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Older, thick, soft, polyurethane finish. Noticeably affecting tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DJJazzV, Oct 10, 2010.

  1. DJJazzV

    DJJazzV Gambling is illegal at Bushwood sir... Supporting Member

    May 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Comparing 2 Stingray basses. A 1989 with a beat up, thick, soft, slightly coming off, polyurethane finish. It looks BEAUTIFUL. :) The top finish is very soft. I can easily just dig fingernail into it, and I think it even smells a little, but neither bother me.
    When I play it acoustically, with my ear up against the body, every note, open, or fretted, sounds very “choked” and “muffled”. Not much definition or clarity at all.
    When I compare that with my 2009 Stingray with a thinner finish, the 2009’s acoustic notes are clear, defined, and alive. (It is a string-thru though, so it has an advantage there).
    Same exact 1 week old strings, same playing of open and fretted notes, etc. Even not comparing the 2 Stingrays, I don’t remember ever owning a bass that sounded so “choked” and “muffled” acoustically.
    The big question: Does the thick and soft Polyurethane affect the tone significantly when the bass is plugged in?
    I don’t want to have it refinished at all. It looks so perfectly “road worn” to me, and that even makes it more fun to play. Please give me some expert opinions that will get any crazy ideas out of my head. I have read many similar threads on finishes, and for the most part, the consensus seems to be “barely at all” when plugged in.
    Thank you very much.

  2. The Only thing I could think of that would affect the tone, in your case, would maybe be that the finish under the bridge is soft enough to dampen the string vibration. Other then that, the finish over the rest of the body will have a negligible affect on tone.
  3. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Basses sound different, it may not be the finish at all.

    One way to find out could be a refinish.
  4. DJJazzV

    DJJazzV Gambling is illegal at Bushwood sir... Supporting Member

    May 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    I like that! Thank you. Now more crazy thoughts in my head. ;)

  5. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Make sure the the neck screws are tight on the dull one. Also that there's no grime caught between the bridge saddles and the bridge plate.
  6. DJJazzV

    DJJazzV Gambling is illegal at Bushwood sir... Supporting Member

    May 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Here is a tone update, and I'm curious if it makes sense:
    The bass sounds great now. I did nothing but play it almost every day. The two major differences are that it doesn't smell like poly anymore, and the finish seems to have hardened a little. The bass certainly has more sustain then when I first got it. I am positive of that. It doesn't sound "choked" any more.
    Could it have been that the old environment the bass lived had an affect on the poly? Perhaps softened it? Maybe too warm and damp all the time?
    No matter what, it sounds much better then when I first got it, and the smell is gone. That's the bottom line. Thanks again for the suggestions.
  7. Sorry for the crazy thought but :hyper::ninja::D
    Is it possible that the body isn't authentic, was refinished/reliced, and the finish was not cured when you received it?
  8. festaadams


    Nov 6, 2010
  9. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    And after a nice car wash and oil change, my car is faster, nimbler, corners better and increases in value. For a little while...

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