paper towels and go to town - it will come off fairly quickly and leave just the poly undercoat. You could then patch and smooth any dings and then prime and finish... or you could just go nitro over nitro and paint right over the existing sunburst by patching any dings and then either priming and then painting the color and clear gloss coats, or by fixing the dings and then going straight to color and skipping the primer - which takes more color to accomplish. All of these things are not unheard of with vintage Fender finishes. I've seen custom colors over 'bursts; both with and without primer in between... as well as custom colors over custom colors.. again, both with and without primer between them.


This is also not unheard of - Fender used to do it fairly regularly; whenever a body had a flaw in painting (a run or dust particle or other imperfection), it would be set aside, and at a later point, would get a "new" finish sprayed over the old one - sometimes with primer between the two, sometimes without it. That's the "effect" I was going for with the relic (above). I actually sprayed the body with clear shellac (to "simulate" the poly), then white shellac primer, then sea foam green, then white primer, then shell pink. As a multi-finished guitar ages, those previous color(s) will "show through" the wear marks and dings, as you can see in the relic. I think it's kind of cool looking, but if you'd rather go the other way, it can be done - by stripping off the current nitro sunburst. Like I said, getting rid of the nitro that is on there is easy, and getting rid of the poly underneath that is
possible
; it's just a LOT more work if you want to strip it all the way down to the bare wood and start from scratch.




Thanks.
:o
I was nervous about dinging it up (I tried to do a "nice" finish first, then "age" it), but I'm happy with how it turned out.

 

Here is precisely what I want:

 

Shell_Outside.jpg

 

It looks to me like a satin finish, though it's hard to tell from the picture. I just love how this Tele looks, though.

 

The dings are on the edges. My definition of a ding may not be in sync with yours. There's cracks through the finish, but it didn't actually dent the wood itself. I'll take a couple of pictures tomorrow so you'll know exactly what I mean.

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Knowledge bomb go BOOM! :lol: Great stuff there, Phil... thanks for sharing!

 

As for doing it yourself, it really is not that bad, as long as you are patient . I had done several strip-and-paint refins back in the 90s (oh yes... there is a John Deere Charvel out there somewhere that is my fault) but am in the process of completing my first nitro refinish on a Jaguar. Well, the refin is done, just waiting on parts now. And yes, there will be a thread. ;) But short version... it started life as an Olympic White poly that I stripped off and shot Ince Silver with Reranch spray. 2 cans of colour covered my Jag body, and a can of clear (I bought 2 but only used 1). Total investment of less than $50, but I already had sandpaper, tools, etc.

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I don't know that I want to go into the refinishing business, but what I MIGHT be willing to do for you (free of charge) is the actual spraying and drying. Then let you do the rub out work... you'd have to order the paint from Bill at ReRanch and have it sent to me, and send me the body for three or four weeks. I'd get it prepped and then spray it - primer (if you want it) and color, then wet sand the color, and then spray the clear coats and let it dry for a few weeks... then send it back to you for the final wet sanding and buffing...

 

If I was going to do the whole thing, I'd have to charge you for it - the final wet sanding and polishing is probably the single biggest time consuming part (outside of stripping and then getting the body "smooth")... but from the sound of it, the existing body is in good shape, and fixing a few paint dings and getting it smoothed out sounds fairly easy from the condition you're describing. The painting is also relatively easy to do here in SoCA... but it would have to dry for a few (3-4) weeks before it would be safe to ship it back to you. Once you had it back, you'd need to wet sand it in ever finer grades (400 / 600 / 800 / 1000 / 1200 / 1500) and then do the final buffing / polishing (I use 3M Finesse It II from ReRanch) to "finish" it, but if the lack of painting facilities is all that's holding you back, I could possibly help you out with that part of the project, just as long as you'd be willing to pay for the paint and shipping costs.

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there is a John Deere Charvel out there somewhere that is my fault

 

:lol:

 

am in the process of completing my first nitro refinish on a Jaguar. Well, the refin is done, just waiting on parts now. And yes, there will be a thread. But short version... it started life as an Olympic White poly that I stripped off and shot Ince Silver with Reranch spray. 2 cans of colour covered my Jag body, and a can of clear (I bought 2 but only used 1). Total investment of less than $50, but I already had sandpaper, tools, etc.

 

Would LOVE to see a thread! :cool: I've been able to get by with one can of color for everything but the fiesta red Mustang - that took two cans. Shell pink over sunburst would probably also take two cans, and I'd definitely prefer to do it over white primer - in which case, a single can each of primer and color would probably suffice. I went with two cans of clear on my Duo Sonic - it was my first refinish, and I really didn't want any "sand throughs", so I went heavier with the clear coats. If I was going to do the Tele, I'd recommend two or maybe even three cans of clear just so he had a lot there to work with and to help prevent the likelihood of him getting a sand through when doing the wet sanding and polishing.

 

Materials cost would be about $16 or the shell pink, plus $11 for shipping on it. He could pay the $13 a can for the ReRanch clear, or I can get Deft nitro here locally for about $6-7 a can. Primer is similar - it's something like $7 a can for BIN locally vs nine bucks for ReRanch nitro primer, but if he'd prefer nitro primer instead of shellac, he could go with the ReRanch for that. Sandpaper and Finesse It II from Bill (ReRanch) adds another $30 or so to the materials cost; all told, I'd say somewhere in the $70 range for the materials, and with shipping it here and back, it's going to cost about a hundred bucks or so for everything... plus some elbow grease at his end in terms of polishing it out.

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