Natural Oil Finishes

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Jeff2287, Jul 4, 2002.

  1. Jeff2287


    May 4, 2002
    Pardon me if I sound ignorant, but can anyone give a technical reason as to why you have to wax basses with natural oil finishes? I don't own any but I want to know in case I do get one and I also just wanna ease my curiosity a little in the mean time. Thanx in advance ;-).
  2. to keep the moise from your fingers on the outside of the wood, and not on the inside.

    if it gets on the inside, your bass will look dirty, and it's real hard to make it clean again.
  3. Jeff2287


    May 4, 2002
    Well, I don't know if I'd mind a dirty-looking bass that much, but would the sound be affected if I didn't wax it?
  4. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    I don't think wax has any effect on sound, period. And most waxes do virtually nothing to protect the wood.

    A true "natural oil" finish also offers very little protection for wood, and is a poor vapor barrier (and waxing won't help this). But most "oil finishes" are actually varnish/oil mixtures or oil-based varnishes which do a much better job.

    "Understanding Wood Finishing" by Bob Flexner is great book on the subject. See if your library has a copy.
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Waxing your Warwick is more of a Setup topic.
  6. Oil finishes can provide a high degree of protection for wood with proper application. There are many oil types and brands that can be used to build up hard, glossy finishes that act the same as varnishes. "Polymerization" is a chemical process by which a natural oil (tung, linseed, etc.) is heated to burn off solvent components. When applied properly these oils harden and develop skins. The more oil that is applied, the deeper and richer the finish becomes. At some point, when enough of a skin is developed, the resulting topcoating can be polished using a wax compatible with the finish.

    If you want to see some ultimate examples of this type of finish go to the Musical Instrument Makers Forum at and get into the gallery of instruments. There are some incredible "oil only" finishes that are virtually indistinguishable from lacquer and poly coatings. Some very nice instruments like mandolins and archtop guitars are illustrated here with deep, shiny, finishes that enhance their look, tone and protect the wood as well.