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I'm an idiot - damaged the finish while installing new pickups. Any advice?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by hags2k, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. hags2k


    Jan 27, 2010
    So I wasn't feeling well, was a little loopy from medication, and stupidly decided to try and install some new pickups without taking any of the usual precautions. Long story short - I dripped melted solder directly on the finish of my jazz bass.

    This is the only instrument I own that I really care about as far as appearance is concerned so I was more than a little ticked with myself. It basically melted a small narrow pit about one centemeter long into the glossy urethane finish (I think they use urethane on US jazz basses, I could be wrong). Anyway, it is just an ugly mark and I can live with it, but if there are any tricks I might be able to use to reduce the visible damage, I would love to give it a try. It's not worth refinishing the whole body in my opinion, so if that's the only real option, I'll just suck it up and let it be a reminder not to be stupid in the future :rollno:

    The finish color is candy red, if that helps.
  2. Pics??
  3. UBU


    Nov 15, 2006
    Enjoy your mojo. There's only one bass like it and it's yours.
  4. lowend1


    Feb 15, 2005
    Not sure what the mark looks like (does it go down to the wood?), but I've fixed some of my own fups with nail polish. Took me literally 2 minutes to find a good match for Fiesta Red in my wife's stash.
  5. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    Prescription drugs and soldering don't mix.
  6. +1 We all like to keep our equipment pristine but then there
    is reality. If you use it, it will get some wear and tear. There is
    no way around it.
  7. Just a variation on the "Here -- hold my beer and watch this" huh?

    You might be able to fill it in with CA - but use the thin version in tiny drops until it's level again. No 'mojo' is good - it's all bad.

    I feel for your grief, and I'd feel bad if I did it too. Pristine is beautiful and respectful, but then again, nobody here is walking on water ---- not even me. But I try. The doctor said I will be able to use sharp pointy objects after my next series of treatments.
  8. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    How deep is the damage? If it'd limited to the clearcoat, it can often be rubbed-out.

    If it extends into the color coat, you may have to drop-fill the clearcoat before rubbing out the finish.

    Jeff Jewitt provides a succinct tutorial on rubbing out finishes on his website:

  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Without pics you aren't going to get much help.

    I've fixed a lot of these (and MUCH worse) kind of damage.

    My usual fix is to clean the pit. (a lot now depends if the pit is the proper color, burnt brown, through paint or whatever.)

    Then I fill the pit with a tiny drop of clear epoxy and put a piece of clear packaging tape over the spot to smooth out the top surface. Often that is quite passable as is. For a preemo fix you'd then sand the epoxy and surounding area level and then refinish the area with minwax rub on polyurethane varnish. Rub it out with 0000 steel wool (tape pickups!) rinse and repeat as needed. Final finish is to buff out edges to polish and match rest of finish.

    It can be quite a bit of work but saved the day when my Ken Smith fell off the table!
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    If the dent isn't too deep, you can also use some cyanoacrylate (super glue). This is a common drop fill for finish repairs. You use the thin stuff, not the gel. Then you put a drop into the dent and let it cure. When it's done it can be wet sanded flush with some 600 grit, and then the area can be rubbed out as normal.

    Poly finishes are often hard to rub out, but plastic scratch removers work very well. You can often get those in auto parts stores.

    If you don't want to try and blend in the repair, just put in a small bead of CA glue and let it cure. Then you won't have a dent. If you do it right it should blend in pretty well.
  11. hags2k


    Jan 27, 2010
    Lots of good replies so far, sorry I didn't post pics earlier. Thankfully I brought my bass to work with me today so I could snap some pictures.

    I appreciate the comments both in the form of fixes as well as the mojo-related ones. Not sure which camp I'm in just yet - I beat the crap out of most of my instruments, but I also tend to buy inexpensive and used gear, so I never really had a pristine instrument to ruin :D

    Also, yes - there appears to be a bit of solder damage (it splashed around a bit, it seems) right on the edge of the control plate as well. Didn't really notice that until I took the pictures though.



  12. hags2k


    Jan 27, 2010
    These suggestions sound really good, thanks!
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Because it's a metallic finish it will never be invisible, but you can make it so you can't feel it.
  14. You might want to 'seal' it with some super glue but I wouldn't try to go much farther. It is what it is and trying to repair it might make it worse.
  15. troubleboy


    Jun 25, 2008
    Rochester, MN
    +1 on the super glue (CA) drop fill method for poly finish. StewMac has it in different thicknesses with little applicators included that slip over the tip of the bottle. Also tip articles agout the process.


    I'm currently in the process of drop filling a beat up Spector I picked up cheap with great results. With a poly finish it will never be invisible if you already know where to look.
  16. Don't bother ordering it from Stew Mac - just got to any decent hobby shop and get it live and in person with no shipping and an artificially inflated price because it has a SM label on it.
  17. nursery kisses. its all they are. keep them there
  18. +1

    Here's a better one.

    I built a Warmoth and painted it with Reranch blue dye and used nitro clear on it - it took forever to cure and I was finally wiring the pickups in, and accidentally rested the soldering iron right on the side of the body.

    I sat staring at the body for about a half hour, in disbelief at my hastiness to finish putting my bass together. The spot repair went pretty well though, and I went all the way through to the wood, actually making a burn mark on the wood.

    Trying to fix your stupid mistakes can be good for your brain sometimes....after getting over the "I'm a 'tard" part.:)
  19. hags2k


    Jan 27, 2010
    Interesting idea. Is there anything superglue isn't good for?

    Very cool, thanks.

    Got a friend at the local hobby store, good call on this. Thanks!

    The last part is really what stings more than anything. My desire to fix this is as much to alleviate my feeling of self-reproach as it is to make my bass look nicer ;)
  20. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    nail polish

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