Electric Guitar Face-lift: One of those gifts that turned out just right.


I was worried about this project, mainly because my husband loves his guitar. I was terrified I’d mess it up and his guitar would never be the same again. Luckily it worked out wonderfully.

To start here is the guitar that needed the face lift. Clearly the design was very much geared to appeal to a young man looking for his first electric guitar. Parker said something about it a few years ago along the lines of “I love my guitar but I think I’ve out grown it.” This was his reasoning behind shopping for a new one and it was my reasoning behind wanting to fix this one.

Pinterest has a huge array of “guitar makeover” pins that range from someone getting after it with a Sharpie to some really fun designs. This was one of the pins that made me think surely if they could, so could I.

guitar 1


So next I needed a clear plan of action. I drew out some rudimentary designs on my ipad and this is the one parker was the least afraid of. The one I wanted to do most was a cool faux wood inlay deal but I don’t think he was as excited about it as I was. Here is the design we settled on.

guitar 2


So Just because I know what I want it to look like doesn’t mean it’s a feasible DIY. I’ve never done a project like this before. I knew that I’d want the guitar to have a “factory” glossy finish. I wanted it to look custom but professional. I had no idea what tools to use but I knew I had to get the base ready. Going from a mostly black to mostly white design was going to take some work.

Sandpaper. Best friend. Worst enemy. I decided to strip the top coats of gloss off the guitar. First I removed what pieces of the guitar I didn’t want to mess with. The pieces I was afraid of moving I taped off and out of the way. Then I sanded for days. There were so many layers of that top coat that it took about two or three nights of sanding with my hands cramping and my nerves waning but I made it through the top coat. (also for those thinking to do this at home I used auto grade sandpaper working my way through a series of grits ending with the highest and least abrasive finish)

With the top coat gone I decided to prime the guitar, rather than risk over sanding trying to get all of the black paint off. Once again I went for an automotive spray on primer which I found at AutoZone. I did a coat on the front, let it dry, then did a coat on the back. (if you are doing this at home do really thin coats and let it dry for about 40 minutes!) I repeated this process until the guitar was white and primed.

guitar 3

Already looking different, right?! If you look closely at the photo above I was able to hand draw the design onto the guitar with a pencil. This spray on primer was great for this, abrasive enough to catch the granite from the pencil.

Here was the tricky part. Painting it. Ideally I would have like to air brush at least part of this design for ultimate-smoothness but I don’t have an air brush and when I looked online I realized that they are crazy expensive to buy and operate.

I decided to try acrylic pens, thinking they might go on smoother and leave less texture than acrylic paint and a paint brush. Do not try this. It was a horrible idea. It was impossible to blend properly, it wound up having a texture that was even more annoying than that of a brush stroke. I saved it in time though.  I was pretty quick to mix some actual acrylic paints on a paper plate and scout out some paint brushes that had survived my last project. Luckily the acrylic from the pens was still wet so easily blended. I kept the amount of paint on my brush nice and thin to keep as much texture out as possible. I also had to wait for the front to dry completely (this took a bit over 12 hours) before I started on the sides and back.

Woo hoo! I was pretty certain the hard part was over.

I used a spray on automotive gloss. Thin coats, with an hour wait between coats. I think I wound up using two cans of this stuff and I don’t remember how many coats there actually were but it was a lot. It wasn’t shining up quite right though so I hit up google for some ideas and I came across one that seemed genius. Car wax. After four coats of high quality “wax” it was amazingly shiny and had a great finish. The best part is, if it ever starts to look dull it only takes a few minutes to get it sparkling again. Oh yeah and the finish is rain resistant. ha.

So here is the final product!

guitar 5guitar 6