Many people pay big bucks to have their guitars custom-painted by professionals. But if all you want is a signature or logo on your headstock, you don't need to shovel out a lot of money. You can silkscreen your logo yourself using some basic screen printing supplies. And although making your silkscreen is a lengthy process, once you have it you can use it over and over again with future projects.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Small screwdriver
- Masking tape
- 200 mesh nylon
- Photo emulsion
- Logo design
- Glass or acrylic sheet
- 150-watt light
Remove the strings from your guitar's headstock and remove the tuners by unscrewing them from the back using a small screwdriver. Mask off any remaining metal rings that may be on your headstock by covering them in masking tape.
Find a small, rectangular frame such as you might use for a photograph. The frame needs to be small enough to be placed over your headstock. Stretch a piece of 200 mesh nylon across the back of this. Tape it on one side and tug it until it is absolutely taut. Then tape it down across every edge. You may need to try this several times before you get a satisfactory result. The nylon needs to have very little give.
Find a windowless room such as a bathroom and cover the floor with newspaper. Install a night light and turn off all other light sources. Place the silkscreen on top of the newspaper, frame side down. Don gloves.
Pour a line of photo emulsion along one edge of the silkscreen, with the frame facing down. Place the edge of a small rectangle of cardboard in this line of emulsion. Holding the cardboard at roughly a 45-degree angle, drag it across the screen in one smooth, even stroke. It should brush an even coating of emulsion across the screen. Turn the night light off and close the door to the room. Allow the emulsion to cure overnight. Make sure no light reaches it, as the emulsion will react to it.
Take your logo design to a copy store and have them print a black version of it onto a transparency. Make sure it is small enough to fit on your headstock.
Return to your silkscreen and turn on the night light. Place the transparency on top of the side of the screen covered in emulsion and weigh it down with clear acrylic or glass.
Arrange a light with a 150-watt bulb 1 foot above the screen. Turn it on, and leave it for 40 minutes. Turn the night light off.
Don gloves again. Turn the 150-watt light off and rush the screen to a sink. Make sure there is very little light around the sink, just enough to see by. Remove the transparency and the acrylic sheet and wash the emulsed side of the screen gently with water. Eventually you will see your logo emerge amid the emulsion. Wash it until you can see completely through the logo to the other side of the screen, then allow the screen to dry overnight.
Place the screen, frame side up, over your headstock. Make sure the logo is positioned where you want your design to be. Make sure to wear gloves. Pour a line of automotive paint along one of the frame's inner edges. You can use any colour you like, but either lacquer-based or enamel automotive paint is best.
Press the edge of a small, rectangular piece of cardboard into the paint. Make sure it is not the same piece you used with the emulsion. Holding the cardboard so that it is almost perpendicular to the screen, drag it across the screen. Press down firmly as you do so to force the paint through the screen where the logo is located. Drag it across several times. Do not move the screen in between swipes.
Remove the screen and rush it to a sink. Rinse the screen free of paint on both sides. Allow the paint on the headstock to dry for an hour before removing the masking tape and replacing the tuners and strings.
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