How to change a guitar's paint color

Updated February 21, 2017

Guitars can be more than just versatile musical instruments--they can also be beautiful decorative pieces that accentuate any room design. However, sometimes a guitar's paint can clash with the rest of the furniture and decorations in a room. Luckily, with a little bit of patience and the proper tools, anyone can repaint a guitar. Although several guitar painting methods exist, using spray paint is by far the simplest and the cheapest way to achieve a professional quality paint job.

Remove the strings from your guitar. Unwind and remove them one at a time at the tuning pegs and feed them through the bridge.

Remove the volume and tone knobs from your guitar. Usually they simply pull off.

Unscrew the pickups. Depending on the type of guitar you have, you may need to remove the pick guard before you can remove the pickups.

Remove your pick guard and any other cavity coverings by unscrewing them. Screw sizes are not uniform from guitar to guitar, so make sure you have a wide variety of screwdrivers available.

Remove all electronic hardware from your guitar. Volume pots are generally removed through a cavity in the back of the guitar, while pickups are usually lifted out of the body of the guitar. You may need to snip wires to remove the hardware, so make sure you are competent with a soldering iron before you begin cutting wires.

Remove the bridge from your guitar. Unscrew each screw, both on the face of the guitar and in the bridge cavity of the guitar.

Remove the neck from your guitar. This is generally done by removing screws from the base of your guitar's neck. Store all of the materials you have removed in a safe place.

Remove the finish and paint on your guitar by using a belt or oscillating sander. Once you have done as much as possible with the mechanical sander, finish the job and smooth out any imperfections with sandpaper. The specific grit will depend on how even of a job you did removing the finish and the paint.

Hang your guitar from a clothesline by running wire though one of the neck holes if at all possible. This is the quickest and easiest way to spray paint your guitar. You can paint your guitar on a workbench covered with newspaper if you need to, however.

Apply wood primer if needed. Not all types of paint require wood primer, so make sure to closely read the directions on the type of paint you have bought.

Paint your guitar. Stand a few feet from your guitar and slowly move backward as you spray paint your instrument. After applying an even coat, give your guitar time to dry, then apply another coat of paint. You will need to apply four to seven coats of paint to get a full glossy finish.

Apply a few coats of lacquer to your newly painted guitar. You will likely need to paint the lacquer on using a paint brush. Make sure you are applying the lacquer evenly.

Paint any cavity plates the same colour as your guitar. You may want to repaint the pick guard too, depending on its initial colour.

Reassemble your guitar. Make sure everything is in the same place as it was before you took it apart.


If you are not immediately comfortable with the idea of painting your guitar, you will want to start out by practicing on a cheap, easily replaceable guitar. You can also get your guitar professionally repainted for a couple hundred dollars if you do not trust yourself to do a professional job. Always keep track of what wires belong to what electronic component. Use masking tape to mark which wire belongs where. Masking tape can also be used to add designs to your guitar. Simply use it to cover a section of your guitar that you want painted a different colour from the rest of the instrument and then use it to cover the section that you have already painted to make sure the colours do not mix.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver set
  • Primer
  • Spray paint
  • Lacquer
  • Paint brushes
  • Belt or oscillating sander
  • Wide range or sandpaper grits
  • Masking tape
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About the Author

Michael Black has been a freelance writer based in South Central Pennsylvania since 2010. He graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He has written music- and writing-related articles for various websites.