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EBay Bass: *vintage* cigarette smell (among other things)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by northernbright, May 26, 2005.

  1. northernbright


    Jan 20, 2005
    When I saw this bass on eBay, I bid on a whim. I am no luthier, but I had recently built a bass and knew that the cumulative parts on this bass exceeded the price of the opening bid. [Warmoth Neck, EMG Pickups, Valley Arts Bass Body, Badass Bridge for 275$] Despite the misspellings and bad grammar in the description I went ahead and bid. I was in fact the only bid, and got it for the opening price. I was kind of excited, that being said, when I got it out of the box I was kind of disappointed.

    The first thing I noticed was the headstock, I had thought about it a couple of times before, but just concluded that it must have been custom made… in fact it was custom, but not done by Warmoth, but instead a band saw. It appears that the previous owner just cut off a bit of the vintage Fender headstock to make it that shape, and did a pretty bad job sanding it. Not to mention, the ‘unfinished neck’ was not so unfinished, but de-finished; sanded off.

    Another obvious problem is that either the bridge or the neck is out of alignment (or both) because the strings are not even on the neck.

    To top that off it smells like someone was using it as an ashtray for the last couple of years.

    So in conclusion I have a few questions:
    1. What can I do to get rid of the cigarette smell? (Short of spraying fabreeze on it, the last thing I want to do is spray it with some over the counter chemical cleaner)
    2. Does anyone know anyone in the Seattle area that could clean up the neck (maybe cut the headstock down to a telecaster shape and even it out) and refinish the neck? And if you do, what kind of money are we talking?

    Thanks a lot!
    Ian Smith
  2. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    1) I figure the best way to get rid of the cigarette smell is to wash it thoroughly. A bit of naptha on a cloth is usually a safe bet. Don't use isopropanol as it can cloud the finish and lacquer thinner can soften it. If all else fails, you can try some water with baking soda. Baking soda tends to do a good job of getting rid of smells, but it's a bit abrasive so it might scratch your finish.

    2) Necks tend to be fairly easy to refinish. Just spend some time with some sandpaper on the headstock until you've got it nice and smooth and proceed to finish. Tung oil tends to be a popular choice for necks, though I've also used polyurethane.

  3. northernbright


    Jan 20, 2005
    Thanks for the reply, i went ahead and put the bass into an empty case i had with a bunch of baking soda, i'll leave it in there for a while until its nice a minty.
    As for the refinishing, what kind of sand paper would you suggest to prep for the refinish, and should i do anything to cover up the frets. Is there a thread that could walk me through the process?
  4. pocket_groover

    pocket_groover Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Northern California
    I had a house fire a few years ago and found out an effective way to get rid of the smoke smell is to place it in an ozone chamber. Apparently, the ozone molecules are small enough to penetrate everything and oxidize the smoke particles.

    It's apparently safe for everything (including vintage guitars) except for anything made of rubber. The ozone oxidizes rubber.

    Hotels use ozone generators to clear up their smokey rooms.

    There are places that recover smoke damaged items from fires that have ozone chambers that you can use. I don't know what the cost is.

    At this ozone level, though do not be exposed to it; it'll make you sick.
  5. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    www.reranch.com and www.guitarrefinishing.com are a website and forum respectively that deal exclusively with finishing and refinishing instruments. 'Round these parts people can get upset about solid colours since we're so hung up on buying fancy woods, but they don't seem to have any such issues.

    Personally I like a natural or transparent finish, but I guess that's why I spend more time here than there.


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