Refinishing a body: What kind of paint/lacquer should I use?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AckAckAttack, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. AckAckAttack


    Aug 27, 2006
    A while ago I bought a red MIM Fender Jazz Bass for real cheap since it was a guys unfinished product. I kind of liked the old beat up look at first, but then decided to make it look nice. I started to sand off the ugly red paint, and realized that the original paint was white, and the red was a second paint job (and a bad one at that). I sanded off most of the red, and now I'm looking to add another coat of white, and add a laquer to give it a shine. I am looking to do it all myself, and I don't need it to look absolutely amazing, but I'm looking to make it decent, or at least better than before. I was wondering, what would be the best kind of paint to use, and then what kind lacquer should I use to give it a nice shine/gloss?

    Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!

    Here is a pic of the bass pre-sanding:

  2. Lacquer isn't needed for a glossy finish. You should pick either a urethane /polyester paint or Nitro cellulose Lacquer but not both because they don't like to stick to each other and will delaminate before long.

    Lacquer is the easiest to use and frankly, you can buy decent quality lacquer at places like wood craft They carry Behlens that is ready to spray. No thinning needed.Pour some into your spray gun, adjsut the gun's spray pattern and go.

    Now, you have the option of using rattle cans which are very mediocre. They do not spray evenly or offer any control over the spray pattern. Also, the lacquer has a ton of retarder mixed into it which makes it less hard and incredibly smelly. use a respirator

    If you have a decent spray gun and a decent compressor, you will get better results mixing your own lacquer. The idea is to spray your base coat primer, color coat of white which cna be made by simply adding white dye to your lacquer, then spray a few final coats of clear lacquer.

    The gloss is accomplished by buffing out the final coat after it has dried for a minimum of 1 week. The longer the lacquer dries, the better it will buff out.

    For more info and tutorials, check out
  3. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    If you want a mirror finish, the prep work has to be perfect. Sand it perfectly smooth, finishing with fine grit (400?) sandpaper. You might have to use a little wood filler if there are serious dings or dents.

    After you're done sanding, vacuum off all the dust, then use a tack rag to remove what the vacuum doesn't get, then seal the wood. You can do that with spray can wood sealer as long as you're careful to avoid runs. Do you have a friend who works at an autobody repair shop? If so (or even if not), consider having them paint it for you. Unless they're total hacks, the job will turn out far nicer than anything you can do at home. It shouldn't cost very much ($50 maybe?) unless they're trying to gouge you.
  4. AckAckAttack


    Aug 27, 2006
    Thanks a lot for all the info, I'll probably go the way you said. My dad works for a construction company, so I'll be able to get a decent spray gun. I'll probably use the 'Behlins' lacquer mixed with white dye. Would I be able to find this at a hardware store possibly? Also, what would I use for the white dye? Also, there are parts on the guitar where there is bondo, and some traces of the red paint on top, will it still come out decent if I just add the lacquer with white dye on top of it? Please let me know when you can, and thanks for the help, -Dan.
  5. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
  6. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    If you are not experienced with, or don't feel like bothering with, a sprayer, I have to tell you that rattle can lacquer is not a mediocre medium if you know what you are doing. +1 to checking out It contains all the tutorials you'll need regardless of how you spray.

    I've done 24 guitars and basses in rattle can lacquer. I was just downstairs spraying an '80 Gibson Explorer jobbed out to me by a very well respected local luthier - with reranch rattle can lacquer. I've also done a pair of my luthier's own vintage Fenders in reranch and StewMac rattle can products. No one has ever called my work "mediocre" and I get a minimum of $350 for a full refin.

    If you are experienced with and/or prepared to deal with all aspects of your sprayer, it will be a little easier to use and, as was pointed out, you'll be able to control your mix. If you don't, you are more likely to get into trouble with your sprayer and get a bad result than with a rattle can. By the way, always use an appropriate-grade respirator with any kind of lacquer. It's very potent and can hurt you (seriously).

    The reranch site has an excellent tutorial. If you follow instructions closely and ask questions (reranch forum is good too) when you are not sure, you can get excellent results. Frankly, if you don't follow the right processes, no spray method is going to get you what you want. As for the white dye, you might try reranch Fender blonde (in a rattle can). I've used it to get a good trans white (not butterscotch) finish. The Bondo is not great news since it shrinks. I've used plain epoxy to fill over Bondo and wood filler (also subject to shrinkage with time) and had fewer problems than trying to finish right over it.

    I think the reranch products are Behlen under Bill Lester's private lable. They are very good and the colors and dyes are excellent. Here's a rattle can refin I did last year; I believe it came out rather well (lots of other folks agree) :D :
  7. X Wolf

    X Wolf Guest

    Since you are set on doing it yourself, Reranch is a great site for the do-it-yourself finisher, lots of information.

  8. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Sep 21, 2021

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