How to paint a guitar in a sunburst

Written by james anthony
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to paint a guitar in a sunburst
A sunburst guitar. (Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

Creating a sunburst finish on a guitar offers a challenge that will require some attention to detail but, with practice, the results will be well worth the effort. The sunburst finish concept is one that was first developed by Gibson in the 1950s, and since then there have been many variations on the original technique. A sunburst finish uses several different shades of finishing material to create the sunburst effect: a "sun" in the middle of the guitar surface, around which a darker colour is then added.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Other People Are Reading

Things you need

  • Lacquer stripper
  • Putty knife
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Wet sandpaper (fine grit)
  • Small sanding block
  • Clear nitrocellulose lacquer aerosol spray can (transparent, not opaque)
  • Yellow nitrocellulose lacquer aerosol spray can (transparent, not opaque)
  • Darker nitrocellulose lacquer aerosol spray can (colour of your choice; transparent, not opaque)
  • Naptha
  • Polishing compound
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Soft cloth

Show MoreHide

Instructions

  1. 1

    Sunburst finishes are most commonly applied to the face of a guitar. If the face is currently natural (no colour, just natural wood grain showing through), skip to Step 4. Otherwise, use a lacquer stripper to remove the existing finish, all the way down to bare wood. A narrow putty knife is helpful in removing the old lacquer. Hold it at roughly a 45 degree angle and gently apply pressure in the direction of the wood grain (to avoid cross-grain scratches).

  2. 2

    Use a piece of fine dry sandpaper to carefully sand the wood surface until it is smooth. When sanding, make sure that your sanding strokes follow the "grain" of the wood to prevent unsightly cross-grain scratches. Wrapping the sandpaper around a small block of wood is a proven technique that will help assure a consistently level surface.

  3. 3

    Protect the sides of your guitar with strips of newspaper, attaching the strips to the sides with masking tape. The tape should be positioned to closely follow the top of the instrument.

    Make sure that all dust has been removed from the top surface and, following the manufacturer's instructions, spray on a coat of clear lacquer. Repeat several times.

    Drying times will vary dependent upon humidity, but lacquer generally dries within an hour of application. When dry, use wet sandpaper and naptha to level the lacquer surface. Wipe off any residue with a soft cloth.

  4. 4

    Spray on a coat of yellow lacquer across the entire top surface of the guitar. Repeat as needed to assure an even coat of colour. When dry (generally within an hour of application), use wet sandpaper and naptha to level the lacquer surface. Wipe off any residue with a soft cloth.

    Spray on a coat of clear lacquer. Repeat several times. When dry (generally within an hour of application), use wet sandpaper and naptha to level the lacquer surface. Wipe off any residue with a soft cloth.

  5. 5

    Using the darker lacquer colour of your choice, spray the outside edge contour of the face of your guitar first. Repeat this process as many times as required for the colour to achieve the hue of your preference. The colour at this outside edge should always be the darkest, and less so as you approach the centre.

    Once dry, repeat this process, 1 to 2 inches further in toward the centre of the face. Less repeats will be required, as the intent here is to begin to blend a lighter colour into the existing darker one.

    Repeat this once again to continue blending shades of colour. Let dry. Apply a coat of clear lacquer. Repeat several times. When dry, use wet sandpaper and naptha to level the lacquer surface. Wipe off any residue with a soft cloth.

    Let the lacquer continue to cure for an additional 24 to 48 hours.

  6. 6

    Remove the masking tape and newspaper. Using polishing compound and a soft cloth, polish the top coat of clear lacquer until the finish is even and shiny.

Don't Miss

Filter:
  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
Sort:
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the eHow.co.uk site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.