How to Paint Guitar Designs

Written by kirk maltbee
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How to Paint Guitar Designs
Painting your own design onto your guitar can help personalise the instrument (neon electric guitar image by Peter Helin from

There comes a time for many guitar players when they want their instrument to give a bit more of a personal presentation. One popular method, especially among punkers, is covering the body finish with various stickers and decals. Some choose a different route and decide to paint various designs on their instrument to make them stand out on stage, make a personal statement, or simply look cool. Your imagination's the limit, but the following article will cover creating basic designs on your guitar .

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Scratch paper
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Towel
  • Small pillow
  • Card stock
  • Utility knife
  • Acrylic paint(s)
  • Clear coat (recommended)
  • Screwdriver (optional)

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  1. 1

    Sketch a few designs onto the scratch paper until you decide on a particular design scheme. Consider if the design is doable with the materials you have. Draw your final design idea on a piece of card stock and use the knife to cut out the design to make a stencil. Should your design incorporate more than one colour, use the card stock to create additional stencils.

  2. 2

    Lay your guitar out on a flat and stable work surface with a towel underneath to prevent accidental chipping and scratches to the back of the body finish. Place a small pillow underneath the headstock to make the instrument level. Remove all the guitar's strings.

  3. 3

    Unscrew and remove the guitar's pick guard if applicable. Should your design call for it, remove the bridge (Pickups can be removed if absolutely necessary. Otherwise, cover the pickups with the masking tape.). Unscrew and remove the attachment bolts on the back of the body to remove the neck, if desired or needed.

  4. 4

    Place your stencil over the guitar's body. If you're using more than one colour, place the stencil used for the lightest colour first. Tape the edges of the card stock to the body to prevent accidental shifting during the painting process.

  5. 5

    Spray or brush on the first paint detail of your design. Allow a few minutes to dry, then remove the stencil and allow the design to fully dry (depending on the amount of paint, a full 24 hours is recommended). Continue painting your design using any subsequent stencils you created.

  6. 6

    Allow the guitar to dry for 24 hours. Spray clear coat on the design to provide some protection against chipping and scraping. Allow the clear coat to dry. When ready, remove the masking tape on the pickups (if used) and replace any components you removed earlier. Re-string the guitar to finish the process.

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