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Ready for assembly

Creating a Candy Apple Red finish

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.

Starting the primer coat
Starting the primer coat

Once the primer was on I sanded it smooth ready for the gold layer.

Primer coat complete
Primer coat complete

I’m using my “Gold Top” lacquer. I could have used a different gold or Inca Silver.

Here’s the first coat which you can see is quite transparent but it soon builds.

First pass of gold lacquer over the primer
First pass of gold lacquer over the primer
Gold lacquer layer is done
Gold lacquer layer is done

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.

Spraying the red, first coat very light
Spraying the red, first coat very light

A whole can of Clear Red has been applied. If I had wanted a darker red, I could have sprayed more coats.

Red colour building with more coats
Red colour building with 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.

The gloss top coat is shiny right out of the can
The gloss top coat is shiny right out of the can

I sprayed a whole can of Clear Gloss and then left it to harden.

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.

Flat sanding the final coat
Flat sanding the final coat

Once the orange peel was mostly eliminated I buffed to a high gloss using my favourite T-Cut on mutton cloth.

Buffing using T-Cut
Buffing using T-Cut
The buffed area gleaming
The buffed area gleaming

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.

Ready for assembly
Ready for assembly

All in all I used:

Plus the Sanding Sealer prep previously of course.

One Comment on “Creating a Candy Apple Red finish

  1. Very beautiful guitar you have there. Congratulations on yet another great project!

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