Electric guitars are a cool enough instrument regardless of how they look, but one thing that can make a guitar way cooler is by painting it in a metal flake. Gold is by far the best color to do in a metal flake because doing it right can make your guitar look like a solid bar of gold. Legendary guitar players like Chris Duarte, Joe Perry, Joe Bonamassa, and Billy Gibbons are known for playing gold flake guitars. Here is a tutorial on the finishing process that goes into gold flaking a guitar body.
Step 1: Materials
Even though finishing a guitar in a flake paint job is a long process, the materials list is short.
The things you will need are:
- Smooth sanded clean guitar body. Make sure it is bare wood.
-Spray gun and air compressor.
-Gold base of coat paint.
-Gold metal flake.
-Clear lacquer that can be put into the spray gun.
Step 2: Priming Your Guitar Body
If you buy or craft a body out of unfinished wood, you wont need much prep on the guitar body except a quick wet sanding just to smooth the body out.
In my case, i stripped a Squire guitar body of it's cheap poly finish with a heat gun and had to sand and scrape the plastic finish off. You can ignore this step being that this is really meant to be done with an unfinished body.
However you still must give the body a quick sanding just to remove any rough patches and help make the paint stick better.
Step 3: The Base Coat
The most important part of this is picking your base coat. There are many different base coats of gold paint that you can choose. I chose the Roth Rattlebomb gold base paint. It is a darker champagne colored gold, not too yellow, but not fully white. It is a great color.
The first thing you want to do when beginning the finishing process, is find a piece of wood that fits the neck pocket of your guitar body. Put this piece of wood in the pocket and screw it in through the holes meant for the neck. you cant put a wire hanger through the top part of the wood so that you can hang the body and get an even coat.
So, after you sand down your body and it is smooth, spray the gold paint onto the body. You can do a decently thick layer since the paint is basically used as a base coat and a primer.
Things to remember:
Tape up the inside of the neck pocket and the inner cavity of the guitar. If you fill up either of these places, the neck and electronics may not fit right inside.
Step 4: Making the Flake
The flake portion of the clear coat is something that needs to be mixed by hand. It is simple though. Take your clear coat, pour it into the tank of you spray gun, then add the flake in. Add a lot of the flake, it does not stick easily. Stir the mixture up in your spray gun then attach the lid and get the spray gun going.
Step 5: Spraying the Body
Spraying the flake is a week long process, especially depending on your weather conditions. If it is cold in your work space, the flake will not stick as well as we all want it too. With the spray gun, spray slow and even lines with the flake across the body of the guitar. Keep your hands steady because with flake, an uneven finish could ruin the whole guitar. After you have put down the first coat over the whole guitar, wait about two hours then come back. Flake is tricky to work with because it needs the stickiness of the lacquer to stay on and if you keep spraying before it dries, it will blow the flake that has already attached off of the body. Keep going with this process until your guitar is completely covered in flake, in an even way that you enjoy.
Things to Remember:
- Working with flake makes a massive mess, unless you want to have glittery clothes, wear clothes that you can throw out when you are done or wear for similar projects.
- Keep a mask on at all times and work in a well ventilated area. I built this in my not ventilated garage in the middle of the winter. My garage turned into a gas chamber by the time i was done on the first day, please do yourself a favor and keep your work place well ventilated.
Step 6: Clear Coat the Body
After all the coats of flake have dried, give them a very light sanding just to get rid of any sharp bits that are sticking off of the body. Make sure you use very fine grit sandpaper.
After you have done this use your clear coat of lacquer and spray evenly around the guitar. You're going to be doing a lot of coats of clear because it needs to cover the flake and make it smooth. Adding high amounts of clear will also make the gold sparkle more.
Step 7: Assemble the Guitar
After the clear coat has dried and your guitars finish is smooth, put your parts on. Wire your pickguard, put the bridge on, put the neck on, and intonate it. The string that bad boy up and get your blues rock on!
Step 8: Learn to Play As Well As These Guys
It won't be easy, but you can't play a guitar as cool as Chris Duarte's, or Bonamassa's, or Joe Perry's and not be able to play some of their licks!