Over the last few months, I chose to repaint my Tom Delonge Stratocaster. I’ve had this guitar for 13 years and over that time it has taken a bit of a battering. The paint was cracking off in numerous places (mainly on the back), so I thought it was time for a refresh. I’d had no experience with this before, so I was going by what I had read online. Hopefully, this post will give you some hints/tips if you ever plan of repainting a guitar. Here is the original surf green colour.
- Heat gun
- Paint Scraper
- Your chosen paint/colour
- Nitrocellulose/Your preferred gloss
- Soldering iron
Obviously, the first thing to do is to remove all of the hardware from the guitar. One thing that Ben noted was not to leave the neck out where sunlight can get at it. Apparently the sun/heat can warp the neck of the guitar when it’s left on it’s own/unmounted from the guitar. You’ll may need some pliers to cut the wiring in order to remove the pot/jack. It may be worth taking some photos of the setup before you dismantle it, just incase you forget what goes where when you set it back up.
Carefully store all of the hardware, there are a lot of small items that you do not want to lose!
Next, I used a heat gun to remove the paint (I bought a cheap one, nothing fancy). I had no idea how this was going to turn out. Luckily, the heat just cracked the paint, rather than melt/liquify. I then used a paint scraper to remove/flick off the paint, it flaked off in chunks. It took about an hour to remove all of the paint. No turning back now! Before painting, I used an electric sander to remove any exposed wood to make the surface nice and smooth.
I’ve always liked metallic guitars, and I’ve never owned a blue guitar. So I choose ‘Light Sapphire Blue’. It was actually a spray paint for cars. I gave the guitar two coats of the paint and let it dry for a few days.
I then had to laquer the guitar with nitrocellulose, this gives it the glossy finish. I sprayed on one coat, then let it dry for a few days, then done the same again. I came across some problems when doing this. If you spray too much, ‘blushing’ occurs which leaves a cloudy blemish in the gloss. This happens either when you spray too much in one go (TAKE YOUR TIME), or if you spray the guitar in a humid climate. Basically, in both cases there is moisture building up underneath the top layer of the lacquer. This moisture can’t escape and causes the cloudiness.
There are 2 ways to remove this…
1. If you haven’t sprayed a lot of lacquer on the guitar, spray a SMALL amount on the cloudy area. This will open up the dried lacquer and will hopefully let out the moisture and dry correctly the second time.
2. If that fails, you’ll need a ‘blush eraser’ spray to remove it. I used this: http://www.behlen.co.uk/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=B101-0871&Category_Code=JSAER I used this after the lacquer had dried and it worked great.
If you’re ever going to spray or laquer your guitar, make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment. I’d highly recommend getting a decent respirator. There are some really strong chemicals and fumes that come from the spray/lacquer, you don’t want them messing with your head! I also sprayed my guitar outside. If you’re going to do it inside, make sure you do it in a large well ventilated room.
I then left the guitar to dry completely for about 2 weeks then reattached all of the hardware. You’ll need a soldering iron to reattach the pickups. It’s a fairly easy process, check out this video here for some tips:
That’s it! There are some minor problems with my finish. Some of the gloss has that ‘orange peel’ effect, and there is some small blushing in some areas that I missed. I will go back and fix these eventually. I was concerned at the beginning that I may ruin the guitar completely, but I’m really happy with the outcome and it gives the guitar a refreshing new look. I’m glad I can finally play it again! Here are some pics.