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Refin on an oil finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by NOLA Bass, Jun 11, 2005.


  1. NOLA Bass

    NOLA Bass Mr. Worst Case Scenario Man Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    New Orleans LA
    Anyone familiar with restaining or painting an oil finish bass. I've got a natural spector that I love with the oil finish, but I've never really liked the natural look on a bass. I'd love to restain with an oil finish color or put a translucent paint job on it. Anyone know if it is possible to do this with an oil finish? Whereas you can easily sand down a paint job, I'm not so sure about an oil finish bass. Any info is appreciatted.
     
  2. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    A couple of things you have to worry about:

    1) is there wax over the oil? very little will adhere or penetrate wax.

    you can sand down an oil finish but oil does penetrate in a way that paint or surface coatings do not.

    2) how are you going to stain/dye the wood? since the oil may have penetrated more deeply than you have sanded down, your dyes might have trouble penetrating the oiled wood. water-based stains are going to fail, most likely. alcohol-soluble might have a better chance.

    3) how are you going to finish the wood once it's stained? I've found that oil will actually pull some dyes up as you apply it. this can be a real pain since when you pull dye you might make the application uneven. I've found spray treatments are the safest way to seal in the dye
     
  3. You might consider using transparent tinted polyurethane in a color that works with the natural color of the bass. You can safely put a poly finish over an oil finish - unless it has been waxed like Matt said - and that could easily carry all the pigment needed.

    Let's say your bass is a deep golden shade. You might consider taking it to a deep wine burgundy as an easily acheived hue over that base. If your base is a light color, you could use blues without much fear of it going green. If you got real adventurous, you could even try a burst with a couple of shades of transparent blended together.
     
  4. NOLA Bass

    NOLA Bass Mr. Worst Case Scenario Man Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    New Orleans LA
    I would definitely bring it to a pro (there is a local guitar builder who does great work), but I was curious if it was something anyone had experience with. Right now, the bass is a natural oil finish, no color. It seems like it may be best to leave it alone. The oil penetrating deeper into the wood than the sanding was what I was afraid of.
     
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    As Hambone said, poly will go on over oil. So if your pro shoots poly, then you could certainly do it. Penetration of the dyes is not a problem when the tint is in a surface coating since that stuff is not supposed to sink in anyways.

    At any rate, your refin guy should know what his material can and can't go on over. See what he/she thinks.