The back story:
I joined this site for this forum, I've been reading a lot and have just finished my first real lacquer job. I built guitars in the 80's and 90's but mostly did oil finishes or sent them out for poly. Towards the end I did a bunch with one of the first water based lacquers Hydrocote with mixed results. But now it was time a "real" lacquer finish.
The donor subject for this job was this $100 rather nice Fernandes Jazz bass clone.
There was nothing wrong with the finish except I don't like sunburst. I do like sparkly green!
These are the paints in the final finish.
I was impressed with how well they worked for the most part and the job was pretty simple. Sand the old poly finish just to clean up the surface and flatten things up a bit. Spray primer until all the old sunburst was hidden and I could block sand it all nice and smooth. 2 or 3 medium coats of MetalFlecks till the primer was fully hidden and then 2 light coats since that seemed to make the sparkle look the best. 1 can of Metalflecks did the body once and the headstock twice (whoops). 1 can of Minwax clear was enough to do the body and headstock.
Then I wet sanded with 600 - 1000 - 1500 and then hand polished with Meguiars Fine-Cut Cleaner and Machine Glaze. I didn't spend the time and effort you would on an expensive guitar and there are some imperfections in the finish but I'm very pleased as to how well it looks from a few feet away.
There were a few problems along the way. I tried to use the rattle cans of acrylic clear Duplicolor sells but 3 months later it was not dry and if you touched it it would leave fingerprints. The Minwax would be harder in an hour than the Duplicolor was in 3 months.
I had some bad luck with decals. I started using inkjet paper because I have an inkjet instead of finding a laser printer. The first attempts to lay down a decal on the Duplicolor clear worked fine.
But when I tried to bury it each coat would raise the edges of the decal and I could never get the edges to blend. After a few dozen coats I just gave up, stripped it and decided to not use a decal. I tried again after switching to the Minwax clear after the Duplicolor disasters but then I couldn't get the decal to stick to the finish and it kept showing air underneath. I realized this guitar just doesn't want a decal. So I did this instead.