Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Re: staining experts needed, all helpful tips welcome : )
Chemical stripper is best, but messy. You will have to do 2-3 applications to remove both the paint and the sealer. Buy "aircraft" stripper at your local auto parts store.
I take a box that the body will fit into and cut it down until the sides are about 2" above the guitar body. Line the box with tin foil and place the body inside. Cover the body with a healthy amount of stripper, and then cover the top of the box with more foil. Now leave it alone for several hours (overnight is good).
WEAR GLOVES as stripper burns the skin. Remove body and wash down with mineral spirits and soft bristle brush. Let it dry or blow off with compressed air.
At this point, most if not all the paint will be removed, but you still have the sealer to remove. The sealer is far tougher than the paint, so repeat the above as necessary to get down to bare wood.
Once all the paint and sealer are completely removed, sand the body with 220 grit paper, then sand it again with 320. Take your time at this point, as the more work here, the better the finish.
You will want to pay special attention to sanding scratches. They will jump out once the body has been stained, and you will have to go back and sand them out.
Now you have to decide on your final finish. I assume the body is basswood, so something simple like pre-stain conditioner will work fine.
I find that gel stains are easier to apply, and you get better results. You can find both conditioner and gel stain at your local home center.
Once you stain it, and are happy with the results, you will want to finish off the guitar with your choice of clear. I suggest something like Tru Oil (gunstock oil) for an easy to apply and hard to screw up finish. Use minimal coats for a more natural feel, or lay it and polish it out for a nice shine.
That is the short version of what all is involved in getting a decent finish. Not only will it require time and some patience, but you could still not end up with the exact look you want.
Something else to think about before deciding if this is for you. You may not like the wood you find under the factory paint. Bodies destined for paint are not always as nice as ones selected for stain.
Google refinishing you guitar and you will find years worth of information that will help you.