Refinish my Doug Irwin Bass??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bruce Sahroian, Jul 21, 2017.

  1. Bruce Sahroian

    Bruce Sahroian

    Dec 10, 2016
    Well, I have had this Doug Irwin bass since the 70's. ( made for me by him) Got it out the other day to look it over and play it, to find that over the years the finish has "checked" (fine lines, cracking all over). So I am asking any members here who "are in the know", should I re-finish this "one of a kind" bass or not! It Plays just fine but really shows it's age!!!
    Also found out that the HI A Pickups on this bass are Super Rare!!!!
    Give me some feedback, YES, or NO! (on the re-finish)
  2. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Flossin'? I thought your name was Munson!

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    Need pics! But from what you describe, sounds like a well played bass, something that a lot of builders try to replicate these days. I would vote no, unless it's in real nasty shape.
  3. Bruce Sahroian

    Bruce Sahroian

    Dec 10, 2016
    Trying to post photos now but don't know! how are these? Worst part is there are two cracks in the finish that run the length go the neck! It is still playable but can be felt! Stayed in tune since yesterday.
    IMG_0702.JPG IMG_0703.JPG 3586896-e501ef00c201b9f70947b19e8e135cc1.jpg 3586898-9323f857663557d3a4c457c2c64ad99e.jpg

    Attached Files:

    moonshinegtrs and Doctor J like this.
  4. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I think I would vote to re-finish it. If done right, this bass will look absolutely amazing, along with playing and sounding great.

    I think there are big differences between vintage Fender basses and vintage boutique basses. While there is the desire for the all original Fender, I don't think this is the case for the boutique bass. Used Alembics from the '70's don't command a premium because they are vintage (your Irwin is obviously Alembic inspired).

    I'd be prepared to pay a premium on the re-finish, but you could end up with a basically new bass with a lot of mojo too.

    Best Wishes,
    Doctor J likes this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Heck, I'll throw you a curve ball. That bass would look incredible with an oil finish.

    So, rather than refinish it like that, I would REMOVE the finish and lightly oil that sucker. It would look glorious. And I don't just throw that word around.
  6. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    If it is unconfortable I would consider refinishing it. It is an instrument to be played. If not I wouldn't bother.
  7. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Some instruments check with age gracefully.

    This one, imho, did not.

    I'm green lighting a refin
  8. s_wood

    s_wood Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    If you remove the original finish you will cut the resale value of the bass roughly in half. That's cool if you don't care, but you should know it before you do it. My vote: leave it as it is.
    Rabidhamster likes this.
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    What do these go for on the used market, on average? ;)

    Cool bass, like the love child of an Alembic and a Kramer. :cool:
    Booty Shaman likes this.
  10. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    This sums it up for me. It's a stunning instrument which deserves to look its best.
  11. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    I agree. A refinish would be totally appropriate, and probably NOT devalue the instrument, as alembicbones correctly stated.
    cdef likes this.
  12. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    I'd definitely refinish it. It was a beautiful bass and needs to be again. The question I have is why was it not being played all this time?
  13. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    Of course not don't be ridiculous.

    A refinish will almost ALWAYS devalue an instrument, and those who say otherwise are sweet and you should save their phone number for future refin sales. The exception is, sometimes, super-custom paint that the buyer happens to like, and apparently, some TB members.

    honor its stories and life experience. It'd be a shame for that thing to come out looking like Meg Ryans "refine"
  14. I'm just here to say that's the coolest thing I've seen today.
  15. If it were my bass, I would keep as is. I would however, lightly sand the neck to smooth over any checking on the neck which may be cumbersome.
    Lobster11 likes this.
  16. Pedullist


    Oct 31, 2016
    Interestingly enough, quite recently I've seen relics mimicing a bad refinish: a solid colour with scratches and wear showing the supposedly original sunburst underneath. A proper luthier would sand off the original finish until it's bare, and then apply the new finish. Of course, not all luthiers in the past were willing to do that (it's a terrible job, my luthier is currently working on a Jazz bass of mine and he complains every week about it lol). The idea that the world of relic enthusiasts is now embracing bad refinishes, gives me the idea that vintage refinished Fender's will increase in price soon.

    Rabidhamster, Jeff Scott and cdef like this.
  17. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    I think it looks sexy as-is. If you refinish it, you will almost certainly reduce its resale value. However, it's your bass, so it's your choice.
  18. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    If it's a nitro finish it can be re-floated. That way you retain the original finish.
  19. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie

    Aug 21, 2013
    Yep, me too. Of course the day is young, but what's the chances I'll see another Irwin bass today, or... ever?

    If you have it refinished, have a pro do it. A hand-rubbed oil finish might be just the ticket.
  20. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Washington DC
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    Unreal. Never seen an Irwin bass. Incredible.

    I would be careful about refinishing it.