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[I apologize in advance if this sounds more like an art question; looking across SE this site seemed to be the best fit for my question.]

I'm refinishing a bass guitar that I stripped down to the bare wood. The wood itself appears to be alder, from what I can tell. The current plan is to give it a single coat of Minwax Golden Oak to bring out the grain and then add some accents with oil paint, finishing with a few coats of clear satin thereafter. While I'm pretty comfortable with the staining portion of it, the paint raises a few questions:

  • Should I sand where I intend to paint after it's been stained (e.g. with 000 or 0000 steel wool, perhaps)?
  • Should there be a clear coat between the paint and the stain?
  • How soon after painting can I put a clear coat over it?
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After staining give a coat of clear finish, sanding it with a fine sandpaper (400G) to remove any raised grain or any dust that may have settled onto the drying finish. This will give you a good base to add your paint and the sanded surface will give it good adhesion. Steel wool has its purpose, but I would not use it here. That's only my opinion. My experience is the steel wool sheds metal bits everywhere, and may be a deal to clean up completely.

After the recommended dry time for the paint is over, give it your final clear coat. I know this did not answer your question about how long to wait before the top coat, but depending on what brand of paint you use, makes a difference. Each paint container always list how long it needs to dry before the next coat. Many usually only need 8 hours.

If you do not have that, the safe rule of thumb is, 24 hours if oil over oil, 2 days if water over oil. I don't know what to recommend if oil over water.

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