Hi there everyone, I am a newcomer to this forum embarking on my first refinishing project. I have been reading up on the different refinishing projects here, and let me first thank everyone for all of their amazing knowledge and experience shared here, what a wonderful resource. I have a few questions about my project, with the goal of hopefully making few mistakes as possible (although I know that is how you learn). I know these have been covered in other threads, but I am hoping to get ideas for all aspects of my project covered in one spot, and maybe it will be helpful for other beginners like me on their first try. First some quick details: -The bass I will be refinishing is a Samick Greg Bennett “Fairlane” jazz bass copy, like the one here http://www.cranbournemusic.com.au/ICimages/930004024813.jpg I picked it up this weekend at the local flea market for only $25 and it plays and sounds great except for a buzzing sound I’ll need to figure out (I noticed that is temporarily remedied by pulling the cable in the 1/4” jack to the side). I was excited to find this bass since: -My only other bass is a P-Bass type (entry-level Washburn XB-100 I got on clearance) so I have been wanting a jazz bass for the increased versatility in tone. -Since I started reading this forum a few weeks ago I have been wanting to find a cheap “project” bass for fun -One of the 2 electric guitars I own is a Greg Bennett strat copy, and I have been very happy with it, so I had faith in the general quality of this instrument (within its class of course) I want to refinish it for a couple of reasons: -I don’t really like solid colors on my instruments, and the black it came in is my least favorite color -The black finish is extremely dinged up, this thing was covered with crud and really beat up on a cosmetic level So I’d like to refinish it to a natural stain that shows the wood underneath. According to the internet, this bass is made out of Agathis, like many budget basses, so I realize the wood grain pattern may not be that pretty, and only once I strip it will we see if its disparate pieces of wood, etc. Now on to the questions after all that long-windedness 1-For stripping, I have both a heat gun and a can of “citristrip” coming from Amazon (along with some gloves and safety goggles). I am having trouble deciding which would make more sense to use. Since I have already taken the bass apart, I can tell you that the coat of black color is not super thick, at least where you can see the cross section of the top by the pickup cavities. One thing I was not able to remove, when disassembling the bass, was 4 cone shaped metal washers that are inset into the 4 “bolt-on” holes” in the back of the body. If I use a heat gun, I wasn’t sure if those would get overheated or even melted when I am stripping the paint near them. 2-Once the color is stripped I know there is a lot of sanding to do, but even after reading I am a little unclear on people’s recommendations for what grades of sandpaper to progress through, from rougher to smoother, before staining. 320/220/120, etc? 3-Once all the sanding is done and it’s time to clean it in preparation for staining, I know that you need to clean it (clean off any errant sawdust) and people often seem to use alcohol or mineral spirits? I wanted to make sure I understand why people use this over plain water. Is it because they evaporate and leave the wood nice and dry, whereas water would absorb in and get the wood wet? 4-For the actual staining, I was planning on using Howard Feed and Wax, which I already have a bottle of, but please chime in if you feel that there would be a better solution when working with a wood like agathis. I prefer more satin and matte wood finishes to high gloss, so I wasn’t planning on doing any type of shiny top coat with anything else 5-I gather, from reading other forum threads, that you apply multiple coats of the howards and each coat will make the natural finish a little darker. However between each coat, I am not clear if: -You do any type of fine sanding/buffing of each dried coat of Howards, before applying the next one, and so what you use to do so -How long do you typically wait between coats, and how do you know it’s really ready for the next coat (I live in Hawaii and it’s very humid here) 6-Is there anything special finishing step you would recommend once I have put on the final coat and am happy with the darkness of the finish All righty, as if I haven’t bugged you guys enough, here are some other miscellaneous questions related to the project: 1-The rosewood fretboard was covered in really stubborn dirt and filth, I cleaned it as best I could with a microfiber cloth dampened in warm water, and it’s much better, but in general the surface is still much darker than the thin side of the fretboard, where you see a nice dark cherry color of rosewood. So, I’m trying to figure out if I clean it properly, should it be that same lighter color, or is it normal for the top of the fretboard to darken with use. I have a bottle of "Gerlitz GGH Guitar Honey Fingerboard Oil” coming to restore it a bit (the wood seems very dried out) but I want to make sure I have gotten of all the dirt and filth as best I can. 2-The pick guard is white colored, which will look OK with a natural finish, but ideally I’d prefer a tortoise-shell color. I can’t seem to find replacement pickguards for the Fairlane bass and from what I can tell, the shape and screw holes is not quite the same as a standard jazz bass, it’s a bit different. Any ideas where I could have one made and is it expensive. May not be worth it. 3-While most of the screws were in good shape, the ones holding in the pickguard and the truss rod cover are very rusty. Are these a standard screw size and how does one make sure they are getting the right type. Living in Hawaii, the best resource for me is Amazon when possible, since Prime still works here and we get free shipping on many items, whereas other vendors charge lots to ship here, even for tiny items, or sometimes won’t ship here at all. 4-The knobs that came on the bass were strat style white knobs, as opposed to the jazz bass style, or P-Bass knobs the fairlane comes with. When I order better looking replacement knobs, do I just make sure I am getting ones for normal 1/4” fully round shafts? 5-The last thing I was worried about, since Agathis is a softer wood, is making sure the bridge is nice and secure when I screw it back in, I wasn’t sure if that type of wood can handle having a bridge unscrewed and screwed back in. Do I need to worry about this, and if so, any ideas for making sure the holes are nice and tight? What do people put in screw holes they are re-using to make sure the screw has a nice tight grip, especially for something like a bridge where heavy bass strings are pulling on it? Thanks in advance for any advice you all can give me, I know these are a lot of questions and they have likely been covered many times before. I am very grateful for any assistance that anyone can give!