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polyurethane finish on my first bass HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bigbadbuck, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. bigbadbuck


    Jun 28, 2005
    Southeast Iowa
    Hey there Talkbass luthiers im 17 years old and have just finished my first bass body. It was supposed to be a neck through 35 in scale but in my inexperience i did not use several pieced of wood to build the neck and then busted out the side of the headstock while i was drilling the tuner holes. So after that i just cut off the neck and used the body and the neck from another bass i had around. Now i have all the body curves and body edges done and i started to put on polyurethane finish with a brush and i could never get it to look good i bought really good fine brushes tried to finish it while hanging and just laying it on one side to avoid drips and i can just never get it right. I have the equipment to spray finish but i dont know if its better or how to do it. please help me.
    the first one is the bass that the neck is coming off of
    home made bass.
    this pic is my first bass that im trying to finish
  2. ble_rush


    Jun 13, 2001
    Mty, México
    I finished my first bass (4 strings fretless single-cut) with Minwax urethane varnish, and at first it was very frustrating not to get it right, one coat after another, but at the end I achieved a finish I like, and I'm doing it again with my second project (5 strings fretless single cut), the first one was like a prototype, to get an idea of what could go wrong :smug:

    The best way I'm dealing with this urethane varnish finish is applying a thick coat of the product, let it dry for at least 4 days, and then wet sanding the finish, starting with 600 grit to 2000 progressively.
    Working on one side of the body at the time, and then the sides, breaking it in 4 or 5 sections (top, bottom, right, left and difficult sections, like the curve of the lower horn)

    I don't know if this is the best way to finish it, but is working for me :D
    ...and also have been like a patience exercise :p

    I hope this can be useful for you, and it would be great if someone put more light into this topic.

    Saludos !
  3. Kran Banger

    Kran Banger

    Dec 1, 2006
    my advice to you would be to put a nice oil finnish on it, like a danish oil finnish that compliments the wood, and then go to your hardware store and buy an aerosol spray can of clear acrylic spray. several fine coats should be sprayed on leaving a beautiful sheen on your guitar
  4. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
    I'd suggest you thin out your poly with mineral spirits. This would be just like Minwax's 'wipe on poly'.

    THe advantage is that it's, well, thinner and easier to apply. I use a good paper towel and put a 2" x 2" piece for application.

    Because it's thinner, you will have to put on twice as many coats, but you have more control.

  5. I have been building cabinets for a while now...and not to toot my own horn im VERY good at it, I've built a few basses too and on all of them I put on a Minwax Gloss Clear Polyurethane, I brush it on with an extremely high quality natural bristle brush. This can says that theres no need to stir, stir it anyway. I actually hang the body with a thick wire through the output jack hole. I hang it on one of my bass stands with a drop cloth under it....But anyways, brush with the grain from top to bottom, as you apply the poly to more of the bass go back over the rest of it making sure to brush from top to bottom, when the entire bass is covered go over the entire thing again making sure there are no drips....come back in 5 minutes to make sure there are no drips...do this a couple of times cuz drips come out of nowhere sometimes. wait 24 hours before your next coat, in between coats take 400-600 grit wet sandpaper and lightly sand the entire body till its smooth, dry it off and wipe it down with a clean rag and some mineral spirits, wipe it dry again and apply the next coat. I know it sounds like a lot, but its not, im just being overly thorough
  6. I would recommend using a different standard to judge when to level sand than just a fixed amount of time. There are all sorts of climate conditions around the world and what was 24 hrs in your neck of the woods might be 24 days in a jungle somewhere. I do the smell test. If I can't smell the solvent in the finish, it's usually plenty hard to sand without balling up or blocking up the abrasive. After sanding, I'll also wait a little because I've found that the finish will harden further after sanding. I guess because new, less cured material is exposed to the air after having the top layer removed.

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