Wood Finish Electric Guitar: An In-Depth Guide to Getting Perfect Finish on Electric Guitar

One of the most important things to consider when building your dream electric guitar is the finish on it. The look, feel and sound of an instrument can make or break its value. Wood finish electric guitars are an intriguing instrument cherry, but they can be difficult to work with. The wood is often uneven and the varnish can bubble or grow cracks. It’s not always easy to get a perfect finish on this type of guitar. But it isn’t impossible, either. In this post, we will show you how to get the perfect finish on an electric guitar, no matter what wood type you are using to play.

The process of getting a perfect finish on an electric guitar begins with sanding the instrument down and applying a base coat of finish. Once the base coat is dry, multiple layers of clear coat are applied until the desired thickness is achieved. The final step is to sand down any imperfections and polish the guitar before adding a layer of polishing wax or oil.

Types of Guitar Finishes

There are several types of finishes for guitars. You can choose from:

Acrylic, oil, and epoxy

These three tend to be the most popular options due to their affordability and classic look combination. They also require very little maintenance compared with other materials such as nitrocellulose lacquer or polyurethane varnish (both of which are discussed later).

One thing to keep in mind with this type of finish is that they can leave behind a sticky residue on your guitar. If you’re playing the instrument often, it will build up over time and become quite difficult to remove. Acrylic finishes tend to be very glossy while oil finishes have more luster than gloss.

Epoxy finishes are very hard and can be polished to a high gloss. Acrylic, oil, and epoxy finish guitars tend not to crack or chip as much as lacquer. The downside is that they don’t look exactly like the wood itself. You’ll notice this, especially with dark colors on lighter woods such as mahogany or maple.

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Chalk Style Paint - for Furniture, Home Decor, Crafts - Eco-Friendly - All-in-One - No Wax Needed (Jitterbug [Dark Teal], Sample (4 oz))
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Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Lacquer is rarely used on electric guitars due to its high price tag. It can also be more difficult to work with than acrylic, oil, or epoxy finishes because it will chip and crack easily. However, there are ways that you can protect this type of finish from chipping if the guitar is going to be played often.

Nitrocellulose lacquer is a popular choice for many vintage guitars from the 1950s and 60s, but it has become more expensive in recent years due to stricter environmental regulations. This type of finish tends to have a glossier look than oil or acrylic finishes. It also doesn’t alter the sound of your guitar.

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Polyurethane Varnish

This type of finish is the least popular out of all three because it’s not as easy to work with and can be very expensive, depending on who does the finishing process. Polyurethane varnishes tend to have a more glossy look than other finishes while also altering your sound.

This type of finish is often used for guitars that are going to be played less frequently because it doesn’t crack or chip as easily. It also tends to have a more natural look than nitrocellulose lacquer, but it’s not quite the same as an actual wood finish.

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UV Finishes

UV finishes have more luster than gloss and are typically applied to a guitar after it is painted white. The UV finish helps protect the paint from damage but still allows your instrument to look like an unfinished body until you decide what color you want it to be.

Shellac

Shellac is the oldest finish for guitars. It’s also not very common because it can be difficult to work with and requires a lot of upkeep. Shellac tends to have an amber tint, but you will notice that this type of finish doesn’t alter your guitar sound much at all.

This type of finish was used on many Gibson or Fender guitars from the 1950s and 60s. It’s not as popular with guitarists today, but many people still prefer it for its warm look and unique feel that doesn’t alter your sound or add extra weight to your instrument.

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What Does a Guitar Finish do?

The finish of your guitar does more than just protect the wood. Depending on what type you choose, it can also affect its tone.

A thinner acrylic or oil-based finish will have a brighter sound while thicker finishes tend to make guitars less bright because they act as an insulator against vibrations in the wood itself. You’ll notice this, especially with nitrocellulose lacquer.

An unfinished wood guitar will have a much more natural sound that you can’t get with any other finish, but having no protective layer against the elements does mean that it requires quite a bit of upkeep to keep it looking new. This type of finish is usually only used on custom guitars because they’re not as widely available as acrylic, oil, or epoxy finishes.

What finish should I put on my guitar?

There’s no easy answer to this question, but it will depend on how you plan to use the instrument. If you’re going to be playing your guitar frequently or in different environments such as live shows or recording sessions, then nitrocellulose lacquer and polyurethane varnish might work best due to their durability.

Related: 8 Best Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets: Reviews

Behavior and Aging of Guitar Finishes

As your guitar ages, you will notice that its finish changes. Each type of paint reacts differently to light and heat over time which causes the color to fade or change in different ways depending on what it is made out of.

Nitrocellulose lacquer can darken by turning yellow with age while polyurethane varnish changes from dark amber to a lighter honey color. Both of these types of finishes can also crack or chip with enough wear and tear, but they tend to be more durable than an oil-based finish which might flake off over time.

UV lacquer is the most popular choice for instruments that are going to be used frequently due to its resistance to fading and chipping. It also doesn’t alter the sound of your guitar very noticeably, making it a great choice if you’re not sure what type of finish will work best for your needs.

 

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Influence Of Finish in Final Sound

The type of finish you choose for your guitar will have a big impact on the sound that it produces. Nitrocellulose lacquer and polyurethane varnish are both popular because they produce warmer tones while having more durability than oil-based finishes, but this isn’t always necessary if you’re mostly playing at home or recording your music.

UV lacquer is the most popular choice for musicians who don’t want to have a finish that changes their instrument’s sound or requires as much upkeep, but you might prefer an oil-based finish if you’re looking for something warmer and more vintage-sounding.

How To Get The Perfect Finish On Electric Guitar In Easy Steps:

A guitar finish is what protects and gives your instrument its final look. There are several different types of paint that you can choose from, but we will cover the most common for this guide: nitrocellulose lacquer, polyurethane varnish, shellac (epoxy), oil-based finishes, and UV lacquer.

Regardless of which type of finish you choose, their methods of application are the same. Here is how to apply a finish on an electric guitar:

Step one: Start by sanding down the guitar with fine-grit paper. Make sure that you don’t apply too much pressure or else you might end up going through to the wood itself.

Step two: Clean off all of the dust leftovers from sanding and then wipe it down with a damp cloth, especially if there is any sawdust leftover on the guitar.

Step three: Once the guitar is dry, it’s time to apply a base coat of finish onto your instrument! You will want to use a brush or roller instead of spraying to avoid getting any bubbles that might affect how evenly and smoothly this layer goes on.

Step four: Repeat step three until you have built up enough finish on your guitar. Let it dry overnight before you apply the next coat of paint, which should be three to four coats in total for rich color and smooth appearance.

Step five: Now that you have multiple layers of clear coat over the finish, it’s time to sand down any spots where there are imperfections or brush strokes with a fine-grit sandpaper.

Step six: Once the guitar looks smooth and uniform, you will want to polish it up with a microfiber cloth before applying any polishing wax or oil for that final look. That’s how easy it is to get a flawless finish on your electric guitar.

NOTE:

Nitrocellulose lacquer can darken by turning yellow with age while polyurethane varnish changes from dark amber to a lighter honey color. Both of these types of finishes can also crack or chip with enough wear and tear, but they tend to be more durable than an oil-based finish which might flake off over time and is hard to repair.

UV lacquer is the most popular choice for instruments that are going to be used frequently due to its resistance to fading and chipping. It also doesn’t alter the sound of your guitar very noticeably, making it a great choice if you’re not sure what type of finish will work best for your Project.

Nitrocellulose Vs Polyurethane Varnish

Both nitrocellulose and polyurethane varnishes are popular choices for finishing an electric guitar. They produce warmer tones while having more durability than oil-based finishes, but this isn’t always necessary if you’re mostly playing at home or recording your music.

Despite their differences in application methods (brush versus spray), they both require the same number of coats and dry time before you can move on to polishing.

Oil-based finishes are also a great option if you’re looking for something warmer and more vintage-sounding traditional, but it’s important to note that oil takes much longer to dry than either type of varnish or lacquer.

Wrap Up on Wood Finish Electric Guitar

For a long time, luthiers have been using various types of wood finishes on guitars. It is a way to protect the instrument from external elements and give it aesthetically pleasing features as well. There are many different techniques used but one thing remains clear – every guitar builder has a style that they use throughout their careers. When it comes to choosing a specific type of finish, some people are looking for protection while others want their guitars to have that vintage look. Wood finish electric guitars have been around for a long time and it is going to stay that way until the day someone starts using another material. We hope that this article will help you get the perfect finish on your electric guitar beauty.

 

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# Wood Finish Electric Guitar