Tortured Fender P-Bass repair

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by gmjhowe, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. (If you want to skip straight to the finished money shots, go here)

    Hi All,

    This Fender Squire P-Bass was recently left as a donation at my local Hackspace, I was quick to grab it as a project bass.

    Unfortunately its previous owner must have thought it would be cool to 'torture' it.


    The Good
    • Pick ups seem in good condition
    • Most the hardwear, especially the bridge are in very good condition
    • Solid maple neck
    • 3 apparent original tuners

    The Bad
    • Neck has been 'defretted' with scratches where some frets have been wrenched out
    • Body paint/lacquer scratched and broken in many places
    • Half the electronics missing
    • Non original scratchplate, most the holes don't line up, didn't stop the previous owner ramming it on.

    The Ugly
    • Body has been used to put out fag ends, even found a fag end under a pick up
    • Previous owner has 'scratched' some sort of flame design into the body
    • Someone has actually tried to 'distress' the head by burning it
    • 'S' in squire has been scratched off
    • Massive chunk taken out of one of the edges.

    The Plan
    Talkbass is a great resource, pretty much all the questions I could ask about the technical side of fixing up this bass have been answered.
    Things like how to go about filling in dinks and repainting.

    I plan to fill and sand the bass down to a point where its easy to repaint,
    I don't fancy trying to strip the paint all the way off with it being a plywood body.
    I quite fancy a similair paint job to this -

    Partly because it would help to hide some of the previous damage if I don't get as nice a finish as I would like.

    I think I will reshape the headstock to remove the burnt section completely.

    My main boggle, is what to do with the neck.

    Should I finish off the defret job, fill the slots with a contrasting wood veneer and epoxy it,
    or should I order some fret wire and go about restoring it to how it was?

    My main concern is that the slots are fairly rough where someone has yanked the frets out.

  2. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Jumbo frets will cover most of the divots from missing chips. (Doesn't anyone glue the chips back anymore?)

    If you want a fretless, it will take a lot of work to make an attractive fingerboard.

    Unless you want or need a fretless, this is the best and easiest way to go.
  3. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    Buy a mighty mite neck for $100 and you are good.

    As per the body slap on a tort pickguard and it will be beautiful.
  4. troy mcclure

    troy mcclure Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Central Florida
    This is a $100 bass we are talking about.... I am not sure it is worth doing anything to...
  5. Broadstbully22


    Dec 5, 2011
    I would agree. It not being a wood body is a downer. I would fix the neck with jumbo frets as posted earlier if the neck is straight then i would buy a new wood body.

    Now a second option, I would turn it into a art piece. Like a lamp or maybe mount it to the wall and put guitar holders to it and make a cool punk rock statement guitar holder. There are a million things you can do. But it you want to turn it into a playing bass you may need to spend allot and do allot of work, it may just be easier starting from scratch.
  6. Thanks for the pointers about Jumbo frets, that seems like it could be a nice option.

    As for the value, I like to think that lies in taking something unplayable/broken and making it into a working instrument again, not necessarily its dollar value.

    Plus, this would be the first bass guitar I would be tweaking around with, so a lot less at stake than jumping in at the deep end, lessons to be learnt and so on.
  7. So, I put some initial time into this today.

    Some of the lower frets slots that I thought the previous owner had tried to 'fill' turned out to just be filled with fag ash.
    Delightful! Easy to clean out that anything else I guess.

    Decided to have a go at the fretless option.
    I had some veneer that was the perfect thickness, so this seemed like the cheaper option. The veneer is fairly light so I imagine you will have a slight change in texture, but an otherwise single colour neck.

    I figure that if I do a really nice job of the neck, I might treat it to a new body, will see how it goes first.

    Heres some photos showing the fitting of initial fret inlays -

    Then here is an image showing some potential ideas for the colour scheme and customisation. Thoughts on the new headstock shape are welcome.

  8. RyanJD


    Apr 19, 2011
    I have found value in similar projects.
    And it looks like you've made some solid progress already.
    I like what you're planning on with the headstock. Very cool workaround.

    I'll continue to follow this thread.
  9. Finished putting the inlays in.

    Now working on making a 12" fretboard radius block.

    I had thought the neck should be 9.5" pr 10" however there is every chance the previous owner had sanded it down using a 12" block. Especially seen as the middle feels more like 13" and either end feels like 12".

  10. Mktrat

    Mktrat Seriously, are we not doing phrasing anymore?

    Apr 9, 2013
    The Mitten
    looking good so far....
  11. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Good start to the neck project. If you sand through the divots and ease the neck edges it may be a good looking fingerboard when it is done.
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I like what I see there! I wish more of the yo-hos who defret instruments would put in the time and effort to do nice, careful work like that.
  13. Yeah, I am going to need to sand off more than if I had defretted it myself.

    Fairly certain it was played after being defretted, so I assume it must of sort of worked.

    Thankfully the neck is almost straight.
    It has a front bow of just under a millimetre, which is nothing really.
  14. It's looking very good after the work you have put in. Honestly, I would fix up the plywood body. It might be difficult, but I think you could fix it up for cheap. One of my favorite basses is a plywood body P-bass that was previously smashed on stage by the former owner. I fixed it up, and now it is a very nice bass. There is no doubt in my mind that this bass could turn out very similarly.

    I'd spend the $15 in supplies to fix up the body, then if that didn't work out, I'd buy a new body.

  15. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    Looking good so far! I'd heat gun that finish off, and bondo that missing chunk before refinishing.

    And good job on the neck so far! It's nice to see people using proper veneer rather than wood putty.

    Are you going to epoxy the fingerboard, or do an oil finish and keep the wood feel?
  16. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    The plywood body is not worth saving.
  17. Broadstbully22


    Dec 5, 2011
    I agree. Also bondo is meant to smooth out body work. Any more then a 1/8 inch of bondo and you run a good risk of chipping and separating. Personally if you really want to save the body then just shave and reshape the section getting rid of that broke area completely. But again, i would buy/make a new body.
  18. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    for the body fix, create a scarf joint and put a piece of solid wood in there. Once the glue sets up then you can work the new piece into the body contour. Once sealed and primed you should be able to shoot a new top coat with no problems.
  19. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Rout or cut a small shelf. Glue in solid wood. Jenga block would do nicely as would a small plywood cutoff. Shape, sand, prime, and paint.

    No good reason to remove all of the existing paint. Sand smooth to accept new finish.
  20. Tackled the large chip and some of the other smaller chips today.

    Decided on epoxy resin for all the major minor chips.
    Basically any chip that you could see wood through.

    For the large chip I crushed up some left of veneer to act as a structure (stops the epoxy resin dripping out of shape).

    Before smoothing out

    After smoothing out

    All it needs now is another coat of epoxy and it can be sanded down with the rest of the body.

    As for the fretboard, I was leaning towards using an oil. I think with an all maple neck that will be the nicest option.

    Any recommendations for an oil brand thats available in the UK?
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