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Facelift for Cocobolo Top

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rickbass, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I have bass which has a very dull-looking cocobolo top. The luthier used a combo of UV protectant and carnuba wax.

    I know it has vivid reds and oranges "hiding" in the wood because the seller of the board, Gilmer Woods, sold it as Exhibition Grade Panamanian cocbolo.....( and I saw pics of the board.....WHEW!!!).

    My questions are -

    > Can you refer me to anyone who can/would consider re-doing this top plate to bringing out the knockout colors and put a nice gloss on it that doesn't look like it's a goopy top encased in an inch of poly?

    > As for the final finish, which oil should I ask for ??? Behlen Teak Oil is highly reco'd for rosewoods. But I know Behlen Tung oil is respected, too..........then again, I'd consider Behlen Violin Varnish if you all thought is the way to go.

    Any guidanace is very much appreciated. I don't have the skills or tools. Plus, it's probably a tough job with all the electronics, hardware, and an abalone inlay on the body.

  2. Rickman, I've got yer method right here. It's not destructive and IMO will do exactly what you want...

    I would definitely go with Tru-Oil applied with 0000 steel wool and then topped with a nice high solids poly. These steps have a lot of advantages over other methods. First, by applying the oil with the steel wool, you really can push it down into the grain while, at the same time, are ever so slightly sanding the finish. You will be wiping regularly so buildup isn't a problem. Several cycles of applying and drying will build a nice deep tone, expose the new colors and add depth to the light refraction. The Tru-Oil will harden (you could even polish it) and then you can move into some light coats with the high solids clear poly. Because it's got so much "pigment" (for lack of a better word) you can apply fewer coats and get real nice coverage and sealing.

    Gotta warn you though, this isn't for everybody. It'll take some patience and an eye for detail to accomplish. It'll also take a respirator to spray the poly.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Hammy - I earnestly appreciate you taking time out to give some guidance to me.

    I take it to heart.

    I'll definitely try to employ your guidance. Now all I have to do is find someone with the talent to do that.
  4. hoytbasses


    Mar 30, 2003
    Cape Cod
    I build stringed instruments.......
    one of the problems with cocobolo is that it's so resinous to begin with: it will naturally polish up with absolutely no finish on it, but the color will darken over time:

    another problem is that because of the resins in the wood, some finishes will remain gummy for long periods of time: so the above tru-oil method is a great idea. because it's a very thin, but protective coating. it should dry up nicely. if it doesn't, you can vigorously scrub the cocobolo with mineral spirits to break up the gummy stuff that's sticking: let it dry , and then try re-coating.

    have fun:

    Karl Hoyt
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks very much for your expertise, Karl.

    If it wasn't for the incredible bass tone that fine cocobolo produces, I would have had the thing built with another wood.
    But as the Alembic website says, "There is always the crown jewel of bass tone woods, Coco Bolo, with it's complex bright and dark mix."

    I really appreciate your input on the Tru-Oil!!!
  6. hoytbasses


    Mar 30, 2003
    Cape Cod
    I build stringed instruments.......
    I love the look and feel of a fretless cocobolo fingerboard but I CAN'T stand the smell of it when machining and sanding it. I wear a mask. I also built a cocobolo 'sandwich' bass (face and back of coco, mahogany core) that took FOREVER to dry using my own oil/poly mixture. I ended up using a very thin coat and a few coats of hard wax, but that bass shined up like a new dime!

  7. Rick, you've got PM
  8. Shri


    Feb 25, 2003
    France, Paris
    Oh... great!! and how was the sound like??? :cool: maybe you could put high gloss lacquer on it to protect the wood!!

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