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Sanding off the Finish

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by msabp, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. msabp


    Mar 24, 2007
    I was thinking about sanding off the finish on my (relatively) new fender [it's currently sunburst], and then staining the wood underneath. Is there any reason I shouldn't do this? Or anything I should do while dong it?
  2. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    The finish is REALLY tough. Sanding will take forever and will be a huge PITA. You can find a stainable Fender body for cheap - check eBay.
  3. msabp


    Mar 24, 2007
    That's a good idea, but it's a custom body (the Reggie Hamilton model). It's P/J so it might be hard to find... but I'll look.
  4. You probably know that a non-pro(DIY)refin/strip job will fairly well destroy the resale value; that said, I'd suggest a chemical stripper. Determine what the current finish is for the ideal stripper.
  5. Yikes -- please STOP!!! You may as well throw it under a freight train -- doing what you propose will destroy its value.

    Really -- Get an SX and go ******* on that, instead.

  6. Woodyrson

    Woodyrson Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2009
    I wouldn't recommend doing anything like that to a fine instrument like you have. But, if you are dead set on doing it, DO NOT touch that thing with sandpaper. It would be SO much work and you would almost definitely end up with a wavy body from over-sanding in some places. Definitely get some sort of chemical stripper. If you can't find one that does the job, you can go with aircraft remover, but that is a last resort. That stuff is stout!
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    First, sanding tends to alter the body contours, so it's not a good way to start a refin. IMO "sanding" is the first question asked by those who haven't done their homework about refinishing. Don't do it. Chemical strippers are better, but you can expect a lot of work. At least you won't ruin the body using them.

    Second, you have no idea what the wood looks like under there. Many bodies are multiple pieces of wood, and the grain may not be attractive or stain well. If the wood isn't attractive, all you've done is screw up the bass.

    Third, staining is a skill and is more difficult on a guitar body than on furniture. Think three times before pursuing it.

    Fourth, when you strip the finish you pretty well destroy the resale value of the instrument. If you end up with a stripped body that won't stain well, you have a $90 bass. You may have a three or four-piece body with ugly wood hiding under that solid finish.

    Best idea: leave it alone and buy a different bass that's stained, or buy a replacement body from Warmoth or some other vendor and finish it to suit yourself, leave your stock body alone and just transfer the hardware over. You win both ways.
  8. Woodyrson

    Woodyrson Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2009
    These things shouldn't be an issue. 1) He should have an idea of what the wood looks like, it is a sunburst. 2) As I pointed out before, it is a sunburst. He should be able to see most of the wood grain, and be able to tell how many pieces the body is in. Fender generally saves the best looking bodies (as far as wood grain goes) for the burst. If the grain isn't quite as attractive they will paint it a solid color.
  9. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Pilgrim speaks the truth.

    I have a lot of experience with finishing and refinishing furniture and instruments. I've been doing it for a lot of years.

    Unless you have experience yourself, which you don't judging by the fact you need to ask, you're going to be in for a lot of work and time and quite likely won't end up with anything that looks as good as what you have now.

    This question gets asked here every week. Sometimes the guys who ask start stripping off the finish before asking how to do it. The results are predictable. It's kind of silly but lots of people do it.

    Can you imagine going to a furniture store, buying an expensive dresser and then taking it home to refinish it in the finish of your choice? Sort of the same thing.

    Now if your bass is a very beat up Squier, that's different. You don't have much to lose.
  10. quadrogong


    Jul 6, 2006
    it won't work..
    u sand and sand till you're sweating bullets,there's sawdust stuck in your sweaty brows,and you raise them,as if to ask,"when the hell am I going to reach the bare wood?"
    the finish is rock hard and goes on forever.
    when u finally break through,you start to alter the shape of it,and that sucks.
    sell it,and get a natural one.This is not a fun project.
    or yeah,buy a $100 SX used,and make that body a project,u can switch bodies,or just own another bass for $99.
    but no. don't sand the Fender,that's what most of us try as teenagers and u start..and never have the elbow grease to finish,and then it's truly F'ed
  11. strappa

    strappa Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2009
    Philadelphia, PA
    How new is the Fender?

    The literature i read about my 2009 Fender MIA Jazz
    says that the body is sealed with some special stuff that allows the body to breathe
    and the literature claims that it adds to the tone / sustain
  12. micximus


    Sep 30, 2009
    First post here. Hi everyone.

    Heat Gun?

    I've done this twice. 1st time was a squier strat. Sanded off the finish. Took about 8 years. Ok, more like 8 hours. Horrible, aweful nasty process. And I was using a power sander with 60 grit. Aweful. Trust me, don't sand it off.

    2nd time, my Ibanez EX bass. Swore off sanding, so brought out the most intense chemical stripper I could buy at Home Deopt. The finish laughed at me. So I grabbed the propane torch, and had the last laugh. The finish crackled, popped, and litteraly jumped off the bass. Note: I don't endorse the use of a propane torch. Get a proper heat gun and do it like a grownup. Either way, this took me maybe an hour, and didn't coat my entire garage in poly dust.
  13. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Heat gun is the way to go with the tough factory finishes. That's what I use when I can. It sometimes won't remove the sealer used on some Fenders though so there'll still be lots of sanding to do.

    The downside is the fumes and smoke given off which are toxic and will linger in the house for months. It also will set off smoke alarms. I only use the heat gun outdoors and on surfaces that can take the heat. I wouldn't use it on a neck. Too much chance of warping it or loosening the fingerboard.

    I still think it's a dumb idea to do this to a new bass.
  14. First of the chemical strippers are a waste of time when it comes to removing a factory Poly finish. The only thing that I've heard of that people have had moderate succes with was Aircraft remover.

    Second, a refinish bass will only lose value if you do it poorly, because we aren't talking about a vintage instrument, your talking about a run of the mill off the line bass.

    Finally the bass will sound and feel better with a nitro or oil finsih, so really its up to you but I would only take on the task if your seriously dedicated to making the refin look good and dedicate the 2 or so months it will take to finish it.

    If I were you, I'd check out reranch.com/reranch
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    After reading the posts above, I will repeat my suggestion: buy a Warmoth body and finish it as you like, then just swap the hardware over. Keep the original body safe.
  16. mrkreuzschlitz


    Jun 30, 2008
    Dacula, GA
    You can get an SX body made from alder for a good price(40 or 50 smackers), no stripping required. And if it won't already, you can route it for that P bass pickup easily. http://www.rondomusic.com/sjbbody.html It looks like it'll fit as-is.

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