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iboyer47

Remove paint from acoustic guitar top

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i purchased an acoustic guitar on craigslist not to long ago and the girl who i bought it from painted on the top. any ideas on how to remove it without ruining it?

Thanks

-Ian

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G'day Iboyer, Welcome to the forum.

I'm not always a pessimist, but your request sort of scares me. Skinny's job was nothing short of magnificent, but most of us won't be going there. I'm guessing that if you're asking how to get paint off a soundboard, then you don't fancy your chances of doing a complete restoration of the guitar. Me neither.

So in practical terms you've got a bit of art that appealed to the previous owner but isn't exactly your style.

My experience is that the finish on acoustic guitars is perilously thin. So if you attack it with sandpaper, you'll be down to bare timber in no time flat. Then you'll be trying to refinish the top without it looking patched. Best of luck!

If there's a way to get just the paint off, there's another problem. Often the paint, or even a sticker, will stop the top discolouring with age. I mean the top either fades or darkens with age, and the bit where the paint or sticker was, remains as new. So even when it's gone, the ghost is still visible.

I'm a defeatist when it comes to retaining the factory fresh appearance. I couldn't do it, and I'd probably stuff up big time if I tried.

How about the guitar goes back on Craigslist, and you get yourself one which hasn't been personalised. Just a thought. But it could save you from much negative thinking in the future.

I'd like to know how you get on with this problem, so keep in touch.

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Nice post by Karcey, I agree this could be one of those jobs that starts off small and turns into a big one, what kind of paint did the Girl use ? what she used and how much she painted will determine how big the job is, it all depends on how much you want to do Iboyer too, this could turn into a stripping job, for this you can use Chemicals, Sanding or heat (don't like that one with all that wood but people have done it but mostly on electrics if the paint's dead thick) it depends on how much you want to do and how much the customisation is annoying you, the kind of paint used will determine how much damage to the finish you may cause, I bought a guitar off ebay for a tenner last year which had been re done and painted on, to be honest it was a pretty bad job, looks like they did the whole thing with woodstain then they painted white flames on it you can still see some of the pencil marks where they drew the outline for the flames:laughingg: , the pictures they posted were good though and I liked the look of it for all it's roughness, it plays really well, my friends spot it straight away, and walk past my more expensive guitars, everyone who's played it likes it. So it really does depend if it's doing your head in but sometimes these guitars are good talking points. if a guitar looks different you do stand out, just depends on what she painted and if you want to.

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If it's one of the newer guitars with the thick shiny finish, the finish is so tough you can put paint remover on it. I once tried to thin the finish on a cheap modern classical, but after an hour with paint stripper the finish was unharmed, still shiny. So that would take the paint off without harming such a finish. It's some kind of epoxy resin.

An older guitar would have lacquer, which the paint stripper would destroy. So test an out of the way place, like the heel cap, with a dab from a toothpick. Lacquer will dissolve in an instant and turn dull.

I've removed small bits of paint from guitars using polish. I've also used denatured alcohol, but that dulls the lacquer. Never tried a whole top. Could make a big mess, or could work just fine.:poke:

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i purchased an acoustic guitar on craigslist not to long ago and the girl who i bought it from painted on the top. any ideas on how to remove it without ruining it?

Thanks

-Ian

Hello Ian,

I bet this has been put to rest, and you've possibly moved on. For the benefit of anyone else who might be interested, I've had much better luck in removing the finish from acoustic guitars with fine steel wool and After Wash. I think the brand is Strip Klean or Klean Strip (it's a foolish name), but I had good luck with it. I do suggest avoiding the heat gun and the scraper method for an acoustic. You definitely don't want to trash the top, and a heat gun and scraper is an easy way to do that. I know because I trashed a top like that. So anyway, after wash and steel wool works well. It is a very laborious process because it isn't as harsh as the pasty strippers. (that felt weird to say!)

Anyway, good luck!

Totseins.

-V

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