Old Guitar Updo: How to Refurbish a Guitar

My dad gifted me a guitar many many years ago, and I kept it as a memory after he passed away. I’ve never had musical skills, so using the instrument for playing has never been a thing for me. Painting it was the right thing to do since I wanted to have it on my sight, as a memory of my father. Here’s how this DIY project went.

What You Need for This Project

This guitar has been made over 30 years ago, in a factory that was pretty known back in time. The instrument has been preserved pretty well, despite having a couple of stickers on it. The surface is pretty smooth and did not required much intervention, beside sanding with 180 grit paper.

The paint that I chose was Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in a couple of nuances – Original, Scandinavian Pink, Greek Blue, Old Ochre and Versailles. Small cans of Annie Sloan pain would do for the project, since there isn’t much surface to cover. Since I don’t like waxing wood much, I chose Cedria polyurethane varnish for sealing the chalk paint. For decorating, I needed small amounts of paint in the following colors: Amsterdam Green, Firle, Emperor’s Silk and Coco.

Also, I needed a stencil and a black marker for the branch and the bird that I’ve added at the end. Some masking tape is also needed for fixing the stencil on the surface, so make sure you get one that sticks well on paint, but would not peel it off.

Steps to Follow for Painting the Guitar

The first thing you need to do when painting a guitar, is to remove the strings and all other elements it might have attached as plastic covers, for example. Three small nail holes were visible after removing the plastic part, but I’ve fixed them easily by filling with toothpicks and acrylic putty. Once it dried out, I used that 180 grit paper for sanding so the surface would be even. Also, there was a small area where the edge was slightly chipped, so a little more sanding was needed to make the surface smooth.

Hack: if you don’t have a suction type sander, never use a cloth to remove the dust after sanding, but a brush, a vacuum cleaner or a dust blower. The goal is to remove the dust by blowing it away, while a cloth would only get him stuck to the surface.

First coat was Original white, as a base for blending the colors.

When the base coat dried out, I started to add pink, blue, ochre and light green chalk pain bit by bit, and blend their edges with a clean dry brush to create an ombre effect. Spraying a sip of water on the brush also helps the blending when the edges look rough. Do it carefully though, because be adding too much water could wash out the color, and if it does, you have to start over the process, and even paint the base coat again.

Decorating with Stencils

I had this beautiful stencil for a while, but never used, so I though to give it a try. This time I turned to brighter colors to create a nice contrast with the ombre background.

And you see that little red bird? Well… I just kept adding details to it till it turned into a very nice red cardinal. A final coat of varnish was the last thing to do before putting back the strings. It’s done!

Later I found out that the red cardinal bird has a meaning that couldn’t connect more to the person who gifted me the guitar.

The little bird represent a happy sign that those we have lost will live forever in our hearts and will never be forgotten. My father – who passed away a long time ago – will always be in my heart. He will be remembered once more every time I see the little red bird that I’ve painted on the guitar he gifted me…

This DIY project is a dear one and I cannot be happier for its result. You can also see the whole process in the video below. Although the intro is not in English, I can assure you that you’ll get what you need from the video to make your own beautiful painted guitar.

I hope this project will inspire you to create your own beautiful diy projects! If so, share it with your friends!

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