I recently took an interest in “swirl painted” guitars. How on earth do they do that? After a little investigation I decided to try it. Here is the first guitar I painted. This solid body guitar was a fun project and I think it turned out well.
Here are the basic steps. I took the guitar apart, removed the neck and all of the electronics and tuning “machine heads”. I sanded the body flat and added several coats of primer paint.
I masked the parts of the body I didn’t want to paint. The fun begins by filling a 40 gallon plastic trash can with water. The water then has to be heated to around 80 degrees (F). I purchased an aquarium heater to heat the water up. I added some Borax (used to condition the surface tension of the water), and then poured in different colors of enamel (the paint used for model airplanes and cars). I swirled the paint (on the surface of the water) with a little stick and then slowly submerged the body into the water. Previously I attached a piece of wood to the neck pocket of the guitar body so I could completely submerge it. As the guitar goes into the water, the color adheres to the surface in wild “swirls”. After the guitar was submerged I used paper to push aside any remaining paint on the surface and pulled the guitar out. After drying, I applied many clear coats and allowed them to dry for several weeks before reassembling the guitar. Here it is….and it also sounds fantastic.