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Masking tape removing guitar paint/veneer?

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  • Masking tape removing guitar paint/veneer?

    I have a crappy guitar that I use to practice/learn guitar repair/maintenance. I recently taped fingerboard and neck side of the body to do fret job on it, using 3M masking tapes (see attachments). After removing the tape I realized that paint or veneer in the parts of the body that I masked started to come off (also attached).

    I thought masking tapes are used widely for this purpose so I'm a bit surprised. Did I do it wrong, or is this because this is a very crappy guitar with bad paint job? I was thinking doing fret jobs to other, more expensive and high quality guitars, but now I'm a bit worried that I may have the same problem on those as well. If it matters, the tape stayed on for 2 or 3 days.

    Is this normal?



  • #2
    1) IMGUR does not show your image but a black screen.
    Post somewhere else or even better, straight here.

    Forum includes the option to do so, check the "image" options.

    2) I think you had a VERY crappy paint job, but need images for confirmation.

    Paint will NOT come out from any properly painted guitar, which is 99.9% of them

    Couldnīt see which tape you used, but here in Argentina we have 2 kinds of paper masking tape, the whitish (actually very light cream) regular type, and the blue "construction" type, with much reduced adhesive content.

    Construction workers complained regular tape pulled "fresh painted" doors, frames, etc. and they couldnīt wait a week for it to harden, so this light version was made for them, just in case find and use your local version.

    Remember to fill in your *country* at least, city even better, in your forum member panel, answers depend a lot on that.

    3M has its own version:

    Click image for larger version

Name:	x_ZJMndUDyjylhnWphxE7-L4lMLT2rYM_dLP30_PQSYK5oDAqhwrXDhQsXZTmewkEq-wofEPuBTpGyac9cPpLlzvOd7MCWe9RxiB6BmuWZz3CsAGKSVvLMl0.gif
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ID:	915793
    "Hogar y Obra" means "Home and Construction"
    Designed to NOT remove paint.
    Juan Manuel Fahey


    • #3
      Available in the big box stores here, the blue (or sometimes light green) tape is called "painter's tape". And the regular masking tape? What's it for if not masking off areas when painting? I agree it is quite sticky - and gets very gummy when left on the "masked" surface for very long. Maybe the tape gets old?
      If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken. - Steve Conner
      If the thing works, stop fixing it. - Enzo
      We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it. - Justin Thomas
      MANY things in human experience can be easily differentiated, yet *impossible* to express as a measurement. - Juan Fahey


      • #4
        Thanks for the responses.

        Juan, I'm surprised imgur didn't work for you.. I just tried with two different browsers, with incognito/private mode, and I could see the pics. Anyways, I've also uploaded them to another site now:

        I can't upload to this site because apparently the sizes are too big, and I don't want to sacrifice quality as it's already not too easy to see the details.

        What I have is exactly the darkish blue colored ones, called "painters tape".

        I agree that it's not supposed to take off the painting. Maybe it's crappy paint job on this cheap guitar.

        Let me know if you still can't see the pics and I'll try uploading somewhere else ...


        • #5
          What you have there is an older roll of 3M 2090 tape. The earliest version of this tape was notorious for reacting with lacquer and lifting it when the tape is removed. 3M even started printing "Do not use on lacquer" on the print inside the roll, though that info is no longer there so I expect they worked it out.?. I had a problem with it on an older Ibanez guitar neck which was apparently finished with actual nitro lacquer and had to refinish the neck.

          Most guitar bodies are finished with two component catalyzed products and should be safe with that tape. It's possible that there was a similar problem to what I described though. More likely that finish just wasn't adhered very well to whatever the under coat is. Or, if there were any fissures in the top coat and the undercoat is lacquer then maybe...
          "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

          "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

          "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A


          • #6
            Thanks. You're right that this is 3M 2090, but I don't see any warnings regarding using it with lacquer. I wonder if there's a way to know if it's going to do any harm without actually ruining any of my other guitars...


            • #7
              I use 3M 2080 "safe release"/ low tack tape. It's blue as well.

              It also matters how you peel off the tape. Direction should be from flat surface to edge.

              But even lowest tack won't prevent lifting the finish if it doesn't well adhere to its substrate (wood, filler, base coat).
              I once had this problem with a polyurethane finished neck.
              Last edited by Helmholtz; 10-14-2020, 04:16 PM.
              - Own Opinions Only -


              • #8
                Image upload test:

                Click image for larger version

Name:	b7VTpVkh.jpg
Views:	67
Size:	50.6 KB
ID:	915821

                Well, it looks like you CAN directly post these pictures into the answers.

                I must have a personal beef with Imgur he he, I can access their site but when actually displaying the picture they cover it with something their page source calls "darknoise". Oh well.

                Back to your problem: I see you are working around the pickup area.
                I see *two* sets of pickup holes, also top paint layer torn off around it, I **guess** (may be wrong) that at some point pickup hole was routed again (after original finish) to mount a different pickup, or a hole was filled, or area was scratched while routing (or all 3 at the same time) , again *after* original finish, which is still sticking very well to guitar body, and an extra paint coat was added to cover that, this time not the ubiquitous 2 component polyurethane used by everybody because itīs both cheap and *strong* but some lesser quality standard one (single component, dries by evaporation) ,it might even be rattle can spray paint.

                The poor paint job might have been made by a former user or even at factory to "save" a batch of bodies which was meant for different pickups.

                I doubt you have problems with any polyurethane finished guitar, real Nitro lacquer ones are different because that paint can be re-dissolved or attacked by thinner, acetone, ethyl ether, MEK, some alcohols, etc. any day of the week and probably old adhesive contained some of that.

                Juan Manuel Fahey


                • #9

                  3M stipulates quite clearly on page 2 (of two) "Do not use with or on nitrocellulose lacquer coatings". Prior to and exclusive of any warnings about poorly adhered finishes. So I guess they really haven't worked it out, but simply removed it from the tape itself and added it to the data sheet.
                  "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                  "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                  "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the responses.


                    You can upload directly to this site, but you need to lower the quality, which as I said before I wanted to avoid.

                    All that information is really helpful, but I have no idea how to tell what coating a guitar has.

                    I don't know if it makes sense but here's what I'm trying right now: I pasted a piece of tape to the back of my Ltd EC-401. Back of this guitar is already full of belt rash from being played a lot so it's no big deal if some of the paint come off. I'll keep this on for a few days and then remove it to see whether it'll have a similar effect.


                    • #11
                      That's a good practice right there. The only option on a guitar that doesn't have bad belt rash would be to remove a pickup or the pick guard to access an unseen area. Most guitars are over sprayed in the pickup cavities. This doesn't take into account any UV affect on the visible finish that might change circumstances though. It's a stretch to think it could make much difference, but who knows. Also, never assume the finish on the neck is the same as the finish on the guitar unless it's a set neck or neck through design. Bolt on necks are commonly finished with a different product than the body of the same guitar so both should be tested if you plan to use tape on the neck and body.

                      The finish in the photos above looks to be the usual two component polyester or polyurethane type finish common to Asian import instruments. I think it just doesn't have a secure bond to the undercoat or, as mentioned, the undercoat is lacquer based and the tape somehow still managed a reaction through fissures in the top coat or some level of gaseous permeability in the top coat.

                      I was horrified when I unmasked that Ibanez guitar neck and the finish was coming off in patches all over. But I stripped the neck and refinished it with several coats tung oil. I liked it so much that I now strip and tung oil any neck I have that isn't on a collectible guitar. So a happy accident in my case.

                      On another note,.. I work bolt on necks removed from the guitar. You often have to remove the neck to access the truss adjustment anyway and that usually needs to be done for fretwork. I have a jig. It's just a wooden box with two padded divots that the back of the neck rest in. Obviously this eliminates any potential damage to the guitar body when masking or handling files and such.
                      Last edited by Chuck H; 10-15-2020, 01:19 PM.
                      "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                      "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                      "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A


                      • #12
                        I didn't want to remove the neck because all other guitars I have (Jackson Pro Soloist, Ltd EC-401, Ltd EC-1000) have set necks, and I want to be able to apply these skill on those as well.. I'm actually planning on installing stainless steel frets on my EC-401 (once I figure out how to remove tangs from SS frets ...).


                        • #13
                          Ah! I want to install stainless frets on my Yamaha SBG. The original frets wore much better than average, but it's time. It's a neck through with an ebony fingerboard. Lots of possibility for error there with a novice like me so I've been studying and trying to work up the nerve

                          My frankenstrat is due for frets too. It's a maple board and should be easy enough to manage except that it's a Warmoth "radius" neck. So that complicates pre radius-ing the frets (as is recommended for stainless) quite a bit.
                          "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                          "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                          "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A