finishing a bass to natural

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by xcental34x, Dec 28, 2003.

  1. xcental34x


    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    My friend is trying to sell his Black MIA P-bass that he got for $450. I've been wanting a MIA P-bass in a Natural Finish. Is it possible to sand the finish, cover it with laquer and it still look good? Are the woods used on MIA black and natural finishes different are pieced differently? Is there anything more than to finishing it than sanding the current finish and then spraying a couple coats of laquer on it?

  2. First find out what wood is the body made of..
    Check out its specs in Fender's website. It might be alder, which does not look bad at all in natural.
    Then.. there are other ways of getting rid of that ugly solid color.. Use paint remover and take it off with a scrapper. And also, If you're lucky, the body could have a coat of transparent satin polyurethane finish under the black paint, so the job could be much easier than you think.. If not, there are many kinds of varnishes you can use on it. there are high gloss and non glossy finishes..and there are many types of'em.. They are applied differently and some require more work and time.
  3. Hi, it's most likely alder if the bass is finished in a solid color. Alder can look nice finished natural, some may say boring, but it's ok. The only issue you may run into is that since it was meant for solid color finishing, there are most likely multiple pieces of wood joined to make the body. There may be only two, but who knows; the more pieces of wood used for the body, the worse it will look in natural.

    For info on refinishing this site is heaven sent
  4. xcental34x


    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    Yeah its an Alder body, but I think I'm willing to go for it. Reranch is way to detailed to keep my attention span. Are there an numbered step by step instructions available?

    Also, I have an Epiphone guitar that I'm wanting to strip, fix some dents, and refinish gloss black. I'm reading about all these different layers I have to add once I get it stripped? What can I do to fix or fill the dents?

  5. mslatter


    Apr 8, 2003
    Reranch step by step's are pretty good, IMO. Not to be harsh, but if you don't have the patience to read the instructions, you may not have the patience to perform the refinish. It's a LOT of detail work, much of it repetitious and relatively tedious. You've got to have a certain mindset to tolerate (or even enjoy) that much sanding.

    I stripped my alder Fender, and it was butt-ugly underneath. Lifeless grain, and nasty looking filled areas in inconvenient places. Thankfully, I wasn't looking to go natural with it, but if I had been, I would have had to change my mind.

    If they're small dents, you can use non-shrinking grain filler (this is NOT wood filler or wood putty, but a specific product not available in a lot of home improvement stores - check your local Woodcraft or Rockler store.) Several additional applications in the area of dents will do. If they're deeper gouges, you can try auto body filler. It's hard, but easy to form, and doesn't shrink. Really chewed up wood should be replaced outright.
  6. i dont know bout basses but with gunstocks you can take a wet washcloth and set it over the ding and then put an iron over the cloth until it steams real good.

    The dent should pop back out.
    I think.
  7. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    Couldn't have said it better myself! Sounds like you might not have the patience to do a refin... Mslatter is spot on - it is very tedious, especially without a decent spray rig. Check out the Dan Erlwine vids from stewmac.

    And yep, the wet rag/soldering iron dent steaming method works OK to some extent.

    You might also want to look into some of the hand rubbed finish products (like the gunstock finishes, tung oil, danish oil etc). Still a bit tedious, but much less so than a gloss nitro finish thats for sure...

    There is loads to learn about how to do a decent refin. I would try getting hold of a few junk guitars from an op shop or something to practice on...