What’s in a Paint Job?

Back in 2004, I moved into a beat up old party house in North Vancouver with a few friends, including Mike Gurr—who just so happened to be an amazing, Bonzo-inspired drummer. The two of us converted the basement into a jam space, but my acoustic guitar wasn’t cutting it. In order to match Mike’s output on the kit, I needed an electric guitar, and fast. A week later, I was back on the Island, visiting my folks for Thanksgiving and saw a brand new cherry burst G&L Tribute hanging in Arbutus Music; I bought it on a whim.

And while I’ve always enjoyed playing it, I’ve never liked the look of it. As shallow as a paint job may sound, it can affect the way one views their instrument—their emotional connection with it, which in turn can affect the music. I guess it’s a little like clothing: wear what you dig. And if you don’t dig what you wear, you don’t feel good.

For as long as I’ve owned it, I’ve wanted to paint it. But what colour?

My brother-in-law, Adam Hendershot, recently came over to my place, looked at the G&L Tribute hanging on the wall next to the others and said, “Have you ever thought about painting that one?” Having worked on guitars for Tommy Henriksen of Alice Cooper, among others, he got it right away—and offered to help me strip it down to wood, and paint it. A week later we got started.

Here’s what she looked like just before we went to work…

 

Step 1: Remove neck/hardware

My three-year-old son, Jacob, was only too happy to help me remove the hardware. And he’s surprisingly good with a screwdriver.

 

Once the strings are off, unbolt the neck from the body, and remove all of the hardware from the guitar, including the pickguard, pickups, and bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Desolder connections

My dad, Richard, helping me on yet another project in his workshop.

Desolder the connections on the input jack, allowing the wires that pass through the body cavity to be detached from the guitar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve removed all of the screws and nobs, place them in a container, and keep them handy.

 

Step 3: Soak the screws, springs, and saddles in CLR

Watch what a little CLR in water does to these rusty bridge components…

 

Step 4: Tape off the cavities

 

 

 

Tape off the neck pocket, pickup cavity, control cavity, output jack cavity, and back cavity with green painter’s tape. This is to avoid the lacquer eating away the conductive shield paint, which helps reduce noise, hum, and radio interference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Strip off the lacquer, take the guitar down to wood

 

Apply a thick coating of fast-acting lacquer and varnish remover to the front and sides of the guitar. Leave the jelly-like substance on for 30 – 45 minutes, then scrape off the bubbling lacquer with a putty knife. Repeat the process as many times as needed, until the body is down to wood. Note: This step may take longer than expected, depending on the thickness of the clear coats.

Once the front and sides are scraped, repeat this step on the back of the guitar.

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Sanding

 

Using an electric palm sander with 600 grit paper, sand the body down to a uniform level, ensuring that all traces of lacquer and paint are gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the trickier areas around the horns and contours, you’ll do well to wrap the 600 grit paper in a piece of doweling. The difference between this and a regular sanding block is night and day.

 

Step 7: Grain Filling

Give the guitar a thorough clean with a damp cloth, then let it air dry, ideally in the sun, for at least 30 minutes. Once dry, squeeze the grain filler onto the body, filling in any areas that are gouged from the scraping process, or accidentally over sanded. Use a hairdryer to ensure the grain filler is 100% dry before doing a light sand.

Step 8: Painting

 

While applying a first coat of Krylon spray paint, we noticed the paint wasn’t spraying evenly. Luckily we had a can of Montana spray paint on hand, which I was considering using for the job in the first place.

After a light sand, we were back in business…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of using Montana spray paint were evident almost immediately. Within an hour, Adam had hit the guitar with 8 nice, even coats of Tiffany blue.

Step 9: Hurry up and wait…

Hang the guitar from a wire clothes hanger in a dry, dust free room for a full week, giving the paint time to fully cure.

 

Step 10: Nitro/wet sanding

 

Once you’ve waited the allotted time, hit the guitar with several thin coats of nitrocellulose and hang dry for 1 – 2 hours between coats, no more than 3 per day.

After 12 or so coats, it’s time to wet sand the body. Soak a piece of 1,200 grit sandpaper, wrap it around a sanding block and remove any roughness from the paint job.

Be careful not to sand too deeply. The idea is to simply smooth out the paint job before doing another 20 thin coats of nitro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 11: Stand back and appreciate what you’ve created.

A huge thank you to my dad and Adam for lending their expertise on this project.

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Elisa Crees - April 22, 2016 - 5:23 pm

Thanks for the detailed instructions! My next refinishing project will go more smoothly with the insight you shared here! 🙂

Marc & Lee Tie the Knot!

On July 12, 2013, Lee Spracklin, one of my oldest friends, tied the knot with Marc Krasilowez in a beautiful ceremony overlooking Long Lake in Nanaimo, BC.

In this seven-minute mini-doc, Lee and Marc reflect on their relationship, and their big day.

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A Life in Moving Pictures – Jacob William Reimer – Part I

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Irene Lamberink Reimer - May 7, 2013 - 8:41 pm

I love the way that you captured all the special dates right up till Jacob’s birth, including some of your, and Janna’s own baby pictures. It is so precious to have a video like this to celebrate little baby Jake from moment that he entered this beautiful world. Love you Jakie! <3

Shannon Reimer - May 7, 2013 - 9:05 pm

Oh Nathan, this is beautiful! I just love that little guy so much! xoxox

Andrea Roszmann - May 7, 2013 - 9:07 pm

What an amazing video! Well done!

Meg Matthews - May 7, 2013 - 11:01 pm

What an incredible video Nathan! I have tears in my eyes!

Meg Matthews - May 7, 2013 - 11:01 pm

Beautiful!

Geri Page - May 7, 2013 - 11:40 pm

NATHAN…YOU are a ROCK STAR! Friggin`AWESOME MAN! I loved this video! Thank you for that..little Jake, and his future siblings are so lucky to have a papa like you, and Mama like Janna.

Audrey Wind Bergen - May 8, 2013 - 12:19 am

wow Nathan, unreal, beautiful family and you have such amazing talent, can I share this

Sarah Louise Brown - May 8, 2013 - 1:04 am

That was one of the most beautiful bany videos I jave ever seen. I had goosebumps the whole way through. He looks just like u Nathy. He is beautiful. I cannot wait to see more

Garrett Reimer - May 8, 2013 - 3:00 am

Great job! You captured some great moments 🙂

Joanne Katongo - May 8, 2013 - 4:11 am

Nathan, what a fantastic video! SO special! You did an amazing job <3

Geri Page - May 8, 2013 - 5:12 am

you should put this on You Tube and see how many hits it gets.

Sharon Jorgensen - May 8, 2013 - 2:54 pm

so special, brings back so many memories of when my kids were this small, hiccups and sneezes…so cute! Thanks for sharing <3 well done Nathan and Janna.

Michelle Brown-Koval - May 8, 2013 - 3:38 pm

Wow! This made me cry, I almost forgot what it was like to have babies.

Carly Anne Scholze - May 8, 2013 - 3:58 pm

This video made me cry! So beautiful!

Dolores Funk - May 8, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Wow Nathan! So super talented. And what a beautiful family. So happy things are going well for you!

Arc En Ciel Lav - May 8, 2013 - 4:18 pm

These videos are so amazing! @[519531468:2048:Janna Reimer] you are so loved! 🙂

Kathryn Ferrari - May 8, 2013 - 4:21 pm

Amazing video!! You are so talented. I love that beautiful boy <3

Christopher Dale - May 8, 2013 - 4:52 pm

Super video Nathan…very inspiring. He looks like you already…a smashing young man!

April Fox - May 9, 2013 - 2:18 am

sooo beautiful…love is such an incredible gift and yes, I cried 🙂

Kathy Smith - May 9, 2013 - 5:14 pm

What a beautiful and moving tribute to your sweet little son, your beautiful wife, and the joy and love you share. You have captured moments and memories that will last forever.

JJ Shanks - June 30, 2014 - 8:12 pm

Just re-watched this…such a touching tribute to little Jacob. LOVE the sneeze montage haha. It’s amazing how much he’s changed in a year

Jannathan

I met Janna Smith March 16th, 2002 at a mutual friend’s birthday party. That was the most pivotal day of my life; I feel so proud and lucky to call Janna Reimer my wife, and best friend. This video is for you, Jannathan.

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Irene Lamberink Reimer - May 7, 2013 - 8:49 pm

Well done! I love this! She really is a beautiful girl and you are one lucky man! (she’s pretty lucky too) <3.

Alice Perkin - May 7, 2013 - 10:42 pm

I remember very soon after you two met, that Geoff told me that you thought you would marry that girl. You are a wonderful couple with a lovely baby. God bless you all.

Audrey Wind Bergen - May 8, 2013 - 12:26 am

amazing

Carly Anne Scholze - May 8, 2013 - 4:08 pm

Love It!

Geri Page - May 9, 2013 - 2:07 am

AWESOMENESS…what a wonderful tribute. You both are beautiful…inside and out…LOVE!

Sarah Louise Brown - May 9, 2013 - 2:50 am

She is stunning! !! And you cousin, are the most talented person I have ever known. I’m so proud to call you guys family. Love I and your little family

Maureen Doran Dollman - May 9, 2013 - 5:22 am

You always continue to out do yourself! Let that creativity keep on coming Nate…………….awesome!

Kathy Smith - May 12, 2013 - 3:18 pm

Wow! That was an amazing and moving video with so many little enriching touches. What a fabulous tribute, and the soundtrack, of course, couldn’t be better.

Skip Brown

Skip Brown playing Guitar-2 copy

Skip Brown, shortly before his death in 1969. Photo: Richard Reimer

These days, a trip home to visit my folks in Lantzville, BC, includes an interview with my dad, Richard Reimer. We usually sit and talk over a few beers, mostly about him and his counter-culture friends back in the 60s. These stories are priceless, and most times I roll a tape recorder on them, going to bed feeling like I just hit the jackpot.

Skip Brown—an outspoken singer/songwriter from Swift Current, Saskatchewan—was known as the crazy one in the group, and he took his experimental drug use further than the others. Skip was an artist to the core, and spent most of his time shooting dope and writing poetry for days on end. He kept his many cocktail napkins of song lyrics and poems hidden inside an old stove, doubling as a filing cabinet. In addition to being a prolific wordsmith, he was also a loyal friend. And those who knew him best, including my dad, worried about his reckless lifestyle, fearing his drug abuse would inevitably kill him; he died of a heroin overdose in 1967, aged 27.

But what about all of his work, saved up in that old stove? Gone—tossed to the curb along with the rest of his belongings. I’ve often wondered how things would have unfolded had someone taken the time to preserve and curate his work. Perhaps we would be celebrating his work today the same way we do Vivian Maier, whose photography was discovered posthumously.

I find my dad’s past fascinating. And with his permission, I’ve taken some of his stories, tossed them in a blender with a bunch of my own stories and ideas, and have found a way of fitting them together to tell one tale. I look forward to sharing a few pages of my novel, The Swift Current, with you soon.

-Nathan Reimer

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Irene Lamberink Reimer - May 7, 2013 - 8:51 pm

He loves staying up till the wee hours of the morning telling you those stories Nathan! It certainly was an interesting time.