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1.     How long should I leave between coats?

Drying time is affected by temperature.  As a rule of thumb for nitrocellulose lacquers,  apply 3 coats over a 30 minute period, then leave to dry for about 6 hours, or overnight.  Then apply a further 3 coats and repeat until you have built up sufficient lacquer or paint.

2.     How long should I leave the lacquer to dry before buffing?

Standard Nitrocellulose takes a long time to harden whereas Pre-Cat Nitrocellulose has a catalyst to speed up the hardening process. Pre-cat can be ready for cutting back after 7-10 days whereas standard nitrocellulose may take as long as 4 weeks.

3.     To sand or not to sand between coats”, that is the question?

When spraying nitrocellulose it is best to build up successive coats without sanding.  Only sand if dust, a fly, or a run appears on your handy work.  By building up successive layers you are creating one “thickish” layer of lacquer.  When the whole thing has hardened off, cut it back to create a level and smooth finish. The better you get at spraying, the fewer coats you will need before flatting back.

4.     How many coats should I put on?

It depends how cold it is.  Personally I wear a thick fleece when it’s cold.  Seriously though; it depends.  In warm weather the lacquer dries faster, almost as soon as it lands on the wood.  You can apply a thicker coat without developing a run.  In cold weather thinner coats will be needed so that the slower drying lacquer doesn’t run.  4 thick coats or 6-10 thin ones should cover it.   Pro sprayers regulate the temperature of their spray booths so they get consistent results.  If you are working in a shed, or garage, it’s a question of trial and error.

5.    Will the paint or lacquer affect the tone of the guitar?

If it is an electric guitar no. You have a mass of wood, pickups and an amp.  A few coats of paint won’t make a jot of difference.

Acoustic instrument?  Maybe.  A lacquer or paint finish on an acoustic instrument is designed to protect the wood from dirty fingermarks, grease, tomato sauce spills etc.  The guitar body wood is 1.5mm -2.5mm thick.  If you apply 0.5mm of lacquer, it may well affect the tone.  In reality the lacquer is microns thick so it won’t affect the instrument.  The construction and choice of materials has by far and away the most influence on tone.

12 Jun 2012 01:49:00 By Bill Quinn 0 Comments Guitar Paint and Lacquer Tips

Always sand the flat surfaces using a sanding block.  The block ensures you will sand a flat surface. If you use your hands or fingers you will sand slight depressions in the guitar surface.

Start sanding with abrasive paper starting with 150 grit paper, and then move onto 240 grit then 320 grit. If the wood is highly figured, go on to use 500/600 grit.

Now decide if the wood needs grain filling. Open grained wood such as Swamp Ash, Mahogany, and Rosewood need to be grain filled. Finer grained wood such as maple can be finished without grain filler. If you can see grain pores with the naked eye then grain filling is required.

If you are going to use a water based stain, or a water based filler, first wipe a damp cloth over the wood and let it dry. This will raise the tiny wood fibres. Sand once more with 320 or 500 grit, then fill the grain with a suitable grain filler.  See our how to sheet on how to apply grain filler.

Allow the filler to dry fully then re-sand the wood to remove the surface filler. Wipe the wood clean and examine the grain in a good light. If the grain pores are still showing, repeat the grain filling until you have a smooth surface.

Clean off all the dust using a Tak Rag and you are ready to start applying your Guitar Paint or Lacquer

2 May 2012 22:20:00 By Bill Quinn Comments Guitar Paint and Lacquer Tips
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