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Refinish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Oratorio, Feb 27, 2008.


  1. Oratorio

    Oratorio

    May 9, 2007
    Norway
    Hi guys!

    I got two basses I would like to refinish. I looked into ReRanch.com and found their guide to be comprehensible. I haven't got any experience with anything like this before, but I hope that it can still be worked out. The first one is a 5+ years old Mexican Fender Jazz bass, some dings here and there. The finish is Sunburst. I want to have it along the lines of Sea Foam Green or something along the lines. I just want to hear from you all, has anyone done this before? Did the result become horrible? Would anybody advise me against doing it? Please share your thoughts. Thank you very much. :)
     
  2. Do it - if you don't like the finishes and want to have a go, it can be a great learning experience and you'll end up with a unique instrument. Only taking all the old coating off is a real pain. Halfway thru the job you will wish you had never started. Be warned. But do it!
     
  3. funkybassplayer

    funkybassplayer Commercial User

    Sep 16, 2003
    Longview, TX
    Nordstrand Audio, Epifani
    I agree with Al Heeley. I have refinished two of my basses and another one is in pieces being refinished right now. Anything you do to the bass will allow you to personalize it to your self.

    THis is a picture of my MIM Jazz V that i was planing on staining a dark purpleish color but i like the look of the raw wood so much i just left it raw with a light finish just to seal the wood.
    me20playing.

    Al is also dead on about the fact that taking off the finish that is currently on there will be time consuming. I was only able to get off about half of the finish on the back of the bass i am currently working on before i ran out of time that day. Now i am just tying to find some time to finish it.

    what ever you do, make sure you post progress pics. Good luck to you man.
     
  4. Oratorio

    Oratorio

    May 9, 2007
    Norway
    That's a great looking bass, funkybassplayer. :) Looks very unique, love the color aswell.

    Well, to be 100% honest, I really want a Fiesta Red finish ala. Pino Palladino's signature bass .. I have a American Vintage 62'RI that I love, but I would rather have that sort of Fiesta Red that the Pino one has .. it does seem slightly faded when comparing it to "stock" Fender pictures though; take a look:

    "Fiesta Red" Fender '50s bass
    http://www.fender.com/products/prod_images/basses/0131702340_md.png

    "Fiesta Red" Pino version
    http://www.zikinf.com/_gfx/matos/dyn/large/ccc53f5401caf173779f8e7b2941dcf4.jpg

    Thing is, I'd love that Pino bass, but the price tag is heavy, plus I already got a P-bass that I love .. why not just change the finish, I thought to myself. Now, I don't have any experience at all with this type of thing, which is why this seems like a pretty heavy undertaking. But I'll just ask some questions right away.

    If I get a heatgun, blowgun, what-it-be-called, to heat up away the finish, is this the preferable way to do it? Or should I sand it all the way? Right now there are some dings here and there, but I'm not sure if those are into the woods or not. I've read ReRanch's guide to this, but I'm having a hard time understanding all the equipment, etc. nescessary to remove the finish in the first place. Can anyone help me out? All your comments are very, very much appreciate guys, thank you so much. :)
     
  5. funkybassplayer

    funkybassplayer Commercial User

    Sep 16, 2003
    Longview, TX
    Nordstrand Audio, Epifani
    Thanks for the compliment. I loved that bass and nearly killed a crackhead when it was stolen from me in Waco. But anyways...I have heard of people using a heat gun or somehting like that to get the finish off but i have never used one for this purpose. I personally prefer to sand everything off, of course this will be pretty difficult inside the horns. I also have heard horror stories about using chemicals to strip the finish off so i wouldn't recommend this method. Once again, let me emphasize that i have never used chemicals (on my basses) so i do not personally know what would happen. good luck in your decisions and above all, have fun!!!
     
  6. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    If you have to remove a tough factory finish, a heat gun speeds things up a lot. That's what I use. Heat guns are cheap these days--$20 or so, compared to when I bought mine some years ago for $50. You also need a couple flexible metal paint scrapers. My favourite is about 2" wide. You heat the finish with the gun and as it bubbles up, follow behind with the scraper to peel it off. Wipe the gunk on to old newspapers. There are a lot of toxic fumes given off so it's best to work outside unless you have a really effective exhaust fan in the room you're working in.. When you've taken all you can off with the heat gun, then you start sanding to get what's still left in the pores off. Start with 60 grit to get everything off and work up to 220 to get it smooth enough for primer. If there are any dings still in the wood you'll have to fill them.

    The key to a professional finish is the prep work so don't skimp on it. Using the heat gun, scraper and sandpaper (use the good stuff--aluminum oxide) you could get the body ready for finishing in a day. Myself, I spread it out over 2 days.

    The finish is something else. If you follow Reranch's directions exactly you'll do okay.

    I won't kid you. It's not an easy job. It's a good idea to do some research about wood finishing before you start.
     
  7. Oratorio

    Oratorio

    May 9, 2007
    Norway
    Thanks alot; I never really expected it to be any easy, but it's still good you say so.

    Are there anything I could do to damage the bass and make it useless in the proccess? Is there anything I should watch out for? The body is in Alder, what should that tell me in terms of the wood type? Also, do you mean wood finishing in general or related to guitar/bass? Thank you very much for your answer, it's been great help. :)
     
  8. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    If you burn the wood with the heat gun you might not be able to sand it out. But that's unlikely if you keep the gun moving and watch what you're doing.

    You could put on a horrible colour stain and not be able to get it off. Practice on scrap wood first.

    I can't think of anything else, other than, work carefully and don't get too carried away sanding in just one spot. Alder is a good wood to work with. It sands out nice and smooth and doesn't need a filler for a smooth surface for paint. Just some sealer and a primer.

    There are a couple of books available that will give you an idea about finishing wood in general. One is by Bob Flexnor, but I don't recall the title. Somebody else here will. The other is a book I've found useful "Hand Applied Finishes" by Jeff Jewitt. Published by Taunton Press. Jewitt also has a website with a discussion board. Google "Homestead Finishing"

    There's lots of stuff in how to articles on the internet. A lot of it is garbage so you have to beware. Books are safer. Fine Woodworking magazine is another good source of data.
     
  9. Oratorio

    Oratorio

    May 9, 2007
    Norway
    Thank you very much for your response!

    I still am reluctant to do it myself though. Does anyone out there know any european luthiers who do this sort of things by charge? If I could send my instrument to someone, I'd much rather do that than doing it myself..
     
  10. decuchi2334

    decuchi2334

    Feb 4, 2008
    DO IT! I'm currently refinishing two basses. Reranch is great paint, and an excellent source of information. The heat gun is the easiest and fastest way to get the old finish off. If you are going with a solid color finish, like the fiesta red, any possible burn marks won't show. I know from experience on the first body I stripped. U have to be careful of the contours as well. That nice little rounded over edge can get angular real quick when sanding, and its hard to get it just right again. I ended up making a sanding tool that matches it so it was not a problem on the second body. My point is that it is a challenging and requires patience and research, but it is very rewarding. I can't put down the first bass I did, but the Mary Kay jazz I'm working on now might change that.
     
  11. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    The Reranch products look good, but they may not ship to you in Europe. They won't ship the solvent based stuff to me in Canada because of hazardous materials regulations. You might have to source what you need in your country, but you can use the Reranch recommendations as a guide.

    There are probably a number of places that would do a refinish for you, but it would be expensive. There are a lot of hours involved. But, call around and ask. Places that do instrument repair would be a start. Also auto body repair shops that repaint cars or motorcycle customizers will sometimes do it.
     

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