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Finish sticky and smells like cat pee!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by tmc2300, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. tmc2300


    Feb 8, 2012
    Chicago, IL
    I checked out a friend of a friend's bass this afternoon to potentially purchase. It's a 1982 Fender Precision and it's been locked up in a case for some time. Right as I opened the case to have a look I noticed that the finish looked like it was dripping off. It was really tacky and sticky. Fuzz from the case was stuck all around the back. Worst of all it smelled like cat pee! They assured me that they had no pets. I didn't buy the bass. So what's up with the finish? Would the smell go away if I were to refinish it?
  2. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    It sounds like there may be something going on with the finish.
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Is it a nitro finish?
  4. nashman


    Feb 11, 2011
  5. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    It could certainly be a finish issue or its possible that the bass was peed on by a cat. Lets just imagine a stored case was peed on (perhaps mutiple times) by a cat and the owner didnt know. The urine would certainly soak in the padding/lining and if there was enough could soak into the crevices of the bass and soak into the wood. Even water will make finish peel off and do strange things if it gets into the wood. Cat pee could only be worse, and may even have some stuff in it (ammonia?) that could start to break down the finish over time and make it soft like you described.

    Probably a smart moving skipping on that one either way.
  6. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    A urethane finish? I had a '60's Ampeg that had this problem and it didn't go away. Not storing it in the case made it tolerable though.
  7. Sounds like the finish is poly-urinethane
  8. That's quite punny! ;)
  9. I agree, cat urine is high in ammonia and we all know it is a strong chemical and can rake havoc on finishes.
    As to refinishing it, of course you can and it would rid you of the smell, but do you want to chance ruining the under lying color/finish work. Do you want to take on the project as well. Just some things to ponder.
  10. Mtnman


    Jun 5, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Maybe rodent urine...
  11. Another thought on this,,, I had built a guitar for my GF's daughter and their cat had peed on it. Peeled the Lacquer paint job off, corroded the chrome and other metals, ruined the pup and switch's. So check out the hardware as well, it may be affected and or trashed.
  12. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    I borrowed a can of lacquer from my girlfriend's father, and it smelled like cat pee whilst I was spraying it and whilst it gassed off. I recently stripped the body I had sprayed it on, and sure enough it bubbled and melted easily and gave off the feline aroma for a second time.
  13. tmc2300


    Feb 8, 2012
    Chicago, IL
    I thought it was nitro, but I'm no expert. There was a little rust on the bridge and a little on the pickups. It's a clear finish with an ash body. Beautiful grain and tone, but it just smells terrible! I'd hate to get it refinished only to find that it still smells. Looks like I'll pass. Thanks!
  14. I'd go for it if the price was right. Doesn't sound like it's beyond the pale. I'd refin it and put it in a new case. Ditch the old case. Cases aren't vintage. Cases are luggage. I don't see what the fascination is with old ones. If there was some kind of chemical reaction in there, before, you don't want to take a chance. A Fullerton Fender bass IS vintage, though. But given the condition, I'd bid accordingly. I'm pretty sure a mint one can go as high as a couple of grand or better But, this ain't one of those. Maybe one of our Fender experts could give you a good starting number? Should be somewhere around a refin price, minus what it's going to cost you to restore it, and then a little lower to give you some haggle room?

    Let us know and put up some pix, if you get it.
  15. autodidact


    Mar 13, 2011
    Lancaster, PA
    from 81-85 Fender Musical Instrument Co. was using cat piss to polish up Precision basses before they left the factory, common knowledge.

    Why do you think they're called Pee basses?
  16. ^Gold^
    damn kids and their Pee basses
  17. tmc2300


    Feb 8, 2012
    Chicago, IL
  18. tmc2300


    Feb 8, 2012
    Chicago, IL
    Were all '82 basses Fullerton? I've seen prices between $800 and $2000. This one was American made. Yeah, I'd have to ditch the case. Looks like the cost to refinish will run me $400 to $700 in my area.
  19. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    I assure you I did NOT whiz on this guys bass

    nope ... didn't do it

    well .... maybe ...

  20. Hapa


    Apr 21, 2011
    Tustin, CA
    OMG this thread has gotten hilarious.
    lol, rotfl

    Anyway, it could have been the off gassing of the glues in the case itself. I have seen finished nitro in a brand new skb with that old familiar stink haze the finish.

    From what you describe something smells funny

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