This post is going to show you how to finish a guitar kit using a nitrocellulose lacquer spray can.
This is the second article in the series dedicated on how to Build your Own Guitar Kit the right way. In the first post, I was explaining how to clue the set-in neck and how to paint the guitar using a nitrocellulose spray paint.
Actually, the nitrocellulose spray paint I used in the first video includes the paint and the varnish. The extra coat of nitrocellulose lacquer I’m going to add in this video wasn’t needed. You can actually skip that part depending on your budget or the model of guitar kit you are working on.
Here is why:
I decided to apply an extra coat of varnish because the SG guitar has a set neck painted with the same color as the body. Nitrocellulose paint is perfectly fine for a body surface, but for the neck, I wanted a smoother finish. Like a pro guitar.
I already painted another kit using a nitrocellulose spray paint, (a 12 strings Stratocaster kit) and I only added lacquer on the neck.
This time, I wanted a silky finish. This nitrocellulose lacquer is colorless and can be applied on electric, acoustic and classical guitars. The nitrocellulose lacquer lets the wood breath. It is recommended for acoustic instruments. It is thinner than a polyester varnish, therefore, more fragile, but respect more the acoustic qualities of the wood.
Before spraying the lacquer, you must protect the fingerboard using masking tape. But the inlays shouldn’t be protected. They must be varnished too, to avoid a small gap between the varnished neck and the inlays, in the event you are protecting them also.
You must also sand the guitar lightly using a thin sand paper. If you did the paint job right, you do not need to sand the guitar entirely. Only the spots that are still abrasive. I used a 600 grid sandpaper and only sanded on few locations.
This thing stinks terribly. I sprayed earlier today, and I was obliged to leave for a couple of hours because I couldn’t breathe anymore and I had a terrible headache. I left the windows fully opened despite the cold weather outside, and it is as bad as it was before I left. I cough like a demon and my eyes are burning awfully. The guitar is better to be good because I feel like crap.
Check out the video I made applying that smelly stuff, and enjoy my nasty cough.
Despite this warning, you can’t spray it with opened windows, because some dust might stick to the fresh lacquer and the outcome is going to be disastrous. A garage is more than recommended. Let the odor evaporate overnight, and come back when it smells better.
You must apply the varnish layer by layer on the guitar until the desired result is reached. Nitrocellulose offers great elasticity and there is no risk of flaking.
Application, repair, and maintenance are very simply done. The lacquer is a very stable product that provides a complete recovery, a quick drying, and an excellent topcoat.
Even if the finish looks dry after 20 minutes, you should let the instrument shrivels at least 24 hours before operating on it.
I used the Spanish brand Nitro Lack because I’m located in France and it was the cheapest I could find, but depending on your location, any brand might work just the same. You just have to decide if you want a satin or a sparkly finish. The technique is the same.
Between the first video where I painted the guitar and this one, I originally planned to make another video demonstrating how to add a custom logo using a waterslide decal… well, what I expected happened. The dark brown color of the guitar is way too dark.
There’s no white ink in printers and consequently, all the colors including white pigments are invisible when transferred to the shady background. You must use waterslide transfers only light colors.
I keep this tutorial on the slide because I have a Les Paul custom kit coming up with a natural wood headstock that will work perfectly with my decals. I’m going to keep some footage of my failure to illustrate that issue in the upcoming instructional video. 😉
Here are some links where you can buy a Nitrocellulose lacquer spray can
I am Hervé Senni, a pro musician and performer for quite some time.
My main musical instrument is unquestionably the electric guitar. Nevertheless, I also perform bass guitar, mandolin, Ukulele, and invented string instruments. I am also a composer as well as an arranger. Over the years, repairing and trying to further improve electric guitars that a majority of times did not have to be upgraded converted me right into a self-taught luthier.