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advice for delaquering bass guitar please

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Teppei Kamei, Jul 30, 2003.


  1. Teppei Kamei

    Teppei Kamei

    Jul 30, 2003
    Hello there. I'm thinking about delacquering the body of my Fender Mexican Jazz Bass.

    I have 2 questions:
    1) How will this affect the tone of the bass?
    2) What is the best way to do this?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers. - Teppei
     
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Tone? - That's a toss-up. A friend did this to his pre-CBS Precision and it sounded much better. Then again, the ash body was already 7 years old (at the time, no one knew it would be a collector's item someday). Another guy did it to his Gibson and it sounded even worse.

    How to??? - Personally, I'd take it to a luthier or qualified instrument tech.
    But I've seen do-it-yourselfers use increasing finer grades of sandpaper as they go along and then apply/rub off painter's grade naptha.

    I think asking your question TB's "Luthier's Corner" is a better place to get expert input.
     
  3. Teppei Kamei

    Teppei Kamei

    Jul 30, 2003
    Thanks for your input Rickbass. Much appreciated. Does anybody out there have any experience with delacquering a Fender Jazz Bass and whether or not you think it sounded better or worse, and if so, how? Less bass, more bass, less mids, more mids etc. Cheers. - Teppei
     
  4. CamMcIntyre

    CamMcIntyre

    Jun 6, 2000
    USA
    Would you refinish it with some sort of clear coat or would you just leave it as bare wood? Also, what year is your Fender Std. Jazz Bass? Is it one with an alder body or with a poplar? If it's poplar, if i'm not mistaken it could have some colorations that you might not like, but then again you could love it. If it's alder, i'd imagine if you got it refinished by someone who knows what they are doing it could turn out quite nicely. That's all
     
  5. doc540

    doc540

    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    No clearcoat.

    Just years of rubbing with oil.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. By-Tor

    By-Tor

    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    I did it to my Squire Bullet Bass about 10 years ago. Just used sand paper, using finer sand paper for a smooth finish. As far as tone goes I couldn't tell ya.
     
  7. Simply gorgeous.:cool:
     
  8. Teppei Kamei

    Teppei Kamei

    Jul 30, 2003
    Thanks for everyone's input. Right now I'm leaning towards sandpapering followed by oiling. What type of oil should I use? I guess that would depend on the type of wood and sorry for my ignorance but I bought the bass used and don't know what it's made of yet - is there any way of finding out without stripping the coat? Please if anyone out there thinks this sandpaper/oil procedure can be potentially disastrous in any way please let me know.
    My other concern is tone. Does anyone have any sort of general idea on the effect (if any) that delacquering the body of an Jazz bass (or any bass) will have on the sound? Take care. - Teppei
     
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Theoretically, it "opens up" the instrument's sound if it had a poly finish (which I'm almost certain yours does since lacquer hasn't been used on mass production instruments since the 60's, IME).
    Pre-CBS Fenders used lacquer and, often, sounded better over time, partly because the lacquer develops tiny cracks and allows the instrument to "breath."

    Assuming there's decent wood underneath, it could sound better. Some peoples' ears aren't that critical and they don't hear a difference.
     
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    As for oil, I like tung oil. It takes work and requires annual maintenance but it pays off in a nice, more natural looking gloss that doesn't "choke" the tone like thick poly can. Someday, I hope to get a bass with a French polish.

    Theoretically, taking off the poly "opens up" the instrument's sound if it had a poly finish (which I'm almost certain yours does since lacquer hasn't been used on mass production instruments since the 60's, IME).
    Pre-CBS Fenders used lacquer and, often, sounded better over time, partly because the lacquer develops tiny cracks and allows the instrument to "breath." Poly doesn't develop these hairline cracks.

    Assuming there's decent wood underneath, it could sound better. Some peoples' ears aren't that critical and they don't hear a difference.
     
  11. Teppei Kamei

    Teppei Kamei

    Jul 30, 2003
    Thanks again Rickbass. According to you, I would guess that delacquering a bass doesn't change the sound too drastically. Am I correct in assuming that? Because I want to do the sandpaper/oil thing just for asthetic reasons, I want to make sure that I'm not going to be affecting the sound (esp. in terms of frequency response) too much. Has anyone ever heard of anyone doing this to their bass and ended up having the sound change drastically? Let me know. I'm a little scared to do it and need some encouragement before I continue. Thanks again. - Teppei
     
  12. doc540

    doc540

    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    I've never heard of it significantly altering tone, but it can affect the weight and balance.
    Mine's a little neck heavy now but not enough to upset the balance and bother me.

    For years I just oiled mine with Watco Finishing Oil.

    One other advantage is being able to sand and re-oil nicks and scratches.

    I recommend you get expert advice on stripping the finish. On my '69 it was a project I regret starting to this very day.

    The Poly Project From Hellllll!!!
     
  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You're correct. Not that my experience has been that extensive.
    The old Precis I mentioned definitely sounded better.....but it still sounded like a Precision (which is just fine by me).

    The Gibson sounded worse, most probably because the owner sanded off too much off the wood. As you may know, Gibson solid bodies, like EB's and Thunderbirds, are so thin even before sanding. All you could hear after it was sanded down were the pickups. The walnut, or what was left of it, added nothing. Plus, it developed a horrible "ringing" sound.