Which laccquer or paint to get for guitar project?

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Which laccquer or paint to get for guitar project?

Postby bignick » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:02 am

I build a Telecaster out of a raw body and a Peavey neck. The body seemed to have a lacquer like primer/base coat on it. The auction said it was ready for paint.

I'd like to do it myself. I did everything else myself. What "off the shelf" paint can I buy from a Home Depot-like store that will work?

I really want more of a dark stain with a coat or two of protective lacquer. Just enough to protect the guitar and give it a little more character.
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Postby ricochet » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:30 am

It's probably got sanding sealer on it (which is often shellac based.)

I like shellac, as I've often said, but I've looked all around at Lowe's without finding it. Just finished a 1938 Persian Mauser with clear gloss spray nitrocellulose lacquer I found in a rattlecan at Lowe's, named "Deft Wood Finish." The way to do it is not to worry too much if the finish gets a few runs and such, sand them back flat with fine sandpaper on a sanding block, then with the final coat, let it dry thoroughly (which takes a while), then rub it down lightly but vigorously (like using a buffer on shoe polish, with light, long, fast strokes) with 0000 steel wool lightly wetted with kerosene or mineral spirits. Then rub it down with a soft cloth. If you like, later after it's well cured you can wax it. That's the best way to get a nice soft, satiny sheen, as opposed to using semigloss or flat lacquer and settling for the natural finish. (I've just finished repeating that rubout process on the rifle.)
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Postby MoonShine » Fri Sep 08, 2006 5:24 am

I've been restoring an old acoustic and unfortunately they don't sell 'nitrocellulose lacquer' here, however, one chap told me to get the solvent based lacquer from Auto Accesories place as opposed to getting a polyurethane type varnish from a Home Depot Hardware store. Much harder enduring finish, or so he says?

Tried auto spray lacquer and after several coats, its great if you let it cure for weeks before rubbing it back with wet 'n' dry black 2000 grade paper to get rid of any 'orange peel'. Then I hit it with carnauba and ends up a mirror shine.

They tell me lacquer still cures months after application, getting harder all the time.
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Postby ricochet » Fri Sep 08, 2006 1:08 pm

Yeah, it takes a lot longer than you'd think to get the solvent evaporated out of the film, even though the solvent itself is highly volatile.

Most spray lacquer these days is acrylic.

The problem with polyurethane is that it's impervious to solvent after drying. A second coat won't dissolve the coat underneath and blend with it as lacquer or shellac does. It has to mechanically lock into the scratches left by sanding. It can peel if not well done. And to remove it requires something that will chemically break it down, since it won't dissolve. Hard to touch up or refinish.
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Postby guitarslim101 » Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:34 pm

Shellac is my favorite.
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Postby ricochet » Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:07 am

Yeah, shellac is great stuff. Lacquer came out as a cheap synthetic substitute for shellac, and that's what it still is basically.
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Postby MoonShine » Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:09 am

I love using shellac on old furniture, but what worries me is that it doesn't appear to dry as hard as lacquer?

Attempted to sand back some deep belt buckle scratches on what I assume would be nitrocellulose on an old guitar, working long and hard with 2000 Wet 'n' Dry, it hardly scuffed the surface.
I use 2000 grade on cars, and even finer, 2004, and when rubbed back with water the wash goes all milky removing any 'orange peel'.
I have one antique cabinet I applied around 7 coats of shellac to and you can still virtually wash the stuff off if you used Methylated Spirits and fine steelwool. So if ya spray your whiskey all over your guitar it may end up lookin' pretty sick in the morning :lol:

Lacquer would need acetone to break it down, so unless ya piss napalm?..... :wink: :twisted:
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Postby ricochet » Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:13 am

MoonShine wrote:I have one antique cabinet I applied around 7 coats of shellac to and you can still virtually wash the stuff off if you used Methylated Spirits and fine steelwool.
Well, of course! That's the solvent for it.

Same thing with lacquer of any age. Lacquer thinner will redissolve it readily.
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Postby MoonShine » Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:03 am

Yep, but as you would know Metho is basically alcohol spirit?....but agree that shellac is lovely stuff to work with but it all comes down to curing time whichever final coat is used.
Thinking this latest project, an acoustic, is around 30 years old so reckon she's a rockhard finish because of this age.

I once worked with shellac on an old cabinet, let it cure/dry for around 2 months before putting brass hinges and other fittings on. I had to remove one of the hinges as the screw heads were damaged and noticed an indentation in the shellac as if it was a soft resin type finish that stayed plyable.
I buy the shellac flakes and spirits in bulk, dissolving the the flakes in large containers and have gallons of the stuff at the ready. Breaking the flakes in my fingers noticed its not real crispy but moreso like an epoxy resin hardness slightly flexible.

The lacquer I use is hard wearing, endurance stuff for motor vehicles, this stuff doesn't flake off unless your car is sitting in extreme heat for long periods. After around a month its sandable with fine paper or cutting compound if need be, and shines like glass.

One local guitar repairer did spend some time explaining to me that the finish is crucial to the tone of the guitar, so learning all the time and really enjoying it.

Reckon I'll have a go at shellac on the next old guitar I pick up from a garage sale :)
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Postby guitarslim101 » Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:20 pm

The thing I really like about shellac, aside from the fact that it really lets the wood "breathe", is that it's really easy to repair if it starts wearing off in a way you don't like. Another thing I like about it is that you can apply it without wearing a respirator.
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Postby MoonShine » Sun Sep 10, 2006 1:57 am

Whats...a respirator?....cough cough :wink:
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Try wipe on poly..

Postby slickcat » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:04 am

Try wipe on poly by ReRanch. Works great. Here is a link to a article
go to "Info" and scroll down to "finishes" http://208.56.238.182/

Its probably easier than it sounds.
But for me...I'd just go to the auto parts store...buy some candy apple red touch up spray cans and shoot on a few thin coats.
Last edited by slickcat on Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ricochet » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:08 am

Still has the same drawbacks mentioned above for any poly. May be just what you want, but think it over.
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Postby MoonShine » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:44 am

Oops, agree Ric, but think I may have gone right off track because I was monotonously yacking away referring to an appropriate finish for Acoustic, not Electric.
Should the finish be as important to the tone of the guitar if electric?....can't see why really.

Thinking that Auto spray acrylic would dry hard as a rock once cured....much less likely to scratch than polyurethane?
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Postby ricochet » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:40 pm

Fender's always used standard automotive paints of the day. Some of those classic old pastel colors used to be seen on Cadillacs and the like.
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