Clear Topcoats for Custom Finished Guitars

      A discussion of gloss finishes for guitars. July 17, 2008

I am getting into making guitars and have been making and experimenting for about two years. I am trying special paint jobs on quite a few and have been searching for a good sealer system that is durable. The different sealers I have found are not very hard and thin which chip easily or take forever to dry and still I cannot get a hard durable finish like I want.

I am hoping to paint with an enamel and clear-coating with an auto clear-coat which would be multiple coats of clear urethane. I have not tried this yet and am in the process of researching the sealer and clear-coat compatibilities. Any suggestions of what sealer to use or where I can find some info would be greatly appreciated!

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Where are you located?

From contributor R:
It sounds like you are talking about a polyester finish. I repair these finishes as well as restore pianos as part of my business. Most of the high gloss pianos (Elton John style) are top-coated with this finish.

From the original questioner:
I am in Canton, Ohio. I still have not found a brand name that I am sure is what these people are recommending. I did find one myself that looks to be right but I am still clueless. It is a Duratec polyester and they have a marine grade also.

This is how I was told to do it:
Filler (if needed)
sealer (polyester)
paint (enamel)
clear (Automotive clear)

This is a bit different from the Nitrocellulose system I have tried, and according to what I have read anyway, would be a lot better. And I must add that I have painted about 10 so far. They look pretty good, but as for durability they aren't good.

From contributor A:
The marine product would be Awlgrip. It's a 2 part linear poly. It is bombproof and more flexible than the automotive 2 part acrylic finishes like Imron. They sell superior high build primers that are epoxy based. The topcoats have one of the highest gloss off the gun available.

From contributor S:
I would use a three part Polyester for the filling aspect (base coat) after blocking it down then I would go with a two part Gloss Polyuretane. Your results will be spectacular, durable and also flexible. There are many brands out there - Sayerlack, ICA, ILVA, Milesi, Sayerwood and Chemcraft.

From the original questioner:
Unfortunately I have been testing with this to get the look right. It is floated on water, the guitar dipped into the paint/water to get a "swirl" effect. So changing to a colored urethane? Not sure if I want to start practicing again.

I want to get it just right without any water spots and a nice pattern. It is impossible to get the same one twice, but at least I can have an idea.

From contributor C:
Just make sure to test out the entire system before doing the guitars. There may be compatibility issues between the “enamel" you’re using and what else is being recommended.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2017 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article