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Ash body bass: best way to finish it

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sheepdog, Feb 5, 2004.


  1. sheepdog

    sheepdog

    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    I have some, but not alot of experience in wood working/finishing. I want to build a bass with just an ash body with some sort of transparent/natural finish. I like the glossy natural finish that you see on alot of jazz basses. For someone with my experience, what you would be the best finish?

    Oil?
    Lacquer?
     
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    I think Fbass has it down; George F. puts on a black stain and then sands it off, so the wood grain is really enhanced, followed by an oil finish, which is easily applied (I've even done one). Lacquer is a much more advanced finish that would probably require a sprayer and sectioned-off spray booth.
     
  3. sheepdog

    sheepdog

    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    you have any links to a "how-to". I like the idea of enhancing the grain. Would I need to seal it before I add the oil? I heard ash is thirsty, so might require alot of finish. Will the oil give a glossy look?
     
  4. Czar

    Czar

    May 6, 2003
    New Jersey
    Oil or wipe-on poly are the easist. Depending on the type of finish you want, you can fill the grain with grain filler first. It would look more "pro."

    If you want a more "natural" woody feel, you can get away with applying the oil using sand paper. As you work the oil in with the paper, you will create a paste of wood dust and oil. Work this paste in the grain. Do that a bunch of times until the grain is filled to your liking and finish with a few extra coats.

    You can get either matte or gloss tung oils, or even colored ones.
     
  5. Czar

    Czar

    May 6, 2003
    New Jersey
    This is ash, using colored tung oil, and finished with a gloss oil
    [​IMG]
     
  6. mikgag

    mikgag Guest

    Mar 25, 2002
    I told ya I'd walk you through it. :spit: :smug:
     
  7. sheepdog

    sheepdog

    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    hey, just getting extra feedback...never hurts

    I would still prefer to have a Jaf!
     
  8. Carey

    Carey

    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Actually Brian, George uses lacquer to finish his instruments. And, he's thinking about moving to someting more durable.
     
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    This is right from the Fbass website:
    "Choice of oil, lacquer or cerusé. Oil finishes consist of nine coats of hand-rubbed oil. "

    Maybe the site hasn't been updated and he doesn't use oil any longer?
     
  10. Carey

    Carey

    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Ahh Brian, you may be right about the site, but I've never seen an oiled F Bass. That's not to say they don't exist, they're just not that common. Of course, I could ask George...
    I think I will...
    I'll report later.
     
  11. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Catalytic finish would be a great alternative to Nitro Laquer. It is far more durable than nitro(it isn't affected by weather), and still goes on thin. Longer drying time though.
     
  12. LizzyD

    LizzyD Chocoholic

    Oct 15, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Sadowsky Artist
    I've built 2 Carvin kits using swamp ash bodies, on one I used straight tung oil (Minwax, no grain filler), and the other I used a tung oil-based purple stain followed by Minwax wipe on poly.

    The plain tung oil looks beautiful, shows the grain nicely, and is satin-smooth but not glossy. It's super easy to apply. This is the tung oiled bass.

    The stained oil/poly has a little shine to it (I chose the gloss kind, not the satin kind) and more protection. It's not glossy like a lacquer finish would be, but I like it and can still feel the grain through the surface because I didn't use a grain filler. I stained really dark at first then sanded it down to enhance the grain, then restained til I got the color I wanted. Here's a page on my site where I show the process of building this one, but I'm no expert. I kind of made things up as I went. Here's a pic of the stained guitar.
     
  13. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    That Purple guitar is pretty sweet. You mention that you can still feel the grain. How noticible is it?

    -Nick
     
  14. I have an oiled swamp ash F-Bass built in '91, but I haven't seen another like it for around fifteen years. The current finish as shown looks and feels smoother and a bit more glossy than it did originally due to the addition of a few light coats of orange oil/wax applied over the years.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Colonel_Claypoo

    Colonel_Claypoo Steve Harris nut

    Oct 24, 2007
    Germany
    is tru-oil recommended for ash?
     
  16. Colonel_Claypoo

    Colonel_Claypoo Steve Harris nut

    Oct 24, 2007
    Germany
    bump,

    what's your preferred method of finishing ash excluding solid colours?
     
  17. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I've used Tru-birch to touch up my ash-bodied Bossa. Looks fairly nice, easy to apply, but not terribly durable. My right thumb has the tendency to rub raw spots between the pups. As a result, I've been leaning more towards the poly-finished instruments. I've also considered adding either a ramp or clear self-stick vinyl solely for the protection.

    Riis
     
  18. Colonel_Claypoo

    Colonel_Claypoo Steve Harris nut

    Oct 24, 2007
    Germany
    is a poly finish a clear gloss finish? if so, is there any way to apply it without a spray gun?
     
  19. eots

    eots

    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=469124
    A link to my recent ash jazz refin.
    In summary, I modelled an F-bass but of course not quite as nice. I started with a B-hefner ash body, sandblasted it, a coat of black stain, sanded down to keep stain in grain then stained red. Finished with sanding sealer and water based poly.
    One key seemed to be the hardness of the wood. Northern ash vs swamp ash. I had a piece of northern ash that I practiced on and the result was nice clean lines like on Sandberg and F-bass. The actual results on the b-hefner body came out a bit rougher.
     
  20. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Very nice but it appears as if the poly settled into the grain despite using sanding sealer. In retrospect, if you had to do it over, what would you change?

    Riis