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how hard to make a natural finish

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by a e i o u, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. how hard do you think it would be to go from a black bass to stripping it down and making it look like the color of those 75 jazz bass reissue ones? i would think it'd be easier than going from black to another color because there isnt any painting involved i dont think. Would you have to stain the body too and add some kind of clear coat? Or if you want to paint a guitar do you only have to rough up the original coat :confused: :confused:
  2. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    clear coat is like the same as painting, fyi. it's pretty tough depending on the original finish. certain finishes refuse to be sanded off, and you will only ruin your bass by attempting it.
  3. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    The steps would be the following:

    apply paint stripper
    sand off paint and lacquer
    sand untill you get the paint out of the grain
    sand smooth with fine grit paper to remove scratches
    apply filler
    spray or wipe-on clearcoat.

    This might sound easy, but it's much harder than you think.
    To get a good finish is no easy feat to accomplish.
  4. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Stripping a bass down to bare wood can be quite a labour intensive job, and once you get there the wood may not look all that good. I've done it on a few basses and lucked out to find a decent ash body underneath, which looks good finished natural.

    One of the problems is the finishes used on most newer basses is very resistant to easily available paint strippers. Sanding can take forever because the finish is so tough. I used a heat gun to strip off most of it (you have to do this outdoors because of the noxious fumes) and then lots of sanding from 36 grit grit (to get out bits of finish and sealer coat the heat gun wouldn't soften) working up to 220 grit. You might want to take it to a professional stripper for removing the finish as they use some very wicked strippers that you can't easily use at home.

    After all that putting on a nice finish coat is easy.

    Yes, you can paint over an existing finish if it's in good shape and prepared properly. How good it will look depends a lot on preparation and application as well as proper choice of finish paint. However, anything you can apply at home will likely not be as tough or long wearing as the factory finish. Still, you can get an attractive result.
  5. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    This belongs in the repair forum, or luthiers corner forums. Until then...

    Don't do it. If you are stripping almost any instrument under a grand with a solid finish, you are likley going to find a body that looks like a butcher board with different colored/grained wood pieces. You are much better off dropping the 150 bucks to buy a new raw body.

    As for the finish, Whatever meathod you do will take time, It will not simply be a clearcoat, as you will have to dye the wood or use a colored finish to get the "butterscotch" color of the 75 reissues, and if you want it to look like a 75 reissue does, it will take alot of clearcoats on top. I can't help you with the details of this, ask in the forums I mentioned above. Best of Luck.
  6. ...you could just oil/wax it of course, don;t have to use dye or spray clear coats.....

    my self built bass was danish oiled, although it took a while to get a nice finish, one of the advantages is that I can easily repair any dings in the body!...and of course spray finishes can effect the natural tones that certain woods would produce, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively....

    photos aren;t great but this gives you an idea
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    There might be a very good reason why it's finished black! The wood under it might be less than attractive.
  8. HiFi


    Apr 20, 2002
    Southern California
    You will work your butt off. I know, I've done it. Frank Martin described the steps required well.
  9. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    I'd try to make the finish as hard as possible.

    That way it would be scratch and dent resistant.
  10. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    That is a gorgeous bass.
  11. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    +1 to let sleeping dogs lie. You don't know what the wood looks like under the finish. It could be a mess once you go through the torture of ripping a modern, indestructible finish all the way off. Once it's stripped, an ash body is usually going to have the graining you are probably envisioning (in the '75 natural). But if it's alder, the grain is likely indistinct - not worth highlighting with a clear coat. If it's basswood or poplar, the wood may be ugly and indistinct and you may go crazy trying to find a finish hard enough to protect these dent-prone woods.

    Refinishing work is doable and fun. There are lots of resources and advice available. But the key is to start with the right candidate for what you want to make.
  12. dont do it, just sell the black one and buy a natural, you wont be able to pull it off going from black to natural i tryed it tunred out terrible, i eventually just painted it back to black, wasted a lot of money and time.

    the only colour i have heard of it working well with it light blue and white.

    another way to strip a body is to use a heat gun be VERY careful though becuase it can burn the wood
  13. I agree with what many have said here. They usually don't put nice (or matching) pieces together if it's going to be painted with a solid color. I did what you are suggesting to a Peavey Axcellerator. Purple originally. When I stripped the paint off (I'll get back to stripping), it was two halves stuck together, and one half was VERY noticably darker than the other. It was completely unusable to be a natural wood grain bass. I eventually had to buy ebony stain to cover up the back and sides of the bass and put a Spanish Cedar veneer on the top. It looks good now, but it wasn't how I initially wanted it. But it was too late. I'm happy with the way it looks. Anything is better than metallic purple.
  14. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    Its an interesting project, I took a summer and stripped a finish off a japanese Pbass copy. It took hours and hours of sanding since chemical strippers didnt work.
    here is what I found.


    Kind of a mixed bag, nice top, nice accent lines under the top and in the center, but the core wood is butcher block of an undetermined variety. and I gave it a tung oil finish without know anything about grain filler, time to go back, sand it down, fill the grain and re-finish it

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