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Need advice on repair of tung oil finish (Carvin koa)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TL23NC, Feb 8, 2019.


  1. TL23NC

    TL23NC

    May 22, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    I recently bought a Carvin BB70, which is made of koa and maple. The finish is worn near the pickup and I'm trying to figure out if it's worth the effort to refinish that spot. I've done some reading about this and it sounds like it's not so easy (tung oil is a bit hard to work with). I read some people have used a fine sandpaper on the worn wood, then and rubbed some oil on, wait and then rub off. Or put on some oil and then sand it. I'm only in for doing this if there is little chance of messing up the finish. If anyone has done a spot repair like this successfully please chime in. Thanks.
    carvin-wearspot.
     
  2. TrustRod

    TrustRod

    Mar 13, 2016
    Oil is the easiest finish to repair. As you've mentioned you need to clean it first which will make the spot larger. The fix will likely be visible still, just less obvious. Also it will get dirty again with just tung oil.

    You can fix it with skill. If you can get your hand on some mahogany or mahogany substitute you can practice on wood that will react very similar to koa.
     
    UNICORN BASS and TL23NC like this.
  3. TL23NC

    TL23NC

    May 22, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    Thanks @TrustRod for the advice. I might just leave it alone and not take the chance of messing it up. I'm also wondering if applying some paste wax might improve the overall appearance and resistance to damage. I've read about wax being used occasionally.
     
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  4. I have a Rickenbacker 650S, it has a walnut/maple body finished in tung oil. Where the previous owner left it in the case with the strap still attached it has a dark stripe across the body. I would be interested to know how I should treat it. A light sanding took the stripe off the maple, but has not touched it on the walnut;

    upload_2019-2-9_0-58-10.

    Sorry, not the most helpful of photos.
     
  5. TrustRod

    TrustRod

    Mar 13, 2016
    Wax should give some protection from getting dirtier, it may also darken the dirt already there. Oil finishes are fragile and I just accept wear like this.
     
    yodedude2 and TL23NC like this.
  6. jeff62

    jeff62 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I would imagine that wax may interfere with you subsequently using tung oil if you don’t like the results of the wax.
     
    Ross W. Lovell and TrustRod like this.
  7. TL23NC

    TL23NC

    May 22, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    Sounds like I'll be better off just leaving things some. It doesn't look that bad too me. Thanks guys.
     
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  8. Try using some Murphy's Oil Soap to get rid of the dirt. Rub with the grain. You might find that the finish is in better shape underneath. I have an oiled Koa Carvin and I eventually wanted a glossier finish so I put on a couple of coats of Tru-Oil gunstock finish. It has held up very well. I also used it on the fretless ebony fingerboard. Gives it the look of a polyester coating without the expense. The fingerboard coating actually improved the fretless "buzz" that we all like and has shown very little string wear.

    Rick B.
     
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  9. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    +1 on Murphy's as I've never seen it hurt wood or finishes
    Send it to a pro to touch up as it is easy to screw up and the pro (either luther or furniture guy)
    will probably not be that expensive.
     
    TL23NC likes this.
  10. 68Goldfish

    68Goldfish Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    Port Orchard WA
    I had a koa carvin in the early nineties. Great bass but the Koa was soft and it definitely degraded under the strings where my fingers kept wearing on it. I guess it's just the nature of Koa wood.
     
    TL23NC likes this.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I'd go with the Tru-Oil on this one. Once cured, finish it off with some BriWax or similar.

    I've also gone as far as to apply a faux scratchplate on the vulnerable area. StewMac sells Mylar sheets just for this purpose.

    Riis
     
    TL23NC likes this.
  12. TL23NC

    TL23NC

    May 22, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    Great suggestions gentlemen. I'll definitely try the Murphy's to start, and look into the Tru-Oil. My playing hasn't caused any significant wear on my other instruments so I think I'll be okay going forward.
     
  13. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    for me, it's a bit like having a dinged car fender repainted. you will always see it afterwards. if it were me, i would leave it as 'character'. alternatively, strip the entire instrument and have it oiled once again. but...it won't last if you play it out.
     
    TL23NC likes this.
  14. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    also..it would be nice to see a pic of the entire bass. carvin koa represent!
     
    TL23NC likes this.
  15. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I do alot of woodworking including with open-grained wood like koa and mahogany. I agree with others that a cleaning should be the start (denatured alcohol, then murphys diluted with warm water). Dry it well and make sure to let it sit for a day or two to dry before doing anything else. If it were mine, I'd apply more tung oil once it was clean. But you need to read labels carefully - lots of stuff is labelled tung oil finish, which contains other materials such as varnish. You want to use 100% tung oil. Easy to use - wipe it on, let it soak in for a bit (keep the surface moist with oil), buff it dry with a clean cloth and let it dry.

    If you are going to apply oil, then its ok to give it a light sanding first to remove any marks. I'd use 400 grit followed by 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper, very lightly to avoid taking off anything but the very surface. Make sure to wipe off all of the dust - alcohol on a clean cloth should do the trick.
     
  16. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I use Tru-Oil for any number of reasons. Here's a link which will help choose the right product for the job:

    Tung Oil - Woodwork Details
     
  17. TL23NC

    TL23NC

    May 22, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    Here she is (with her "sister" BB75). I'm quite pleased with the matched pair. Now I need to decide on a set of strings for the BB70 (it came with rounds). I've got a new set of GHS Pressurewounds M7200 and am tthinking about trying those. I've got Fender 9050L flats on the BB75 and like them.

    BB front. BB back.
     
    bhunt1, Bassist4Eris and yodedude2 like this.
  18. Joedog

    Joedog

    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    Do not dry sand. Use wet/dry sandpaper (fine) WITH some tung oil. Let dry and apply more tung oil (wiping off excess) as needed. Easy peasy.
     
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  19. TL23NC

    TL23NC

    May 22, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    Very helpful- thank you! I've read that tung oil can be a bit hard to work with, plus dangerous if not handled correctly. My BB75 also has an area of wear that I could work on so maybe I'll do both instruments at the same time.
     
  20. UNICORN BASS

    UNICORN BASS

    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Not a bad idea, since you will have sticker shock buying pure Tung oil for such a small repair.:woot:
     

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