Finishes and tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by thrash_jazz, Mar 25, 2002.

  1. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hi all,

    My question is regarding the finish on an instrument and the relationship between finish and tone. If you are trying to shoot for a specific type of sound in a bass, will that affect the choice of finish?

    Also, which commonly used types of finish give which types of tone, ie, this type of finish gives good lows, bright mids, etc etc.

    Finally, are there any commonly used types of finish (ie, in furniture) that would NOT be a good choice on a bass? For what reason?

    Thanks in advance :)
  2. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    I would say that the finish is the last thing that will effect the tone. It also depends on how heavy(thick) of a finish is applied. Any kind of Laquer, oil, poly, etc won't effect a tone that much as long as it is used in moderation.

    I would be more worried on which finish gives you the "feel" you want and the protection you need.
  3. DP Custom

    DP Custom DP Custom Basses

    Feb 7, 2001
    NC, USA
    While the effect of finish material can be very subtle, in general I'd say that those with gretaer penetrating capabilities (tru-oil, etc) will lower the basic tone of the wood, while those that just sit on top (lacquer) do little if anything. My preference for Tung Oil comes from a belief that it provides both good protection and a mellowing/deepening of the tone.
    Each finish material will have it's own different effect..not necessarily bad, just different. I guess if there's any finish commonly used in woodworking that I would stay away from for basses, it's the very think marine -spar varnishes.
    4 Out of 5 likes this.
  4. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Many thanks guys! :)
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