How to Paint a Mahogany Guitar

Written by contributing writer
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If your guitar is worn or old, you may want to give it a new paint job or finish. As says, painting your guitar can be great to improve it cosmetically, as long as you are careful to preserve the sound quality of the instrument. If you paint your guitar, you will need to do so with the utmost care, as it is already a manufactured, finished instrument. Since many acoustic guitars are made of mahogany, buying paint or finish that works well with this wood is a must.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Primer surfacer
  • Paint

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  1. 1

    Find a place to paint your guitar. You will want to find an open room, preferably with a cement floor. You can then cover the floor in newspaper to avoid staining it. Painting your guitar can be somewhat messy, so a little caution can go a long way.

  2. 2

    Isolate the parts you want to paint. Usually, you will just be painting the body of your mahogany guitar, so you should take care to cover up the neck and headstock with newspaper to avoid unwanted paint overspray.

  3. 3

    Remove the glossy finish from your guitar with sandpaper. After that, you will also need to sand off any coats of paint, which some guitars have, until you get down to the bare wood body. Start with a low grit, such as 60, and move up incrementally to a higher grit, such as 220, as you get closer to the complete removal of finish and paint.

  4. 4

    Use wood filler to fill the pores of the grain in the wood. Because mahogany is an open-grained wood, you must fill the pores with a wood filler to achieve a decent look when you're done painting. You can use a putty knife to apply a thin layer of filler on the body of the instrument. Allow it to dry for about 15 minutes. When this is completed, you may need to sand again with the 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out any bumps or high spots.

  5. 5

    Spray the primer surfacer onto the body, allowing each coat to dry. Sand with a fine grit in between each application. It may take several coats before the wood is adequately covered.

  6. 6

    Begin painting. For a smooth look on a mahogany guitar, it is best to use a spray can auto paint, rather than brushes. If you do not wish to paint your guitar a solid colour, you can apply a stain or finishing lacquer to it, which often looks good on acoustic guitars in particular. A suggested stain would be a water-soluble aniline stain, which would allow the grain of the wood to be seen very well, thus keeping the wood's natural beauty intact.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have an old junk guitar, you can practice a test paint job on that first.
  • Be sure not to sand too much of your guitar body down. If you begin sanding the body underneath the finish and paint, you will quickly deteriorate the sound quality and structural integrity of the instrument.

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