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Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by afzoomie67, May 31, 2011.

  1. I believe this will go here..due to how it's in the repairing part of this, I believe..
    I'm thinking of (once I buy my Hwy. 1) re-finishing my Squier P-bass, which is my first and current bass (I'm 14, so..short on money to upgrade for the past 3 years). I'm thinking of Jackson Pollack styling the body, by removing everything, PG, Strings, Pup, etc. Putting tape on some spots on the body (black body white PG) and splatter painting it with blue and purple tints and shades. After this is accomplished, I'm thinking of getting Rotosound strings and setting it up by myself. Could anyone list the steps on how all this would be accomplished and the difficulty of such a task? Also, what would the price be to buy the paint and all that stuff and strings for the finish and all?
  2. JeffE


    Jan 19, 2011
    Lawrence, KS
    Hey there,

    Though there are a lot of folks on this forum that are far more expert than me on this subject, I figured I'd at least throw out some thoughts for you.

    Refinishing a bass seems pretty daunting but if you take your time and do it right, it's surprisingly manageable. The "taking your time and doing it right" part, though, is where the focus lies.

    First off, check out the reranch forums, every sort of expertise as far as finishing is concerned, is represented there;
    The Guitar Refinishing and Restoration Forum :: Index

    Now, the first thing to consider is taking the bass apart; this isn't very difficult as long as you're careful and patient; un string the instrument, then slowly and carefully remove the screws on the Neck, Bridge, Pickguard, and Straplocks. Make sure you have a properly sized screwdriver (you'll probably need at least 3 different sizes for the whole bass) otherwise you'll strip out screw heads and have an awful time in the future trying to ever work with them again (trust me, I know!)

    Now to take the original finish off of the body, there are a few ways which you'll have to research and decide for yourself. You can use chemicals to break down the paint, like Citrus strippers, or some of the really harsh stuff that will require some safety gear, or you can use a heat gun and a scraper, or, the last and probably most painstaking option, is sanding.

    Now, you'll have to do some sanding regardless of how you get the factory finish off, but if you try to sand it all the way off, be warned, it takes a long time and you run the risk of damaging the original roundovers and contours (once again, speaking from experience :( )

    Once you have your original paint off, you want to sand and smooth your wood to at least 220 grit sandpaper if not higher. I'm working on a stratocaster right now that I brought the wood up to 320 grit, but we had to do a lot of work to remove original gouges and dings from the first time it was refinished. Again, I reiterate; GO SLOWLY! :)

    once you get the body down as naked as it can go, then you get to start doing the fun part; building the new finish! This is actually a much slower task than the stripping portion but it is a labor of love that will reward you greatly if you are patient. once your body is sanded, a coat of sanding sealer will even out the grain of the wood and close the end-grain bits in the side of the body. After that, a coat or two of sandable primer followed by a high-grit (I have been doing 400 grit with pretty nice success) sanding to level and smooth everything out.

    Once you start on your colors, make sure to give plenty of time between coats/colors for the paint to fully cure, and don't be afraid to give it some high-grit wet sanding after coats have set up, to smooth them out (400-800 grit for this)

    Once you've got your colors in place, the clear coat is the part that really makes the difference. There are many ways to do it and in my very amateur experience, the krylon spray acrylic works pretty well if you spray light and even coats, wait the full 24-48 hours to cure, then wet sand up to 2000 grit, and apply the next coat.

    Done properly, it will look like it's been that way all it's life.

    If you were thinking of just applying paint over the coat that's already on there, keep in mind it will never look as good or as "deep" as a factory finish. If it's what you really want, then go for it, it's your instrument, but do consider doing things the longer but better way.

    Also, as far as the setup and the rotosounds go, setups for the fender (including squier) P Bass can be found at the Fender website under their support section. That should give you all of the pertinent numbers to go off of, while there are MANY threads on this very forum as well as all across the internet that describe how to accomplish all the tasks required in getting that perfect setup. It's a wonderful learning experience that every player should try and surprisingly easy once you do it once or twice and get a feel for it all.

    Again, TAKE YOUR TIME, and DO IT RIGHT, and you'll have a killer axe.
  3. Dragonback07


    Mar 16, 2011
    I refinished a guitar and used a clear coat from Auto Zone and got a great high gloss. I went through about 3-4 cans so be ready and have patience. I would recommend putting on about 3-5 coats before you do start wet sanding and use LIGHT strokes! DO NOT rush this part of the refinishing phase. You will notice it will have an "orange peel" look to it when you apply your first few coats but that is what the wet sanding is for...to keep the peaks in check as you fill in the valleys. Be ready to sand, spray, sand spray, sand, spray.........

    Once it is done and you achieved the deep gloss you are looking for, let it sit for about 4-6 weeks so it will cure. If you rush and put it in a case or lay it against a rough surface, the finish will actually form the same texture of that surface you leaned it against, ie: gig bag, guitar stand, blanket on bed or carpet.

    If you have a connection in the auto body industry, see if they can apply some automotive clear coat when they are doing so on a car at their shop. After all, they are the masters at refinishing and making things smooth like glass....some of them anyway. LOL
  4. I don't have contacts..
  5. Your request is fraught with misgivings on my end here.

    You don't have any contacts - and by extrapolation I am going out on a limb here and will say that with inexperience and no-one on whom you can fall back on for help - you're gonna be hurting soon on the project.

    There's nothing wrong with trying to learn something new - it's commendable, since there are so many people out there who cannot operate a manual can opener - but you really need some contacts or at least a supporting person who has such connections for this project to come out with success.

    Believe me, getting to know people in the trades and services you will need in the future - and even now - is always a good policy for anyone. People are people, and even the most ignorant soul has something to say and teach you if only by their bad example.

    You really need to look outside your own comfort zone and get to know people who will talk to you - show you - and like Bill Murry in Caddy Shack - 'Ya gotta roll around in Mister Gopher's skin' for a while ----- that can only be a good thing.
  6. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    If you're going Jackon Pollack on it, I strongly suggest practicing on some scrap wood or card board first to get your technique down. Don't expect to nail it on your first attempt. Experiment with different tools for dripping the paint. You could probably use acrylic lacquer paint from an auto parts shop. They should sell it in pint cans.

    What do you guys think... just drip the paint over the existing surface and leave it at that? The lacquer should etch into the factory clear coat. And if you clear over the drips, i think the orange peel would be a bear to sand away because of the unevenness of the drips. I'd be inclined to have an auto body shop shoot the clear. Certainly call around and see if there are any auto body or motorcycle shops that can do the clear for you.
  7. Think of the factory clear coat as: Teflon for guitars.

    No lacquer is going to etch into that clear coat and if you live in a state that adheres to EPA and OSHA standards, you aren't going to find lacquer either.

    If I had you come into my shop with something that you drooled paint on, I'd make you pay up front and sign all sorts of papers to remove me from any liability.

    You obviously don't know about paint and paint compatibility.

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