How to paint a guitar?

Do you want to paint and redesign your guitar and you do not know how exactly you can go about it? Well, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will delve into a step-by-step guide on how you can successfully paint your guitar.

Unfortunately, when purchasing the best guitar for your music gear, you may realize that there aren’t exactly multiple color options in the market to accommodate your personal preferences.

Aside from that, there are other times when you can find yourself in a situation where you are no longer impressed with the color on your guitar.

Other times, you may just be curious enough to explore a few aesthetics along your music journey.

Whatever situation among these that you are in, there is always the option to re-paint and redesign your guitar to suit your individual preferences.

The good thing about painting any guitar that you own is that you can do it individually without having to seek consultancy from a painter, designer or fellow artist.

The main thing is that, when painting your guitar, you would need to put in so much effort and umpteenth concentration so that you can successfully achieve a smooth and satisfactory finish.

What items would you need before painting your guitar?

Among the things that you would need when painting your guitar are an orbital sander, sand paper, a vacuum cleaner, blow-drier, clean and dry cloths, white primer, spray paint, a spray gun, dust mask and eye glasses, mineral spirits , a screw driver, wire cutters , clear cutter coats, soldering iron and solder, masking tape and Allen wrenches.

So, how do you paint your guitar?

To successfully paint your guitar, you would need to follow these steps;

Step One: Disassemble your guitar

Here, you would need to remove the strings off your guitar using wire clippers, unscrew the neck off your guitar by using your screwdriver and remove all hardware from your guitar, including the strap buttons, bridge, pickguard, output jack, knobs and pickups, using ether the Allen wrench or your screwdriver.

Ensure to understand the wiring of your guitar because you would need to reassemble it once you are done painting.

Once you are done disassembling your guitar, organize your hardware in plastic bags and label them so that it can be easier to reassemble your guitar.

Step Two: Get rid of the previous finish on your guitar by sanding

In this step, you would need to either sand away the current finish completely or you can choose to simply rough up the old finish so that you can paint an added coat over it.

However, this entirely depends on what type of paint you have decided to use on your guitar.

If you choose to use translucent paint, a stain or using a darker color than what previously existed on your guitar, you would need to completely remove the finish off your guitar.

If you choose to use solid paint on the surface of your guitar, all you need to do is rough up its surface.

All you need to do is to your orbital sander and sandpaper to get rid of most parts of the finish and then use hand sandpaper to remove the rest of the finish. When it comes to the hard-to-reach places, you can use coarse grit sandpaper to remove the finish. Once you have done this, pick up a finer grain of sandpaper and smoothen the body of your guitar.

Step Three: Begin the vacuuming process

Once all this is done, the next thing you need to do is remove all the dust left behind on your guitar by using a vacuum cleaner attached to a hose.

You can also improvise by using a blow drier but it is not exactly the best option. To remove any extra dust, you can dab a damp cloth over the surface of your guitar.

Step Four: Apply grain filler and apply mineral spirits

When you are working on any porous woods such as mahogany for example, you would need to apply grain filler so that you can achieve an even painting surface on your guitar.

When doing this, always ensure that the water-based or oil-based fill matches the paint or finish you intend to use.

The mineral spirit is very important in your painting process as it removes all the oils on the surface of your guitar.

Once you have applied the mineral finish, give it some time to dry and then place your guitar in an open room and on a large box to prepare for painting.

Step Five: The painting process

If your personal preferences are inclined towards solid colors, you should use paint with polyurethane or nitrocellulose that give you a stained finish.

Once you have decided the color you want, begin the painting process by applying about two to three thin coats of primer to prepare the painting surface.

If you are suing spray paint, ensure that you are applying very thin layers of paint on your guitar surface and allow each coat to completely dry before applying another coat of paint. Then, before applying the clear coat of paint, give the colored coat some time to completely dry off for about a week.

If you intend to use a stain, wet the surface of your guitar to avoid blemishes and ease your painting process then apply the stain based on the manufacturer instructions on the label.

Note; when applying a clear coat on the painted surface after your guitar has completely dried, you would need to at least use a nitrocellulose clear coat which has a better finish.

Step Six: Polish the finish on your guitar

To polish the finish on your guitar, you would need to apply the wet sanding technique.

Begin by using a fine grit (400) as you slowly transition towards a more rough grit (2000).

As you do this, do not miss any tiny pits, swirls or scratches on the surface because you may need to start the whole process from scratch if you do. Carefully ensure that you do not end up sanding through the clear coat into the perfect paint color you has chosen for your guitar.

Step Seven: Carefully reassemble your guitar

The last step would be to put your guitar hardware back together. This step further gives you the chance to replace any damaged parts on your guitar.

Once it is fully assembled and everything seems in place, all you need to do is re-string, tune and begin to play.

What can go wrong when painting your guitar?

At the beginning if the article we identified that you need to put in a lot of effort and ensure maximum concentration when painting your guitar because a few things could go wrong if you don’t.

If you end up sanding the surface on your guitar too aggressively, you may damage the finish.

In the event that this happens, you would need to spray a lot more finish on your guitar so that it can look better.

Aside from that, if you inadequately prepare the surface will leave tiny divots and low spots that will prevent you from achieving a perfectly smooth surface after painting.

Another issue you may experience is the orange peel where the lacquer fails to lie down perfectly flat and remains very bumpy. In as much so, you can fix this by sanding it out.

A Summary Table

Sanding the surface too aggressively
Could damage the finish
Spray more Finish
Inadequate surface preparation
You will not get a smooth painted surface
Ensure to follow the prepping details to the letter
Orange Peel
Bumpy lacquer surface
Sand it out as a way to buff to a perfect shine


Whether it is your first time painting or your fifth, painting your guitar is only successful when you are careful and when you follow every step correctly.


How long does it take to paint a guitar?

Let’s say about 3 days to 2 weeks.

The amount of time that it takes to paint your guitar is entirely dependent on the type of paint you choose to use and the weather conditions.

Does painting my guitar affect its sound performance?

Not at all.

Cooper Green

Music we must say is complex but according to Cooper Green, with the right information creating good music is a breeze. Guitars are a single aspect in the complex world of music but which play a major role, the problem however, lies in finding the right guitar for the relevant application. There are so many brands of guitars, each of which are differently configured but offer the best sounds. Cooper has been in the music industry for over 10 years, he recently started interacting with enthusiasts in the various platforms and therefore, shares his knowledge on music in general and specifically on guitars. And with the markets now flooded with knockoffs, among his missions is to help upcoming musicians get good quality music instruments or guitars.

Leave a Comment