Types of Paint Finishes for a Guitar

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Types of Paint Finishes for a Guitar
A well done paint job can significantly increase a guitar's final price tag. (Guitar image by jensole from Fotolia.com)

Guitar paint jobs can produce a look that is instantly recognisable to players and fans alike. From the tobacco burst paint job of Eric Clapton's Fender Strat to the high gloss black finish of B.B. King's Lucielle, a guitar's paint job can be just as important as the musician that's making the music with her.

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The Burst Finish

The burst finish look for a guitar's paint job begins with one colour at the centre of the guitar top and gradually fades to another colour around the edges of the body. The colour combinations for this paint style are virtually endless. This finish style is most often seen with Gibson's signature line of Les Paul guitars and with the iconic Fender Stratocaster. The pick guard is often left out of the colour scheme for the guitar's paint finish because its going to sustain a lot of scratches.

Material Paint Finishes

Material finishes are essentially prefabricated graphics that are laid on top of the guitar's body and finished either with paint or a clear sealant. This process is often used when artist specific models are made available for the general public to purchase, such as the Gibson Custom Zakk Wylde "Bullseye" Les Paul and Dean's signature "flying V" Dave Mustaine electric guitar.

Single Color Paint Finish

Lower end guitar models are often finished with a single colour paint scheme that encompasses the entire guitar body as well as the headstock. The paint is then sealed with a high gloss enamel to preserve the paint job and give the guitar the high class shine of a pricier model. Lower end models use a single colour simply because these instruments are mass-produced. More complicated paint schemes, like the burst, require more factory space or actual people to accomplish them.

Natural Finishes

Natural finishes allow the grain of the wood used in the guitar's creation to shine through. You can accomplish this with a wash paint scheme. A wash is a thinned out paint that seeps into the grains and cracks of the wood bringing out its natural highlights. The guitar top is then sealed. This practice is most often seen with higher end acoustic guitars or with special runs of electric guitars like the Les Paul Flame Top Electric.

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