I Want to be Purty!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rickbass, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Two part question -

    I have a bass that is exhibition grade, cocobolo on the body top that is finished with a combo of carnuba wax and an SUV protectant. Its colors are nowhere near showing the beautiful oranges reds and oranges it should display. Simply put, the colors are dull and lifeless. Do yuou know anyone I coud send it to who could make those colors pop out ???

    The underside of the body is California Claro birdseye walnut. After playing the bass for over a year it needs to be re-oiled. It has a tung oil finish.
    Would you recommend I use teak oil or to use more tung oil rubbed in with a soft, cotton cloth ?

    Thanks so much for any advice!
  2. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    I'm building a les paul copy with a cocobolo top and I know I'm gonna have the same question when it comes time to finishing. I'm kinda partial to using Danish oil(s).....but I know using that won't bring out the great colors like you (we) are looking for. YOu might have to go with a poly finish or something........I think a high gloss finish used on cocobolo make the colors come out. Alembic seems to make their cocobolo basses and guitars look sweet with their thick plastic-y finishes. I'd rather use an oil, but to make it purdy, you might have to sacrifice.
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Cocobolo is oily on its own and probably won't take much oil. Teak oil is supposed to be specially formulated to work with oily woods, but I'm not convinced that it will make much difference.

    Cocobolo is a difficult wood that is found in a variety of different shades, changes color sometimes when it is cut, sometimes when finished, and always when UV hits it. It's hard to force it to do what you want it to do. It will probably cost you some $$, but your best bet might be to get someone to shoot it with a high-solid finish with some UV blockers in there. It would probably require the bass to be resanded down to bare wood since many spray finishes will not adhere to oiled or waxed wood. Unfortunately, I don't have suggestions on who to approach for this kind of job (I have no spray booth).
  4. Shri


    Feb 25, 2003
    France, Paris
    I'm also about to have a bass made with cocobolo top and i know i will have to ask for the high gloss lacquer my luthier uses so that the wood keep his beautiful color... I love natural finishes and to be able to feel and touch the wood but if i want the bass to last and to keep the colors, i'll have to choose the high gloss. Otherwise, the cocobolo will have a dark color and like you said...will become lifeless. :(
  5. Woodboy


    Jun 9, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    Cocobolo is light sensitive. It will darken over time just by exposure to light. Sunlight will hasten the process, diffused indoor light will still darken it, albeit more slowly. Oiling it is the quickest way to kill the color. Stay away from any oils, including those in solvent-based polys and alkyds. A water borne acrylic or poly/acrylic will result in the least amount of darkening. Stewart MacDonald and Luthier's Mercantile both sell water borne finishes made for guitars. They are tricky to work with, but if a surface film with the least amount of darkening is your goal, then these water bornes are really the only choice.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yep, I studied-up on cocobolo before I spec'd it, Woodboy, and that's why my carnuba wax finish has an SUV protectant in it.

    So, it sounds like you're saying that something like the KTM water-borne, acrylic-urethane finish finish from LMII - or - the Crystalac Waterborne Spray Finish from StewMac is the way to go.

    Thanks very much for your input!
  7. Shri


    Feb 25, 2003
    France, Paris
    Why don't you just put high gloss finish on basses with cocobolo?
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Tone over cosmetics, anyday.

    I know guys who had their Fenders sanded down to the wood and those basses sounded infinitely better.