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To ditch the Poly or not...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sub5ound, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Sub5ound

    Sub5ound Banned

    Sep 6, 2008
    Catskills, New York
    I own a MIM sunburst P-bass that I was thinking of stripping down to bare wood and either leaving it alone or applying a coat of nitro paint. I did this once a long time ago to another P-bass and the tonal difference was night and day.(I am of the finish has a profound effect on tone persuasion) I did that myself with a blowtorch, but this time was thinking of having it professionally done. The only problem is, knowing that there is a thin wood veneer on both sides, can this be done professionally without any damage to that veneer? Thoughts?
  2. Yeah, you can do it but it takes a lot of elbow grease. I did it with a MIM Strat several years ago that had the laminate body. It made a night and day difference on the tone of that guitar as well.
  3. The idea that finish has a major impact on tone is just strange to me. So many others have done Nitro to Poly when their Nitro got dinged or checked up, and I can't remember one person who said the tone significantly changed:confused:

    On a solid body, electric instrument, it just doesn't make sense that the finish would have more than a minimal if any impact on the tone.

    Something is very strange here, no offense.
  4. Sub5ound

    Sub5ound Banned

    Sep 6, 2008
    Catskills, New York
    Are you saying that a super thick finish like on the Fenders does not affect acoustic resonance which is a direct result of string vibration? The strings vibrations are throughout the body, the strings are in contact with the bridge. A bridge mounted directly onto wood is going to sound the same as one mounted on a thick layer of poly?
    In my experience, absolutely not. My view on this would be different if I had not experienced change firsthand after removing the poly, but I did. Most people that have tried this have told me the same thing, whether it was for better or worse, there was certainly change. It is debatable that this change is transmitted through the pickups, but what would explain the tonal difference whilst plugged in?
  5. Muddslide


    Feb 23, 2007
    Mobile, Alabama
    I've refinished scores of guitars and basses and I definitely believe there is a difference. Even unplugged you can often tell a difference in volume and resonance after removing a finish, as well as after replacing a thick poly finish with something that "breathes" a little better.

    I refinished a telecaster (guitar) copy for a guy once. During the process he loved the bare wood look so much he wanted to slap the neck back on and try it out.

    He was so impressed by the difference in sustain and overall sound he ended up not wanting ANY finish on it, so I sanded it all nice and smooth, cleaned it up and sent him on his way, suggesting he maybe try rubbing some oil of some kind lightly into it or perhaps a violin-type varnish rubbed in.
  6. dannster


    Aug 20, 2000
  7. It does'nt have to, all that is required is belief. Perception is reality, after all.

    BTW...was there a poll on this topic, once upon a time? Believers vs. non-believers, or some such thing?
  8. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    Yeah Im sure thats helping tone.. Encasing it in plastic is not going to help anything thats for sure..

    Nitro is flexible and will allow vibrations.. Poly is plastic which restricts vibrations..

    There is a reason manufactures use poly versus nitro I will list a few..

    A.) Ease of use.. Some polys can cure in as fast as 10 mins allowing instant buffing and final finishing.. 10 mins LOL this speeds up how many we can whip out in a afternoon versus the waiting and curing time of Nitro.. To use Lacquer some states you need a inspected and maintained paint area plus a license. Lacquer takes a bit more skill and finishing work to get done properly.

    B.) Durability.. Poly is more resistant to chips and dings, and is def alot more resistant to wear. Lacquer doesnt chip as easy as some think but it will def chip easier then Poly. Lacquer will wear over time, Poly will wear over ummmm 100 years

    C.) Preparation... Since were encasing it in plastic the preparation for the wood is much easier with Poly. Almost eliminating any sanding sealer, primer, etc and allowing again for faster production. On a good lacquer finish you need to prep the body with sanding sealer, then sand it flat, repeat etc. Poly just spray the crap out of it and sand it flat one step versus about 3 with lacquer. Also on deep grained woods like Ash you dont need to use Grain Filler again taking a step out of the process you would need to do with Lacquer.

    D.) Health Concerns.. Lacquer is HIGHLY Flammable and EXTREMELY Bad for your Health. Proper masks and or suits are needed.

    In the end most manufactures went to poly because it cut down labor, it saved money on preparation costs, and it provided a easy way to produce mass amounts of instruments in less time.. PERIOD.. No other reason in my eyes. But corporate cost cutting to increase there production..
  9. BobXboB

    BobXboB Banned

    Sep 25, 2007
    Look up the definition of the word plastic :)

    I've seen too many "experts" praise the tone of nitro on guitars that aren't nitro to know that many of them, or all that I've met, are simply wrong. The only way to demonstrate you can really tell a difference is to listen to a sound sample where you don't know what the finish is and accurately and repeatedly hear the finish correctly.
  10. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    watch the video I quoted from Dannster... Sure looks flexible..

    plas┬Ětic (plstk)
    1. Capable of being shaped or formed: plastic material such as clay. See Synonyms at malleable.
    2. Relating to or dealing with shaping or modeling: the plastic art of sculpture.
    3. Having the qualities of sculpture; well-formed: "the astonishing plastic beauty of the chorus girls" Frank Harris.
    4. Giving form or shape to a substance: the plastic forces that create and wear down a mountain range.
    5. Easily influenced; impressionable.
    6. Made of a plastic or plastics: a plastic garden hose.
    7. Physics Capable of undergoing continuous deformation without rupture or relaxation.
    8. Biology Capable of building tissue; formative.
    9. Marked by artificiality or superficiality; synthetic: a plastic world of fad, hype, and sensation.
    10. Informal Of or obtained by means of credit cards: plastic money.
    1. Any of various organic compounds produced by polymerization, capable of being molded, extruded, cast into various shapes and films, or drawn into filaments used as textile fibers.
    2. Objects made of plastic.
    3. Informal A credit card or credit cards: would accept cash or plastic in payment.

    1. any of a large number of synthetic materials that can be moulded when soft and then set
    2. Informal Also called: (plastic money) credit cards etc. as opposed to cash
    1. made of plastic
    2. easily influenced
    3. capable of being moulded or formed
    4. of moulding or modelling: the plastic arts
    5. Slang superficially attractive yet artificial or false: glamorous models with plastic smiles [Greek plastikos mouldable]
    plasticity n
  11. DaveF


    Dec 22, 2007
    New Westminster, BC
    HELP US, JIMMY!!!! :help:
    We need a blind A/B test!

    I personally suspect that this will be an "unsolved" debate, quite like whether or not the Badass II bridge actually increases sustain.

    Seriously, we're talking about the type of paint you put on a guitar affecting tone. It sounds ridiculous. :scowl:
  12. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    It does sound ridiculous but encasing one in Plastic and the other in Paint doesnt seem so ridiculous when you think of it.. LOL

    We need mythbusters...
  13. BobXboB

    BobXboB Banned

    Sep 25, 2007
    It's not unsolved, no one who makes the claim they can hear the difference can demonstrate it. Not even for a million bucks. It's like the easter bunny and tarot cards. Try to tell some kid there's no easter bunny and you can get the same arguments but no bunny.
  14. BobXboB

    BobXboB Banned

    Sep 25, 2007
    How about different colors of plastic sounding different?
  15. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    boy thats a bit far fetched..

    I have stripped and refinished enough Poly basses to say there is something going on when refinished in Lacquer. Its thinner for one so it doesnt constrict the wood like poly. Its also a resin verus plastic which no one seems to understand.

    Can one tell the difference on a blindfold A/B comparison maybe? its plausible..

    Can someone tell the difference from a Poly bass they have owned for 10 years thats been refinished in Lacquer? You betcha and I have had several tell me so.. They know the instruments better then anyone.

    I had a customer who had me refinish his 81 Jazz bass.. He had it since 81.. His only bass.. No others ever for him.. Just that 81 jazz bass.. He played it for 27 years.. He was amazed what a difference when it was refinished lacquer.. Now you can say hes crazy but im guessing if you dated the same girl for 27 years and all the sudden she has a different appearance you would probably know something was different.. LOL.. Im no rocket scientist but thats a easy one.
  16. BobXboB

    BobXboB Banned

    Sep 25, 2007
    Not if you know about plastics and the effects of adding pigments, I was just checking to see if you knew about plastics.

    I wouldn't say no one but most ;)

    Why don't you explain the difference?
    If it's a night and day difference the blindfold shouldn't make it go away since it only effects the eyes, yet somehow it does. Conclusions can be drawn from that.
  17. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    your right bob.. No one knows a thing..

    You asked if people could tell so i said plausible.. Meaning "Some could, maybe some cant"

    If I would of said yes you could tell you still would have something to say..

    You know it all no doubt..

    So please in all of your almighty knowledge explain to us the benefits of encasing a bass in plastic..

    Were waiting..
  18. Thump Jr.

    Thump Jr.

    Jun 8, 2008
    SW FL
    That analogy doesn't quite work. It'd be more like she changes her makeup and you can tell a difference in her voice, all other variables being equal. But that's analogies for you.

    That said, it would take a decent amount of double-blind A/B testing to convince me that it makes enough of a difference to be concerned about it. Maybe it does make a difference. Until I can see (or hear) the hard data, I'm going to work on refining my technique, because I know for certain that it has a massive effect on tone.
  19. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I also think that nitro makes a difference, but you won't hear it until a few years. The whole magic of nitro is that it lets the wood breathe, and lose moisture over time, so and old nitro bass is more resonant because it is drier.

    You could get much quicker result by getting a nicely dried piece of wood to begin with. The quality of wood in MIMs and how good they are dried is questionable to me.

    Lastly, doing a professional nitro refinish can be quite expensive ($300+, no?). Maybe I'm wrong. I would rather order a new unfinished body from Warmoth or USA Custom Guitars and finish it with tung oil. I would be much cheaper than refinishing in nitro, and you would have a nicer piece of wood.

    you can have the best nitro finish in the world but if the wood is not well dried and resonant to begin, you'd still have a dead bass.
  20. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    ^^^^ Hell, those MIM basses still have sap dripping off the wood, LOL. Ok, I'll shut up now...

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