Oil or poly...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by eutgard, Nov 23, 2005.

  1. This is my first in progress custom bass made by Kraken.
    J clone with Moses neck, Villex p/u and ABM bridge.
    She has mahogany core with walnut top.


    Due to some error in communication with Kraken, they finished body with oil. My first intention is poly finish for ease of maintenance.

    Problem is, I like the look of oil on walnut. Kind of classy looking...

    Some Tbers say it's possible to apply poly finish on oil finished wood. So luthiers at Kraken are experimenting that idea on some scrap wood now.

    Korea has distinct four seasons with massive temp/humidity variation, so I'm not feeling secure about oil finished bass. But... she's so beautiful with oil on her body...

    I've got the impression from reading many messges here that finish is not crucial to tonal characteristics of bass. So my concern is only look and maintenance.

    What should I do? I think it's like being in between two girls. One is beautiful but rather harder to please. Another is kind of homely but possible good house keeper...

    Please don't telll me to choose girl with bigger bosom. ;)
  2. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    I live in Louisiana, where humidity is king! However, I have owned and still use a solid mahogany (neck-thru and wings) bass that was not "sealed." I have to oil it twice a year, and it takes a good hour or so. I usually do it on a Sunday while watching a football or baseball game. I have had absolutely no neck problems in the 11 years I have owned this bass. I would say to keep oiling her up twice a year, if you like the looks of it. Besides, the oil will prevent the humidity from doing any damage.

    On the other hand, I have an Alembic Orion, cocobolo top, which, according to the mfgr, is sealed. I had to call them to verify that the wood was sealed, and the guy laughed and told me that he gets that particular question quite a bit. But, yes, the wood is sealed. It appears to be a very, very thin layer, and the wood grain can be felt with the fingers. I don't know how they did that (exactly) but you might want to talk to some others with more knowledge about different sealants (is that a word?), if you decide to seal it.

    I would vote for oil, personally.

    (You know, that is not a bad problem to have. :) )
  3. I'm not clear on what you mean by maintenance. Do you mean taking care of scratches or wear marks? If so, that's easy to do yourself with some sandpaper and extra oil. And of course it's optional. If you're concerned about humidity and temperature changes, that's more of an issue for the neck of a bass than the body. Since your bass will have a graphite neck, no worries there.

    I have 3 Warmoth parts basses and the only maintenance I do is lemon oil them occasionally to give a bit of shine and a nice smooth feel. One has a walnut body. I live in an area with pretty extreme climate changes and they seem to be holding up fine.

    I have read that you can put poly over oil, although I haven't done it personally. Poly looks good on figured wood but oil feels great, you know you're playing a piece of wood.

    That's going to be a nice looking bass by the way.
  4. Spector_Ray


    Aug 8, 2004
    Josh Curry just took posession of a nice Spector with a poly finish. I think it has the look of an oil finish without the maintenance. I think that's the route you should take.
  5. I just refinished a bass using a scandinavian oil product...it's basically a polyurethane mixed with danish oil...it is designed to go over a finish and I sanded back a nitrocellulose lacquer finish (some places to bare wood, others not) and applied a very nice finish that looks like oil but is going to cure hard...

    in another week (I JUST finished it)...i'm going to put it all back together and birth some photos for you all...:)
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Why are you keeping the body? Can't they make you a new one with no finish?
  7. Test result arrived. They oil finished mahogany and applied several coats of poly on it.


    As you can see, there are some pits/depressions visible on final finish.

    I think it's too late move this thread to luthier's forum. :crying:
  8. whats the name of the product? can you use it on raw wood or do you need another finish on top of it?

  9. it's a product made in Australia by a company called "Feast Watson" it is their Scandinavian Oil (danish oil and polyurethane blend)...a little goes a very long way (small jar $11 AU could probably do 3 basses easily).

    in some places I sanded to raw wood, in some places I left a little of the nitrocellulose...I basically evened everything out the way I wanted it (it had plenty of drips) and smoothed a lot of the rough places working up to 400 grit paper.

    Two coats of the oil covered everything fantastically...I put on about 4 coats all up, I'd say...I've left it for a week and it has dried very hard (unable to scratch it with my fingernail). I'm starting to put everything together now (I'll be finished by the weekend and take a couple of shots for you all). I am more than pleased with the results.

    I used a cotton detailing cloth in a circular motion. It leaves a very nice satin finish. I'll definitely use this stuff in the future.
  10. Because I was satisfied with their test result, I decided to go poly. Here is pic of finished bass body with p/up and bridge installed.


    I hope she arrives home before Christmas!
  11. *whistles* quite the beauty you have there :bassist: