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Clear coat over waterslide? Questions for those with bare waterslides

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by WSquires, Jan 12, 2017.


  1. WSquires

    WSquires

    Jun 11, 2015
    Calgary, Alberta
    Hey guys! I'm currently building my first bass. It's an MJT/warmoth J bass with a matching body and headstock in charcoal frost. (Build thread here) For this project, I had a custom waterslide decal made for it that I will be installing over the headstocks nitro clear coat.

    Here are my questions:

    Should I apply the decal without a protective clear coat over it? Or should I spend the time and effort to find someone locally who can apply a thin coat of nitro over the headstock once the decal has been applied?

    What are your thoughts? From what I've read the old Fenders did not have any nitro over their waterslides. Do any of you have any experiences to share regarding waterslides that did not have a protective clear coat over them? Were they damaged and/or scratched easily?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. BusyFingers

    BusyFingers

    Nov 26, 2016
    I'm curious about this, too. Your build is really cool, by the way.
     
    WSquires likes this.
  3. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    When I built mine I wiped clearcoat over it in thin coats, 4 coats like 12 hours apart. Yes, wiped on with a cotton rag. I was very careful on the first coat as I wasn't sure it would work. It was fine.
     
  4. WSquires

    WSquires

    Jun 11, 2015
    Calgary, Alberta
    I am nervous that I will screw up the finish if I apply the clear coat. It is comforting to hear someone say that it isn't a big deal.

    Still, I wonder what risks I run by not applying a 2nd clear coat.
     
  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    You are going to want to bury the decal in clear, and if you are going for a gloss headstock, you are going to want to build up enough clear so you can sand the finish level with no raised area above the decal.
     
    Dean N, Rodent, RSBBass and 1 other person like this.
  6. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    ^^THIS^^ With the caveat that, gloss finish or not, you'll probably want to build the clear up enough to have a level finish...:)
     
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If its a matte finish it will be difficult to tell if the decal is slightly proud of the surrounding finish.
     
  8. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    That's definitely true; but, you'd always know it was there...and, "in for a penny, in for a Pound"...:)
     
  9. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    In that case my opinion is that as long as there is finish over the decal to protect it it is fine.
     
  10. WSquires

    WSquires

    Jun 11, 2015
    Calgary, Alberta
    So what I'm gathering from you guys is that it is a bad idea to leave the waterslide unprotected?
     
  11. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    There is a reason you see so many early Fenders with damaged or completely missing decals. The material is very fragile and really needs to be protected by a finish.
     
  12. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Leaving mine unproteced was considered for about as long as it took to form the thought, and was immediately rejected.
     
  13. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Chicago
    I've had a waterslide come off by simply taking the bass out of the case after it had spent a couple hours in the car (midwestern winters, man).
     
  14. WSquires

    WSquires

    Jun 11, 2015
    Calgary, Alberta
    Well said.

    Living in Canada, this comment was the most compelling. But I guess expansion and contraction could/wood (I make no apologies) cause something as fragile as a waterslide to come off.

    I'm guessing that I will need the same nitro that MJT used, hey?
     
    Evanforbass likes this.
  15. iamprowla

    iamprowla

    Nov 28, 2016
    UK
    This is a handy thread - I have a custom decal I need to apply to a Mighty Mite neck's headstock.

    Apart from cleaning, is there any preparation required to the headstock before applying?

    What's best - brush or spray lacquer?

    People talk about sanding after - what's recommended?
     
  16. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Kentucky
    Too late now but I provided MJT with custom water slide decals and they applied them. One project had lacquer sprayed over top, the other didn't. I don't see any difference between the two, maybe time will tell.
     
  17. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    There's no clear coat over this logo:

    noclear.

    At certain angles you can see the waterslide sheet, but it looks ok at most angles, and from a distance. The bass was already put together when I decided to add the logo, so never bothered to disassemble it and clear coat the logo. As long as it's not disturbed, it'll be ok, but yeah, it's pretty fragile. The first attempt at applying the logo didn't come out very well, and I was able to completely remove it by scratching it with my fingernail.
     
  18. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Assuming they used nitrocellulose lacquer, I would order a can of clear from Reranch.


    On a MightyMite neck, you can use whichever finish you choose. You won't have any compatibility issues. You want to build up enough finish so you can bury the decal and sand the finish level with a flat sanding block without cutting into the decal
     
  19. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Montreal, QC
    I used Minwax Clear Lacquer to clear coat a headstock and it worked great. Easier to find (and cheaper) than Reranch clear, but I'm not sure if it's available in Canada.
     
  20. WSquires

    WSquires

    Jun 11, 2015
    Calgary, Alberta
    I would be very interested to see how both instruments fair in the long run. How long have you had them for?

    A quick internet search suggests that this is an option in Canada!
     

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