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refinishing a Wishbass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rockosocko, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. rockosocko


    Sep 14, 2008
    I just picked up a Wishbass with a purple heartwood body and maple neck. It appears to have a poly urethane finish that seems to have been brushed on, but done very poorly. How can I go about properly removing this finish so that I may refinish the bass? I intend to do an oil and wax finish. Also, the bass has a purpleheart wood fretboard, can I apply tung oil to this as well?
  2. giacomini


    Dec 14, 2008
    Florianopolis - Brazil
    Endorsing: Copetti Guitars
    There's a TB member that is specialized in wishbass refins, don't remember his name, but sure he'll chime in!
  3. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Thunderitter is the fella for wishy basses.

    To get rid of the crap poly coat....citristrip.
  4. Dean N

    Dean N Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    This will be the most hassle-free way to go for stripping:

  5. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    I know it's not exactly what you are asking, but have you considered trying to level the finish that is already on there?

    A bit of wet sanding could potentially level out the finish enough to make it look great after a polish. It depends on how uneven the finish is, though.
  6. rythman6969


    May 29, 2007
    Thunderitter ?
  7. rockosocko


    Sep 14, 2008
    I really don't want to work with the existing finish, it was applied badly and I personally prefer oil finishes. I like the idea of the citristip, should I have any concerns about it negatively affecting the wood in any way?
  8. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    If its like most of his basses, it's going to need some good sanding to bring it to life after you remove that finish anyway. I'd probably just forego the stripper and hit it with a random orbital sander until it's gone. Stripper is messy and more important when you are concerned about removing wood or altering the shape. When this doesn't matter, I just sand the crap off in about 20 mins...
  9. I've had stripper problems with the old finish and/or stripper soaking deeper into the grain as it is liquified/melted.I personally would just start with some 60 or 80 grit sandpaper and sand it down even tho it's much more work.Just my experience,others may know a way around my past problem.Also I'd be concerned using stripper that it might effect the way the oil is absorbed later.I very much prefer an oil finish also by the way.Good luck!!
  10. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Gave me a chuckle, you have obviously never held a Wishbass. I love me some Wish but his finishes are not salvageable. You either decide to live with it, or start over.

    I have used Citristrip, followed by a Tru Oil finish, on a couple of Wishbasses, (Cherry and Purpleheart) and been very happy with the process and the results.

    Please post some pix.
  11. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Damn dude you have quite the collection. The one I got had no # on it I wonder when he started #ing them?
  12. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Do you really like the original color of freshly sawn or sanded purpleheart? If so, you will want to use a sealing finish like urethane, because over time purpleheart with oil will turn generic brown just like all other woods.

    To keep my purpleheart purple, I actually dyed it with a little bit of blue to counter the brown tendency and urethaned it.
  13. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    hehe. Nope. I have barely heard of them before. I did some research just now to see what you were talking about. (After looking through a "Hottest chick in metal" theread here on TB. Google made me do it! :smug: )

    I see what you mean about the finishes. (And general quality, it seems). For some strange reason I want one now, though...
  14. rockosocko


    Sep 14, 2008
    I think I'm going to test the citristip on a small area and if I like the results I'll follow suit with the rest of the bass. I will post pics when done.
  15. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Dude this might sound crazy,, but if the purplre heart is a dark purple ,, not so brown,, cook the body in yer oven at 200 f,, for 20 min then check it make sure its not burning anywhere,, then sand it a bit,, the heating brings out the oils and the color can turn a very cool purple,, did this to a necklace i carved for someone the freshh wood is purple the outer wood not so much just gets darker,, try or not ,, your choice.
  16. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Course ya gotta strip it first and let it air dry for quite awhile,, lol
  17. 49sfine


    Apr 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas

    I've collected/refinished a 'few' Wishbasses in my time (although not nearly as many as Thunderitter!) and have picked up a few tricks and techniques long the way, so here's my 2 cents. Unless it was done by a private owner, your Wishbass is not covered in poly. What's probably on there is spray-can lacquer and it will have to be removed to obtain a good end result. The good news is that it comes off easily with almost any kind of stripper. I might suggest as a source of some basic information about this process that you look up the "WISHBASS REFINISHING GUIDE" I wrote a while back for this (Talkbass.com) website. Just do a search for it as shown and it should pull up. Reading it will give you a good general overview and idea of what is involved in refinishing a Wishbass yourself. I do admit that by now I am doing some things differently than I did when I wrote the guide, but it still can be source of help, hopefully. (Mostly what has changed is my method of finish application and the number of coats involved - I spray most everything now and put on a minimum of 12 coats of Tru-Oil.)

    Another source of good info is the Wishbass threads here within TB, they are packed with photos, mods, tips, techniques and so much more! It will take you a while to go thru them, but many of your questions will get answered this way. If there is anything specific you need help with, just let us know.

    BTW, I would not recommend the use of Tung oil or Tru-Oil on the fretboard or fingerboard of any bass. You want something that is a true oil (something that goes into the wood rather than sitting on top of it and sealing it off) and will let the wood breathe. I use StewMac's fingerboard oil and I use it sparingly, re-applying every once in while as the oil gets absorbed into the wood and dissipates over time (when you change or clean your strings, for example).

    We'd love to see photos of your Wishbass! Why don't you visit the current Wishbass thread and share all of that with us?