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Does paint make difference in tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by killer, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. killer


    Jan 7, 2013
    Nitro vs poly or whatever?
    And One is better than another for the body to resonance or it's just a look question?
  2. Black is the best tone paint.
  3. eyeballkid

    eyeballkid Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2009
    its also the best paint for black metal!
  4. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    White for brighter tone, black for darker tone.

    In fact, a white bass with flats is even brighter than a black bass with roundwounds.

    An aside, red provides better sustain in the middle register.
  5. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Does paint make a difference in tone?

    If its 6 inches thick I'd say yes.
  6. White is lighter!
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Some will argue. I say nope. I like how nitro wears down over time better than the more glossy nitro finishes. So I do have a preference. But it has nothing to do with tone.
  8. Sparkdog


    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    You may not get a serious answer to this question here, but I'll try :)

    The answer is: Maybe

    Vintage purists will tell you that nitro, being thinner and softer, will let the wood of the body resonate more and thus enhance the tone. It also lets the wood breathe and age. Nitro wears easily and over time the gloss and color will change. I like that, and I also prefer the feel of nitro.

    Poly finishes are much tougher and are damn near impossible to wear out. They seal the wood so no real aging of the wood is going to happen.

    As far as impact on tone, I personally believe the wood itself has a lot more to do with that than the type of paint used on it. Lightweight bodies tend to be more resonant and that's the sound I prefer.

    All of this is very subjective, if you look around TB you'll find plenty of folks who say the wood makes no difference at all. You can either hear a perceived difference or you can't...not worth arguing about in my opinion.

    It DOES make a difference to me. I can play a bass unplugged in a quiet room and generally tell if it works for me. A bass that doesn't sing acoustically never gets better when you make it louder IME.
  9. JIO

    JIO shaken - not stirred Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Yes, as alembicguy sez' - unless it's excessively thick it matters little tone-wise unless the resonant quality of the wood is critical. Especially on a solid-wood instrument. All wood has a resonant quality, but if a standard thin paint-job is applied over many nuanced but same style of bodies and they are all built up exactly the same will you be able to hear a difference? Maybe, but even an allparts J neck will be different from another allparts J neck (wood which is organic), even if they look exactly the same. On a hollowbody, a bit more to consider. The varnish on a violin is only there to seal and protect the wood, which is where the tone comes from. The makers aim is to protect/seal it w/o damaging/deadening the woods resonance. This is where the 'secret' varnish formula's come in. Necks are possibly more of an issue in this regard as so much of the tone relates to this critical piece of the tone-puzzle.
  10. kelleysdad


    Dec 12, 2007
  11. killer


    Jan 7, 2013
    That's a serious answer!
    Thanks man, that's what I'm talking about!

    For al the others " white is bright " " black is darker " go play your bass
  12. musicman666


    Sep 11, 2011
    What color for Christian Metal?
  13. kander


    Feb 3, 2007
    I have two Precisions: a 1975 (nitro, sunburst) and a 2008 (poly, black), both with maple fingerboards.

    I hear a noticeable difference with these two unplugged. The 1975 just sounds fuller, richer, and better in every way.
  14. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Which of the 2 do you prefer because I also believe if one is your favorite then you've already told your ears that that one sounds better in your mind.
  15. inthevelvet

    inthevelvet Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Washington DC
    white, of course
  16. inthevelvet

    inthevelvet Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Washington DC
    I don't doubt you hear a difference, but whether it has anything to do with the paint is unknown. Are they made of the same wood? Do they weigh the same?
  17. Yellow and black Strypes.
  18. you could make a blind test with sound clips. Just record a clip with the bass in its normal state than record the second after sanding out all the paint. It could be very informative to all talkbass.
  19. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    I play a lot of blues.....but I hate blue basses. Am I screwed? Seriously, between amps, speakers, pickups, strings, wood, preamps, etc, I doubt paint will make a noticable diff.
    It's a bass...just f'ing play!
  20. Batmensch


    Jul 4, 2010
    Media, PA.
    IMO, absolutely no. The paint will not make any difference at all.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 6, 2021

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