Refinishing My P Bass: Advice Please?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jkfreitas, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. jkfreitas


    Oct 24, 2012
    Hey everyone,

    I work for a professional remodeling company in MN. We have a finish and paint shop where one of my co-workers has refinished a few of his Strats... They're beautiful. So, I've decided to refinish my MIM Deluxe Active P Bass Special. It has a maple fretboard, with a gloss black body and a gold pickguard. I've always loved the look of a natural finish and I'd love to strip the black finish down to the bare alder and put a nice dark walnut-ish stain with a satin finish on it. I'm also planning on replacing the pickguard with one made out of an exotic (but not too crazy looking) wood and giving that a more medium colored stain (not as dark as the body but darker than the neck and fretboard).

    With that general plan in mind, I'd also like to replace the stock bridge with a beefier one for better, thicker sustain. I love the way my bass sounds now (through my vintage Bassman it sounds like a dream) but I know it doesn't have as long of a sustain as it could (as people who have upgraded bridges have said). I'm looking into the Schaller 3D or the LQ Badass II, so if you guys have any input on those (or any suggestions on non-obscenely expensive alternatives), it would be appreciated!

    I don't think I'm going to change the pickups at all (being a Special it has the PJ setup), but if you have some suggestions that are super awesome and you feel that I need to upgrade, then feel free to throw out those suggestions too.

    My Rig (in case anyone wants to know)

    - 2010 MIM Fender Deluxe Active P Bass Special
    - D'Addario Chromes Flatwound strings (medium)

    - 1979 Fender Bassman Ten

    - Sansamp Deluxe Bass Driver DI (for overdrive and extra pre-amp)
    - Visual Sound Volume Pedal
    - EHX POG 2
    - Boss TU-3 tuner
    - Line 6 Echo Park delay (for volume swells)
    - MXR M87 compressor

    Genres I play:
    - Alternative rock
    - Ambient/Post rock
    - Indie rock

    Random things:
    - I like my bass to have a more mellow sound, not super punchy but definitely some boomy thump.
    - I usually have the pickups (both the P and J are on the bass) pretty balanced but more towards the P side.

    So basically, I'm looking for some general luthier/DIY advice on the best way to take my bass (and electronics) apart in a safe way to make sure that when I put it back together it will be as good as it is now. I'm a carpenter so I know my way around working with wood (cabinets and furniture) but have never messed with any of my instruments. Any other advice on good woods for pickguards, luthier training, electronics help or bridge opinions would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Joe Milo

    Joe Milo

    Nov 1, 2009
    Geneva Ohio has a wealth of info on refinishing bass and guitars....
  3. keep it low

    keep it low

    Jan 24, 2013
    Haha I have the same exact bass, but Rosewood fretboard, Im putting in a Mike pope preamp, with a victor Wooten combo p/j pickups in my goal of getting a cheap fodera haha. They use hipshot bridges so im gonna look for one of those. I had my uncle paint my pickguard, and im powdercoating all the knobs, tuners, screws ect black, so it'll be a cool looking/ great sounding bass when im finished 1360746322183.
    Saetia likes this.
  4. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    You may want to reconsider leaving the wood visible. The body on many (most?) solid colored MIM instruments are put together using several pieces of mismatched wood. The grain may not look very good under a transparent finish.

    Only way to find out is to sand down the paint, unfortunately.

    If you like a more mellow sound you should look into a bridge made from aluminum, not brass (I don't know what the ones you mentioned are made from). Apparently aluminum give you a "softer" sound. (Although IME different strings make much more difference)

    Keep it low: That pickgaurd looks very nice! :D
  5. keep it low

    keep it low

    Jan 24, 2013
    Thanks! Hes right about that, who knows what could lie underneath the finish, look at my neck recess, tons of holes like the guy was angry at something or they let a kid go crazy with a drill
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Its currently black with a gold pick guard. If it were mine I would get a black pick guard and call it a day.

    Like others have said, being a solid color, they probably didn't use their best looking body blank. So it is a total crap shoot on how it will look natural.

    As far as the bridge goes, I would go with a Gotoh 201 or one of the Squier high mass bridges from a CV. They will fit without having to drill holes, and don't look gaudy like a BAII
  7. Dean N

    Dean N Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    +1 on the 201. (I like Gotoh hardware.) Just do your homework and make sure you can get the action low enough to suit your playing. Or a Gotoh 203 bridge, which is more similar to the thinner-based Fender stock bridges:
  8. jkfreitas


    Oct 24, 2012

    I didn't know that about the MIM guitars... I hope mine looks ok :/

    Thanks for the help everyone! I will upload pictures when it's all finished!! Any other opinions are still welcome!
  9. funkafied


    Jan 16, 2011
    Totally agree with the other guys, if it's painted it is probably different pieces of wood glued together, otherwise they would of done a natural finish. I stripped mine (97 MIJ p-bass), this will give you an idea of what it could look like



  10. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe