Primer coats for the Strummercaster.

The original guitar shows considerable wear, all over – from years of playing, and general “wear and tear”. Some areas are worn right through all the various layers of primer, paint and lacquer – to the bare wood below. For that reason, I’m not going to give a general, all-over coat of any particular finish. Rather – I’ll mask off some areas and build up paint in areas where it, roughly, needs to be. Hopefully, when I start to remove paint, and add knocks and bumps and other signs of age artificially – then I’ll save myself a whole lot of work.

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As I’ve noted before – the area around the bridge and scratchplate appear to be worn down to the original finish and, in places, the bare wood below. To mask off the area concerned, I wrap the bridge in a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and then reattach it, masking over the screw heads. This should step the sprayed finish off the bridge a few millimetres, and help expose the original finish. The general area under the scratchplate, and which won’t be seen, is roughly masked off using bits of masking tape. I extend this to mask over most of the small eroded area, just above the location of the scratchplate. I’ll be able to rub away, and feather-in any subsequently sprayed finishes, and the masked-off areas will help focus the location of more, artificial wear and tear, later on.

On the rear, there’s a whole area of wear to the top side of the body. (The right, as it hangs). Here – rather than masking it out – I intend to try and feather the spray a little – avoiding most of the area, and hopefully providing a softer edge transition from paint to primer to original finish to bare wood. It’ll be a little like painting one half of a sunburst finish – so it’ll be good practice on how to control a spray can applicator.

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I’m going to prepare the scratchplate separately from the body, and I’ll have to build up the effect in layers – by masking off certain areas. I use bits of torn masking tape to build up a roughly-shaped mask, and attach theplate to a backing board. The scratchplate was originally painted solid black over a grey primer – but this has worn away to form three distinct areas. For the first stage, I mask over all the areas where repeated play has worn away all of the covering paint, and where the bare scratchplate shows through. Once sprayed with primer, the whole thing will be rubbed down with fine grit, and polished with micro mesh to soften the effect. I’ll then mask off the areas which are to remain white or grey, and then repeat the spraying and rubbing-back processes – but this time with black paint.

Then it’s onto the actual spraying. Three coats of primer over the body – just one, thick coat, over the scratchplate. The guitar body edges are painted first – manipulating the angle of the body manually, so I can get into the difficult areas around the edges – especially at the cutaways around the neck join. The body is then hung, and the front side is given an even coating. The rear side is then sprayed, leaving the areas where there is heavy wear with the lightest of light mistings. After drying – the body is given another two, thicker coats, and then the body is left to dry thoroughly.

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For the paint – I’m using good, old fashioned, car paint from Halfords. I figure the original will have been painted with whatever was left hanging round the paint shop. Not necessarily the finest of nitrocellulose finishes. The Halfords paint is cheap, and gets reasonable reviews online. There also happens the be an outlet in town, and I can take a walk and pick up the paint on a nice sunny morning. Drying time for the primer is only 15 minutes between coats – so I’m able to get the paint in, and do the priming all in the same day. Once the paint is touch dry, I remove all the masking, and leave everything to dry for a couple of days – to properly cure.

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