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1. Don’t Trust Paint Store Salespeople!

1. Don’t Trust Paint Store Salespeople!

I’m going to start off with a subject that is very basic, but extremely important – and that is paint.

For those of you who purchased the first incarnation of my book (written in 2004 – it just had two projects), I recommended Krylon® spray paint. Originally, when I purchased Krylon® paint from ACE hardware, I asked the old dude in the paint department if he could tell me what kind of paint it was because they don’t say what it is on the can. He looked at me in an odd sort of way, almost annoyed, and said, “It’s polyurethane!”

OKAY… so, it’s polyurethane, I thought. I had no reason to doubt him. Afterall, he’s the one who works in the paint department, right?


Krylon® interior/exterior paints – at least the specific kind that I recommended in my book is NOT polyurethane; it’s acrylic lacquer.

Someone who purchased the book emailed to tell me that a website was selling it, but they were saying it was enamel. Well, I know for a fact that it was NOT enamel; Enamel, once sprayed, will stay tacky on a body for about 24-48 hours… sometimes longer. So, I knew it wasn’t enamel. The only way to know for sure was to contact Krylon®.

After waiting 2 weeks for a response, I got my answer… I think. They said it’s an acrylic lacquer. It could be an acrylic lacquer, or it may be just plain lacquer. I don’t know because I have no idea who emailed me with the answer and what their knowledge of their own product is.

You may be wondering, why is this important? It’s important because you want to know what kind of paint you’re using. And, because you do NOT want to use enamels for your guitar projects.

Here’s another interesting bit of inaccuracy: I went to an auto paint supply store the other day. The guy behind the counter said to me, “I could spray some acrylic enamel, and then spray some acrylic lacquer over that, and then hit it with some urethane, blah, blah, blah…” This guy works at an auto paint store and he’s giving MISINFORMATION. You CANNOT mix those paints.

The moral of this story: DON’T TRUST THE SALESPEOPLE! Always get a second opinion when choosing paint, if it’s NOT labeled. I’ve had a few customers of my books also report that salespeople sold them incompatible paints, too. (Remember, if you’re using primer before paint, make sure it’s of the same brand as the paint as well as the same LINE of paint, i.e., Duplicolor Auto Spray, Rust-O-Leum, etc.)

In case any of you are wondering about polyurethane paint, many guitar manufacturers these days use a polyurethane (or polyester) paint/finish for their guitars. Industrial polyurethane paint requires a catalyst (a hardening agent) that helps set and cure the paint so that it dries much faster than lacquer. Unfortunately, polyurethane in a spray can does NOT contain a catalyst to help set and harden; if it did, it would harden the paint in the can. So, you can use polyurethane, if you wish, however, as for speed of drying and hardening, it’s probably similar to lacquers and acrylic lacquers.

AMENDED – November 2006 – Stay away from Krylon paints. Choose Duplicolor Auto Spray line instead.

ALSO AMENDED – 2-Part Urethane Clear in a spray can is now available.

(UPDATE: What I’ve come to learn over the years is that pretty much every paint company has their OWN blend made for them with differences from one brand to a next. That’s why it’s imperative that you stick to the same BRAND and the same LINE of paint throughout your project).

To your success!

John Gleneicki
Author – The PAINT YOUR OWN GUITAR Book Series