How to re-paint an Acoustic Guitar

Welcome to my very first fabulous tutorial!!!!

Just recently I painted Bruce Springsteen on the back of my acoustic guitar (see below) and for this tutorial I am going to take you through, step-by-step, on how I did it so you can re-paint your own acoustic guitar.AG 2

Here are the materials you will need:

-A guitar (of course!)
-Fine sand paper
-Painters tape (This is optional and please note that I did not use this for my guitar)
-Acrylic paints (Either spay or brush on. For this tutorial I used artist quality (never use student quality) (brush on) paint. If you’re using brush on paints, you will need brushes!)
-Gesso (or an equivalent surface primer/preparer)
-Protectant Varnish (for this tutorial I used a satin varnish, however, you may use gloss or matte if you wish. (When using any varnish please follow the instructions on the bottle))

Please note, when using gesso it is not recommended that you use oil paint as a bit more preparation is required as the oil paint will seep through the gesso, which is not what we want. Also, guitars often have acrylic paint on them, not oil.

So let’s begin!

Step 1: Sand paper the shine off your guitar in the area/s you wish to re-paint so that the guitar will hold the gesso (it will peel off otherwise). I only re-painted the back of my guitar so I only sand papered the shine off the back. If you are re-painting the front, be sure to take off the strings and apply painters tape onto the areas you don’t want paint to go on. This is optional but I recommend it if you are painting the front as it makes life easier to not get paint on certain areas rather than having to get it off afterwards. Below is what the back of my guitar looked liked without the shine.

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Step 2: Once you’ve sand papered the shine of, it’s time to apply the gesso. There are two ways you can do this. Using a roller or a brush. A roller will give you a smother surface whereas a brush will show strokes creating a more textured surface. I wanted a slight roughness to my painting so I used a brush. Make sure you thin it down with water so it’s applied thinly to aid with quicker and smoother drying and also you don’t want an ugly gluggy look to your guitar. To thin it down with water, all you have to do is make sure you dip your brush (or roller) in water before you dip it into the gesso. You could also aid the thinning out by applying a teaspoon amount of water into a small amount of gesso. You will need to apply more than one layer (for my guitar I needed to apply three) but make sure you wait for the previous layer to dry completely before you apply the next as applying the next layer to soon could re-awaken the previous layer, causing bits of semi-dry gesso to scrape off. (see the three layers below). Once you are satisfied, allow the final layer to dry completely (better off leaving it over night just to be sure) before moving onto the next step.

Step 3: Now it’s time to sketch out your design. If you are not interested in/don’t want to sketch out you’re design, feel free to skip this step and move onto step 4. (Note: It is a little hard to get graphite off gesso, so make sure any pencil mark with done lightly.)

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Step 4: Now you’re up to the painting part. Either spray or brush on your design using acrylic paint. Once you are done, make sure you wipe off (using a surface wipe) to scrape of paint off areas from your guitar that you do not wish to be on there BEFORE you apply any varnish. Once the varnish is on, that’s it.

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Step 5: I applied a satin varnish when I was done. Feel free to use matte or gloss if you wish. Follow the instructions on your bottle of varnish in regards to how to apply it. I do suggest, however, that you apply 4 to 5 coats to secure it extremely well  (especially if you constantly play it). Now you are done! Enjoy your re-vamped guitar! 🙂

AG 2