Stained or oiled bridge...
Is it a bad idea to do this? I HATE the bright almost white raw wood. it stands out too much. Im a dark guy...like everything black and dark!! lol! Will it mess with the bridge to do this?
edit: I have seen some Rockabilly basses that have black or dark bridges.
There have been a few posts on TB over the years regarding this and it's a bit controversial. I agree with you and used boiled linseed oil on my bridge, noticing no tonal effect.
Some luthiers use linseed oil, lemon oil, a light coat of shellac, or fume the bridge in ammonia. Personally I don't like to do anything as all of those options start to look dirty and ugly to my eye as the bridge gets some age on it, where as the unfinished bridge will tan naturally. Whatever you do, make sure to go light.
Just be sure to do it off the bass and make sure its dry before re-installing. I've seen bridges that were oiled while in place pull some wood from the top when removed later on.
I can't see how it could do any harm. If I were to stain a bridge, I would be inclined to use the kind of hue which would simulate the natural ambering that occurs as maple ages. The paint makers usually call such colors something like "Honey Maple" or "Golden Oak".
I believe a thinned-out wash coat of shellac would be safe and would get you that honey amber hue. I'm talking about a half-pound cut or so, nothing that would leave anything like a film of shellac. It's dry in minutes -- give it a light rub with some 4-ought steel wool and it will be smooth.
I use that light shellac finish all the time as a base or as a quick seal for jigs and stuff...
I'm assuming this is being done with the bridge removed, by the way.
If you want to change the color, and would prefer to use shellac (as recommended by Damon), you can change the color by adding Transtint dye to the shellac:
It's always a good idea to complete a finishing test piece, using wood of the same species, before tackling a finishing project. :)
I always give my bridges a nice French polish with a couple coats of amber shellac. If it is an old bass with a lot of mojo, I tone it down a bit more so it blends in with the rest of the look; often with a bit of dark sawdust and gunk off the floor next to the bandsaw. Everyone notices instantly and makes positive comments.
A natural wood bridge with no finish looks like a bright white pair of '80s tennis shoes.....'Still popular in some circles, but I'll leave those and the white socks and sandals look to the other hipsterz; its not "retro" if you were there the first time around....
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