A paint job for a bass. Is a luthier the best place to go?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Ian the bassist, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. Hello. For anyone who has experience in this field. I am buying a new bass very soon. The only problem is the colour of the bass. Not for me. I would prefer to get it changed. So wanted to take to whoever would paint it for the cheapest. Also if there is any Irish users, what is the best place for this job?

  2. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    The best place to go for a inexpensive paint job would be a auto body shop.
    A lot of times they have small quantities of left over paint and will do the job cheap.
  3. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I did just that a bunch of years ago. The auto-body paint shop's owner was a guitar player and he gave me a really cheap price. I ended up with a beautiful Honda green and that bass still looks great.
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Auto body shops are a crap shoot. Some will do a good job. Many will not.

    The guys who shoot cars are most often concerned with how the finish looks from three feet away. Good ones care how their work looks from twelve inches.

    Guitars have to look good from one inch away from the surface. Why? Because guitar players are that demanding of a glass smooth finish. Not every (few?) guys who shoot cars all day are up to the task.

    Find a good guitar tech. He doesn't get rich on insurance claims and probably needs the money more than Earl Scheib.
  5. Rocky McDougall

    Rocky McDougall Guest

    Apr 19, 2008
    San Antonio, Texas
    What 202dy said.
  6. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    The biggest problem with auto body shop painters is that they are used to putting the paint on very thick, with little concern for what happens at the edges and fittings. They don't make it glossy by wet sanding between coats and buffing it out. They get gloss with thick layers of clear. That works fine on cars.

    When you get a bass neck and body back from them, they will look beautiful and colorful and glossy. And then you try to put the instrument back together. The neck won't fit into the pocket. There's a thick, sharp line edge of paint along the edge of the fingerboard. The tuners don't fit in their holes. The recess for the rear access cover is washed away by the thickness of the paint. The pickups won't fit into their routed recesses. Etc. The whole instrument is encapsulated in 1/16" of plastic.

    I've helped out a couple of customers who brought me instruments painted like that by their friends at body shops. They found out that my labor to fix all of those "little details" was much more than they paid to get it painted. I won't even touch an instrument like that any more.

    Painting an instrument is tricky, and the paint has to be put on relatively thin with lots of special care at the edges and holes. It has to be carefully hand sanded several times during the process. That's where the labor goes. You can't just slop on 1/16" of polyester over the bare wood and be done with it. On my basses, about 1/3 of the total labor to build the instrument goes into the painting.

    I'm not putting down auto body painters. I'm sure that there are many who can do the job right. But if they do, it involves a lot of labor and they are going to charge you for it. If all you want them to do is squirt on a bunch of paint for cheap, you are going to have a lot of problems.
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Go to a guitar repair shop that knows how to do refins. Plan on spending hundreds of dollars for a good job.

    Body shops don't know anything about refinishing WOOD to the level of finish an instrument requires. You are extremely unlikely to be happy with the result. But unless an instrument is worth $1000 or more, it's probably going to cost you more to have a good refinish done than the instrument is worth.

    The best idea? Buy the instrument in a color you like. Best alternative: learn to refinish it yourself.

    Here you go: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f18/threads-describing-how-refinish-bass-764306/
  8. I am buying the bass second hand. So I can't get it in another colour. The bass is a left handed 2001 Warwick Streamer Jazzman. So I would be nervous of wrecking the bass since it's worth so much money. But I might try it with my old sx bass for practice
  9. So it's a hit and miss affair. I'm not a gambler with that kind of thing. So I think it'll be a safe passage for me lol. How much does a paint job usually cost? I had a design in mind. Nirvana black with two natural wood lightning bolts going through the center.
  10. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    A good quality paint job on a bass, done by someone like Pat Wilkins (California, USA), will cost US$300-$500. Pat specializes in painting instruments, and he'll do all of the details right. It'll come back to you reassembled and set up.

    There's got be someone in Ireland like Pat, who has experience painting instruments!