Using primer as a finish?

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johnljohnl Frets: 80
edited May 5 in Making & Modding
I've got a telecaster body that I'd like to finish in a flat matte grey like this:







My question is how can I achieve that sort of flat grey finish? Can I just spray clear coat over primer or is there a better way to do it?
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 660
    Buy some “matt” topcoat and “Matt” clear

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  • BillKatBillKat Frets: 984

    Can just go straight grey primer which will be matt anyway, there's not really a need for a clearcoat with a matt base. If you were using car paint/Halfords type acrylic topcoat colour cans (not primer), you'd need a matt clearcoat then.


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  • lonestarlonestar Frets: 1449
    You’ll need to do the usual spray-sand-spray-sand etc to get a smooth finish though.

    if you spray the primer and leave it you’ll have a very rough surface 
    Proprietor of SC Relics Guitar Nitro Finishes - www.screlics.co.uk
    https://www.facebook.com/screlics/
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  • johnljohnl Frets: 80
    Thanks guys - so the primer should be durable enough by itself as a finish? I do want it to wear a fair bit over time.
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1050
    I personally think primer is the wrong choice, just my opinion, I dont think it is durable enough, I would go to my local auto paint supploer and have a look through the paint swatches for the shade of grey I like, get it mixed into a rattle can in my choice of paint (Cellulose for me) and ask then for a matt, satin, of gloss finish, it will still wear, but I think the unworn bits will look better long term...
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • BillKatBillKat Frets: 984
    Yes, nitro/celly if you want it to wear in a nicer way. Acrylic 'car paint' is more brittle and not so good for that.


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  • jebroadjebroad Frets: 1
    This clears up the using a lacquer over the top point, https://www.todayshomeowner.com/can-primer-be-used-as-finish-coat-when-painting/
    It should be alright with a few coats of poly
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  • OctafishOctafish Frets: 898
    johnl said:
    Thanks guys - so the primer should be durable enough by itself as a finish? I do want it to wear a fair bit over time.
    My concern would not be wearing through/chipping, which you want anyway, but it picking up dirty/grubby marks. Primer by it's nature will pick up dirt etc quite easily and will not wipe clean that well. As posted above, matt laquer will solve this, but it might also make it too durable to wear for you.
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1050
    edited May 7
    Agree about primer becoming marked, primer is not the same as a top coat, it is absorbent and non protective, do as I suggest and spray with decent Matt or Satin Cellulose from an Auto paint supplier, (about £10)  no primer straight onto the wood, as few coats as you can get away with, I did a Telemaster yesterday, to relic, and used one can, actually theres still quite a bit left...just primer will disappoint, applying poly lacquer over the top of the primer significantly increases the work, cost and paint thickness, then will take ages to wear....
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • scalino65scalino65 Frets: 181
    paulnb57 said:
     Matt or Satin Cellulose from an Auto paint supplier, (about £10) 
    Here's a daft question, is an auto paint cellulose the same as nitrocellulose that you'd get from rothkos,etc? I assume not.
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  • BillKatBillKat Frets: 984

    In essence cellulose spray paint is celly paint. At the heart of it they're the same basic type of paint but makes & formulations will vary.

    Vast majority of paint shifted in auto body supplies is 1k acrylic which is a different animal. Some auto paint shops do celly though.


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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1563
    Midge Ure had one of his Ibanez Roadsters finished un Primer because they didn't have time to paint it before the tour ,seemed to last ok
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1050
    If you ask for Cellulose thats what you get rather the Acrylic....Ive always understood Cellulose and Nitro to be the same thing, certainly back in the day, not sure if the modern Celly is the same as it was, it goes on well though and is my preference....
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2578
    sweepy said:
    Midge Ure had one of his Ibanez Roadsters finished in Primer because they didn't have time to paint it before the tour 
    I am old enough to recall an interview in International Musician & Recording World magazine in which Ure's explanation was that the grey paint job was to fit in with the Ultravox tour stage set design. Never having seen the aforesaid stage set, I cannot say whether Ure was pulling the interviewer's leg?
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • JayGeeJayGee Frets: 424
    sweepy said:
    Midge Ure had one of his Ibanez Roadsters finished in Primer because they didn't have time to paint it before the tour 
    I am old enough to recall an interview in International Musician & Recording World magazine in which Ure's explanation was that the grey paint job was to fit in with the Ultravox tour stage set design. Never having seen the aforesaid stage set, I cannot say whether Ure was pulling the interviewer's leg?
    I saw them back in the late ‘70s and the entire stage (backline, drum kit, risers, stands, monitors, any visible electronics racks, the lot) was industrial flat grey so that’s actually entirely plausible...


    Don't ask me, I just play the damned thing...
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  • lonestarlonestar Frets: 1449
    Okay I’ll chime in again. This is do able in nitro but not with aerosols.

    It would require a custom mix if that’s something you can do?

    Matte lacquer exists, I use it every week 
    Proprietor of SC Relics Guitar Nitro Finishes - www.screlics.co.uk
    https://www.facebook.com/screlics/
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1050
    lonestar said:
    Okay I’ll chime in again. This is do able in nitro but not with aerosols.
    Out of interest oh paint guru, why is it not achievable with aerosols?
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • johnljohnl Frets: 80

    lonestar said:
    Okay I’ll chime in again. This is do able in nitro but not with aerosols.

    It would require a custom mix if that’s something you can do?

    Matte lacquer exists, I use it every week 

    I've got some nitro grey primer and a matt lacquer on their way to me as we speak, will update here with the results.
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  • lonestarlonestar Frets: 1449
    paulnb57 said:
    lonestar said:
    Okay I’ll chime in again. This is do able in nitro but not with aerosols.
    Out of interest oh paint guru, why is it not achievable with aerosols?
    If I was to get that colour I’d do a custom grey mix and test it first. Then I’d apply on white primer. Finish off with matte clear coat. 

    The reason i said that it’s not achievable with cans is because of how I’d do it. But I have to mix my colours anyway for spraying, I don’t use aerosols.
    Proprietor of SC Relics Guitar Nitro Finishes - www.screlics.co.uk
    https://www.facebook.com/screlics/
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1050
    lonestar said:
    paulnb57 said:
    lonestar said:
    Okay I’ll chime in again. This is do able in nitro but not with aerosols.
    Out of interest oh paint guru, why is it not achievable with aerosols?
    If I was to get that colour I’d do a custom grey mix and test it first. Then I’d apply on white primer. Finish off with matte clear coat. 

    The reason i said that it’s not achievable with cans is because of how I’d do it. But I have to mix my colours anyway for spraying, I don’t use aerosols.
    I thought you meant it wasn't achievable with aerosols period........I like the look though, so might give it a go with rattle cans...
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • lonestarlonestar Frets: 1449
    paulnb57 said:
    lonestar said:
    paulnb57 said:
    lonestar said:
    Okay I’ll chime in again. This is do able in nitro but not with aerosols.
    Out of interest oh paint guru, why is it not achievable with aerosols?
    If I was to get that colour I’d do a custom grey mix and test it first. Then I’d apply on white primer. Finish off with matte clear coat. 

    The reason i said that it’s not achievable with cans is because of how I’d do it. But I have to mix my colours anyway for spraying, I don’t use aerosols.
    I thought you meant it wasn't achievable with aerosols period........I like the look though, so might give it a go with rattle cans...
    You can do it if you can find the grey in an aerosol and clear over it but of course I’m going to say that using the right equipment helps. Obviously I concede that not everyone has access to such equipment, however.


    Proprietor of SC Relics Guitar Nitro Finishes - www.screlics.co.uk
    https://www.facebook.com/screlics/
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1050
    edited May 11
    If I can get Satin Celly, then I wont use clear coat, the colour shouldn't be a problem as they have huge swatches, just never asked for Satin before...
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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