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refinishing a bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by luisnovelo, Jan 6, 2003.

  1. Hi everybody..

    I have the desire of refinishing my bass which has a quilted maple top with a transparent color and a hi gloss finish..
    I would like to paint or dye it to another transparent color with a satin finish, so..

    Do I need to usea paint remover or just sand it?
    If I need a poaint remover, what should I use?
    What kind of paints or oils are used for transparent colors with satin finishes?

    If anyone has a webpage with everything explained with would be really helpful..

    Thanks people.:)
  2. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Transparent finishes are dye finishes that generally penetrate the wood. You might use chemicals to strip the lacquer, but the dye might be hard to remove, and you'll probably end up sanding for a long time.

    Dye jobs are difficult to do by hand and they don't all look good under oil. Unless you really want to do this, you might be better off looking for a different option.
  3. BTBbassist

    BTBbassist join us for mankala hour!

    Apr 20, 2002
    Westlake Village, CA
    www.reranch.com has a lot of information about the entire process from start to finish.

    Correct me, but aren 't most MTD's that are dyed finished with oil? I don't think there is anything wrong with a satin or oil finish on dye. Like FBB said, it might be difficult to get all the residual color off the maple and get a pure color over it.

    Depending on the type of lacquer (nitrocellulose, polyeurethane) you may need different types of lacquer remover. Your best bet is probably to wetsand it off by hand.

    I'm not an expert, so check out that website, it gives most of the information.
  4. Thanks for your replies..

    thanks for the link btb bassist, I found some interesting tips on there..

    Actually the bass I'm thinking of refinishing some day is my BTB 405.. It's black, like maybe 50% of the btb 405's in the continent.. LOL..

    I really want it with a satin oil finish over a transparent color.. I think they look the best that way.. Like most MTDs and Warwicks.

    And I dont have a problem with sanding it.. actually I was thinking on rounding the edges a little bit .. mostly with bare sand paper. I've done it before with other instruments, but havent aplied an oil finish to them yet.

    Well.. so I guess the nitrocellulose is used for satin finishes, isn't it?

    Is it the only type of laquer used for it?

    Thanks again for replying guys..
  5. BTBbassist

    BTBbassist join us for mankala hour!

    Apr 20, 2002
    Westlake Village, CA
    Quite on the contrary, nitro lacquer is used for the glossiest of finishes. The shine comes from the reapplication of many layers and sanding in between each.

    Probably the easiest way to reapply the satin finish would be to buy the "Satin Finish" aerosol can Stewart Macdonald Lacquer

    BTW, I have that same bass. :)
  6. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    I would be willing to bet that if you sand the black off that BTB you will find a not so attractive piece of wood underneath it. A lot of manufacturers use solid colors on their most cosmetically unappealing bodies. You may find multiple pieces of mismatching wood and/or filled knots...
  7. BTBbassist

    BTBbassist join us for mankala hour!

    Apr 20, 2002
    Westlake Village, CA
    BTB's have transparent finishes on the entire body. The back is basswood, which is very soft, so be careful without a protective lacquer. It will really show wear of beltbuckle scratches.

    Good luck!
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    You can get a satin finish with oil pretty easily. Use low gloss oil/varnish and rub with extra fine steel wool in between applications.

    Oil will generally add an amber hue to the wood, so the color of the dye job will change a bit.
  9. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    This was the case with my formerly black Carvin LB75. I found one body wing was greenish, while the other was more yellow, the neck - a soft orange. The colors are subtle, but they prevent me from just using a clear finish. I may experiment with a wood dye to try and make the overall instrument more uniform in color before using a dye or clear finish.

  10. www.frets.com

    This is a site with tons of luthier information. You should be able to find something there.


    Stewart McDonald has tons of books, tools, and supplies of all kinds, try them too.

    I've seen a number of other refinishing articles on the web, and most libraries will have books on woodworking that go into whatever level of detail you want. What I've read indicates that a brand of oil finish called Tru-Oil or something like that is what the guitar guys like the best. Get as many different grits of paper as you can. I have some 1000 and 1500 grit from an auto store that I finish sand with for glossy finishes. 600 is what I used to "satinize" the gloss on the back of my 5 string's neck. Make sure to do it wet.