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To restore or not to restore...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bunker, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. bunker


    May 7, 2011
    Not been around on here for a while; basses have been taking a back seat to my ongoing (and all consuming) synth passions. Anyway, I polished off a couple of banjos and started noodling about. It didn't take long for GAS to kick in, the upshot being I'm now the proud owner of a late 70's/early 80's Yamaha BB1200. A nice new addition to my modest Japanese collection (Aria Pro II SB1000, SB900, Westone Thunder 1A).

    Back to the title of the thread... What are you guys and gals opinions on restoring/refinishing instruments? I know most folks wouldn't attack a 50's P Bass etc. with a tin of Nitromors but does a refinish (in as close to original spec as possible) always have a negative impact on long term value? I get the whole 'roadworn' thing although I'm not a fan myself (Most of my basses, come to think of it ALL my basses are 'naturally' roadworn to a greater or lesser degree!), I like the boxfresh look but thats just a personal choice.

    Like so many of those Matsumoku era instruments time hasn't been kind to the original lacquer finish with cracks and chips in the obvious places. (The SB1000 has fared better than the SB900 and the Westone has already been butchered with non standard electronics and a woeful refinish that looks like someone applied the lacquer with a long stick...Through the letterbox)So would that original now nasty lacquer still be preferable over a refinished guitar? My pal has a '79 hardtail strat in natural with the milky lacquer and I notice original 'milky's' and commanding good money, considering the era they were born.

    Pics to follow if anyones interested and let me hear your thoughts.
    Smooth_bass88 likes this.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    I have a 1979 Ibanez Musician which has the dreaded 1" thick poly finish. I always intended to re finish but iv'e kind of got used to the mojo.
    saabfender likes this.
  3. Gee Man

    Gee Man

    Nov 2, 2016
    W. MA.
    I'd say its your instrument, do as you want with it. The fact that it is not a super rare vintage instrument helps, I can't imagine you'll hurt value too much on what is already a sub-$1k instrument. Go for it.
    Ghastly likes this.
  4. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Pics would be most helpful.
    Microbass and saabfender like this.
  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Your bass, your choice.
  6. bunker


    May 7, 2011
    Thanks for the responses! I've given it a good scrub and a bit of elbow grease with the Autosol plastic scratch remover prior to a new set of strings and it's already looking better. No amount of polishing is gonna help the few dings and nicks that are fairly deep or the extra thumb rest screws but hey ho. I might get an acrylic pick guard made up (a mate has the acrylic and CNC machines). Just debating going at the chrome plating on the bridge with some wire wool to see if I can get some zing back into it.

    I'll get some pics taken shortly.
  7. bunker


    May 7, 2011
    Pics as promised.. BB1. BB2. BB3.JPG BB4.JPG BB5.JPG
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    As far as I can tell, if you're taking into account the value rather than just want to do whatever to your own instrument, the only time a refin becomes viable is when the bass has already had the original finish removed or has been refinished.
  9. bunker


    May 7, 2011
    A few more... BB6.JPG BB7.JPG BB8.JPG BB9.JPG BB10.JPG
    PWRL, Williethump and Ghastly like this.
  10. bunker


    May 7, 2011
    And a few of my scabby but well loved Batwing Aria SB900. The SB1000 is tucked away at the moment but I'll get some pics up at some point. IMG_3509.JPG IMG_3510.JPG IMG_3512.JPG IMG_3514.JPG IMG_3515.JPG
    Fenwick, wraub and Ghastly like this.
  11. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    Mill Valley
    I refinished my trans black (Chinese) Fender Modern Player Jazz bass. Great sounding bass. Many loved the trans black look. Not me. So I refinished it. I doubt it will ever be worth much either way, though I understand they've been discontinued for a couple years now. But I haven't regretted refinishing it for a second.
  12. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA

    Refinishing that BB1200 makes no financial sense. No matter how nice the refin, it will lower the value. And the value of that bass isn't all that high to begin with. So in effect you'd be spending a few hundred dollars to lower the value of a bass that's worth, what...$500?

    But if that specific bass means something to you, and the existing flaws in the finish drive you crazy, go ahead. As long as you go into it knowing that financially it's a losing proposition.
  13. bunker


    May 7, 2011
    Guys, thanks for all your advice. I'll stick to cleaning (bridge apart, thats all done). The Westone will get refinished some day but as I say, someones already had a go before with less than stellar results.

    BB1200 is strung and playing beautifully.
    saabfender and rockdoc11 like this.
  14. I would leave the Yammi as is. Clean it up as best you can, set it up and play. If you want a wood project, make a walnut lamp for the bedroom or a shed for your yard. Looks like a nice bass.
    oerk, REMBO, MynameisMe and 2 others like this.
  15. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    That Yamaha doesn't look bad considering the age. I was expecting much worse. Definitely clean it up and leave the finish alone.
    Groove Doctor, TL23NC, REMBO and 3 others like this.
  16. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    I really have to wonder why there are random holes on the front. I wonder if someone made a pickguard at some point. Or couldn't find a good spot for a tug bar...
    bunker likes this.
  17. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Refinishing a neck through bass is more involved than a bolt on one, and that BB looks pretty decent. I'd leave it as is.
    bunker and eadg98005 like this.
  18. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    No way I’d touch that with a refinish. It’s awesome the way it is. I love those old BBs to death.
  19. rockdoc11


    Sep 2, 2000
    OP, you came to the exact conclusion I had.

    Clean it up as best one can, leave the finish alone otherwise, and play it.

    It does have a very nice vibe to it!
    bunker and JRA like this.
  20. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it

    I probably wouldn't bother re finishing this bass because it looks great. But, it's not like it's a vintage Fender. Obviously an original finish pre-CBS jazz will fetch more than a re finished one. I don't think there's any reason for concern about the originality of the finish on a bass like this. Are we talking new paint or just the seal over the natural body wood? If you can do it affordably, I personally don't think it'll affect the instrument's value. Unless the market is incredibly hot with regard to late 70s Yamahas, you're fine.
    bunker likes this.

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