Sanding a Ric

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Axelorox, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Axelorox


    Mar 31, 2014
    I've always wanted a Rickenbacker 4001 bass in a natural or sanded finish and now there's one on my (relatively) local craigslist. However, it's had a nonoriginal metallic finish added on at some point in its life. Since I intended to sand whatever Ric I ended up getting anyway, it most likely wouldn't be an issue. However, I'm wondering - is there any chance of me having the bass sanded only to have some dark spot show up in the wood?
  2. yes.

    you won't know until you removed the finish
  3. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    There's also a possibility of exposing wood that's not quite up to par for a natural finish.
  4. Most previously solid color painted basses and guitars don't turn out that great after sanding down because usually less appealing / multiple pieces of wood were selected knowing they were to be painted over . Sand to repaint another color or you might just get lucky .
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I would guess that if it were a natural finish to begin with (you said "it's had a nonoriginal metallic finish added to it at some point"), then the wood underneath should be blemish free. If it were painted over and was sanded first, I'd guess that it wasn't sanded down to bare wood before being painted. If it were originally painted from the factory...they typically don't use wood with the best cosmetics for that.

    IMO, worst case scenario (and this is coming from someone who mods the hell out of everything I get my hands on) if you sand it down and it does have some areas that don't look good natural, you can always repaint it. You'd be no worse off. Just my opinion of course.
  6. Axelorox


    Mar 31, 2014
    Yeah that's what I feared; I just wasn't sure if Rickenbacker finishes up instruments with blemished wood like some other companies do. The seller isn't sure what the original finish was so I guess it's risky.
  7. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    I'd go for it. Maple is beautiful wood even with a few "rough" spots.
  8. Axelorox


    Mar 31, 2014
    If it means anything as to possible wood or construction it's an older instrument (mid-70s).
  9. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I can't tell for sure from the OP if the bass was indeed originally Mapleglo or not. RIC selected specific woods for visible-grained finishes such as Mapleglo in preference to lesser-grained or otherwise "imperfect" pieces of wood used for the solid color finishes. So, there's that.

    When RIC creates a metallic finish, such as Ruby, they use a silver undercoat, which might help prevent darker colors from seeping into the wood. Who knows how the metalliuc finish you have was done? I've seen a few sanded bodies from dark-finished bodies that were unsuitable for a nice Mapleglo when stripped, so, all you can do is try and see what you end up with.
  10. Axelorox


    Mar 31, 2014
    Was this practice always in place or is it a modern thing? The bass is from the 70s.
  11. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    They have also been known to cover up some really beautiful wood with a solid finish.
    Lately, it depends on what finishes are on order at the time.

    Back in the 1970s, who knows?
    If you don't like the metallic finish you can't really lose.
    If the wood turns out to be something you don't want to put a clear finish on, you can still repaint it.
  12. PaulBoyer

    PaulBoyer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 27, 2012
    Well, yes and no. When Ruby was first introduced, it was a "kandy kolor" -- clear red over silver, but after a few years, RIC found a metallic red color for a single-layer application. The "new" metallics, Turquoise and the current Midnight Blue and Ruby are single-layer paints, not "kandy kolor." Don't know what color the OP was dealing with.

    When RIC comes across pieces of wood with odd grain patterns or dark areas, they will usually cover them with an opaque paint such as Jetglo or the metallics. But not every opaque-colored bass has inferior wood/grain underneath. I took a chance with my Tuxedo (formerly White) and had it stripped and a clear satin coat applied. It looks great:

  13. Peacefrog35


    Dec 26, 2009
    Mccartney's was firefly originally and his sanded down just fine. Go for it. I bet the wood won't be that bad if at all.
  14. PaulBoyer

    PaulBoyer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 27, 2012
    Well, Fireglo, really; Fireglo is translucent and shows the wood grain underneath. I'm not sure McCartney's old 4001S is a good example to point to. There is nothing remarkable about the wood grain to begin with, then he overpainted the Fireglo poorly with spray can, then stripped it, and then later crudely sanded it. Having a professional refinish is the best way, but expensive. Whatever you do, don't use chemical stripper on the plastic binding or on the inlays!
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Here's one that got sanded down. It was then oil finished. The oil finish brought out a nice woody mid tone.

    josiah goldfish likes this.
  16. Natural finish is lovely. Like someone else said, "even if there are imperfections in the grain". IMHO imperfections just add character and MOJO.
    I use Al Cass Fast oil and apply it with 1500 grit w/d to get a lustrous satin finish on my natural instruments.