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Painting a bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by westland, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I am planning on painting my Steinberger with a thick coat of durable polyurethane or similar robust paint. I know nothing about woodworking or painting, so truly would appreciate any guidance on this task. Specifically:

    (1) how smooth does the surface of the bass have to be for the paint surface to come out smooth? Can I paint a rough surface to smooth it out?

    (2) how many coats should I use? Or maybe I should ask ' How few coats can I get away with?'

    (3) what is the easiest, least problematic paint for a novice to use?

    Thanks in advance for any advice
  2. I did this just recently, only i stained my bass with a darkish wood stain (new maple i think???) and then coated it after.

    Sand it down rough with 120 grade grit, until you get it the shape you want, then use a non-balling (might be called something else over there) sandpaper, grade around 220 - 280, the 'white' aluminium oxide paper does the trick well.
    Now here's the trick - sand it down by hand VERY lightly, and cover with Paint again. If you're staining, once is enough. Should be relatively smooth.
    I then used an Estapol type laquer on mine, a MATT finish - no real shine, but dries very smooth, with non of that sticky/gripping that the gloss laquers have. I mixed it with Mineral Turps ~50/50. I coated it with that 4 times, with a very slight sand (with 220-240 Al paper) in between to get rid of rough spots/dust & grit etc., but really only 2 should be enough provided you get proper coverage. I used a spray gun too.
    BTW - I hear some nitro finishes require up to 64 coats!!!!!

    Painting is a bitch, but experimentation REALLY pays off, so play with it before you paint for keeps.
    Good Luck,
  3. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for the detailed guidance. It does sound as if I need to spend some time prep'ing my bass.
  4. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    if it has big chips in the paint then sanding to the base might be necessary. Otherwise, if the proverbial black is sound, then just start with some 400-600 grit to give some bite.
    What spray painting equipement do you have ? Cupgun, air compressor, ... foam brush:cool:
    Oh, you said thick.! What about herculiner for truck beds that you can roll on.:confused: or spray on under coating...
  5. v-12


    Mar 3, 2005
    FL Panhandle
    if you know anyone who subscribes to guitar world, there is a running set of articles over the last 12 months or so on painting a guitar, I believe the guy shows you how to do a professional job using spray paint- it actually seemed like a pretty involved process- here's the authors website:
  6. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I'm planning on just brushing it on. The Herculiner idea seems interesting ... this would give me sort of a road-tested combat rubbery look. This wouldn't work on the neck, but it would on the body.

    The other thing I'm thinking about is a marine epoxy that 'gels' as soon as it is brushed on. I think some of the epoxies have kevlar strands in them to get them to gel up. This should give me a thick coat that drys to a hard finish.

    I know that this is typically not what the pros use ... they seem to use lots of thin coats, though I'm not sure exactly why.
  7. Peg_legs


    Nov 19, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    prep work is your friend. If you use paint, any imperfection will show up. If you intend to brush on bed-liner or epoxy, the prep work isn't much of a concern.

    I just finished a set of tanks and fenders for a motorcycle Thurs. this looks like the right opportunity to show them off.

    Attached Files:

  8. M5Yates


    Feb 7, 2005
    Austin, TX
  9. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    If you're planning to put a very hard coating over the one on your bass, you may want to take it down to bare wood for proper adhesion. I don't know what the factory finish is on the Steinberger, but unless it's as hard and stable as the finish you plan to recoat with you may not get good results.

    Also, epoxy paint is not all that easy to work with. The stuff I've tried tends to sag on verticle surfaces requiring sanding out between coats and a less than perfect final coat. This was a few years ago however, so there may be some new epoxy paints that don't have this problem.

    You may also want to check out Duratec for a brush on textured coating. I haven't used it but others claim it's tough and looks good when dry and easy to apply.

    As far as polyurethane goes, any of the polyurethanes designed for brush on use at home are not as tough as factory polyurethanes which are a 2 part catalyzed product. The home use polyurethanes are about as hard as varnish.

    So, yes the prep work you do is the key to a nice finish. Then you need to decide on the product you plan to apply.
  10. v-12


    Mar 3, 2005
    FL Panhandle
    i always though the noodles siganture guitar, which was wrapped in duct tape with a heavy coat of who knows what on top looked pretty cool:

    not a whole lot of prep work for this finsh, just picking out what color of tape!
  11. M5Yates


    Feb 7, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Take care of those old dings and paint chips with Bondo:

  12. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I thought of taking it to an auto paint shop as another alternative. You've done beautiful work there ... I'm always impressed at auto paint jobs that involve detailed patterns ... how do you keep those things from running?
  13. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Duratec looks interesting. On the epoxies, I think the idea behind some of the newer formulas (and I need to check out brands) is to be able to paint a vertical surface without sagging ... that's why the instant gel property is important. I've read about this, but need to find out who makes these, though they should be popular for homes. I'm wondering if Duratec, which seems to be for buildings, isn't such a product.

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