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Refinishing bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassman5, Sep 24, 2000.

  1. I had a fernandes P bass that had a white finish with A LOT of nicks and scratches in it. A few days ago i put this stuff on the paint called zip-strip to remove it. 2 days and 1 can of this stuff later, all the paint wass off but there was still a layer of clear sealant or something like that. I have sanded all of that off so now my bass is just wood with nothing on it. It is a very light color and I believe it is maple, I would like to keep it a natural finish. Any suggestions on how or what i should use in my refinishing project?
  2. bassman5,
    There are a lot of information sources out there to complete your project.
    Try going to Borders or Barnes and Noble and browsing through the wood workers section.
    The easiest way to coat the body would be with an oil of some kind.
    This will require a re-application every so often.
    It all depends on what YOU want..........
    Look around there's a lot of variety out there.
  3. Thanks Tom. I was thinking of applying a medium darkness stain, than varnishing it.
  4. Here is a link for guitar specific refinishing products and help:


    This is the most informative and interesting site on the net. They tell how to do all of the cool 'bursts and stuff.
  5. Does anyone know of a shop like this in the UK
  6. I will tell you what I did, since I just did the same thing to my Squier, which I found to have a very nice finish on it. I sanded off all the paint (which was not a good idea, since I screwed it up in a couple of places.. mostly on the back and under the pickguard, but now it looks just like the pic of the American Standard series P-Bass from the fender web site. Anyway, I stained it with a maple stain, which keeps it the naturual color, but darkens it a bit, like it were wet, and after a coat of that (Trying to keep it as light as possible) I did two coats of Tung Oil finish over it, and sanded that down (after it was dry) with a few passes over it with some VERY fine steel wool. I found all of my suplies at Home Depot (Don't know if you have those where you are) for less than $15. It looks really nice, and I think my next step will be doing some p-up work (replace) and maybe the neck too.. Who knows.. You can hardly tell it was a squier now.. =)

    Anyway, I just thought I would let you know, since I just did the same thing.


    William Katz
  7. Thanks HWK2. Thats pretty much what I was and am looking to do. I also wanted to try and keep the finish pretty light, but darkened a bit. I am probably going to apply a few coats of varnish, than smooth that down and apply a clear sealant on top of that depending on how the varnish turns out.
  8. Just a quick question, would varnish be an acceptable outer coating on my bass? Or should I use something else?
  9. Guys, guys, varnish is a fairly soft finish and won't hold up well under the strain of sweat, skin oils and the like. It'll get a crud on it very similiar to that you find under the arms of you grandmothers dining room chairs.

    Stain for color is fine and nearly goof proof if you use one of the water based versions. But if you want a hard glossy coat there are only a few things that will work. The first and most widely used is nitro-cellulose lacquer. This is HARD, clear and is both sandable and polishable. You will be putting on about 7 - 8 coats to make the surface as smooth as the one you've taken off. The next you might consider is automotive lacquer. A bit easier to find, it builds in a similiar manner. You can also use the commercially available acrylic polyurethane products. These are about the only clear coatings that are suitable for a home finished guitar.
  10. Hambone, my dad suggested using a polyurethane finish, I noticed that you had also mentioned this, how many coats would I need to put on my bass? How would this affect the stain that I used underneath it? Thanks for your input.
  11. I still maintain that the tung oil finish is quite nice. It is not as glossy as the other optuions that you have, but it also makes it look like you've done less to the bass. Unless you are planning to abuse your bass alot, I am not sure how hard or solid of a finsih that you want, but I've found that the best part about just finished with Tung Oil is that it does not attract fingerprints like all the guitar finished that I've seen. It looks a lot cleaner. THat is just my opinion though, maybe I did it all wrong :eek:

  12. A poly finish is fairly easy and fairly forgiving. The material seems to do a fair job of "leveling" as it is applied, more so than the lacquers. You need as many coats as is necessary for the depth of finish you want. I would put the estimate at 4-5. Of course your actual coats will be determined by how well you've smoothed the imperfections in the body. Polyurethane as a thick finish won't crack or check like lacquers can because it is a more flexible finish. That's "flexible" in a microscopic manner not "soft"
    It will not affect a properly dried stain finish.

    I should mention that a water base stain, though easy to use and clean up from, will raise the grain slightly. Each coat needs to be sanded with 600 grit paper to take care of any surface boogers that might come from the stain. An oil stain won't do this but is harder to control the actual color.
  13. I didn't know I was disagreeing with a Moderator :p Isn't that punishable by death :eek: ... Hehehe.. I see what you are saying Hambone, thanks for the tip. Wow.. I can't get over that.. :p



    :eek: <--- I love that face!

  14. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    metro Detroit
    Properly refinishing a guitar can be a lot of work and require some equipment to do it right...a compressor, a spray gun, and a buffing wheel. Below are the basic steps for a sunburst or transparent finish as I posted once before:

    As far as refinishing, just about everything you need is available at Stewart McDonalds Guitar Shop Supply (stew-mac.com). Correctly refinish a guitar, especially sunburst can be a big undertaking. Basic steps are:
    1) strip finish via sanding...try not to ever use chemical sovents if possible
    2) fill in any gouges with either grain filler (if really tiny) or wood putty
    3) level with sanding block up to 320 grit
    4) optional spray with sanding sealer and level again
    5) spray with transparent yellow
    6) optional thin spray of clear laquer
    7) airbrush (from outside in) your transparent blend tone
    8) optinal thin spray of clear laquer
    9) airbrush (from outside in) your edge color (sometimes a transparent tone, sometimes an opaque black)
    10) 2-4 (depending on how many clear coats are on it) layers of clear coat
    11) sit for 3 days and level to 400 grit
    12) 3-4 layers of clear coat (usually aim for a total or 6-8 layers or clear coat...too thin and you will have hardly anything on the guitar by the time you level it, too thick and you can get finish cracking problems later)
    13) sit for a week and level to either 1200 or 1500 grit
    15) polish with a good guitar polish

    for a solid color, substitute the following for steps 5-9:
    5) spray a overing with a sandable laquer primer (usually an automotive primer will do)
    6) spray two coats of a colored laquer (usually automotive laquer will do...just make sure it is laquer and not enamel!)
    skip steps 7-9, start above with step 10

    Dan Erlewine's book on guitar repair has a very good section on doing all of this. In fact, I believe he is in charge of the technical department at Stewart McDonald's.

  15. HWK2, I certainly didn't take your post as a disagreement. In fact your approach is a rather neat one in so far as it is simple and has a very nice look and feel. For years, I used just oil finishes on all of my wood projects simply because of the ease and good looks. And there is no reason why someone couldn't stain the wood a couple of shades ligher than they wanted and use the oil (tung or boiled linseed) to make the final finish.

    But you WERE wrong in the assumption that death would be your punishment. I think this week it's a BIKINI WAX!:eek:

    Sounds like ol'SMG has done one or two of these things in the past. There are some variations of the sunburst that knock me over but they aren't the 3 tone versions. I really like the natural face with just a hint of darkness or color creeping in around the edges. The whole finish has to be transparent though. I think the real key to a nice look (aside from the airbrush) is to make sure that there is plenty of transparent down before the first color is applied. That makes the whole color coat seem to "float" and it adds to the depth of the overall scheme.
  16. :eek: Bikini Wax is WORSE THAN DEATH!!!!!!! :eek:

    :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
  17. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    metro Detroit
    Hey, sorry if I am a long winded in these matters. There are few things I hate more then too see than an instrument that had been "ruined" by someone's either ingnorance or attempt at a quick fix finish. (Actually, sometimes these are rather neat when I find one I really want at a guitar show or at a pawn shop at a "please get this off my hands" price.) One should remember that as we seek out tone woods to build instruments out of, we also need to seek out finishes that enhance the properties of the wood. Nitrocelluleous Lacquer is used because it is hard, resistant to dirt, fairly resistant to cracking (when used properly) and allows the wood to react to tones naturally. True, it is not the only surface used on instruments, some companies do use a polyeurathane (Pedulla, for example), as well as oil or wax finishes (Warwick, for example), but Nitrocelluleous lacquer is/has been the premire fisish on guitars for many years. A word of caution, though, that Nitrocelluleous lacquer fumes are harmful to breath and it should only be used in a well ventilated area.

  18. Thanx guys. I just went to the hardware store downtown and got Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (I believe it is oil based) that the guy at the store recommended because it makes the stain come out more evenly, and I also got Minwax Wood Finish Stain that is also oil based. Everyone has said that you should use a water based stain, what is the difference between the two? How do they affect how my finish comes out?
  19. timp


    Jul 19, 2000
    I need to get my brother to let me borrow his digital camera so I can take and post a pic of my Sting Ray. It is the standard burst finish, it is real transparent and looks absolutely super. I think that the body is swamp ash, and the grain shows through real well. Really a beautiful burst finish IMHO. I also have a Carvin with the tung oil over Koa. It is also quite striking in appearance. I read somewhere that with tung oil the more you buff with steel wool the shiny it gets. It is impervious to finger-prints and such, I simply wipe it down with lemon oil about every six months and it looks good as new.

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