What Kind of Paint to Use on a Guitar

What is a Parlor Guitar? Everything You Need To Know
July 22, 2019
6 Best Bluetooth Earbuds For Exercise – 2021
July 23, 2019

What Kind of Paint to Use on a Guitar?

As musicians and specifically as guitarists there are ways to make your guitar look more aesthetically pleasing. A guitar is one of the musical instruments that are extremely easy to paint and transform into a prettier looking version of your good old guitar.

But, taking care of your guitar is just as important as making it look pretty, perhaps even more. This is why we must be aware of what harms the guitar and what does it good. It is important to know which paint is ideal to use in this case, because the market has a variety of them: from acrylics to enamels and a range of new paints.

But which one suits your guitar best?

Firstly, it is important to note that the thickness of paint can impact the sound quality of guitars. This is especially a concern for acoustic guitars as their wooden body is thinner and the vibrations in the back and front of the guitar give effects in the complete quality of sound. Therefore, even a slight changs in the paint can cause a large change in the sound produced.

Nitrocellulose Lacquer

This is the most used kind of paint as it breathes easy, it is thin and affects the quality of sound minimally. This also dries faster, yet it is still slower compared to other more modern paints. However, this is the oldest method in the book it also comes in a spray can bottle, so even amateurs can give their guitar a good finishing look, as regular brushing with paint can end up making the guitar body look bumpy and unprofessional.

However, one has to be extremely careful as nitrocellulose lacquer contains some extremely harmful toxins.

Dyes and Stains

These are generally water-based or alcohol-based. Water-based dyes can harm the wood, however, they also stay longer on the wood, as they take longer to dry. Alcohol-based dyes are quick to dry and, generally, do not harm the wood.

Acrylic Paints

Despite the variety of colours available in acrylics, these are too thick and generally not a good choice for guitars that are being used for playing.


This is another old method and one of the best ones around for a lacquer finish. It is extremely thin and does not impact the quality of sound. However, in order to master this art one needs both practice and patience.

Must you paint your guitar?

Overall, painting your guitar is a process much more complex than it sounds, especially if you want to achieve this without harming the instrument.

First, you need to strip the entire instrument off its original paint, then use sandpaper in order to get rid of the ridges. After this, you paint the guitar then coat it with clear paint. This process can take over weeks. And generally does not give results that last.

In case, it is unavoidable, you must have a very good understanding of your own guitar. From the wood, it originally had to the paint, so that minimal harm is caused in the wood.

Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.