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Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:40 pm

I'd like to paint a scratchplate on an old Yamaha pacifica tele I've got (they don't make replacements as far as I can see). Any suggestions for what type of paint to use? Car paint or Airfix enamel? Do I need to sand it first or anything? Cheers
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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:31 am

Nobody ever done this? Really?
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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:55 pm

Plasti-kote?

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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:18 pm

used assorted kinds of paint in the past..... sand the surface to roughen it to improve adhesion, give it a couple of thin coats of primer, rub it down smooth, then colour coats as normal , thin, and rubbed back....


conical dremel polishing tools are useful for the screw holes.


(yes car paint, but normally, lightly thinned and applied with air brush, not straight from aerosol. )

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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby zenguitar » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:20 pm

Personally, I wouldn't bother painting a scratch plate. Even if replacements aren't available off the shelf most replacement manufacturers can make one using the existing part as a template. And if you have access to a decent laminate trimmer it is possible to do it yourself.

The reason I wouldn't want to paint a scratchplate is that it is a lot of work for something that doesn't last very long. Self coloured plastic is great because scratches don't show very well. But a painted finish will show scratches and wear very quickly. And once there is a scratch it doesn't take long before the paint starts to flake off the plastic.

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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Darren Lynch » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:36 pm

I got decent results using car aerosol, 'misted' from 3-ft distance (A well ventilated area is needed.

Two issues - impatiently picking up the plate before the paint was properly dry (not just touch dry), and (as Andy observes) the very rapid wear n tear.

It's also worth bearing in mind that after the novelty of having a different coloured scratch plate has worn off (scuse the pun!) you may yearn for the original.

Old Pacifica's rock.
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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:58 pm

off the shelf most replacement manufacturers can make one using the existing part as a template


Any ones you'd recommend? Thanks for all the replies!
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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Folderol » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:25 pm

An alternative - which I've not used on guitars but on lots of other things - is to make a replacement out of transparent acrylic sheet about 3mm thick. After cutting edges, cut-outs etc. smooth with progressively finer grades of sandpaper, then finish with metal polish soaked in cardboard.

Paint the reverse side. As well as being just about indestructible the acrylic seems to give extra 'depth' as well as shine to the colours. You can also get artistic and paint designs on before putting on the final background colour. As this will be on the reverse side there won't be any raised sections giving crappy reflections.
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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby zenguitar » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:27 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:
off the shelf most replacement manufacturers can make one using the existing part as a template


Any ones you'd recommend? Thanks for all the replies!

Afraid not, I just recalled searching for Pacifica replacement scratchplates for someone here a year or more ago and remembered that most of the UK suppliers offered a custom service along those lines.

I've made replacements using similar methods to the ones Folderol described. It is possible, but a lot of work to get something with really neat, clean, lines. Making scratchplates by hand is one of the jobs I hate most. So many guitars depend on the scratchplate to finish of the design and tie everything together into a whole. It can be very obvious when you get it wrong. I still have nightmares over a replacement mirrored scratchplate for a Musicman Bass...

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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:11 am

It can be very obvious when you get it wrong.


Yes, I thought about this route when I saw you can buy the blanks but I'm pretty certain I'd make a cack-handed attempt at cutting it out, bevelling the edges, countersinking the screwholes etc.

I've done some searches for custom-made ones and they're pretty expensive it seems compared with the £15 or so for an off the peg Fender or Gibson shaped one.
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Re: Painting a scratchplate--what paint?

Postby artzmusic » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:03 pm

Huge, The two options you might consider is 1. Plastic like ABS with the color impregnated throughout or 2. plexiglass. However, the plexiglass should be painted on the side facing the guitar. Think of those backlit signs. The coating needs to be applied very uniformly from a distance, several light coats built up. (If you do a design, put the dark color first, 'cause then you can eliminate masking on the lighter one) Then the pick will be scratching the clear side of the plexiglass - which can be polished as needed.

Hope that makes it simple for you

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