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Quickening Wear on Poly (Not Relicing, or Dulling)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Matthew_84, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. I have a bass with a high gloss black poly finish, and I want it in 10 years to be naturally worn down. I do not want to take sand paper to it and throw rocks at it, and I don't want to dull the finish. I know that nitro finishes wear down after several years, but when I look at old basses with poly they really don't wear as much. Heck, Geddy's black '72 Jazz looks like it may only be a couple of years old. There's nicks and stuff on it, but it is still holding up nicely.

    Is there some way I can maybe thin out the poly finish so that it wears out quicker, while still leaving it a high gloss finish? I was thinking of taking some different car rubbing and polishing compounds to it.

    Has anyone ever done anything like this?


  2. musicman666


    Sep 11, 2011
    LOL. I have no friggin idea! But I wish my bass would show some freaking wear. Been playing it for years and it still looks new, minus a couple of scuffs and nick's!
  3. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Play the hell out of it!
  4. LOL, I'm pretty sure Geddy's '72 Jazz has a lot more playing time on it than this bass will in 100 years... Hence why I'm trying to speed up the process.
  5. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    It's possible to thin down the finish, yes. Is it easy to do right? No.

    You could simply sand down the finish a bit to make it thinner, then polish it to a high gloss again. The problem is sanding the finish down evenly. If you sand more on one spot that spot will wear down more quickly, making the natural wear look "unnatural".

    You could of course sand down the areas where the wear would be naturally and then polish up the whole bass. It is cheating a bit, but it could work. ;)
  6. Hmm, does not sound easy. Reason I'm doing this is it's a black bass with no pickguard and a rosewood board. I like the no pickguard thing, but also feel the bass looks a bit bland and would like it to be worn to give a bit more character... Maybe I'll just make a custom pickguard or something
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Always wear a 200 grit shirt when playing it, and play it a lot!
  8. Low Main

    Low Main Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    The problem with putting wear on a factory produced solid color poly finish is that there is usually a heavy layer of grain filler/sealer under the color coat.

    It is pretty gritty due to a high amount of silica or something similar. It sands well, but does not look well if exposed. Looks kind of beige and chalky.

    IME, the sealer/filler coating is thicker than either the color or clear coats, and is primarily responsible for giving polyester finished bass bods the feeling of being over encapsulated in finish like an M&M candy.

    When you remove a polyester finish and see the surface quality of the bare wood below, it is understandable why they slather the sealer/filler on so heavily. All the surface defects and coarser grit sanding marks in the wood are filled in, and when the sealer is machine sanded, they have a paintable surface to work with.
  9. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Play it a lot, and NEVER put it in a case. Leave it out to soak up the wonders of the world.
  10. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    This has been my experience with numerous refinish attempts. Polyester wears like iron, so leaving it out of the case really isn't going to do it.

    If you want that patchy, worn-under the forearm look, you need to strip all the poly and sanding sealer off, back to the bare wood. Then paint it with lacquer, and let that take the wear.

    Lacquer is also more forgiving if you want to accelerate the wear. You can sand it back and then buff it out, you can blow a little more lacquer in without witness marks if you need to do a repair, etc.
  11. bootsox


    Apr 28, 2012
    Biloxi, MS
    Big belt buckle, long sleeve shirt with metal buttons on the cuff maybe an unzipped jacket. don't baby it, play hard and play often.
  12. Hmm, if I were to bring to basically refinish it, I'd either look at staining it, or simply painting it so that's it's less boring to me. Even a solid white would be an improvement.

    I'm just going to keep cleaning it with a polish cloth after everytime I play. It will keep it shiny, fingerprints off of it, and it makes very light scratch marks as the cloth is a tad abbrasive. Maybe, just maybe in 15 years or so there will be some more wear than if I didn't use the cloth at all.

    Thanks everyone.
  13. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    sell it!

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