Like a lot of things in the music industry, guitar finishes have evolved over the decades. It used to be that you’d buy a guitar finished with a traditional stain color or sunburst pattern, in a solid color or sparkle finish, or with custom graphics applied by hand.
These days, hydrographic films are all the rage. The films can be designed with any graphic—including patterns, photos and logos—and applied quickly. They make it easy for companies and individuals to apply elaborate designs on guitar bodies, necks, headstocks and much more.
You’ve undoubtedly seen guitars with hydrographic finishes, but never seen the finish applied. This video below shows the process in actions, as a black carbon-fiber pattern is applied to a wood guitar body using hydrographic film in a water bath. After dipping, the body is rinsed, dried and sealed with a clearcoat for protection. The video is presented by El Paso Powdercoating, which provides materials, equipment and even training for hydrographic printing. You can learn more about them at their website.
Water-born paint is another popular method for finishing guitar bodied. You can see a previously posted story and video here, in which an Ibanez RG body receives a swirl finish with this method.