Refinishing a Fender-style guitar is far simpler than performing the same task on a Les Paul, as you don't have to deal with pearl logos, binding and open-grained mahogany. Nevertheless it can be done, and even though you'll need to draw upon a range of colours, fillers and dyes to achieve the right look, you can do it without specialist equipment - and this month we'll be showing you exactly how.
So here we go:
Back in the day guitar manufacturers would inlay headstock logos, then spray black lacquer over the top. Once dry, this black coat was scraped off to expose the logo before clear coats were sprayed on top. In fact, if you look closely at many vintage Gibsons, Gretsches and so forth, the finish around the logo is often surprisingly rough.Apparently these days Gibson sprays a light coat of clear first, and then a second pearl logo is quickly placed on top of the first and the lacquer holds it in place. After a few black coats the covering logo is removed and the headstock is clear-coated to build up the finish.
They say we learn from our mistakes, so here's lesson number one: just because two guitars look the same, that doesn't mean they're made the same. It's a minor detail, but Greco didn't inlay pearl logos like Gibson - instead they used wafer thin pearl logos that were glued to the front of the headstock, and this is something I discovered the hard way. I decided to scrape the black off the pearl in the traditional fashion, so I put masking tape over the back and edges of the headstock, the trussrod bolt and the nut slot, and then protected the rest of the guitar with a dustbin bag secured by masking tape just below the headstock. The black finish went on nicely, but almost as soon as I started removing it I scraped straight through the pearl to the headstock veneer underneath - in the process destroying part of the ‘G' section of the logo.
Unfortunately replacement Greco logos seem to be unavailable, and if I tried replacing the ‘G' with a piece I had cut myself I risked destroying the rest of the logo. Eventually I decided to buy a stick-on pearl-effect ‘Gibson' logo to use the ‘G' section as a repair patch - it's just fortunate that Greco used more or less the same font.
Before applying the transfer I carefully removed the remainder of the black from the rest of the logo using a scraper that dentists use to remove tartar. Believe me, it's a much better tool for the job than a sharp blade, and the black flakes off quite easily. After a couple of clear coats the colour wasn't quite right, so I diluted some black lacquer in some thinners and brushed it over the transfer to darken it slightly. Fortunately, it didn't turn out too badly.