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How do I maintain my Tung Oil finished bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by membranophone, Jan 9, 2001.

  1. membranophone


    Mar 19, 2000
    Madison, WI
    I bought a used bass a little while ago which i believe was finished in tung oil. The finish has gotten very thin on most of the face of the body, and has worn off completely in a few spots on the top edge of the body. Should I add more tung oil to the bass? Will tung oil tint the bass at all?
  2. To bolster a tung oil finish the best thing to use is...TUNG OIL! Seriously, tung oil is a penetrating oil that helps harden (through polymerization) the wood and create that nice natural sheen.

    I would take the strings off of the bass and any hardware that was easily removed like knobs. Then using a soft cloth apply the oil, starting at the light areas. The oil will tint the wood slightly. Let this local application stay on for at least an hour while keeping it wet if it dries out. Then wipe off any excess oil and check to see if it is beginning to bring the light colored areas back into the range of the rest of the body. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary to even out the body color. After you've got the light areas taken care of, you can begin to oil the rest of the body. Same procedure, only this time cover then entire body with the oil and keep wet for an hour at a time. You should wait about an hour (in normal humidity) between coats. After the 3rd or 4th application, let the oil dry to a point that it is tacky to the touch. Then using a new clean cloth, begin to buff out the body. Rub really hard to both remove the remaining oil and bring the sheen back to the wood. After you've done this, it will be about 3 days before the oil finish has dried and setup. You'll know because it won't smell anymore. Then you can use a paste wax to really bring up the shine.

    Hope this helps!
  3. membranophone


    Mar 19, 2000
    Madison, WI
    Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. I'm going to try that this weekend. I'll post back with the results.
  4. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    Just curious:would the above procedure work on Warwick's natural wood basses or should one only use the product they sell for this?
  5. It would work on an unfinished Warmoth as well as any other. Some guys swear by the feel of an oiled neck. I haven't got any experience with it but I'm going to try on a new maple/maple I've got coming in the mail.

    One more thing to remember is that there are a lot of different types of tung oil out there. Some have other ingredients in them and that's OK. I have been using Behr Tung Oil Finish with UV inhibitors since that's available locally. I think that the additives make for a more stable and predictable application. Just check around in your area for what's available.
  6. I use Homer Formby's Lemon Oil on my Tung oiled Carvin. It has a walnut body, and the lemon oil soaks into it nicely. Nothing to wipe off.
    As to the Warwick question...
    Warwick says to use their bee's wax paste. I figured if that's what they said to use, who was I to question?
    But it did make the case smell funny. (I bought an SKB case for the Warwick since it only came with a gig bag.)
  7. Now this is just a guess but I don't think I would use a citrus oil on a bass that has been finished in another oil. The reason is that citrus oils are notorious for breaking down oil and grease - that's why they are used in household cleaners. If the neck had never had another oil on it then I guess that would be OK. I know that the tung oil dries and hardens, but that is only the aromatic component of the oil that evaporates. The solids that polymerize with the cellulose in the wood are where the question lies. Would a citrus oil break up these compounds and in turn begin to degrade the wood or not? I don't know but I don't think I would try.

    It's kind of ironic though that you use a Homer Formby product. Years and years ago, Homer Formby had a furniture restoration show on TV, one of the first handyman formats I think. He only used one finish on all of his hardwood projects - yep, TUNG OIL! Of course now he has lent his name to an entire line of products including tung oil but I bet ol' Homer would advise against the lemon oil.

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