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I'm painting a guitar using acrylic paints - Daler-Rowney system 3. I sanded off the old finish on the guitar, and have spray painted it white, before applying multiple coats of paint. I noticed, however, that the water from the paint has caused the grain to raise up, so I have applied a very watered down layer of filler and allowed it to dry fully, before sanding to level and smooth the body of the guitar, which was damaged by a previous owner.

I learned later that this is not the correct way to do things and filling and sealing/priming should have happened first. However, a lot of paint has gone onto the surface, and I don't particularly wish to sand the entire guitar down again (I don't own a sander). Is it ok if I simply continue applying coats of paint? Should I add some form of sealing or priming layer at this point? Or is my only option if I want this paint to adhere properly to start completely from scratch?

My intention is to paint the guitar with a design and then seal it with multiple coats glossy spray lacquer, buffing it to a shine.

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    Unrelated to your query you're going to experience poor durability from the System 3 acrylics. If you build up a fairly consistent film of paint from these paints they'll undermine any clear coat you put on top.... not a perfect analogy but it's a bit like building on quicksand. For this type of thing with a hand-painted design on it you really want to use something that dries good and hard, like traditional enamels.
    – Graphus
    Sep 25 '20 at 17:20
  • @Graphus would something like a layer of watered down PVA over the work alleviate this? What would you recommend?
    – Deep
    Sep 25 '20 at 17:28
  • No, that could make it worse in fact. There's no way to mitigate the weakness of part of the layering here, in much the same way that you can't get pine to be as durable as oak by putting a hard finish on top.
    – Graphus
    Sep 25 '20 at 17:46
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I learned later that this is not the correct way to do things and filling and sealing/priming should have happened first.

Based on what you've read so far you might be surprised to find out that those two operations can actually be best done the opposite way around and not in the order you've listed them1.

Is it ok if I simply continue applying coats of paint?

There's no way to know for sure how this will turn out.

People can make judgement calls about this kind of thing based on their experiences doing multi-finish finishing and refinishing on other projects — for example using wall paints (emulsion/vinyl) with some type of clear coat on top — but it still essentially amounts to guesswork. It's not to do with the limited information provided in the Q (e.g. the unknown primer and filler you've used) it's that without at least some form of testing2 there's zero way to be sure.

And further to my Comment above, arguably the main issue here is the use of the System 3 acrylics in the first place. Paints of this type don't dry hard, they're slightly rubbery when fully cured. And in addition, not a few of the colours have mediocre lightfastness because of the inexpensive pigments used for a lower-cost paint range like this.


1 Classic example of the variability of information available in written sources! This problem has always existed to some degree, but it's been compounded greatly by Internet-based reference sites and how-to guides.

2 Using not just something like the paints, primer and filler you've used, but the exact same ones.

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Just scuff up the surface with some sandpaper and clean it scrupulously before the next coats.

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