waxing the bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by soularis, Feb 9, 2004.

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  1. soularis


    Jul 3, 2003
    Illinois, USA
    what would you guys suggest as a waxing material for fingerboard and the body? I used oil (home-use) couple of times, is there any specific lubricant that's made to protect the finish?
  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I like using a bowling alley wax for the board-apply with a fine hobby pad or 800 grit wet paper. Don't put anything on the body.
  3. soularis


    Jul 3, 2003
    Illinois, USA
    where do you get that stuff? thanks.
  4. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I was going to make a sick joke, but...... no.
  5. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Any hardware store.
  6. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    A name brand to search for is Butchers. A little goes a long way

    Gary Upton
  7. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    I seem to recall reading in "The Evolving Bassist" that Rufus Reid used 30W motor oil and steel wool to clean his bass (the body, not the fingerboard). Does this sound right? I'll have to dig out my old copy and check it out (remember the old edition with pics of a very BAAADDD-looking Rufus stowing his bass in the airplane and playing the 6-string Fender electric with a pick?)
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Prescription for instant disaster, sound-wise, appearance-wise and value-wise.

    Kinda reminds me of those urban legends about guitar tone: "Aw, mahn, y'know, Clahptin gits thaht sound by rubbin' mustard on his strings, mahn . . . . " "Naw, dooood, thaht's ahl wrowung, mahn, he cuts five-pointed stars in his speakers."
  9. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks for the cool-headed disclaimer, Sam. I'm relying on a rapidly-failing memory here--I will check my source and post my findings.

    (BTW: Was that Dijon or regular yellow mustard that Clapton used?)
  10. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    HA HA
    Clapton to his rhythm guitarist: "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?"
  11. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    I dug out my old copy of the Evolving Bassist, and Rufus wrote that he cleaned his bass with 3-in-1 oil and the finest steel wool (not 30W motor oil as I first mentioned).

    I dunno. Still sounds like a bad idea to me. Maybe this suggestion is omitted from more recent versions.
  12. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    I also used "Butcher's" brand wax on the fingerboard, as I saw some evidence of wax that the luthier applied last time he planed it. I used to buy violin polish, but a luthier many years ago told me that Pledge is sufficient for general cleaning and polishing. To remove black crusty rosin, you can use Xylene. It will not attack the varnish. Some folks get just bowled over by the fumes; I read here on TB somewhere that there is a citrus-based solvent that also removes rosin really well. When I first got my bass it looked like it had been dropped in a mud puddle and cleaned off with Windex. Dull, filthy and covered with scratches. Figuring I had nothing to lose I polished it out with denatured alcohol, which brought out quite a bit of shine under the top layer of dull, dried-out varnish, and melted away a lot of surface scratches. Combined with a little linseed oil and a little shellac and a lot of rubbing with a very fine soft cloth, it amounts to a simplified
    French polish (sort of). But denatured alcohol DOES dissolve varnish! Caution! And I spent hours and hours polishing it (drinking beer and standing in my workshop several nights until the wee hours) and could still see swirls in the surface reflections - not deep down in the color of the varnish.

    This is "real" bad, but just to get rid of some of the nicks and scratches so the bass wouldn't look so bad on gigs, I used a brown Sharpie. Blend it with your finger before the ink dries!
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've read a few threads like this , but having just got a new DB I was wondering what the purpose of "treating" the fingerboard was - are we talking purely about cleaning or about somehow keeping it from going dry?

    I've noticed that my fingerboard started out looking pristine dark ebony, but is starting to get "patchy" - like it's drying out ...do DBs need to be treated with oil on the fingerboard regularly..?

    I never did anything like this with my EUB which has an Ebony fingerboard....:confused:
  14. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    For the strings and the fingerboard I use plain mineral oil--or, if you prefer it with a touch of nice scent, you can use Johnson's baby oil. I moist a soft cloth with a bit of oil, and clean the strings before and after playing. It cleans them and avoids any rust or stains. It also gives the fingerboard a fine look.
    I've been using that for years and it does work for me.

    For the body, just a wool cloth with nothing in it.
  15. 3 in 1 isn't much different from 10W-30. And steel wool is definitely an abrasive capable of removing any finish on an instrument that I know about.

    With all due respect to Rufus, I've known some real hot players that I wouldn't let get near one of my basses because of the way they do or don't take care of their own. Rufus' cleaning method would be more appropriate to preparing for a refinishing job.

    What to clean with kind of depends on two things mainly:
    1. the finish on your bass; oil, shellac, poly, or nitro.
    2. the type of dirt on your bass, perspiration, general airborne grime, or sticky (beer, soda, etc.) or greasy (hand lotions, potato chips, etc.)

    What you want to do is use a solvent that dissolves the dirt and not the finish. If you introduce an abrasive, you are not cleaning, you are polishing at least and removing your finish at worst. Use a cloth or sponge that won't scratch the finish. Most of the time if you have a water resistant finish (practically all of them), and there is no bare wood involved, you can get away with a damp sponge to get the water soluble dirt off. Most stuff that is just sticky will come off with water. If it won't come off with that, I use a touch of liquid dish soap on the damp sponge. If it won't come off with soap, then it ain't normal dirt. At that point you're dealing with something that requires an organic solvent like mineral spirits, alcohol, etc. Find out what kind of finish you have before using an organic solvent and make sure it is safe for that finish.

    For fingerprints and general handling "skank" that shows up on glossy finishes (nitro, poly, some oil varnishes also) I like Gibson guitar polish in the pump bottle. Bioterra's Powerchord Skank Remover is another of my favorites for general cleanup. It works also for the metal parts and strings. For the raw unfinished fingerboard I have used #0000 steel wool and lemon oil, but other light oils (not as heavy as 3 in 1) work as well. If you like a waxier actual finish, Briwax is good choice for the FB, too. It wears off, but is easily renewed. The only thing I don't like about using Briwax is the toluene fumes. It's tolerable if you have the windows open and a fan going.
  16. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    #0000 steel wool -- "four ought" or superfine -- is certainly an abrasive but it's fine enough to be used for buffing and rubbing out some wood finishes. No problem. However, a bass is likely already buffed beyond that degree of abrasion as it's finish is finished, as it were.

    I can see it being used successfully for cleaning -- as in Rufus' case. Wouldn't be my first choice at all, especially with the messy oil lubricant part. For a great many situations all finished wood needs to remove fingerprints etc is a rag slightly moist (i.e., nowhere near wet) with water.
  17. A little dab of waterless hand cleaner on a rag will usually remove what plain ol' water won't. Test on an inconspicuous spot first, to be sure it won't harm the finish.
  18. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Orange oil, and a lint-free cloth, like a diaper. I also use an orange oil/beeswax mix from Rockler on many instrument.

    For glossy finished instruments, Meguiar's auto polish. It's sold at a much higher price in smaller containers as an instrument polish, too ;-)
  19. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    I like the Petz polish. It took off thirty-plus years' worth of dirt and left the varnish very clear and shiny (the shine can then be buffed out).
  20. jonas


    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Lando Music (Germany)
    I use boiled lineseed oil for the fingerboard.
    For glossy instruments, I sometimes use silicone-free (!) car polish.

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