Making maple neck look 'whitish' again?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by pattyløve, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. pattyløve


    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    Ive found a P bass copy that i can probably obtain. it plays nice but is a complete mess so i might make it a project to 'revamp' it. It has a maple neck/fretboard that is the dark golden-brownish colour and as far as sources tell me, its not overly old or been gigged much - im pretty sure it might just be stained/finished that way. If so, is there a way of getting it back to its whitish maple?
  2. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Most guys seem to want it to be darker. You're the first I've heard that wants the white look.

    No, whether it's natural aging or a tint added when manufactured, there's no way to get it back to that new wood, white look without stripping it down to bare wood. Too much work to bother with unless you plan on playing this bass for a long time and the whiteness bothers you so much that it keeps you up at night.

    You could paint the back of the neck white I suppose, but then you'd hide all the wood grain and the bass will look a bit cheaper. Pretty tough to paint the fingerboard. It could be done too, but I'd never consider taking the job on.

    Why not play the thing and have fun with it? If you want to spend money on it consider upgrading the strings and pickups.
  3. pattyløve


    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    Yeahh i thought so.
    It was just a thought, i just really like new looking maple :)
    But yeah i wont bother painting it or changing it in any way.
    Im guna give this bass major upgrades hopefully, the maple tint was never guna be a major issue. its a very nice build and MIJ... its just been so badly looked after that its currently unplayable. Itll be a fun project for my summer break

    Thanks for your help
  4. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Good idea. Start with a good cleaning with lukewarm water with a drop of dishwashing liquid in it and wash off the built up grime. Then wipe the soap residue off with a damp cloth with clear water. Then wipe it down with some paint thinner like Varsol and wipe it dry again. If there is a slight oily residue from the paint thinner clean it with water and soap again.

    Just a good cleaning can work wonders.

    I'm restoring some woodwork at home right now (and slacking off by being on this forum) I just washed down the trim as above and if it wasn't for the dings and screw holes and inexplainable little nails in the wood, it's almost good enough to leave alone. But, I'm going the extra mile to get it back to what it looked like when the house was built almost 100 years ago. The original finish seems to be a lacquer, brushed on. Probably a penetrating oil stain underneath.

    But I enjoy that type of work.
  5. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    1) try a good cleaning
    2) if you're bold, strip it. Maple is a very white wood - you put some orange stripper on it then clean it up real good, you may have a winner.
  6. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Depends on the finish. If it's one of the catalyzed bullet proof ones which are very common on even the cheapest of basses, these strippers won't touch it. I've had best success with a heat gun and flexible putty knife, then lots of sanding to get off the remaining sealer under the finish.

    You do have to be bold to take the job on. That's why it's so expensive to have a repair guy do it for you.
  7. pattyløve


    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    What is orange stripper?
    The concept of stripping it intrigues me. Is there a way of maybe just 'slightly' stripping... something that doesnt require me to be so 'bold', even if it gets miminal result?
  8. ByF


    May 19, 2009
    Orange stripper is a chemical you spread on the remove the finish. It smells very strongly of oranges. There are other chemical strippers that use very harsh chemicals; orange stripper is somewhat more mild and less noxious, but it is still going to take the finish off to bare wood (unless, as BOH says, it's a catalyzed finish).

    I think the only way to "slightly" strip the wood would be with careful sanding, but it would be very difficult to do that evenly over the entire neck--you would probably end up with bare spots, and thick spots.

    Anyhow, stripping the finish might not get the color out if the wood has been stained--stains soak right into the pores of the wood. So if you remove the finish, sand it until it looks nice and white, and then put on a new finish, the stain will bleed out of the wood and make splotches in the new finish (I know this from experience).

    There is a way to remove stain from wood which I learned from a woodworking forum, but it is so hazardous, toxic, and environmentally-unfriendly that I won't even describe it here.

  9. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    remove all hardware and any lacquer, defret it, sand it down to bare wood, re-finish, re-fret an reinstall hardware. If you are really after a white look and you don't want a natural maple look, I suppose after all the stripping you can bleach it whiter from its natural state.
  10. ChasBass


    Dec 15, 2007
    Charleston, SC
    I have used oven cleaner on gun stocks with good, fast results. Will strip most any finish in 3 minutes or less. Rinse thoroughly with water and dry immediately. Bleaches, too.
  11. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    also try original formula GOJO cleaner... pick it up at most Autoparts stores..

    Apply ALOT of it and let it sit for a while.. it will actually draw the dirt from the wood...

    good luck..
  12. Oven cleaner is usually a VERY strong & harsh chemical. If you have to resort to it, I'd suggest using it outdoors & far away from animals, pets, etc.
  13. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Yes, for sure-well away from pets and kids and don't get it in your eyes or on your skin.

    I doubt very much that it'll touch the finish on the neck unless it's a really feeble varnish on it and even the cheapest basses these days don't use that. But if you have any baked on grease on the neck, a few applications will get it off.

    Oven cleaner will strip varnishes (most of the over the counter ones) and the wipe on varnish blends usually used on gun stocks. It's not the best and most efficient varnish stripper but it will work. Too hard to rinse off though. The solvent strippers work better on alkyd varnish and can be rinsed off with paint thinner. By the way, don't use water to rinse off the gelled type strippers. It releases the noxious fumes and can knock you over.

    You'll get a lot of advice about your neck pattylove. Most of it is wrong.
  14. ChasBass


    Dec 15, 2007
    Charleston, SC
    Yea, in my shorts in the back yard with a scrub brush and a garden hose is just too easy.
    What was I thinking?
  15. pattyløve


    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    All great replies guys! Thanks.
    But not im kinda at a loss of where to start/what to try :meh:

    Btw 62bass, I pm'd you
  16. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    CitrusStrip is what the person above is referring to as Citrus Stripper.

    Works fantastic for stripping finish off necks.