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'stealth' matte treatment

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by emblymouse, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. emblymouse

    emblymouse exempt Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    Lakland Artist Endorser
    I saw someone's formerly gloss black finish done up with this 'stealth' look and tried it myself. Since then I've has a few people ask me how to do it. I thought post that here to help take some of the 'error' out of trial and errror!
    This is especially good to use on a guitar with a lot of surface scratches 'cause it will pretty much erase them.


    You're just roughing up the clearcoat so you've got to take it easy so you don't go through it to the paint. I wrapped the sandpaper over a small rag to minimize direct pressure from my fingers. Soft foam rubber would work too.
    You really should remove the neck and all hardwear.
    Start with the back. Keeping the motion even and non directional is the way to get an even finish. Big circles. Almost no pressure needed. When you start focusing on little spots you're going to get into trouble. Be careful around any edges like neck pocket and pickup routes, these will quickly sand down to primer if you aren't careful. Keep a rag handy and wipe off the dust frequently to see how you're doing.

    The paste wax will help even things out, and also brings back a bit of dull gloss. You will still need to wipe the bass down, but you'll see your fingerprints as being darker spots rather than dull spots like before. You can maintain it with a scotchbrite pad and wax.

  2. Riiiiiize from the dead zombie thread!!!

    I wanted to bring this up again because this is EXACTLY what I want to do to my hi-gloss black precision. I want the final product to be rat-rod flat black. So my question: is the OP's method the best way to knock down a factory hi-gloss finish to a totally matte flat? Recommendations for a paste/wax that will finish this up nice and smooth and flat and dull?

    I originally thought I would have to hit it with a couple layers of satin poly, but if I can get the desired (lack of) sheen by merely rubbing it out I would be much happier. Any advice for a novice?

    Thanks in advance.
  3. Anomalous Bass

    Anomalous Bass

    Mar 29, 2011
    Although i cant directly help with your question, from the OPs picture you can tell it was sanded imo. It looks rather cloudy (instead of a flat/satin look) and you can see difference in the finish across the body.
  4. skiscem

    skiscem Supporting Member

    I did the same to a bass and got nice results, i used automotive rubbing compound with a scotch brite pad and then finished with a fine steel wool.

    (the marks on the pictures are sweat)

  5. ^^^ Wow, that is a nice result. Right on. Yeah, this is what I want, tho I'm a little apprehensive. My last (first) attempt at finishing a bass was a pita. But this might be about my speed.

    So one of these:

    with some of this on it:

    swirl every inch of the body very very lightly until the gloss is all gone.

    Then finish with this:

    This will be an ignant question, but what does the steel wool do?
  6. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    The steel wool really gets rid of the gloss and leaves nice tiny scratches which is what a matte finish is.
  7. skiscem

    skiscem Supporting Member

    rub some compound with the steel wool and then with the steel wool clean in straight lines, that gets rid of the swirls and gets you a very smooth stainless steel like look
  8. Got it. I'm locked in now. Thanks! :)

    I'll post some action shots here as things progress.

  9. Ok.. here is mine w. a lot of help from Skiscem. Thanks! I spent about an hour w. the rubbing compound. It removed the shine. Then the real magic happens w. the Steel Wool. I spent about 2 hours with the Steel Wool. Painted the headstock w. flat black and am applying poly now.

  10. skiscem

    skiscem Supporting Member

    That looks great!, im a sucker for stealthy basses, i really want to see it finished, keep us posted
  11. Will do.. Black pickguard and Black jazz control plate are on their way. I am at their mercy now. In the meantime, gonna wire up that bartolini pre and finish the poly.

    Thanks so much mang!
  12. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Actually considering doing this on a P-bass project myself. Is it easier to just get a glossed black body and scuff it up like you guys are doing, or take an uncolored body (say, from warmoth) and apply the paint yourself? I realize the first choice is definitely the cheapest, but would the outcome be easier to just hit it with flat black auto paint?

    Also, the pickup im using is a Dimarzio model P in the pre-wired WHITE pickguard, any tips on turning that guy into a black pickguard? I'll have pots, bridge, etc. all covered, just worried about those. After I do all this and slap some DR black beauties on it...should be amazing!
  13. Personally, I think that there is a LOT more that can go wrong w. painting a bass yourself. Humidity, orange peel, dripping paint, and hours and hours more of work. I was kind of skeptical, but I figured if I screwed it up, i would just strip it and tru-oil it. But it is really easy and the results are really cool. I am thinking of doing a red bass w. this technique too just for fun.

    I had a white pickguard that I sprayed flat black when I did the headstock and it came out pretty well. I put poly on it and when I sanded it some of the white around the edges came out. If you painted it and let it dry and just did like 8 coats of poly in one sitting (i applied a coat every half an hour w. a fan on it) I think you would be ok. It looked great, but I bought a new black pickguard anyway.
  14. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Hmm, well since the body doesn't really make THAT much tonal difference (the " '70s body vs random scrap wood body" poll is what im going on), I'd probably just try and snag a cheap squier P-bass body, slap on a warmoth neck and my own p-ups and hardware...which is what I was planning on anyhow.
  15. [​IMG]
  16. Super_Donut_Man


    Sep 9, 2005
    I think I found something that beats white pg and off white (yellowed/browned) body. That jazz is the sex (as are the rest of the basses, but moreso the jazz).
  17. I am a big fan of white on white as well.

  18. RNV


    Apr 13, 2010
    Loxahatchee, Fl
    fEARful (I endorse them, not visa versa)
    Damn Nate, looking at that pic on my cell phone was nice enough, but that Jazz looks amazing. I still think you should be shot for putting a P neck on it, but it least it isn't the 1.75". Looks good my friend. I didn't realize this is what you did to it. Now its time for me to find a black J and some new electronics. That black PG really does it for me. Thanks for the bass porn.

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