DIY JEM Style Guitar Kit (Part 2: Preparing for Paint)


It’s been awhile but I am back with my DIY JEM style guitar kit (eBay) Today we will prepare the guitar for paint.

As mentioned in my overview article, I will be doing a swirl paint finish for this JEM guitar. The steps I take in this video may be a bit excessive for some of you, depending what finish you decide on, but I wanted to ensure that this guitar comes out great.

Things you need:

3M 220 Grit Sand Paper
Lacquer Sanding Sealer
TimberMate Wood Filler
Foam Brushes


Before doing anything with the guitar body, you need to first sand down the bare wood. Doing this initial sanding will knock down any rough spots on the wood.

Take your 3M 220 grit sandpaper and wrap it around a block of wood or sanding block. As you sand down the body, make sure that you are going with the grain. This will prevent any unwanted scratches on the body.

You should now be left with a very smooth guitar body. This will also eliminate any glue on the guitar body that may have been left on by the manufacturer.

Spraying on Sealer

Now that you have a good foundation for the JEM body, we will then spray a few coats of our lacquer sanding sealer. This sanding sealer was difficult for me to find in retail stores, so you may have to order this product online as I did.

Spray two coats of this sealer on the top of the body, wait for it to dry, then flip the guitar over to spray the bottom and sides of guitar.

The reason we are spraying sanding sealer is because this will prevent the wood filler and clear coat from sinking into the grain of the body. Sometimes, not always but sometimes, the wood filler we apply in the next step can shrink over time causing tiny pin holes in the finish. This coat of sanding sealer will prevent that from happening.

Once we have fully sealed the guitar, we can now move onto the next step of filling in any deep grains that may be present on the guitar.

Wood Filler

The product that we will use to fill in any deep grains in the body is a product called TimberMate Water-Based Wood Filler. This is a great product because it is very versatile and will never expire.

The wood filler comes in a putty form that can be thinned out with water. The nice thing about TimberMate is that if it ever dries out, simply add water to it and it will rejuvenate the product. Same thing if you use too much, let the water evaporate and place back in the tub.

There are several ways to apply the wood filler to the guitar body. You can use your hands and smear it on, you can take a squeegee and scrape it on, or you can take a brush and brush it on. I am going with the brush method.

Scoop out some wood filler and place it in a bowl. Then take some water and start mixing. There is no real science or ratio to follow. Just keep mixing the TimerMate until you get the consistency that you are after with your preferred application method.

In my case, I kept mixing the wood filler until it reached a “melted milkshake” consistency. This was the consistency that I felt was ideal for brushing on the product.

Applying Wood Filler

When applying the wood filler to our JEM guitar kit, you will want to take your foam brush and brush the filler on going with the grain then across the grain. This will ensure that the wood filler is pushed deeply into the grain, creating a smooth surface once complete.

Once you have both front and back fully covered with wood filler, we can now start sanding down the filler. Make sure you are outside or in a well-ventilated room when sanding. This filler is very easy to sand and it will get pretty dusty.

You should now have a very smooth guitar body that is ready to move onto the next painting process.

Final Preparation

Completing these steps should give your DIY JEM style guitar kit a great foundation to paint on. Whether you are going with a swirl paint finish, like I am, or a different type of finish, this will give your guitar the prep work it needs to ensure a professional look.

Stay tuned!

(Get your DIY JEM Style Guitar Kit here (eBay) or here on Amazon)



DISCLARIMER: This website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees at no cost to you by advertising and linking to

Check Also

DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit (Part 4: Gluing the Set-In Neck to Guitar Body)

We are getting close to the end with our DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit (eBay) . …


  1. Hi !

    First I discovered by chance these DIY Guitar Kits yesterday morning. Then I found the Jem Kit (this guitar is a dream for me). In the afternoon I watched all your DIY Les Paul videos. So your Jem project is back at the perfect time.

    Can’t wait for the next steps, thank you from France !

  2. Hey there! I’ve been waiting for more on the Jem kit! I loved your first DIY on the Les Paul. Until I saw the Les Paul DIY series I scoured the internet for what paints and finishes guitars typically use, but after seeing that use used standard stamp ink, that has opened up a broader world of paints that I can use! 🙂 Any recommendations on paints?

  3. Hello,

    I just ordered the exact same kit and plan on doing the swirl paint job as well. Can’t wait for you to post the next videos!

  4. Hi Fred,
    Love your DIY guitar series. That blueburst Les Paul was awesome!
    The way you present each new material as it’s being used and show the manner of application is great. The pace of the videos and instruction is perfect. Keep ’em coming, please.

  5. Hi Fred, I am realy interested in doing one of these kits. My main concern is that the guitar will need maijor fret work, upgraded pickups and other setting up to be a good playing instrument. How do they compar to a store bought one with a good set up done?

    • The guitar kits will play well straight from the box. They will play even better if you do upgrades. You can not really compare them to a “store bought” guitar because are you talking about a $100 store bought guitar or a $1000 store bought guitar?

  6. Hey Fred, I’ve been following your guitar builds with these do it yourself kits. I recently purchased the les paul kit and I am really excited to start putting it together. I would really like to see more vids of you playing it, and do a more complete review of the overall outcome of the build. Your videos are very helpful!

  7. i bought a few diy guitars looking how to finish thank you showed me alot keep the good work up

  8. When is the next update? 🙂 Got me hooked on these…

  9. I’m planning on a Les Paul DIY project. Love your series, keep it up. Waiting for the update on the swirl paint.

  10. I’ve caught up to where your JEM project left off and I’m too impatient to wait, so…a question about procedure…sand; seal; sand again; wood filler; sand; primer; swirl paint; lacquer, lacquer, lacquer, lacquer…wet sand from 220 thru 1200. Is this the procedure you follow? And, do you lightly sand after painting before you start lacquer coats?

    • You got the right idea there. I have uploaded a “how to swirl paint” video on my Youtube Channel

    • Speaking from my experience as a cabinet maker, the “Sanding Sealer” isn’t necessary at all.
      If you prepare and prime the wood correctly it will be absolutely fine.
      Firstly fill any holes or imperfections with normal (neutral coloured) Wood Filler, then allow to set before proceeding.
      You need to sand the wood, following the grain, using ascending grit sandpaper to get a really smooth finish. Start with a coarse (ish) paper of 150 grit, then use higher grit papers in turn up to 240 grit to get the best finish.
      You can get an even better finish if you wipe down the wood with a damp cloth after each step of sanding, then sand again with the same paper before moving on to the next grit… This gets rid of dust properly and also brings the fibres of the wood to the surface.
      Don’t settle for only one coat of primer either as wood often needs 2 to 3 coats.
      After the first coat, give the surface a gentle sand with some 300 grit paper….or higher if available.
      Wipe down the surface with a “Tack Rag” to remove dust properly, then apply a second coat of primer.
      Repeat if needed to get an immaculate base to apply the finishing paint job, whether you swirl, spray or whatever you choose.

  11. hey fred! hows the build so far? im really excited to see how neck joint and action is. my diy telecaster kit’s neck joint was horrendous.

  12. Fred I was wondering when u were going to upload the third part

  13. Hi i wait for part 3 of DIY JEM Style Guitar Kit.