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Lightening Wood?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Omnipharious, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. I know this probably sounds like a really dumb, obvious question, but I was just wondering if there is any way to lighten wood? Like, without painting, or anything that would make it useless.

    I want to make my Silvertone P bass look like a Fender 60's Relic P Bass: I was gonna get some Fender Original '62 P Bass pickups, spray the body black, put a white outline around the pickguard, and that would all make it look pretty well like it. The fingerboard is still rosewood, and too dark to look correct.

    I don't have another $100+ to spend on a P Bass neck.
  2. Just a simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.
  3. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Bleach comes to mind but i think you're better off selling the Silvertone neck and buying a maple fender neck.
  4. Yeah, I was thinking about that, but the neck would be pretty much worthless; the truss rod is stripped, and the neck is bent oddly, so the bridge has to be high up. On a low tuning, it has a really nice sound, to me, like this, but I doubt anyone'd give me more than a 5 spot for it.

    I was looking around on Ebay, and there are a few maple necks for a good enough price, so I'll look more into that.

    But do you think Bleach would work on it?
  5. Oxalic acid - but buy it in powder form and mix only what you can use in one application.

    Oxalic acid will lose potency if you let it get exposed to oxygen, so it has a short shelf life.

    I had to refinish some huge doors for a friend's customer once. The doors ($60 grand for the pair!) were golden maple (that was the real color of the original wood) and he wanted them platinum blonde.

    Three applications later and some careful sanding and they were right.

    It works - just read the instructions and use it carefully.

    Rubber gloves, eye protection (a shield - NOT glasses!) and old clothing.

    The fumes won't hurt you - but don't get it on a mucus membrane. If you have to sand it later, wear a dust shield to keep the dust out of your nose/throat/lungs.
  6. Thanks for the advice. My dad kept The World Of Coke here in Atlanta running, as pretty much the head maintenance, and engineer for 17 years, and always used to work with wood/machinery/electronics, so he's gonna help me with this.

    We're gonna sand off the original finish on the body, get black stain, get the body looking a tarnished black; get a nice white stripe on the outside of the pickguard; buy, and install those aforementioned '62 P bass pickups, sand off the finish on the headstock, and this is where I haven't spoken to him yet.

    I wanted to bleach the rosewood fingerboard to match the slightly off maple colour of the neck/headstock (it's a bit yellow), but I didn't know if that would work, or if I would have to match the colour of the neck/headstock to the new colour of the rosewood after it's been bleached. What, exactly, will the rosewood look like after it's been bleached?
  7. I've never bleached rosewood - but I know someone who has - unfortunately he's in bed by now here in California.

    It's quarter to midnight, Sunday and he'll be here in the early morning of Tuesday, so I'll get to talk to him then.

    Can you wait that long?

    PM if you need faster response. Or not.,
  8. Oh, I can wait as long as need be. My father and I will not actually start working on this for another week or two, at the least.

    No need to rush, on your part, or your friend's.
  9. Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no experience...
    I just googled "bleached rosewood" and from what I've read, oxalic acid won't take the rosewood to light color like that of maple. It is used to lighten wood that has either darkened over time or that has been darkened by stripping. But again, I know nadda.
  10. I did the same, hoping to see at least one picture of what bleached rosewood looks like, or how close it is to maple, and if I would have to sand the maple of the neck, or stain it, et cetera.

    And I saw nothing.
  11. I called my buddy this morning and he said to not use oxalic acid - it won't hurt the project, but it won't really go light enough for you since rosewood is tannin-colored - or something like that.

    There are two-part bleaches that will go as far as you can with rosewood, and if that's not enough then you will have to try something else to do what you want that doesn't require rosewood to go so light.

    He sent me to a different site that a friend of his wrote some years ago and I'll c/p some of the good stuff that (prolly) applies to your project:::

    .........and here's a very good article (PDF) from the US Gummermint to help you with your project:::


    .........and another site with just about the same info, but presented in a very different way (X-out the pop-in when it shows: Sorry about that, but they are trying to sell a magazine there so it goes with the territory)

  12. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    Wow! SurferJoe46! this is terrific! fantastic source of information! someone should thank you for that! well, thank you! :bassist:
  13. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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