Shiny double bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Paul Warner, Nov 5, 2001.

  1. I have an Andreas Zeller carved double bass (Romania), and have set it up to play beautifully but it is so, so shiny it burns eyeballs and looks like a huge and demented toffee apple. Is there any way I can reduce the finish to that of a satin or semi gloss without doing any damage?
  2. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Thanks Paul, I have had this question for a while, but I didn't have the guts to ask!
  3. Hello Paul,

    Welcome to TalkBass!

    I think the trick is to play so beautifully, and with such skill, that the listener is moved by the music and doesn't give a darn about how the toff...(sorry, the bass) looks :> - seriously, though won't it just age and develop chracter with time?

    - Wil

    BTW: Nice to see someone from "The Glorious County" - I'm originally from Braunton which is in North Devon, but have lived here in the USA for the past eighteen-and-a-half years!
  4. Hi Paul, yes i know what you mean about the finish,it just doesn`t have that look does it.
    My solution,after refinishing my el cheapo bass was to rub all over with 3M scotchbrite (grey or finer) pad,till you get an all over semi matt finish,then use a polish suitable for wood and rub in with a cloth to get a sheen rather than a shine.Works pretty good.
    If you check C.Veltmans scans on these pages somewhere,you will see he has made an excellent job of refinishing his bass.He mentions somewhere about using pumice powder to reduce the gloss.
    There is a product available at auto paint suppliers that is designed to key the surface of paintwork for refinishing,which is like pumice powder in a paste form.This will also do the job.Don`t rub too hard for too long,people may get the wrong idea.
    Happy rubbing.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'd say that you shouldn't worry about the shine. It'll settle down over time. Just play great and nobody will care what your bass looks like. Or wear an orange jump suit and a motorcycle helmut.
  6. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Most of the too, too shiny bass are lacquer.
    In any case you can use, as mentioned, the scotch brite, pumice, or 400 wet and dry sand paper with a little water. Wipe off the sludge as you go along.
    But why use polish afterward if your object is to get rid of the shine?
  7. I just used polish cos it worked for me ,finish wise,and i think it stops the surface holding too much crud.Much like the difference between matt and satin black finish on a car,the semi gloss is much easier to clean,and IMO gives a classier finish.
    I would say though that i think the 400 w&d may be a bit harsh and not give a nice even sheen.(just my experience of 30 years refinishing autos)
    Rubbing in the polish with really fine grade steel wool gives a nice result.
  8. I was wondering something...

    I'm a real fan of rubbing in natural beeswax into bare wood when woodworking...would this be OK for a DB? Would it affect the tone or stability of the instrument at all (think laminated here)?

    The only thing I can think is that once it's on, it's on. Can't really varnish/laquer/polish over wax, now, can ya? ;)
  9. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    There are many ways to rub out an instrument.
    400 and 600 wet and dry are commonly used by instrument makers, followed by 1500. They're used with water or oil depending on the finish. Micro mesh is also popular, as well as pumice and rottenstone. I suggested 400 as a possibility because of the too shiny surface which he was trying to dull. I've never liked steel wool because it tends to fragment and get inside the instrument and all over everything else.
    I wouldn't use beeswax for a number of reasons.
    The best wax I've found for violin family instruments is Renaisance Wax which was especially formulated for use by the British Museum for their priceless antiques. However, it wouldn't be recommended in this case, because it would just bring back the shine. That's why I also didn't recommend the cream or other polishes; seems like it would defeat the purpose of trying to dull the finish, and unless the finish is rubbed out perfectly he's going to tend to get a mixture of shiny and dull spots all over the instrument.
  10. Chris Paget

    Chris Paget

    Sep 1, 2008
    I also have the surplus shine, and am hoping it will calm down over time. The other side of the coin is that a luster is nice but a lite one would be even better, i.e. don't want to get rid of shine or rub it down with too many harsh chemicals (if any). Does the shine tend to ware after a certain period of time? Can anyone offer an educated guess on a shelf-life? I can hold out if we're not talking decades :)
  11. shadygrove


    Feb 14, 2008
    Marysville, WA
    I've seen this method recommended many times here on TB....

    ... and have considered it for my shiny Eberle. It looks OK indoors, but I recently saw pictures from an outdoor gig and my baby was lit up glowing bright orange in the sunshine! :cool:

    The finest grade of scotchbrite pads are the white ones
  12. dar512


    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL

    you could touch it all over and let your fingerprints tone it down for you. ;)
  13. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Chris, welcome to TB. Wow, a seven year old thread.

    You may be talking decades. My bass is ten years old. An appraisal notes a "sprayed on" finish if I recall. Still pretty shiny. I don't lose any sleep over it. I just play it.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I know what people mean - but isn't it the case that the finish is there to protect the wood - a waterproof covering?

    So I would be worried about taking off that finish and what effect it might have on the wood and the durability of the bass...?
  15. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Me too. Sure I care how it looks, but not as much as I care how it sounds and how it plays. When I asked my luthier about it, I said I was concerned that it constrained or choked the acoustic sound. He replied yes but it also helped protect the instrument like you said.