How do I go about refinishing an old strat?

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by Rickety, Oct 7, 2021.

  1. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

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    I need to get the old paint and finish off and apply a new color and clear coat. I am brand new to this and have never done it before so any help and advice is greatly appreciated.

    I think I have an idea of what to do, shouldn't I just sand off what's already on there until I get down to wood and then I can apply my primer, paint/stain (haven't decided which yet), then after drying apply my clear coat?
     
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  2. Aqueix

    Aqueix Strat-Talk Member

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    well it depends, what type of paint are you trying to strip? If its nitro sanding would be best, but poly needs alot ALOT more work.
     
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  3. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    I just paint over poly - the hard work of sealing/grainfilling is already done....
     
  4. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    Just scuff what's there and paint it.

    Taking it down to bare wood you have grain fill if needed, seal it, prime it, paint it, clear coat.

    Wet sanding between coats...
     
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  5. Chuck8436

    Chuck8436 Senior Stratmaster

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    Look up Brad Angove on YouTube. He has a lot of tutorials. I learned a lot from him.
     
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  6. Exhead

    Exhead Strat-Tinkerer Gold Supporting Member

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    Listen to these guys as stripping takes a lot of work, prone to accidents and takes a thick layer off so the neck does not seat right again in some cases unless you like neck pocket gaps.
     
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  7. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

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    Yep....all the hard work is done and unless you are one of these"i need the wood to breath" guys that wanna refinish it with lighter coats so it ll "resonate" better,listen to the advice above....scuff and paint over it.....
     
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  8. Tsjackson

    Tsjackson Senior Stratmaster

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    Heat gun takes poly off very quickly, just be careful. As said above, scuff up and prime what’s already on the guitar
     
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  9. EYESOPEN

    EYESOPEN Strat-Talk Member

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    Post a photo of it now....perhaps we can weigh in on wether said axe should be refinished or left as-is :) sometimes a guitar that needs refinishing is perfect the way it is.
     
  10. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

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    Wow, I guess I didn't know there was so much to this lol I don't exactly know what kind of paint was used, is there a way to tell? Also, it's not because it needs it, it's because I want to go with a different color, it's currently black and I would like to go with an emerald green color, maybe with some shimmer, but I haven't decided if I want the shimmery emerald paint, or if I want to do an emerald stain. Either way, I will look into everything that's been suggested, this guitar is going to need a lot of work and I feel a lot better knowing that there are people on this forum who are so helpful and willing to lend a hand.

    Here is a picture of it with the pickguard removed, I have since put it back together and re-stringed it so that I could play a little bit... kinda sounds terrible right now, it needs new pickups and electronics.
     
  11. Clickitysplit

    Clickitysplit Strat-Talker

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    Odds are the guitar body was made from 2 or more glued up sections. It’s something to consider when choosing the type of finish - stain or paint.

    My Saga kit guitar body is made of multiple pieces. I sanded through the “flame maple” veneer and stained it anyhow (technically it was aniline dye). I think it’s kinda funky and I’m good with it but that’s me.

    B88A2094-BFE7-460D-BCFD-E879E9438463.jpeg

    Fezz is right. If you plan to paint it, use the paint already on it as if it were primer. Stripping it down to bare wood is 5X the work and risk.

    That’s how I did my Squier and it came out great. Sanded it to 400 grit and started spraying…. Several epoxy coats over 4 weeks then a number of epoxy clear coats. After a week I wet sanded in stages from 1200 up through 2700 grit, then polished with the Meguiars’s 1 and 2 (there’s another recent and better post on this). These pics don’t do the final result justice.

    7596437A-75C2-4619-AE9F-D7C8508A53EC.jpeg E3BC8E35-107A-475A-A02F-E1789B7F306C.jpeg A4DE7D76-88D8-4D53-BF4D-D52AC0A68292.jpeg 1969C403-7F6D-4E3D-BDBC-CF48880332ED.jpeg 1BE6E8DC-B42A-48B2-BB30-CE383619207E.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
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  12. Chuck8436

    Chuck8436 Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm going to say it once more, just to be sure. Look up Brad Angove on YouTube. I don't think you'll regret it.
     
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  13. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

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    @Chuck8436 I will definitely be sure to check out that channel before I put sandpaper to it, thanks! I'm not looking to make this a masterpiece, this is more of my test piece, as this was a cheapy guitar from the late 90s/early 2000s so I won't be too upset if something goes awry. I even plan to fill in some spots so that it will match up better with a Fender strat body style, maybe with some epoxy or some small wood cutouts glued into place, but again... this isn't my 9th Symphony by any stretch of the imagination lol

    @Clickitysplit those are some awesome suggestions and I didn't think about the idea of just sanding down past the clear coat and using the existing paint as primer, thank you for that suggestion, I will definitely be referencing that (and your images) when I get into the nitty gritty of this.
     
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  14. Chuck8436

    Chuck8436 Senior Stratmaster

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    He has a lot of videos, but this is a good one to start with

     
  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    People only do a complete strip and repaint once. Just once. After that they seek out alternative paths. It's a huge mess, takes a lot of boring time, and then often you need to make repairs to areas where you gouged the wood trying to clean the paint off.

    If you are have not been swayed by any of the posts so far:
    -heat gun and putty knife to scrape off most of the existing finish. Don't burn the wood.
    -Belt sander to get to wood. Be careful as a lot can happen with the belt taking more away making a trough you have to solve.
    -Hand sanding to smooth out and any 'bondo' fills you had to fix.
    -How much thinner is the body now than before?
    Then you can get into the painting.

    Or ... do a scuff sand of the existing finish (320grit) so the new paint has something to dig into. Prime and Paint your new color. Let cure. Level sand and polish if that is your desire. Reassemble.


    As far as 'upgrading the pickups and electronics' ... just upgrade the pots, switch, and jack. Ceramic pickups are quite good, you just need to set their height by ear not specs that were made for weaker alnico pickups. Many of the ceramic pickups have lower wound bobbins paired with the ceramic magnets so you get less noise for the same output. I kept a Washburn middle pickup to put in my Strat because it is 4kohms and really makes it easy to 'Quack' in the 2/4 positions against the 6kohm neck and bridge pickups. Carefully selecting the pots 'n caps can push the guitar tone around just as much as the pickup swapping game for 1/10th the cost.

    .
     
  16. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

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    Whoa! Lot's of awesome info in that! Thanks! I was looking at pots, switches, and jacks while planning out a partscaster but thought that I should try modifying the one I have now to see if I even like the tear down and rebuild, so far it's pretty fun. I did have an issue with a music store out of Arkansas not sending my Duncan SH4 JB so I cancelled the order and can probably put that money towards new electronics. Would you say that there is an advantage between 250k and 500k pots? I've seen people recommending both.
     
  17. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    I like beaten up guitars, it's like they tell a story. I would not do anything to it, maybe just clean and polish. But that's just me
    +1 for Brad Angove, I learned a lot.
     
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  18. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

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    It's more of a color thing for me, personally. I've never been a huge fan of the plain black strat, I like some color.
     
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  19. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    Never try to strip a guitar by sanding the finish away.

    This is the first and worst mistake to ruin your guitar.

    The only way to properly strip a guitar is with a chemical paint stripper and a scraper. When sanding finish away you eventually break through in a spot to bare wood and as you keep sanding to remove more finish you actually start sanding away wood that shouldn’t be removed. By the time you’re done the guitar now has different dimensions and nothing really fits together any more. So, scraping the finish away is much better. Once the finish is removed then you began the sanding steps to prep the wood for the new finish.
     
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  20. dbb541

    dbb541 Strat-O-Master

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    Scott,
    What chemical stripper would you recommend for poly?
     
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