Painted Bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Troiani, Apr 3, 2014.


  1. Troiani

    Troiani

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    I bought a 1952 Kay Swingmaster on Ebay that has been painted dark brown. I don't know what type of paint was used. Any advice on how to remove the paint without damaging the original finish ?
    Thanks !
  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    IF it were a thick poly finish, it could be done by wet sanding the brown off and polishing the original clear back out. But nitro is so thin, it will be nearly impossible to sand off the brown without damaging the nitro finish underneath it. (I am just assuming its nitro, I don't really know). I think you are stuck with either the brown, or having it stripped or having it refinished with the original color.
  3. Troiani

    Troiani

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    So, you think Kay used a Nitro finish ? That never occurred to me. Thanks.
  4. Troiani

    Troiani

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Check this out .. from http://www.kaybass.com
    Kay Finish: All materials used in finishing the bass were lacquer based. The first two coats were lacquer tinted orange, then, purfling striping was added, the third coat was lacquer with a darker tint for the sunburst effect, and the last three coats were a nitrocellulose based lacquer, clear. Dual colors were used from the very beginning. Many of the early basses show a second color (reddish or blackish) on the outer edges of the bass. About bass with Ser# 9000 the reddish color starts to color the inner parts of the bass in very poor symmetry (New untrained painter at the start of the WWII, my guess). Near the end of the war, about bass with Ser# 12,000 the second color becomes more of a starburst with the black finish on the outer edges of the bass. A brown finish with the black starburst finish is a very famous color for the 1950's Kay basses. Recently a Kay bass owner totally refinished a blonde S-9 bass and it turned out be not only the perfect color, but the sound was maintained. His quote follows: "I ordered from Stewart Macdonald company www.stewmac.com
    the following items. (1.) #5364 ColorTone liquid Pigment for Waterbase Lacquer (yellow) (2.) #3883 ColorTone Aerosol Clear Sanding Sealer.( 3.) #5572 ColorTone Waterbase Lacquer. (4.) #3881 ColorTone Guitar Lacquer Clear Gloss. I mixed the pigment with the Waterbase Lacquer and applied it first (sanding and adjusting for imperfections). "


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  5. T-Bird

    T-Bird

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Location:
    Finland (Northern Europe)
    Hi.

    First You have to do some tests to find out what was the paint that was used.
    I haven't needed to remove the top layer from a DB, but on slab instruments/bikes/cars/etc., I usually do the tests on a hidden spot.
    On a DB, I'd probably choose the back, easy(ish) to re-finish.

    More than once Nitro Morse has been the answer for one-layer-at-a-time paint removal, but I always start with "kinder" solvents.

    Regards
    Sam
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I am pretty sure a Swingmaster is a hollow body guitar. But the advice would be the same.
  7. T-Bird

    T-Bird

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Location:
    Finland (Northern Europe)
    Hi.

    I stand corrected.

    I just thought that this once someone had wandered over from the dark side for a change :).

    About the only Kay's I see talked about here at TB are the DB's. Hollow bodies and slabs, not that much.

    Regards
    Sam
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    Totally understandable, I would have made the same assumption if not for the fact that I saw a Stewmac article about a Kay acoustic. If not for that I would have never known they made anything other than double basses.

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