Removing layers of paint - any experience here?

Parksie

Strat-O-Master
Sep 6, 2020
615
Sydney
I’m interested to know if anyone has first hand experience with removing top layers of paint on their guitars?

My Jazzmaster was repainted over 50 years ago and I’m thinking about having a go at very carefully removing the top layer of paint and then the layer of primer to reveal the original pencil date in the bridge pickup cavity.

I may attempt this if it’s possible without compromising or damaging the date.

If it’s not recommended I’ll leave it alone.

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Intune

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 14, 2021
3,969
Edmonton, Alberta
I’ve attempted this with a nitro finish using paint thinner. However it may be next to impossible to remove a top layer and/or primer to see the original finish and any markings.

The paint thinner worked really well but it pretty much stripped my project to bare wood. Which I was I wanted.

Maybe keep dabbing a cotton swab in thinner or maybe something stronger in the area your looking to reveal.
 

Parksie

Strat-O-Master
Sep 6, 2020
615
Sydney
I’ve attempted this with a nitro finish using paint thinner. However it may be next to impossible to remove a top layer and/or primer to see the original finish and any markings.

The paint thinner worked really well but it pretty much stripped my project to bare wood. Which I was I wanted.

Maybe keep dabbing a cotton swab in thinner or maybe something stronger in the area your looking to reveal.

Im think I’m going to steer clear of a liquid remover for now for the reason you mentioned ie it is hard to get the balance right and I can’t risk going right through to the wood.

Im thinking of very fine grit sand paper but would only attempt this if others on the forum may have had success.
 

RPKennedy

Senior Stratmaster
Platinum Supporting Member
Apr 27, 2013
2,144
Oconomowoc, WI
I did it the hard way, with manual sanding.

A luthier friend subsequently told me to use a heat gun and a putty knife. Carefully.
 

Black59

Strat-O-Master
Sep 25, 2020
854
Canada
@Parksie

I don't have any first-hand experience, but Matthew Scott on YouTube does this pretty often.

Here he is removing paint off a '58 strat to reveal the pencil date in the middle pickup cavity:

 

Parksie

Strat-O-Master
Sep 6, 2020
615
Sydney
@Parksie

I don't have any first-hand experience, but Matthew Scott on YouTube does this pretty often.

Here he is removing paint off a '58 strat to reveal the pencil date in the middle pickup cavity:



I just watched this and was really surprised to see how easy it was for Matt Scott to reveal the body date.

I thought it would be way more tricky.

Thanks again.
 

Black59

Strat-O-Master
Sep 25, 2020
854
Canada
I just watched this and was really surprised to see how easy it was for Matt Scott to reveal the body date.

I thought it would be way more tricky.

Thanks again.

No problem! He definitely made it look easy but like a lot of people above have already said, it can be pretty risky.

Like in the video below where he finds the body date of his '58 Mary Kaye.

 

Parksie

Strat-O-Master
Sep 6, 2020
615
Sydney
No problem! He definitely made it look easy but like a lot of people above have already said, it can be pretty risky.

Like in the video below where he finds the body date of his '58 Mary Kaye.



I guess you just need to go very slowly and make sure as you get close to revealing the pencil date you change to a very fine sandpaper.

Key would be not to rush it.
 

JamesE

Senior Stratmaster
Mar 30, 2018
1,095
Hamburg, Germany
Personally I wouldn't fiddle with a valuable guitar, but I stripped my MIM Strat. Weird experience - it was like taking the candy off a toffee apple.

I used to know an office that had an X-ray machine to check for explosives. Maybe an X-ray could show the writing without damage?
 


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