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B Y

J O H N

G L E N E I C K I

Copyright 2004 - Stay Tooned, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.


This book, or portions of it, may not be duplicated, resold, or redistributed
in any way, without the expressed written consent of Stay Tooned, Inc.

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

P R O J E C T

R E B E L

PROJECT REBEL

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

TABLE OF CONTENTS
PROJECT REBEL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
STEP 1: ACCESSORIES AND REMOVING THE OLD FINISH
STEP 2: FILLING THE HOLES AND PREPPING
STEP 3: MASKING THE BINDING
STEP 4: SPRAYING YOUR BASE COAT
STEP 5: MASKING THE STRIPES
STEP 6: CUTTING OUT AND PLACING THE STARS
STEP 7: SPRAYING THE BLUE
STEP 8: UNMASKING AND REMASKING
STEP 9: SPRAYING THE RED
STEP 10: TOUCH-UPS
STEP 11: MORE TOUCH-UPS
STEP 12: SPRAYING THE CLEAR COATS
STEP 13: WETSANDING
STEP 14: BUFFING YOUR FINAL FINISH
STEP 15: BOTTLE CAPS ANYONE?
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
13
17
18
20
21
23
25
26
28
30
33

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

INTRODUCTION
When I originally released How To Create A Factory Guitar Finish... back
in early 2004, it contained just two projects - Project ZW and Project EVH.
Over the course of the next several months, I
had numerous people email me to ask if I was
planning on doing more projects, such as EVHs
Frankenstrat and Zakks Rebel Flag Les Paul.
At the time, I thought at some point, I may add
additional guitars. But as the emails poured in
requesting these other project guitars, I had little
choice but to expand the book to include the four
designs, including EVHs Frankenstrat and
Zakks Rebel Flag.
So, now that this book covers all four projects, let
me add this: If you are new to painting guitars, do
not make the Rebel Flag your first guitar project;
it is the most challenging and advanced design in
this book. Even if you bought this book just for
this design, start with something a little easier just
so you get an idea of how to do all of the steps
properly.
After youve gotten one project guitar under your
belt, youll then have a complete understanding
of everything thats involved with painting a guitar. From then on, move on to any project you
want, including Rebel Flag or some of your own.
As you continue with your guitar painting career, the one thing youll realize
soon enough is that great prep work can make a so-so paint job still look
good. However, if your prep work is bad, your paint job will look bad, regardless of how perfectly you masked and painted... so always keep that in mind.
For some of the steps in this section of the book, you may have to go back
and read Project ZW for a better understanding of how certain things are
done. I tried not to repeat myself too much. However, if I did repeat myself
on certain things, its most likely because those topics are critical to creating
a great finish.
Anyway, without further adieu, lets get started on how to paint the Rebel
Flag design.

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 1: ACCESSORIES AND REMOVING THE OLD FINISH


Ive already discussed how to remove
parts from a body in Project ZW, so Im
skipping over that and moving straight on
to removing the finish. (I wont be discussing any stripping techniques here refer to Project ZW for that.)
For Project Rebel, Im using a beat-up,
old, 70s Les Paul copy body from Japan.
To remove the finish, I used the three
items in FIG 1, which are 3M Sanding
sponges - the coarsest paint-stripping
grades they carry (medium course, 36
and 60). I also used an electric palm
sander for stripping the paint off the back
(to speed up the work).
The paint came off very easily on this
body. There wasnt a whole lot of paint or
clear coating on there, so I was done in a
little over 90 minutes.

FIG 1

FIG 2

FIG 3

I tried to be extra careful to keep all of the


sanding sealer that was already on there
so that I wouldnt have to do that step
again. I managed to keep MOST of it on.
If you look at the body in FIG 3, youll see
a few light spots on the body; thats where
I went through to bare wood.
To fix the spots where I went through, I
used a new tool that wasnt used in any of
my previous jobs. I stumbled onto the
Preval Spray Gun at ACE Hardware as I
was picking up more Krylon Spray Paint.
This is a very interesting spray gun - it
allows you to mix anything you want in the
jar, and then use the spray valve on top to
apply it. It works pretty much like an
aerosol spray can/gun, although the valve
tends to spit the paint out if youve been
spraying for quite a while. Because it was
just sanding sealer I was spraying, it didnt
really matter. However, if I was going to
spray a translucent paint, I wouldve
stopped as soon as the paint started coming out in an inconsistent manner.

FIG 4

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 2: FILLING THE HOLES AND PREPPING


As I described in detail in Project ZW,
using a beat up, old Les Paul body will
require the use of something to fill little
dings and holes.

FIG 5

I prefer Bondo over plastic wood. I find it


dries much quicker and sands much
nicer. Overall, its just much easier to
use.
However, if I were doing a sunburst finish, Id HAVE to use plastic wood to fill
little holes, otherwise, Id see the red
Bondo right through the transparent
paint.
So, once my body was sealed and sanded, I applied the Bondo to a few
areas that needed a bit of a fix.
Its best to apply Bondo before you do the sanding sealer, but because I
kept the sealer that was already on this body, I had to add it after.
Okay, now that this body is sealed and the little dings and holes are fixed,
its on to Step3: Masking The Binding.
By the way, as you can see, I already masked the neck pocket and added
my stick - refer back to those steps from Project ZW if you need to.

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 3: MASKING THE BINDING


For Project Rebel, I tackled masking the binding, as this body had
very good binding on both the
front and back. (In Project ZW, I
painted over the binding and
recreated it using some computer
graphics printed out onto Avery
clear film.)

FIG 6

To mask the binding for Project


Rebel, I used 3Ms Fine Line Tape
(1/4 - available at your local auto
paint supply stores. This size
works best for the masking of the
binding).

FIG 7

Using 3Ms Fine Line Tape is pretty straightforward - I tend to work


in roughly 6-9 pieces, stretching
and molding it into place.
I always do the entire top of the
binding first (FIG 7), followed by
the sides of the binding (FIG 8).
FIG 8
When using this tape, you just
have to be aware that its not a real
sticky product, therefore, it has a
tendency to lift. If you use this
tape, which I do recommend, make
sure that you press down before
every coat of paint you apply.
The fine line tape is costly - much
more than normal masking tape. If
you dont want to spend the extra
money, just use regular masking
tape and follow VERSION As
explanation in Project ZW for
masking the binding.

Ive used the pix above to show the masking of the


binding because it was very hard to see the 3M Fine
Line Tape on a wooden body; it all blended together.
The pix above create a better contrast so its easier
to see how the tape can be molded into place.

With the masking complete, Im ready to spray the base coat.

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 4: SPRAYING YOUR BASE COAT


As the famous saying goes, There are
many ways to skin a cat. Well, the
same holds true for painting certain
designs on a guitar. This design
couldve been done three different ways.
The thing to always consider is, which
way will yield the best results? With a little bit of experience under your belt, you
will soon have a good idea which way is
best just by looking at a design.
As I mentioned in earlier projects, its
almost always best to spray your lightest
color of your design first, then mask and
spray your other colors.

FIG 9

With this Rebel Flag design, there are


white stars and stripes that we want to
be clean and crisp; therefore, it makes
sense to spray the white, then mask,
remove other areas to be sprayed, and
then paint those areas separately.
So, to begin, I decided to bypass primer
for this job. With 3-4 coats for white and
then 3-4 coats for red, I didnt want to
add to this with another 3-4 coats of
primer. Plus, since the body was going
to be red, the base coat of white would
help to give a good solid color.
FIG 9 shows the body after the first
FIG 10
coat; you can still see wood showing
through. As I always stress: THIN coats, no drips!
After four thin coats were applied, I had a good white base to work with. I
allowed each coat to dry at least 30 minutes before spraying the next coat.
When all coats were completed, I allowed the body to dry for three days
before moving forward.
Next, its on to masking the stripes.

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 5: MASKING THE STRIPES


Tackling this Rebel Flag design
requires that you have somewhat
of a good eye for placement. Youll
need to be able to judge that
youre placing the stars in the right
position and that theyre straight
up and down - not slanted.
This designs not as simple as the
bullseye design is. Still, with my
measurement charts (see Step 6:
Cutting Out And Placing The
Stars), plus the photos and
descriptions, I think you should be
able to do a pretty darn good job.
Plus, if youre planning on destroying the finish and hammering beer
caps into the wood like Zakk did, I
guess PRECISION isnt really
going to matter, now, is it?
One thing to keep in mind as
youre masking this design is that
sometimes it appears that your
lines and stars may be crooked.
Because the design is on an
arched top, I found the arch to be
the culprit. When you look at FIG
11, you can see at the top, where
the rhythm and treble switch is,
that it looks like that masking is off;
its not - thats the arch top playing
tricks on your eye.
As you begin to mask, youll need
to have a ruler close by (as I do in
FIG 12). Youll need to measure
and mark where the tape should
fall, not only at each end but
throughout, so your blue stripes
end up being the same width
across... or as close as possible.

FIG 11

FIG 12

FIG 13

I recommend that you also pick up some of the 3M


Fine Line Tape (#218) 1/2 from your local auto
paint supply store and use it to mask the cross
stripes. The size is perfectly suited for cross lines
for this design.

Before beginning the masking, I want you to go to this URL http://www.paintyourownguitar.com/images/rebelflag.jpg

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 5: MASKING THE STRIPES


and print out this letter-sized template of the Rebel Flag design on a Les
Paul. That way, you can have it right there in front of you as you do this.
Now then, onto the task at hand.

0mm

0mm

FIG 15

X
X

You could also use a carpenters level


to do this; use the center line in your
neck cavity and then simply position
your level accordingly. When the bubble is in the correct horizontal position, mark the butt-end of the body on the masking on the binding.

FIG 14

To find the center of the body at the


other end, use the neck cavity.
Measure it and divide the measurement by 2. Draw a pencil mark on top
of your hanging stick, preferably not
on the body - it may show through
the paint later on.

masking
tape

To start, you need to find the center


line through your guitar. To do this,
you can most likely use the strap
holders hole on the butt-end of the
body and simply follow that line up.
Place a pencil mark on the masking
on the binding. If you feel that the
strap holders hole is off, then you
may have to use a carpenters level
for it to be accurate. (If you dont
have one, maybe a neighbor has one
that you can borrow.)

FIG 16
With your center lines marked at both
ends, gently place a small piece of masking tape at the butt-end of the guitar as I have pictured in FIG 14. When its in place, put your ruler down
across the body lining up your center lines. Take a pencil and mark the
center line on the masking tape - dark enough so you can see it easily.
When the tape is marked, take your ruler and measure 9cm from the center
line in both directions as Ive shown in FIG 15. Mark both of those distances as
Ive indicated with the Xs in FIG 15. These will be the edges of the masking
for the white stripes at the butt-end.
Okay, that was simple enough, right? Heres where it gets harder. I cant

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 5: MASKING THE STRIPES

When youve marked the top where


your tape should be placed, take a
long strip of the 3M 1/2 masking
tape #218 (FIG 13) and lay it down,
making sure its straight and each
edge lines up with your pencil marks
(FIG 17).
Now that your first piece is in place,
measure 4cm (40mm) from the inner
edge of the masking tape and put a
pencil mark on the masking on the
binding. Do the same up at the other
end of the guitar. When youve
marked that distance, youre ready to
place your next piece of masking
tape (FIG 18).
As you lay it down, dont press down
firmly yet; take your ruler and make
sure that your measurement all the
way up is consistently 4cm. When
youve got an accurate measurement
all the way up, press down firmly on
the tape. Well done.

FIG 17

So, heres the next step in this first bit


of masking: Take your ruler and place
it diagonally as Ive done in FIG 16
(previous page). Look where the line
crosses under the tailpiece, bridge,
and pickup hole, and try to be as
accurate as possible to match this.
Place a pencil mark at the top of the
body on the tape on the binding.

tell you exactly where to mark the


lines at the other end of the guitar
because each Les Paul copys shape
is slightly different; this is where
youre going to have to use your eye.

4cm

4cm
m

FIG 18

FIG 19

FIG 20

With one side of the cross in place,


its time to work on the other side. Start by place your ruler across your
body so that youre lined up with your center lines. Now, mark the front of
the piece of masking tape that passes underneath the tailpiece with a pen-

10

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 5: MASKING THE STRIPES


cil. Your mark should be located in
the area that I have marked with the
red circle in FIG 21.

3cm
3c
cm

Most tailpieces are in different positions on virtually all Les Paul copies,
so I dont suggest you try to place
your pencil mark dead-center
between the stud holes for the bridge
and the tailpiece; instead, I would say
because all bridges are virtually in
the same position, measure 3cm
(30mm) back from the center of the
top hole for the bridge stud and follow that distance down. Then, mark
your masking tape. Your mark should
land in the red circle in FIG 21. It still
has to be between the holes for the
studs for the bridge and the tailpiece,
but for true accuracy, you have to
measure back from the bridge.

FIG 23
X
X

4cm

4
4cm
X

Do the same up at the opposite end of


the guitar. When youve marked that
distance, youre ready to place your
next piece of masking tape (FIG 24).

Once again, as you place your masking tape, pay careful attention that its
as straight as possible. When its in
place (FIG 23), use your ruler and
measure 4cm (40mm) from the inner
edge of the masking tape and put a
pencil mark on the masking on the
binding.

FIG 22

When youve marked the masking


tape, take another long piece of
the masking tape and line it up with
the X at the bottom of the body (FIG
23). Using the mark you just made on
the masking tape, this piece should
cross north of that mark as it is in
FIG 22.

FIG 21

FIG 24

As you lay it down, dont press down firmly yet; take your ruler and make

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 5: MASKING THE STRIPES


sure that your measurement all the
way up is consistently 4cm. When
youve got a consistent measurement, press down firmly on the tape.
Voil! Your guitar should look like the
one pictured in FIG 25.
I realize that finding a place to put the
4cm mark is tough; thats why you
have to use your eye for part of this
and rely on the ruler for the other
part. You could lay a small piece of
masking tape to help you mark the
4cm width at both ends, then when
youve placed your ruler along the
line and marked the masking on the
binding, you can remove it. Just an
option if youre having a bit of difficulty getting the distance perfect.

FIG 25

Next step in the first part of this


FIG 26
masking is to use your X-Acto knife
and remove the overlapping pieces of
masking tape so that your tape job looks like the one pictured in FIG 26.
Make sure you use a brand-new blade for these cuts. Use only as much
pressure as necessary in order to cut the tape.
When youve finished cutting out the section of stripes not needed, youre
ready to move on to cutting out your stars - 12 to be exact.
IMPORTANT POINT: As youre doing this masking, use these illustrations and photos to help you with all of your placements. Dont be afraid
to lift the tape up and reposition it if you have to.

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 6: CUTTING OUT AND PLACING THE STARS


In order for you to cut out the stars for this design, youll need a template
to use... so here it is! Print out this page (or photcopy this page) and carefully cut out the star
using your X-Acto knife (see FIG 28).
Once its cut out, were going to transfer it to
some masking tape. Before I discuss the best
way of accurately cutting them out, I want you to
look at FIG 27. As you can see, the stars form
boxes - so when placing a star into position,
youre going to use a combination of both a
measurement and your eye to line each of them up. In a few minutes, Ill
discuss which stars should be placed first.
As I mentioned earlier,
the stars should be
placed at a 90-degree
angle; however,
because of the arched
top of a Les Paul-style
guitar, it sometimes
appears that your stars
may be crooked. This
is where just paying
careful attention to your
placement and not
rushing this masking
will yield perfect results.
FIG 27
If you have to take
some off to reposition
them properly, do it - just be careful that the edges stay crisp and you dont
bend the masking tape underneath and lose the point(s). Before pressing
down firmly on each star, make sure that youre satisfied with the positioning
for each one. When you feel theyre in the right place, press down on them to
get a nice, tight mask.
FIG 28
Now then, on to cutting out the stars.
I use a simple method of transferring
a star to the masking tape. To start, I
place a piece of masking tape onto
my cutting board. I then place the
star on top of the masking tape as I
have in FIG 28. While holding the
star in position with my left hand, I
place dots (from a fine-point marker)
at the tip of each point and at each

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 6: CUTTING OUT AND PLACING THE STARS


indent of the star with my drawing
hand. I do this rather than drawing
around the entire star; I find that
doing it this way is, in my opinion, a
cleaner method of transferring the
outline. As long as youre consistent
with your dot placements, your stars
should come out very accurate.
(Dont be afraid to practice on a couple to make sure youre doing a good
job of transferring and cutting.)

FIG 29

Once I have all of my points drawn, I


use my ruler and X-Acto knife to cut
out each star (FIG 29).
From there, I remove the extra tape
around the star first; then, very carefully, I use my X-Acto knifes blade to
lift an edge of the star, being very
careful not to bend the star under and
lose any of the sharp points (FIG 30).

FIG 30

Depending on how you want to do it,


you can either cut out all of your
stars first, then begin to put them into
place, or you can cut out one at a
time, and then place each into position - whichever method you prefer.
Dont forget that youll also have to
cover the areas that will eventually
be sprayed red (the entire body will
have to be masked up), so as you
can see in FIG 31, Ive covered those
areas with a combination of the blue
3M 2 masking tape as well as paper
(letter-sized sheets doubled up).

FIG 31

Again, you can mask those areas


before you put all of your stars into
place or after... whichever you prefer.
I use paper for most of the back. I do
this simply because its quicker to
cover the back with paper than it is to

FIG 32

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 6: CUTTING OUT AND PLACING THE STARS


mask it up with masking tape. Plus, your goal is to shield the back from
any overspray that might occur; youre not turning the guitar over and
spraying or painting any design on it, so paper masks secured with tape
work fine for this role.
For paper masks, I use two sheets of letter-sized paper doubled up. I cut
chunks off to match the shape of the body; then I simply secure them in
place with the masking tape.
Since we are only spraying the top or
front of the guitar, everything else
must be masked - whether its with
masking tape or paper secured with
tape. Just make certain that no areas
are left uncovered, otherwise overspray could get in through any openings or gaps.

FIG 33

Now then, onto placing the stars. I


recommend you begin with the stars closest to the center (FIG 33). Just
like in Project ZW, where I recommended that you start with the bullseye closest to the center and work
your way out - same thing for the
stars. (Although, in FIG 31, Ive started laying the stars in a different way
than Im recommending, follow how
Im explaining it here.)
To lay these first four stars, youll
start with the top-left corner star (see
FIG 34
FIG 34). Since the star sits between
the holes for the tailpiece and the bridge, youll use those holes to help
position it correctly. Make sure when youve got it in place that its sitting at
a 90-degree angle, too - in other words, straight up and down.
When its perfectly in place, press firmly down on the star, and youre ready
to place star #2 (see FIG 34). For star #2, youre once again going to use
the holes in the body as a guide to help place it. But, you also have to line
it up with the star that was placed prior. So, as youre placing the second
one, pay careful attention that youre lining up the top point of both stars
(see FIG 34).
When the second ones in place, youre once again going to have to use
your eye to help place stars 3 and 4. If you look at FIG 34, youll see a dotted line that goes horizontally across to the other side. Using your eye,

15

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 6: CUTTING OUT AND PLACING THE STARS


youll be trying to place the third star in this position, centered in between
the space that will be sprayed blue. Same goes for the fourth star; use
your eye to place star #3 in the correct position, and then use your eye to
place star #4 in the correct position, lining it up vertically under star #3 and
horizontally with star #2.
After the first few have been placed, youll find its not as tricky as it may
seem. Again, just take your time - theres no rush in doing this.
When the first four stars have been positioned correctly, youre now onethird of the way there!
So, lets move on...
Positioning the rest of the stars will
require a simple measurement and
careful placement using your eye.
As you can see in FIG 35, if you
were to draw a line straight up from
the point of your first star (which sits
between the holes of the bridge and
FIG 35
tailpiece), the point of the next star
would sit 1-3/4 away... followed by the next star 1-3/4 away.
To mark these distances correctly, take your ruler and extend the line up
from the point of your first star onto the masking. Then, position your ruler
horizontally and measure the distances of the next two placements for the
stars as Ive indicated in FIG 36. (If you look carefully, you can see my
marks on the masking tape.) Once youve marked the distances, simply
place each star at a 90-degree angle (straight up and down) and centered
within the area that will be sprayed blue.
For all of the remaining stars, simply
repeat your measurements and pay
careful attention to positioning.
Take as long as you have to and try
to be as meticulous as possible - itll
pay off!
When all of your masking is complete, press down firmly on ALL of it...
cuz its spraying time!

FIG 36

16

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 7: SPRAYING THE BLUE


By this point, if youve done at least one
guitar painting project, youve got the
whole applying thin coats down.
I always try to practice what I preach,
and FIG 37 is the perfect example;
heres what the blue area looked like
after the first thin coat of paint.
Its not necessary to spray the whole
front of the guitar; I try to keep it concentrated just to the area that needs to
be painted. I do this to avoid overspray
(even though the body is entirely
masked, Im always cautious), and I like
to conserve paint.

FIG 37

After three thin coats of paint, the area was a nice, solid blue.
I let it sit overnight before removing the masked stars. Youre okay to leave
the masking on overnight. If its really humid outside though, and you have
your body hanging in the garage, bring it in overnight into a cooler temperature - possibly in a basement.
IMPORTANT POINT: As you begin your budding career as a guitar
painter (or just as a hobbiest), you will quickly learn to do ONE thing
consistently over and over - that is, press down firmly on the masking
tape! AND, where two pieces overlap each other, as the stripes will
overlap the masking on the binding, take a fingernail and press the tape
firmly into the masking lying underneath it. This will help get rid of the
very small gap that exists when one piece of masking tape sits on top
of another. Although it may seem too small for any paint to get into, ITS
NOT. Paint WILL get in there. Its the difference between a nice, crisp
line right to the edge and a line that has some overspray to it - the
result of the masking not being pushed down tightly enough. I cant
stress this enough.
Also, if you remember, I mentioned in previous guitar projects to press
down on the masking tape just before youre ready to spray a coat. You
should really try hard not to do one without the other. Itll make all the
difference in the world, if youre a stickler for detail.

17

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 8: UNMASKING AND REMASKING


When the blue has dried overnight, or
for at least 8 hours, its time to
remove the masked stars. Now, you
may be wondering, do they have to
come off at this point? The answer is,
not really. The tape claims to have a
14-day window where it wont leave
any residue. However, I personally
like to take the masking off areas that
are completed; if I can avoid any
potential problems, I want to do it.
So, to remove the masked stars, I
use my X-Acto knifes blade to carefully lift an edge up (FIG 38). Once
lifted, I use my fingers to hold the star
and gently pull it up while using my
knifes blade to carefully lift the rest of
the star up. They should come up
without too much of a problem. They
come off easier when youve let the
paint dry for 8+ hours. If you try
pulling them up after an hour or so,
youll run into a BIG problem, so
dont do it! Wait it out! (See Step 10:
Touch-Ups!)
When youve removed all of your stars,
you can also remove the rest of the
masking except for the masking on the
binding and the areas that are to stay
white - that masking stays on. See FIG
40 - the original masking of the cross
is still in place.

FIG 38

FIG 39

FIG 40

When all of the masking is removed,


youre ready to cover up the blue area
so that you can spray the red.
Im always very careful with masking
over delicate areas such as this; the
last thing I want is to re-mask the
area and have the masking pull up

FIG 41

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 8: UNMASKING AND REMASKING


edges of the stars and ruin all of my hard work. Thats where, once again,
using paper masks comes into play.
As you can see in FIG 41, I used long, straight strips of doubled-up paper
cut to fit inside the blue area and secured them with the 1 3M green
masking tape. You want to protect the blue area from any red paint being
sprayed.
Make sure that there are no gaps and that the tape is pressed down firmly
over the entire area.
When your masking is done, youre ready to spray the red.
By the way, here are the paints that were used for this project:
Krylon - 2328 Red Pepper
Krylon - 1910 True Blue Gloss
Krylon - 1501 Glossy White
Krylon - 1301 Crystal Clear Gloss

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 9: SPRAYING THE RED


Not much to explain here; once
again, I sprayed thin coats using my
typical spraying technique discussed
in Projects ZW and EVH.

FIG 42

FIG 42 shows the red after the first


coat.
I let it dry for 30 minutes and then
sprayed the second coat.
I let that dry for 30 minutes and
sprayed the third and final coat (FIG
44).
As soon as I have a solid color, I stop
spraying the paint. I dont like to put
on any more paint than I have to.
I let the red dry for 8+ hours and then
removed the masking.
If youve followed these steps to a
T, you should have a pretty darn
accurate paint job.
Sometimes, though, tricky masking
requires some touch-ups. So, if you
have some areas that need touching
up, the next step explains how I handled a few of my own touch-ups.

FIG 43
FIG 44

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 10: TOUCH-UPS


Even though I follow my own advice
MOST of the time, in this instance I DID
NOT!

FIG 45

Instead of waiting overnight to remove


the masking of the stars, I removed a
few after an hour or so. Guess what?
BAD IDEA!
As you can see in FIG 45, I ended up
with some less-than-perfect edges on a
couple of the stars. My own fault,
though. However, I didnt do this
because I was impatient; I did it because
I was trying to speed up the process of
finishing this section of the book so I
could get it in as soon as possible! Okay,
so I learned a lesson - next time, Ill
wait... and hopefully youll wait, too.

FIG 46

FIG 47

So, how do I fix bad edges? With a combination of masking tape (in this case, I
used electrical tape, although I suggest
you use masking tape) and paper masking.
In FIG 46, I isolated the edges that were
bad by placing some tape along the
edge that needed fixing. I created some
areas that would get sprayed and then
created paper masks that would fit over
the area and shield the rest of the body
from overspray.

FIG 48

FIG 47 and FIG 48 show the areas that


were remasked to straighten the edges.
I then prepared the paper masks that would reveal only the areas that
would get sprayed, but would cover the entire top of the guitar (see FIG 49).
For these touch-ups, I let the guitar sit horizontal on my workbench rather
than holding it upright. No matter how you do this, youre going to end up
with blue paint that sits a little higher than the other blue paint. Not a prob-

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 10: TOUCH-UPS


lem, though - with the right amount of
clear coats and wetsanding, these
touched up areas are virtually undetectable.

FIG 49

When the edges were completely filled


with solid blue, I let the masking stay on
for 8+ hours and then removed it.
As you can see in FIG 51, the edge is
nice and crisp again, however, you can
clearly see the area that was masked
and sprayed.
If you end up having to do the same sort
of thing, dont worry about these
touched up areas - they disappear when
youre evening out the clear coats with
the wetsanding... I promise you.

FIG 50

FIG 51

If youre spraying touch-ups, remember


to always cover the entire guitar - to
shield it from potential overspray. If
youre brushing on some touch-ups, you
dont have to do that. However, when
brushing on some touch-ups, I always
rest the palm of my hand on a sheet of
paper I place on the body, rather than
letting my hand rest on the actual body.
Im always careful not to get anything on
the paint. Once you spray your clear
and have anything on the paint, its
impossible to fix, and youll just have to
live with it.
FIG 52
IMPORTANT POINT: I also had to touch up a few spots with the blue
paint using a little paint brush. I found that the color that I dabbed onto
the body was lighter than the sprayed color. You may notice this, too,
when using a paint brush and dabbing on certain colors for touch-ups.
Theres not really much you can do about that.

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 11: MORE TOUCH-UPS


For this project I used a really beat
up, old, 70s Les Paul copy body. I did
the best I could with prepping, but the
binding was stained, and after removing the masking, I didnt like the way it
looked with the paint job.

FIG 53

So, I decided to mask up the body


one more time and spray the binding
white (FIG 54 and 55).
Normally, this is not something you
should have to do; however, the binding was in such rough shape that I
just couldnt do all this work and leave
the binding looking like that.
In FIG 55, Ive indicated with yellow
circles how bad the binding was. It
was all hacked up with wood showing
through. I was hoping that, with the
spraying of the white and clear, I
could clean this up and, hopefully, it
would end up looking reasonably
good. Well... well soon find out!
After the body was entirely masked
up using a combination of paper
masks and the 1 3M green masking
tape (FIG 56 and FIG 57), I sprayed
the binding white - AaaAaahhH!

FIG 54

FIG 55

I shouldve sprayed it ivory! Stupid


me!
Oh well... still, it looks much better
than it did.
FIG 56
Theres an edge that gets created by
spraying the binding like Ive done.
Once again, though, spraying the clear coats and doing the final wetsanding fixes all of that, as youll soon see.

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 11: MORE TOUCH-UPS


FIG 59 shows the paint job with all of
the touch-ups completed.
With all of the masking removed, its
now on to spraying the clear coats.
IMPORTANT POINT: You probably noticed that I used electrical
tape for some masking in the last
two steps.
Although electrical tape has
some drawbacks to using it (leaving a residue on the body if its
left too long), I find it gives me
REALLY crisp lines. Moreso than
when I use the fine line tape or
regular masking tape.

FIG 57

FIG 58

For these touch-ups, I worked


fast, left no residue from the
tape, and my lines turned out
real well.
As for recommending the use of
electrical tape for some masking,
I dont recommend it if youre
new to painting.
FIG 59
At times, I use it simply because
I know how long certain things
take me to do - like touch-ups.
As you move along in your painting career, you may feel the
desire to try using. At that point, I
say, GO FOR IT.

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 12: SPRAYING THE CLEAR COATS


Spraying the clear coats is pretty standard stuff.

FIG 60

As I mentioned in Projects ZW and EVH, I


go in one direction for one coat (back and
forth) and the other direction for the next
coat (up and down). I continue this way
until Ive finished all of the clear coats.
I do all of the sides first, followed by the
back and then the front.
When Im doing a guitar that has binding
like this body, I spray around the edge of
the guitar on the top of the binding before
spraying the entire front. I do this to help
build up the clear so that, when I wetsand the top, Ive got extra clear on the binding, which will help to give me
a nice, even surface as I wetsand. I recommend you do this, too.
Ive had people ask me whether I do any
wetsanding at any point during the clear
coating. The answer is, No.

FIG 61

I dont think its necessary. Besides,


because we have multiple colors on the
body, its easy to go through to the color
if you havent put on enough clear coats.
So, why risk it?
Even if I get a drip, which seldom happens, I dont wetsand to try to fix it. I
apply all of the clear coats, wait my two
months to let the paint settle and cure,
then wetsand. The drip will disappear
easier when youve got all of your clear
coats on than when youve only got half
of them on.
After waiting my two months for the paint
to settle and cure, Im ready to move onto
wetsanding.

I spray in the yellow area before doing


the entire front of the guitar to help build
up the clear over the binding. Since there
are several layers of color on the body
and nothing on the binding, this helps to
even it all out when it comes time to wetsand.

25

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 13: WETSANDING


As I was spraying the clear coats for this guitar, the page that I logged how
many coats have been applied had disappeared. So, without remembering
exactly how many were already on there, I applied four more, just to be
safe, and let that dry for the two-month settling period.
When I was ready to begin wetsanding, I had all the usual suspects; a
small wood block, a container of
water, some paper towels, and some
220-grit as well as some 320-grit
wet/dry sandpaper.
I started with the 220-grit sandpaper
wrapped around my small block. I just
apply regular pressure when wetsanding. I work in circles and dont
stay in one area too long.
Eventually, it all evened out rather
nicely. However, because I wasnt
exactly sure how many coats of clear
were applied, I was hesitant to go
down any further than I had; I didnt
want to go through to the paint - thats
always difficult to fix, so I tried to
avoid having to do that.
FIG 63 and 64 show shiny spots
around some of the stars and around
some of the lines. I decided to leave
the wetsanding there and apply more
coats of clear. When they had settled
for a while, I would THEN do my final
wetsanding.

FIG 62

FIG 63

FIG 64

I was close to getting a nice, flat finish in FIG 63 and 64, but for a perfectly
smooth finish, you have to get rid of all of the shiny spots, no matter how
big or how small. Its the difference between a pretty good finish and an
AWESOME finish.
After the additional clear coats had dried for a month, I finished the final
wetsanding. Heres what I did: I began with the 320-grit; I was already very
close to having a nice, flat finish from my prior wetsanding, so I didnt need

26

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 13: WETSANDING


to remove too much clear. When I got it to a point where there were no
more shiny spots using the 320-grit, I moved to the 400-grit.
After Id gotten rid of all the shiny spots, theres one other surface test I
like to do to check how flat my finish is. I start by drying off my body so
theres no water on it. Then, without looking at what Im touching, I rub my
hand across it to FEEL if its flat. Shiny spots only tell part of the picture;
the hand and touch NEVER lies. Try this yourself. When rubbing across
the stars, can you feel an indent at all? Are there any areas that seem
raised? These are all signs that your body still needs some work. But, by
doing the extra work, it will DEFINITELY be worth it.
So, after I performed my surface test, I resumed the wetsanding using the
400-grit, then the 600-grit. I was able to remove a lot of the scratches in
the finish using these grits. After youre done with the 600-grit, youll
noticed that the bodys starting to get a dull shine to it.
If you can find it, pick up some 1200-grit or 1500-grit sandpaper and finish
up your wetsanding with that. It makes buffing so much easier, and you get
a nicer, more scratch-free finish.
I bought my 1200-grit from ACE Hardware, but I didnt see any at Lowes
or HOME Depot, so you may have to shop around. Specialty Auto Parts
stores should have it.
Also, if youre able to pick up some 1200-grit sandpaper, you wont need to
get the 3M Perfect-It ll Fine Cut Rubbing Compound; youll be fine going
straight to the Perfect-It ll Swirl Remover Finishing Compound to buff your
finish.
When youve gone over your entire body with the grits I just mentioned,
and your surface test passed with flying colors, youre ready to move onto
the final buffing - get ready for a shine!

27

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 14: BUFFING YOUR FINAL FINISH


Now that the guitar has been wetsanded to perfection (or close to it),
were going to buff it up to a beautiful
shine.
If you were able to find a 1200 or
1500-grit wet/dry sandpaper to finish
your wetsanding, you can jump right
to the 3M Perfect-It lls Swirl Remover
Compound.

FIG 65

If you only went as far with the 600grit, then youre going to start with the
3M Perfect-It lls Rubbing Compound
- Fine Cut.
The difference between these two is
that the fine cut rubbing compound
FIG 66
gives you a nice shine, but youll see
lots of surface scratches. When
youve gotten the body to a nice, even shine all over, youll then switch to
the swirl remover compound to remove the surface scratches. The more
you buff and polish, the more the scratches disappear with the swirl
remover compound.
As I mentioned in Project ZW, I work in roughly 4 X 4 sections. I apply the
compound to either the body or the cotton material and work it in in a circular motion. I tend to move around the body rather quickly.
Buffing a body by hand is hard work. Most likely, itll take you close to two
hours to do the entire body. Its also likely that your hand will get tired and
youll need to take a break... possibly several breaks. Just take them. Your
hand will thank you.
I personally have a love/hate relationship with buffing; on one hand, its
exciting to see the project youve been working so hard on finally start to
shine; but on the other, my fingers and hand really start to hurt after a
while. Of course, this is where I take a break and write more of this book!
By the way, to see me wetsanding and buffing this body, Ive set up some
video clips that you can watch. You need Apples free Quicktime 4 or higher to view (available at www.apple.com/quicktime.)

28

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 14: BUFFING YOUR FINAL FINISH


Go to this page to view: http://www.paintyourownguitar.com/rebelbuff.html
This will give you good idea of how much elbow grease is needed to get
the beautiful shine that you see below.
But - its ALL WORTH IT!
FIG 67

FIG 68

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HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 15: BOTTLE CAPS, ANYONE?


At this point, youre probably wondering: Is he going to destroy the finish
and hammer bottle caps into the top just like Zakk?... HELL, NO! I just
spent the last 3 months finishing this guitar - why would I do something
crazy like that? (Maybe when the novelty wears off Ill do it!)
I had someone tell me that Zakk did what he did to that guitar because
another guitar player - someone from an 80s Glam Hair Band - had a
guitar with the rebel flag painted on it. So, in his disgust, he tortured that
Les Paul. If anyone can verify this or has more details, please email me Id love to know more about it.
Okay, since Im NOT going to be destroying my finish by hammering bottle
caps into the top, you may want to know how to do it yourself for the Rebel
Flag Les Paul you plan on painting. So, here goes.
Clamp your body down to a table or workbench so that it doesnt move
around. Then, take an electric sander and, without it touching the body yet,
turn it on. Once its powered up, tilt it on an angle and hit the body with just
the edge of the sander; dont lay it flat and start sanding away; do small
areas at a time.
FIG 69

30

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 15: BOTTLE CAPS, ANYONE?


If your goal is to MATCH Zakks destruction, doing little bits at a time will
lead to a more accurate defacing! (I cant believe Im explaining how to ruin
a finish.)
Your goal is to sand to bare wood, so keep sanding until the paint is gone
in the areas that need to be wood. Remember - youre sanding harsh
paints which contain chemicals, so its best to be wearing goggles and a
face mask when doing this.
When youve defaced the guitar top and youve removed the areas that
needed to be sanded away, its time to move on to scratching the rest of
the design with a nail. Use FIG 69 as your guide. As you can see in that
photo, Zakk has dug quite deep, so make sure you have a good grip on
the nail when scratching.
When youve scratched and sanded the top as much as needed, youre
FIG 70

31

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

STEP 15: BOTTLE CAPS, ANYONE?


ready to move on to hammering in the bottle caps. (It looks like some of
the guitars surface has been burned. I really dont recommend you try this
unless you have a lot of experience with fire... I sure dont.)
Use FIG 70 as a guide to
which beer youre going to
have to buy and drink so that
it can be an accurate replica
to Zakks. Have all the caps
on hand before you begin.
I dont think theres any special technique youre going to
have to employ - just make
sure your body is still
clamped down when you
begin to hammer away. Its
not like you have to worry
about ruining your finish;
youve already done that!
It does look like the center of
the bottle caps on Zakks
guitar are knocked in while
the edges of the cap seem
intact. In other words, it looks
like he was hitting the center
of the cap rather than the
edges of the cap. He mayve
used a ball peen hammer to
knock them in.
It may take you a few tries
before youve got the right
amount of force required to keep them in place. As always, take your time if youre going to do this, try to do as accurate a job, and create as accurate a replica, as you can.
When youre done, snap a few pix and send them to me - Id love to see
your creation!

32

HOW TO CREATE A FACTORY GUITAR FINISH WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SPRAY CANS!

BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
Project REBEL - All parts were purchased on eBay
Les Paul Copy Body and Neck - $110
Tailpiece - $13
Tune-O-Matic Bridge - $10
Mighty Mite Humbuckers (2) - $35
Pickup Covers (Black EMG-looking covers) - $6
Tuning Pegs - $15
Speed Knobs - $8
Rhythm/Treble Switch - $15
Screws - $8 Back Plates - $10
Pickup Rings - $10
Jack Plate - $9
Input Jack - $5
---------TOTAL - $246
Average cost for paint and supplies for this guitar - $30 - $40

33