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Durability of natural wood bass bodies.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rockin John, May 8, 2001.

  1. Warwick5S's recent thread about cleaning the grime from natural wood bodies inspired me to ask about the durability of natural wood.

    I might just be able to afford a Yamaha BB4NIII. The natural Alder body looks great (IMHO) when new. But what about after it's ben worn and played a good while: does the wood bruise easily, scratch easily, etc? I've seen one such bass in a store with quite nasty scratches under the strings and it rather put me off natural wood bodies.

    And can anything be done to put right scratches, etc, when it does happen?


    Rockin John
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I am far from an expert on finishes, but I can share my personal experience.

    I own a natural bubinga Warwick, and although it has a few nicks, it looks newer and in better shape than my other basses. Finished basses protect the wood, but the finish seems more delicate than the wood itself. My MM has lots of scratches in it that go through to the wood, my Fender has all these swirls that seemed to have developed on their own. The only way I know of to fix any of this stuff is to have the whole bass refinished. From my understanding, with a natural finish any minor nicks and scrapes could be easily sanded out.
  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    As alder is a soft wood, you'd expect some dents and scratches - whether natural or painted or whatever! These would normally occur on the edges of the body, and some on the rear. Abnormal events, like a fall or some idiot throwing a pint at you (don't do that kind of gigs:() will cause dents on the front.

    However, this will occur regardless of treatment!

    A natural body (i.e. oil treated and waxed) will age beautifully, and wear its dents with honour.
    Very few painted instruments are capable of that dignity.
  4. Hi Suburban: how's things?

    It seems you and Joe in effect agree.

    It's just that I was a bit worried that a natural wood bass might end up looking like an accident in a wood yard. It occurred to me that after quite a short time the finish - indeed the whole appearence might be ruined. I sorta suspected that the back might suffer quite badly what with belt buckles and all that. OK you don't look at the back all that often but.....

    I know the hard paint (is it Polyester?) finishes soon get ruined when dinged: I guess that might well look worse than a bruise on natural wood. Joe talked about the swirls which I took to be loads of small cracks in the finish. But, at the end of the day, for normal usage, surely a hard finish has to be more durable than bare wood. Doesn't it...?

    It's interesting but I could never really understand how a hard finish wouldn't crack - even if the bass was never played. Wood being a natural material is given to movement and a moving component under a hard skin surely = fatigue cracks in that hard skin?

    You see, I was only ever considering something like the natural finish BB 'cos it's the cheapest. Who knows, it might even be the better buy.

  5. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA

    anyways, my warwick has 3 times the nicks and dents as my red musicman, and guess which one looks to be in better shape?

    the warwick.

    the dents aren't noticeable from further than 6 inches because theres nothing to crack and alter the light reflecting off the bass, and there aren't any smudge marks.

    any bad dents can be steamed out (not really sure how this works though.)

  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Hi, rockin'
    things are for the moment veery interesting, in a most positive way. Might get back to that one of these days...:)

    To the point: jason is ixaktly right.
    You go buy both a natural and a painted (as a mental exercise). You play them parallel. Nothing exceptional happens to any of them.
    At the end of the year(s), which will be the prettier?

    Yeah, I guess you get my drift. Less is more, ideed, when it comes to finishing wood. Enough, but nothing more.

    Do I make my point? :D Guess so.......
  7. Well guys. Seems it's all sewn up.

    Natural wood wears the best (trouble is, I've still got a hankering for something nice and white!!!)

    We'll have to see.

    OK. Off to the Basses forum now to see if we can dig up some more info on low end Yams.

    Thanks Guys.


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