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First neck refinish: MusicMan SUB

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Audix99, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    I like this bass, but the thick black painting on the back of neck is too sticky and looks cheap.

    So after debating whether to refinish or not (and after asking others' opinions on TB), I decided to go ahead and refinish the neck.

    It was my very first neck refinish project, so I was hoping it would go well. And so far, it is going well (I think...). ;)

    I wanted to make the neck look more customized, so I used masking tape to covered areas where I wanted to keep the black paint and to protect the side of fingerboard with dot markers. Then I applied paint stripper.

    What resulted was this.

    close-up of the heel

    And the headstock

    With the neck on the body, it looks like this

    So now, I am going to apply semi-gloss poly finish on the back of the neck.
    After several coats, I will use 0000 steel wool to make more satin finish.
    Will post more pics once I finish coating the neck.

    By the way, I'd like to tint the neck so it won't be that white. What do you suggest I use?
    I don't think this clear semi-gloss poly will tint the neck at all.

    Or do you think it will look better with untinted, white neck?
  2. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    I think it looks great as is! Wow, could job!
  3. Hey, you have a black one as well. That looks awesome, I'll def do this to my black S.U.B. now! Just out of curiosity, what kind of stripper did you use and how did you apply it? I'm assuming since you taped stuff up, you just used a rag or something?

    Looks wonderful, can't wait to see the finished result! Sorry I don't have any advice on the tint, but I like the way it looks now! But that's just me, of course :)
  4. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    Thanks guys!!!

    The stripper I used was called "Citristrip" from home depot

    I used blue masking tape to cover the side of the fingerboard, headstock and heel to expose only the area to be stripped.
    (Make sure that there won't be any gap between the making tape and the neck at the edge. If you do, the stripper will seep through under the tape and ruin the line.

    After about 15 minutes, I used a wooden stick (paint stick) to scrap off the melted finish, then used paper towel to remove the rest of the malted paint.
    Then applied rubbing alcohol to clean.
    And used a sharp knife to clean, define the line between black and white.

    I think I will just coat the neck with no tint.
    So stay tuned... :D
  5. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    If you can find a scrap piece of maple (ask a cabinet shop maybe), try a few coats of your clear poly on that to see what it will look like. It usually does not tint down, but usually is makes the grain look richer when applied.
  6. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    That looks great, nice work!
  7. I think you should you gunstock oil on the back. It won't tint it but that is what EB uses on all of their US instruments.
  8. younggun


    Jul 19, 2008
    San Antonio
    I'd recommend using mineral spirits to clean the neck again before proceeding to any finish. Alcohol, while good for cleaning certain things like the oils from your skin, will not necessarily remove all of the solvents from the stripper, mineral spirits will. Like alcohol, mineral spirits are highly volatile and will not leave residue. You don't want the hard work of a carefully applied finish bubbling off on you later.
    Not sure how you intend to apply the poly, but I also recommend thinning your poly by 50% with mineral spirits and hand rubbing it on with a rag instead of using a brush. You find you'll have to apply many coats, but its well worth it in the end. Make sure to sand with at least a 300 grit between every coat too.
    Really great job so far, gonna look grand when its done!

    Oh yeah, regarding the color...the poly will darken and yellow it a bit. Just FYI.
  9. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    Thanks Younggun!!!

    Yes I did use mineral spirit right before I started applying poly.
    But thanks for the pointer!!! :D

    The way I do is that I use a rag to apply poly straight from the can.
    Then after around 10 minutes, right before the applied poly starts getting set, I apply liberal amount of just mineral spirit only on another piece of a rag and coat the surface of just applied poly.
    This removes any streak from the rag on that poly finish and creates smooth, even surface.
    So essentially, I am using poly & mineral spirit 50:50.
    But instead of using the mixture together, I am actually doing the mix on the neck. ;)
    Once it's dried, then repeat the process. Then steel wood, and repeat poly, mineral spirit, etc...

    This is a time consuming process to build enough poly layers to protect the wood. But the result is usually good from my experience of refinishing my coffee tables, etc. at home.

    Can't wait to finish it and put the neck back!!! :bassist:
  10. younggun


    Jul 19, 2008
    San Antonio
    Cool, I might have to try that method on my next wood project...actually building a marimba for my wife right now, and have been debating about what finish to apply to the frame (its made from maple too). I might just give it a shot that way, instead of the mix. Always open to trying some new finish methods, it can be a tricky task sometimes.
  11. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    More progress.

    After putting two coats of thin poly.

    The neck starts showing little sheen.

    Will do several more coats. Gotta tell myself to be patient... But it's hard being patient... :crying:
  12. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    The refinish completed!!!

    After 5 coats of semi-gloss poly finish, it looks good (I think) and feels great!!!
    After the assembly...

  13. That does look brilliant, nice job!

    Do you like it a lot better than with paint? A worthwhile process?
  14. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    Thanks for the compliment!!!

    Yes I do like the refinished neck a lot better now.
    It feel more sleek and smooth, and not sticky compared to the black painted neck.
    And it looks not as cheap as the painted neck (to me, at least---). ;)

    But is it a worthwhile process?
    To me, it was. That's why I decided to to this despite the fact it would probably hurt its resale value later down the road (IF I decide to sell it later for a GAS).

    I paid only $370 for this with a hard case through local CL. So I wouldn't lose much even if refinishing brings the resale value down.
    And it had several dents on the neck paint, including a couple of spots where the dents were deep enough to show the raw maple.
    Thus, the painted neck felt particularly rough at areas, compared with a neck in pristine condition.
    But refinishing removed those dents and made the neck really smooth.

    If your neck is dent free and smooth, and if its stickiness doesn't bother you that much, then you may not gain by much from refinishing.
    But if you really really don't like the painted neck's look/feel, then I guess this process might be worth it.

    So I guess it all depends on how much you don't like the look/feel of that painted neck...
    (Sorry for this looong answer to your relatively simple question...)
  15. younggun


    Jul 19, 2008
    San Antonio
    Primo Job, very nice!! and I personally think it looks way better. Heck, you can sell it as a "custom" bass now:)
  16. Nono, no apologies necessary, I appreciate you honesty and analysis! The stickiness drives me crazy, so it will be worth it for me to do this! And I love the bass, doubt I'll ever sell it, so I'm not concerned with the resale--it's a workhorse bass for me, so to increase the feel for me would be wonderful!

    Thanks again for your response, and wonderful job!

    I'm curious as to what you do with the pickguard now, so be sure to let us few S.U.B. owners know!

    Best wishes!
  17. Audix99


    Sep 18, 2009
    Thanks!!! And Best of Luck with your neck refinishing.
    And if you are planning on using paint strippers, be sure to tape up the area where you don't want to strip really welll!!!
    (BTW, the "Citristrip" from home depot I used on this project worked real nicely!!!)

    I am planning on getting a new pickguard in B/W/B, like the one here.

    BUT the description says, "this pickguard will not fit OLP Stingray® or Ernie Ball SUB®."
    I'm not sure what they mean by Ernie Ball SUB. Was there a Ernie Ball SUB that was different then a MusicMan SUB??? :confused:
    I thought StingRay PG will also fit on SUB??? :confused:
  18. I will use the Citristrip, thanks!

    I thought it would fit, too! I thought the SUB and the Stingray had the same pattern, as I thought the Sub Sterling and Sterling had the same pattern! That's depressing :(

    Hopefully someone can explain?