Below I’ll show how to achieve a Candy Apple Red finish on a Stratocaster body. Candy Apple Red is based on the old custom car technique of spraying clear lacquer over a metallic base coat, and was Fenders only truly “custom” colour, all the others being repurposed car finishes. I have itemised the process in my Lacquer FAQs.
I’m using the Guitarbuild body that I previously sprayed with a 2-tone sunburst. This is actually something that Fender often did as it’s not unusual to find a sunburst under a custom colour. I think this could be for one of two reasons: firstly Fender may have had a special order for a custom colour and not had any bare bodies so used a stock sunburst body or secondly they may have just been sunbursts gone wrong that were sprayed over to hide a mistake.
You can use a prepped body in sanding sealer of course!
The first step is to spray a coat of white primer to give an even base for the metallic layer.
Once the primer was on I sanded it smooth ready for the gold layer.
Here’s the first coat which you can see is quite transparent but it soon builds.
Once the metallic layer was done it was time to start applying the Clear Red.
The first few passes of red were applied very light to avoid disturbing the metallic.
A whole can of Clear Red has been applied. If I had wanted a darker red, I could have sprayed more coats.
You can see I have a bit of roughness to the finish at this point, caused by spraying in non-ideal conditions (a strong breeze!) I didn’t sand though as the clear gloss coats would smooth everything out.
I sprayed a whole can of Clear Gloss and then left it to harden. The reason for spraying a clear coat is that if the Clear Red were flat sanded, it would be made thinner (and therefore paler) in patches. Spraying a clear coat gives a barrier against this and maintains an even colour to the red layer.
The next step once the lacquer is hard enough is to flat sand to remove any orange peel. I started with 400 grit then went through 800 and 1200 to 1500 grit using a rubber sanding block on flat areas.
Once the orange peel was mostly eliminated I buffed to a high gloss using my favourite T-Cut on mutton cloth.
Here’s the finished body. If you look closely you might see that I’ve missed a bit of orange peel here and there that I’ll go back to.
All in all I used:
Plus the Sanding Sealer prep previously of course.