painting the body over a nitro

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jj.833, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. Hi,
    I got this bass. I't been custom made for me some 10 years ago. I experimented with pickups and bridges through years and finally ended with the J pickup taken off. I'm thinking about filling the J hole with a piece of alder and repainting the bass to some color (white?). I'm capable to do the wood part, I'm aware that it always will be visible (or will become to be). No problem with that; I like the bass to show what's it been through.

    I don't know much about finishes, here I would appreciate your help. The finish it has today is nitro (I believe), glossy, thick - see the picture below - maybe some 0.4 mm of lacquer. I don't want to sand all the lacquer off as it would be a horrible piece of work. Rather I think of lacquering just the J pickup filling, sanding the body just a bit and then respraying, homemade 'car paint way'.

    - Can his be done?
    - What kind of spray can be used over nitro? Sprays sold here are many types, mostly acrylic.
    - Do I need to apply some basic layer over the body before the color spray? What kind?
    - Is there a need to apply some finish layer after the color spray?
    - Do I need to polish the finish, what is the preferred method?
    Thanks a lot
  2. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    First if you want to find out if it’s Nitro - dab some Acetone on an inconspicuous area, under pickguard/bridge or somewhere it won’t be seen. If it dissolves, it’s most likely Nitro, if it’s unharmed it’s poly of some kind.

    If it is Nitro, the best paint to paint over with would be more Nitro as it’ll burn into the existing finish. Meaning you won’t have an adhesion issues if you wipe it down properly. Go over it first and sand any defects smooth and degrease. You should be able to find Nitro somewhere in Europe. Id probably avoid white as it can be a pain (tiny dust specs show very easily!)

    For the pickup rout - I have successfully filled pickup routs without them telegraphing through the finish (even years later). You need to make them super tight and use a glue which won’t creep (like West System Epoxy).

    Yes you’ll need to clear coat afterwards with clear lacquer to protect your colour coats. Then leave for 3 weeks to a month before wetsanding and buffing.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
    jj.833 and Beej like this.
  3. Thank you for nice clear answers! If I can ask - epoxy? Everybody I know uses hide glue for just about anything with instruments, saying that epoxy is too hard, tends to crack under vibrations (and is hard to remove if necessary). I use epoxy with a very good results... for furniture. It came to my mind it could be useful here, but so far I was thinking about the hide glue ... what could go wrong?
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Silly question. Why not just leave the J pickup in, and just turn down the volume. If you ever sell it, it will be worth more, and the sound is the same.

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