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Finishing a Raw Bass Body

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MascisMan, Jun 19, 2007.

  1. MascisMan

    MascisMan Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    I want to finish a raw P-body. The wood will be ash or alder. The color Im looking for is something close to the old "Mocha Brown" Fenders but a bit more translucent.

    Im also not big into a high gloss finish for this project so this one would be more satin.

    What products are best for my idea? How hard is it really to add a finish to a raw body? What is the proper process?
  2. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Tung Oil it
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The answer depends on what you want the body to look like both now and 10 years from now. My suggestion is to go DIRECTLY to Reranch.com and start reading about guitar finishing, and make no decisions until you've had a chance to think the project over.

    At the absolute minimum, you need to:

    1) Sand and seal the wood;
    2) Apply an appropriate stain;
    3) Apply a finish coat with the characteristics and appearance you want.

    I'm a Tung Oil fan, but not for bass finishes. I'd suggest a hard shell finish that provides a good seal to the wood and prevents a buildup of soiling from handling. Over time, handling will grind dirt into the wood pores if you don't get a good seal on the finish - and oils don't do that, so I doubt that Tung Oil by itself would do that. A Tung Oil/poly combination finish can give you a hard finish in glossy, semi-glossy or matte.
  4. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    +1 - you can use alcohol-based dyes to get the color tone you're after and it will take the oil wonderfully afterward.
  5. bigfiddle


    Aug 25, 2006
    Dallas, Texas
  6. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    You'll need a grain filler with ash, not sure about alder.

    Another option is acrylic lacquer. Apply tinted clearcoats until you have the shade you want, then apply 4 or 5 plain clearcoats so you'll have something to rub out.

    It's hard to get stain to look even on endgrain.
  7. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    You don't need to fill alder, but you will need to fill ash.
  8. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene

    Go get some Formby's high-gloss (still pretty satin-y) and slather on like 6 or 7 coats of that stuff, steel-wooling between coats.
  9. If you think the grain adds character, DON'T fill the grain, especially if it's not a gloss finish. Seal it good with multiple coats of tung oil, let them catalyze (is that the "term"???), and buff to a semi-gloss sheen with cheesecloth if you like, and maintain every 4-6 months, if necessary.

    quick and cheezy, and full of character.
  10. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    You can also tint the filler a darker or lighter color to make it stand out more. That's how Gibson used to finish their SG's. I did that on some swamp ash - tinted the filler ebony and used a butterscotch (looks like clean engine oil) tinted clear over that. Looked a lot like Keith's Tele. Experiment on a scrap.
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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