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Suggestions Needed DIY Refinish on Warwick Corvette-5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jefferino, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Maryvillebass

    Maryvillebass Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2015
    Maryville, TN
    I will tell you my honest experience with refinishing stuff... never worked out. Always some little mistake just wore on my nerves, and ruined the experience of the guitar.

    Good luck though... refinishing is an extremely arduous task that is intensely unsatisfying and incredibly boring. In the end, you end up with an instrument that is half as valuable as when you started so i really can’t see a downside.
  2. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    :) If yer going to the trouble of a REFIN, why not "go the whole hog, including the postage" and do one of these paintjobs?

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
    staurosjohn and MattZilla like this.
  3. brett adams

    brett adams Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    it's possible the bass you've got was painted because it doesn't have a good looking grain pattern or maybe have been made with a few pieces that don't match. i'd consider this possibility before stripping it.
  4. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    ^eek! This.^
  5. Bass_Bob


    May 27, 2008
    Nirvana Black Oil appears to be the Warwick name for that color. The finish looks like a black wood dye with an oil finish. I do not know what type of oil finish Warwick uses though - is it natural oil or a thin varnish? My bubinga Corvette does indeed have an oil finish (though I assume they use a curing accelerant and additives as it maintains its sheen very well).

    Assuming that you have a true oil finish and not a varnish, any solvent that will melt the cured oil will also likely drive it deeper into the wood. Also, If the black color is indeed a wood dye, solvents and strippers will not help you strip the black. Natural oil and dye, however, can usually be removed by sanding without too much trouble, unless they used a process to really drive the finish deep in the wood. The finish might not be very deep in the wood, and I bet light sanding with 320 grit would take it off the bass (no pressing too hard to avoid deep cuts in the wood).

    Removing the strings short term will not mess up the neck. It should be fine during the time that you refinish the bass. (I might loosen the truss rod a bit, but unless there is an inherent problem with the neck, a couple of weeks without the strings should not be an issue.)

    As far as finishing goes, if you want the Warwick wood look, you have several options for refinishing. If you want to add color to the wood while retaining all the grain, an aniline wood dye, either water or alcohol based, would work well. You can then put most any type of wiping finish you like on the bass.The bass can be coated with either a varnish or an oil. Keep in mind that most products labeled as "oil finish" are actually a thin wiping varnish.

    A wiping varnish that is satin or low luster will give you an oiled look to the finish. These are available as either oil or water based. These are easy finishes to apply. Most of these on the market are urethane based. There are still a couple of phenolic based varnishes available (my preference), but they are expensive and might be a bit more challenging to use if this is your first project.

    You can also choose to go with a natural oil finish. Any drying oil will work. The two most common choices are tung oil and linseed oil. Many stores carry a product that is called, boiled linseed oil (blo). This stuff has an advantage in drying time over natural oils. However, blo will yellow as it ages, so this should be a consideration if choosing to use the stuff. Natural linseed oil will also yellow slightly over time. Tung oil will yellow the least, but it will show a slight darkening over time.

    The big disadvantage with natural oils is their curing time. Once you finish applying them, they should be given at least a month to cure sufficiently for handling. I prefer using pure tung oil. It is easy, but it requires patience.

    For dense woods, I start with a mix of 1:1 of tung oil and mineral spirits. I apply a coat, let it sink in for 15 minutes, wipe down the wood, and wait 24 hours. I then apply the thinned mix once again and wait 24 hours. Next I apply unthinned oil, let sit for 15 minutes, wipe down, and wait 24 hours. I keep doing this until no more oil is taken in by the wood. This is usually 4 to 5 applications. After about one week, I'll hit the finish lightly with extra fine steel wool. I do this every few days, and within 4 to 6, it's a super pretty oil finish.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  6. sxaxsx


    May 23, 2012
    Harrisburg PA
    A couple of years back I refinished an Ibanez bass using materials from Home Depot, here is the thread with advice and how to:
    Refinished My Ibanez SR500
    Jefferino likes this.
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    That came out really nice
    Warhawk and ale_vanlager like this.
  8. I hate the finishing process, it's all detail and work. Some people genuinely like it, I'll gladly leave it to them - I seem more design oriented.

    To the OP, I trust your vision, but yeah, this stuff takes attention to detail and can be a lot of work. If you're prepared to do that, is absolutely doable.

    I remember seeing some plain white Warwick basses in old guitar magazines from the eighties - I thought those looked cool as heck. The new Warwick and the Warwick of the time I started playing are pretty great too, I just kinda dug that aesthetic I guess.
    Jefferino likes this.
  9. If you are going to loosen the truss rod,
    let me be the first to suggest that you
    keep up with how much.
    For example, if you loosen it exactly 2 turns,
    then retightening it exactly two turns
    should bring it close to where it started.

    The white showing through the finish suggests
    a sealer and/or primer coat under the black.
    That means it is probably not an oil type finish.
    It may also indicate wood grain that they thought
    was better hidden.
    brett adams likes this.
  10. lakefx


    Sep 14, 2012
    I refinished a completely abused G&L L-1000 a few years ago that was in far worse shape than that Warwick. Stripper, sanding, and Tung Oil turned out fantastic. I went with an oil finish because it was far less work than filling all the dings and cracks on my bass and the body looked to be one piece mahogany. It was a fun project, just take your time and enjoy it!

    G&L L-1000: Abused '82 hog wunkay rescue and questions
  11. I put about 40 hours into defretting and refinishing this bass. Also bought a auto detail gun and an airbrush, and a pressure regulator for my air compressor to run them. So between labor, tools (and I already had the air compressor) and the pickups, bridge, pots and tuners, if I charged my hourly rate from work the cost would have been around $2150. The bass itself cost me $60 in a pawn shop; it's an old Lotus that was missing one string and covered with black, runny spray paint. Looks different today and the neck has been rock-solid. The white lines you see on the neck are styrene plastic filling the fret lines. The finish is silver metallic undercoat topped with 7 coats of Stew-Mac clear acrylic lacquer colored either with red dye or black dye for the 'burst.

    P-J bass full.

    mikewalker likes this.
  12. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    Hard to tell from the pics but the rash on the back, near the neck pocket looks like a clear coat that has been worn through. Poly would be a lot harder to wear thru than lacquer. The grain also looks like it may have been filled as well.
    I'd guess that this has all ready been refinished once. If it was stained, you will have quite a bit of sanding to get it cleaned up. You can easily stain it dark, then sand it again, then hit it with color, or just tung oil. This makes the grain stand out more. Youtube is your friend here.

    "Good luck though... refinishing is an extremely arduous task that is intensely unsatisfying and incredibly boring."

    I'm just the opposite. Every minute of sanding is like anticipating that steak coming off the grill. I like watching the grain come back to life, the first coat of stain, to watch the grain pop. The first and last coat of tung oil. Even if the end result is less than perfect, I'm looking at something my hands did. I can imagine if you did this everyday, ya, it would get old.
    Good luck and enjoy your work.
    Maryvillebass likes this.
  13. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    If you really into doing the work, sure go for it. The main thing to keep in mind is being careful about things you can't really un-do; you can fix a flawed finish, but you can't un-sand wood if you get over zealous and screw up a body contour.

    If what you really want is just to have a beautiful bass, I'd strongly suggest sending the body off to someone like Pat Wilkins or Marty Bell. You can get a stunning refinish done for $300-$400.

    There's many other guitar refinishers that are very well regarded, Pat and Marty are just the first two that come to mind right now. There may be one not far from you.
  14. Versatek6

    Versatek6 Fretless is like Trombone Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2008
    Twin Cities, MN

    Mostly joking. My Yamaha TRB5 has a blue stained finish that the prior owner left "slap gouges" in. With little to lose, a blue and a navy Sharpie concealed the damage quite well. I can still feel the roughness, but can't see it, so that's all right by me.

    Good luck with the project!
  15. I have a Corvette 5 string refinished by my good friends of Cedrés & Vargas here in Montevideo. They sanded away the old finish, tinted the body, and because I felt that would be a good thing to seal that they put a coat of matte urethane. Hope it helps. Good luck on your project!
    IMG_20180313_212758. IMG_20180313_212739.
    ale_vanlager likes this.
  16. sanchorb

    sanchorb Banned

    Sep 25, 2007
    Sorry...but this looks ugly and cheap as shag.
    lasanchorb likes this.
  17. el_Bajo_Verde


    May 18, 2016
    Let Pat Wilkins refinish it. Best in the business by a mile
  18. lasanchorb


    Jan 2, 2018
    Oh man...what have you done to that originally nice Thumb? Looks like absolute manure with that tacky bright black finish, covering beautiful bugbinga with cheap paint is stupid as hell, even spraying the recessed straplocks and placing hideous basic "Yamaha like" knobs. But hey, if you like screwing resale value into some cheap crap no Warwick fan will buy, be my guest. (facepalm).
  19. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    I'm not sure that is bubinga. Just based on looks. If it is, it is not particularly beautiful.
    lasanchorb likes this.
  20. ale_vanlager

    ale_vanlager Supporting Member

    Jun 30, 2004
    Frederick, MD
    It’s my bass and I liked how it turned out, I do not care about resale as I do not plan to sell it and plainly could not care less about your or other folks opinion on the matter.

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