Guitar Kits – Preparing the Guitar Body for Painting

Preparing the guitar body for painting

So this is the result of my labours. A guitar body after application of wood filler ready for sanding.

Build your own guitar kits – Preparing the guitar body for painting.

As you know a little while ago I bought myself a build your own guitar kit and I have been gradually preparing the guitar in readiness for putting it together.  So far I have cut the headstock which I previously wrote about.  The next task is to paint the body of the guitar; a task which I must admit I have been putting off.   There are two reasons for why I have put off starting the job of painting the body of the guitar.  The first is that I could not decide what colour I wanted to paint it and the second was the very real fear of totally mucking it up.

The colour issue was fairly easy to resolve.

Now I must admit that I like a sunburst effect on a guitar and I wanted to do a tobacco sunburst for my guitar.  However, as this is my first attempt at painting a guitar I quickly decided that I am not quite brave enough to try and attempt a sunburst.  Instead I decided to go for a single colour and settled on a rather fetching frosted charcoal colour.   Therefore after a little bit of indecision over the colour I now needed to get on with preparing the guitar body for painting.

Before I detail how I have gone about preparing the guitar body for painting it is worth me mentioning the site that has been invaluable to me throughout this guitar building project.  With very detailed blog posts on everything you need to know about building and finishing guitars it is a true gem of a site.  It is also where I purchased all the paints that I will be using on my guitar.  The site is Manchester Guitar Tech and it is run by Steve Robinson.  If you need any information about building guitars I cannot recommend this site highly enough – it is well worth checking out.

Right back to preparing the guitar body for painting.

The first thing that I had to consider was the type of wood the body was made from.  The kit I purchased had an ash body and this meant a bit of extra preparation before getting to the exciting bit of actually painting.

As ash is a porous wood it needs to be sealed prior to painting to ensure a perfect finish.  To do this I needed some wood filler and the one recommended by and sold by Manchester Guitar Tech is Rustins Natural Wood Filler.  Prior to using the Rustins the body needed to be sanded to smooth out in minor imperfections in the body.  To do this I used some 240 grit sandpaper.  Once properly sanded I cleaned off the body to ensure that the surface of the wood was free from dust.

Next up was the rather entertaining challenge of applying the Rustins Wood Filler!  I say entertaining because if you don’t like getting a bit messy you won’t like this job.

Rustins is quite a thick paste and it is recommended that it is thinned down to the consistency of double cream with white spirit prior to use.

This is fairly straightforward and therefore not a problem.

Preparing the guitar body for painting

Once the Rustins wood filler was thinned to the right consistency it could be poured onto the guitar body.

Once thinned to the right consistency I was ready for action.  I carefully poured some of the Rustins onto the guitar body and, using an old rag, started to spread it out over the body.  This for me was a big mistake.  For some reason the rag was just no good at spreading the wood filler and I found that the easiest way to apply the Rustins was to just spread it out and rub it in with my fingers.

A little bit messy but rather fun at the same time.

Preparing the guitar body for painting

I tried to rub the wood filler into the guitar body with an old rag. This proved to be a mistake!

To ensure that I was really filling the grain pores I rubbed in the wood filler in the direction of the wood grain.

Once covered I used an old credit card to scrape off the excess wood filler.  This I did by gently scraping across the grain of the wood to reduce the risk of pulling the filler out of the grain.

For me the trickiest part of this job was working the wood filler into the sides of the body and the cut-aways of the guitar.  Trying to scrape out the excess filler was not easy.

Preparing the guitar body for painting

Using an old credit card as a tool to scrape off excess wood filler is an excellent tip.

Because of the curve of the cut-outs and the rounded edges of the guitar it was extremely difficult to get a nice finish but as this needs to be sanded I decided that I was not going to worry too much about getting a perfect finish.

Having completely covered the body of the guitar in wood filler I had to leave it to dry overnight before I could do anything else.

Once completely dry the body needed to be sanded to remove any excess wood filler that I had not managed to scrape off the day before.  Using 320 grit sand paper I carefully sanded along the grain of the wood being careful not to introduce scratches into the surface of the wood and also trying not to remove the wood filler.  The idea of the sanding is to get down to the surface of the wood leaving a perfectly flat and smooth surface on which to apply the paint.

The next step is to spray the body with sanding sealer  and prime the body for painting.

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