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Refinished P-Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sundogue, Feb 16, 2006.


  1. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I have a cheap MIM P-Bass that I love playing. I also loved the refinish job I had done on it (it was a sunburst with a white pickguard). So, I refinished it in a light natural finish and put a tort pickguard on it.

    But, after playing a few gigs out with my new band, I noticed that in all the pics of the band, my natural finish made my bass look like a giant banana or orange, depending on the lights. Ugh!

    When I first refinished my bass I was undecided as to what finish I was going to go with, either the natural (which I did go with), or a dark mahogany.

    Well, since I found my bass looks so garish under the lights, I refinished my P-Bass again, only this time I went with the mahogany. I had to quickly put it back together for a gig this weekend, so after the gig I need to take it apart again and put another 4 coats on.

    Here's a before (natural) and after (mahogany) pic. I like both of them, but since the darker one looks good under any lights, I think I'll stick with it.

    Any opinions? I'm sure some will like the lighter one (and I tend to as well...as long as I'm not onstage with it. :rollno: ). Personally, I think either finish goes with the pickguard because both colors are in the flecks of the tort pickguard.

    The after pic on the right is not in the best light. My fingerboard looks more like the one on the left (as I stained the rosewood with ebony). The one on the right is a tad bit on the red side).

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Just for reference...here's a gig shot with my "banana bass".

    I hate anything YELLOW!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  3. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    I refinished my 70s American P with an ash body, natural, about 10 years ago. It too, looks a bit garish under bright stage lights but looks great in normal room light. Your new dark finish looks to me like it will look good under stage lights but too dark under normal light. You can't win.

    One thing though, the natural oil finishes will darken after a few years of exposure to light and look a bit less banana like. F Basses had a nice treatment they used on some ash bodied basses where the pores were stained dark and the rest was light, some sort of 2 step finish. They look quite nice. It's probably something you could simulate yourself.
     
  4. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, at some point I am going to replace the body with one from Warmoth (or the like), as the wood under the finish is nothing to brag about. Which is typical of Fender basses that are painted or have the sunburst finish. The side by side woods in the body don't have matching grain...and the grain is hardly noticable anyway.

    Or, I might build my own from scratch. For the time being, I'd rather my bass looked good onstage since I don't sit and look at myself when I practice and no one sees it then. But onstage it looks terrible to me. But that's me. Some people actually paint there basses yellow, so they'd probably love it.
     
  5. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    Yes, alder, poplar and basswood don't generaly have a pronounced enough grain to look too good with a natural finish. I did luck out though with an alder bodied Carvin BK4 kit I built a couple years ago. It actually has a nice, interesting grain that looks good with a stain and varnish finish and it is very light weight to boot. I think it weighs 7 lbs or less which is a real bonus.
     
  6. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I've never been a big fan of painted instruments. But, I've been repairing and refinishing antiques since I was a teenager, so I've always had an appreciation for nice wood.

    Even the lousy alder body my bass appears to have looks much better stained than it ever did painted. While the grain is slight, my biggest complaint is the mismatched wood. But it was intended to be painted a sunburst, so of course they wouldn't care if grain matched up.

    Right now, the finish looks uneven...and it is. I thought I had an extra day to complete it, but my band has a gig on Friday instead of Saturday, and we have practice tonight. So, I had to leave it as is (as the stain/finish wouldn't have been dry in time) so I could use it. I'll be putting more on, and then wet sanding and buffing.
     
  7. Osprey

    Osprey

    Jun 20, 2005
    UK
    I think both the wood finishes look good, (I'm with you all the way about preferring to see the wood than a paint finish) but I prefer the natural. I have a MIA P bass that I bought after someone braver than me stripped off the finish. I bought a tort pick-guard like yours, and I just use wax for the finish, and I think it looks wonderful. Very like yours "before". Are you sure it isn't just the colour tones in the photo that make you think of it as a banana?
     
  8. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    No, the photo is pretty representative of the way it looks onstage under the lights. It isn't too bad if I only have blue lights on me...it tends to look more the way it does in the "before" photo. The problem is, I am very seldom under the "blue light special" for very long, or on it's own.

    I thought about painting is gloss black...which has it's own kind of cool look about it...but since the mahogany stain (when it gets another 4 coats on) will be very dark (with a hint of grain showing), it will be almost black...but with a bit of red. Had I not had band practice tonight, I would have had time to add the rest of the coats and finish it up right.
     
  9. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    You might try using a gel stain as a glaze to even up the mismatched boards. It works for me on the furniture I work on. I'm sure you know about this trick.
     
  10. alanbass1

    alanbass1

    Feb 8, 2006
    London
    I like the banana yellow look under lights. Now, if you could get a finish to look like that all the time.......
     
  11. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah, but given the inferior wood used (grain-wise), I'm not really going to try to make it something it's not.

    Now, if it were a really nice looking body wood, and it was a bit off, I'd probably try that. I actually did get it a tad closer on my original staining, by taping off at the glue joint and adding one more layer of stain to the lighter part. It helped a bit, but there isn't anything too fabulous about this body wood.
     
  12. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I knew someone would find that appealling. And it pretty much does look like that all the time. The only time it doesn't is when I only have blue lights on me (which is seldom).