How to Paint an Electric Guitar Body

What You'll Need
Heat Gun
Paint Brushes

It is possible to paint your electric guitar if you're less than thrilled with how it looks. Though the process can take a lot of time, it is not a complicated project to undertake. If you follow these steps, you can have the guitar you've always wanted in time for your next gig. 

Step 1 - Remove Hardware

Before you paint your guitar, you need to remove everything from the guitar body. This includes strings, knobs, the bridge and even the neck. 

Step 2 - Strip Existing Paint

Once your guitar body is on its own, you'll need to strip the current paint job. Do not simply paint on top of the finish as it will affect the color and will result in too many layers of paint and lacquer on your guitar.

Depending on how thick the paint job is, you can either sand it off or you can use a heat gun to remove most of the paint and then carefully sand what remains. If you're using a heat gun, put it on the lowest setting and slowly work it over the guitar body, one small piece at a time. When the paint begins to bubble, you know it's working. Wipe the bubbled paint off and if any paint remains, go over those spots with a fine grade sandpaper. If you are skipping the heat gun, start with a heavy-duty sand paper and gradually work down to a finer grade. 

Step 3 - Choose Your Paint

Once your guitar body is clean from paint and lacquer and is smooth, it's time to paint. You can choose a lacquered paint from a DIY store but guitar manufacturers also make their own paint. If there is a specific look you're going for, a classic Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Flying V, check at your local guitar store as they may have the specific paint that will get you the look you want. 

Step 4 - Secure the Guitar

Since you'll be painting the front and back of the guitar, you may want to invest in a vise so you can work on both the front and back without having to stop in the middle while waiting for one side to dry. This will also help when you need to apply paint to small nooks in the guitar and don't have to use one hand holding the guitar steady. 

Step 5 - Paint

Make sure you have one wide brush and a smaller brush. Start on one end and make sure that you start with enough paint on your brush. Make sure you use steady, straight strokes and take your time. If you end up with drips and streaks, your guitar will look far from professional. Let the first coat dry completely before applying additional coats. Once the paint has dried you can apply clear lacquer. Lacquer will give your guitar a great finish and protect the paint. Once you have applied two coats, let it dry, re-attach all of your hardware, and get to the stage to rock out!