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Old March 3rd, 2009, 07:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to Strip Poly???

Pics below. I have a natural finish MIJ strat and I like the color 'naturally... (sorry, full pun intended there) but I can take or leave the bulletproof thick poly coat. If it could be done, Id like to strip it and have it repainted thinner. Maybe a satin clear. I dont really care about nitro. As I understand it, they can shoot poly thin. Not to let the wood "breathe", but just to give it a different feel.

On a more functional repair note... the owner before me dropped this guitar on its tail grommet and the grommet survived the fall unscathed, but it drove it (at a mild angle) into the wood. Just enough to go past the finish and drive it into the wood. (maybe1mm?). I know it sounds minimal... In the "if it aint broke dont fix it" category... but all you tinkerheads out there know that "aint broke" rule aint got nothing to do with a man with tools and ANYTHING he might perceive as a project...

I could probably get away with removing the grommet, puttying up the dent, and replacing the grommet. the dent is the size of the grommet base so no one would ever know...

But I just want all options on the table.

So... any ideas? Stripping poly coat?








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Old March 3rd, 2009, 07:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I can tell you how I removed the poly from an old mexican made strat a few years back.
It's labor intensive. I used stripe ease which I painted on with a brush, let it sit for a few hours then scraped lightly with a putty knife, it took two weeks, no kidding, then I sanded the finish with 220 grit sand paper, when all was done, I shot it with a satin Nitro from stewart mac. All in all, aside from making the guitar look older, I noticed no real difference in overall tone. Good luck I wouldn't do it again. But that's just my opinion.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 08:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, thanks 7. This wouldnt be for the sake of tone. I dont really believe that a poly body will sound much different from a nitro. Certainly not enough to warrant the cost. The LOOK and FEEL/Playability of the guitar however... thats a reason to spend money.

I wonder if maybe some kind of acid bath and after sanding might do it?

If the whole thing just comes up too expensive, I can always just pull the plug on it. weeks after buying it, I bought another almost exactly like it (except its banana cream yellow, and its pristine)

Anyway... the Natural is nice...be nice if it too were pristine. It aint, but nothing a little elbow grease cant fix
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 08:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've seen a few threads from people who stripped poly finishes on other forums. Most of them went down the "power sander" route. You can only go so far with a power sander, though, otherwise you risk re-contouring the body ! There's a lot of hand sanding involved after that to get a good smooth finish.

I believe I've seen a few people talk of heavy duty paint stippers, but you still need to do just as much hand sanding afterwards, and the paint strippers were still quite slow - most strippers won't even mark the poly finish !

I don't think you could use an acid bath as you might weaken the glue holding the pieces of the body together, and these baths can also sometimes "bleach" the colour out of the wood.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 09:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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I personally wouldn't bother. Time warranted far exceeds the cost of just buying an unfinished body and finishing it how you want. IMO only though.......I know there are guys out there that just like to play with strippers (paint that is!!).
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 09:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Best way to remove any finish, paint, stain, nitro, poly, whatever is sanding. It also qualifies as an aerobic workout.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 10:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i stripped (i thin it was poly) off one of my guitars with paint thinner. you have to sit there for a good 2-3 hours, what i did is paint it on, wait a little bit, maybe like 15 minutes, and then scrape. i just keep doing this... forever. and it finally all came off.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 10:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Strippers and Wood...Thats a poem!

In any case... I feel the need to work on this rig. (Clean out the bridge (its loaded with dust and crap), and maybe replace the pups...) But I cant see myself sanding off this finish. It seems like literally 0.5mm or more thick. Itd take a VERY long time to hand sand. And I wouldnt wanna recontour with a power sander. The front and back dont seem hard but I can see easily jamming up the horns...

Meh, Ill find some way to repair the grommet. Maybe putty. Or look into having a shop do the body strip if it isnt prohibitively expensive. (And since Im trying to bring a Les Paul into the house... nows not the time to get wasteful with cash)
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Old March 4th, 2009, 12:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Go to a good paint store and inquire within
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Old March 4th, 2009, 02:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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In Tokyo??? Know any good ones?

In Japan, thats too far outside the box. You talk to a paint store guy, without wanting to paint a wall... he wont know how to answer your question.

Youve got to go straight to a guitar guy. (No thinking outside the box)
If I knew a guy, I wouldnt ask for DIY tips.
but theres no DIY magic bullet, so Ill have to go ask around.

Thanks though... ;)
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Old March 4th, 2009, 05:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hi, removing the poly would be a breeze. As long as it's completely dissassembled, Bix Stripper would completely dissolve the finish and it coiuld be scraped away with a plastic solvent resistant blade. I have done loads of woodworking as you might have seen in my site, but no guitars yet. I think you have a worthwhile project going there, and I would go for the oiled look in a matte wipe on poly, as you could touch it up at any time by just wiping on more poly. You have a nice wood grain there, and I may even lok for one of those myself sometime.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 07:21 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Tell ya what, I don't know Anyone WHO found stripping Poly a Breeze. I did this ONE TIME with a Stock US Strat. It Took FIVE HOURS and thats AFTER the Zip Strip. And I used a Commercial grade from a friend who runs a Painting Business. After you get the Zip Strip down as best you can, you are gonna have to use an array of electric sanders. From Belt sanders to vibrating to the little mouse then sanding by HAND to get around the horns and body contours.

Maybe there's something NEW out that I haven't come across, but IMHO I would leave it be.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Use a heat gun. The poly will pop off leaving the filler. Goes pretty fast.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I've stripped paint off of a guitar body before with a product called Aircraft Stripper. You can find it at auto parts stores. This stuff just reeks of some serious chemicals. You'll want to use it outdoors. It turns the paint to a goo that you can wipe/scrape away. It works really well, but I don't know that it leaves the wood in a condition that you'd want to keep visible. I used it to strip black paint off of a Yamaha bass and the wood had a dark tinge to it when I was done. Not sure if that's from the paint, or the stripper. I painted with another opaque color, so it didn't matter to me.
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Old March 5th, 2009, 12:03 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strat-Man-Do View Post
Tell ya what, I don't know Anyone WHO found stripping Poly a Breeze. I did this ONE TIME with a Stock US Strat. It Took FIVE HOURS and thats AFTER the Zip Strip. And I used a Commercial grade from a friend who runs a Painting Business. After you get the Zip Strip down as best you can, you are gonna have to use an array of electric sanders. From Belt sanders to vibrating to the little mouse then sanding by HAND to get around the horns and body contours.

Maybe there's something NEW out that I haven't come across, but IMHO I would leave it be.
Whell, now you know of one. Have to use the right stuff.
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Old March 6th, 2010, 01:51 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I removed poly with sanding but it was an awful job I never want to do again.

I found it was much easier with heat.

I wrote a blog post about it with many pictures. There is also a sound file that demonstrates the sound change:

Guitar refinishing – nitro vs poly and how to remove a polyester finish | Mark Knopfler Guitar / More Knowledge about the guitar
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Old March 6th, 2010, 02:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I recently stripped poly off my strat, and i weighed up all the options. I was thinking about using a chemical stripper, but after much research discovered that most of them won't touch poly. and as someone has already said, when you do find one that works it can take weeks!!!

i sanded mine down. I started with 80 grit emery cloth wrapped around a sanding block. I then spent about an hour sanding the entire guitar breaking through the top shiney layer. After that I then went with 120 grit, and did the same thing. I then kept at 120 till I'd sanded all the paint off. All in all this took me about 3 hours, but the finish was well worth it.. I ended up finish sanding with 320, and that gave a very nice finish.

I found the hardest part was the first hour.... but once you get down to the first bit of wood it seems to give you the incentive to carry on... It did with me. I've read horror stories about how it's impossible to sand it down, or that it takes weeks to do.... Rubbish i say... If you have the incentive it takes a matter of hours to do.

I was tempted to use a heat gun, but again i'd seen the pictures where people hold the gun too close and don't judge it and end up burning the wood. Not good.
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Old March 6th, 2010, 03:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuroyama View Post
Yeah, thanks 7. This wouldnt be for the sake of tone. I dont really believe that a poly body will sound much different from a nitro. Certainly not enough to warrant the cost. The LOOK and FEEL/Playability of the guitar however... thats a reason to spend money.

I wonder if maybe some kind of acid bath and after sanding might do it?

If the whole thing just comes up too expensive, I can always just pull the plug on it. weeks after buying it, I bought another almost exactly like it (except its banana cream yellow, and its pristine)

Anyway... the Natural is nice...be nice if it too were pristine. It aint, but nothing a little elbow grease cant fix
Polyurethane is VERY chemical-resistant, one of the things that makes it so great.

Strypeeze IS an acid bath and it can do wonders! It's very agressive stuff, will burn through skin VERY quickly. I use it at work all the time to strip polyurethane. The length of time it takes depends on the specific chemistry of the poly. Ours for example, softens in a few minutes to where it can be scraped. However, I only work on coating that are about .003-.005 inches thick. One downside, it gets exposed wood wet, making it sponge up.

Heat is another method that can work. Poly softens with heat. This is another aspect that is dependent upon chemistry. 120-200C makes our formulation soft enough to peel up with a scraper.

Personally, if I were to undertake it, I'd sand. It's labor intensive, but less hazardous to health (x-linked poly is inert) and less dangerous for the guitar (heat weakens polyurethane and epoxy glue joints as well).
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Old March 6th, 2010, 03:03 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarNz View Post
i stripped (i thin it was poly) off one of my guitars with paint thinner. you have to sit there for a good 2-3 hours, what i did is paint it on, wait a little bit, maybe like 15 minutes, and then scrape. i just keep doing this... forever. and it finally all came off.
No way was your paint Poly.... Thinners won't do a thing to it.
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Old March 6th, 2010, 03:21 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Hehee, just re-read the OP.

That's not damage. It's wear n tear. I'd recommend leaving it.
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