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What type of finish does "black hardware" have?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Magneto, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. I've never owned a bass that had black hardware, such as the ESP basses I've looked at. Bridges, machine-head tuners, knobs, etc.
    I'm curious as to how this finish is applied. Is it some sort of baked-on enamel paint, plating, dye, etc?? Does this black finish last, or does it begin wearing off quickly?

    Thanks for clearing this up for me..

  2. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Most black hardward is not painted on...in a traditional sense, that it. Most of the black hardware that I've dealt with has been powdercoated, etc. Very hard and durable finish. The only hardware that I know of that has a reputation for wearing off is gold hardware. I'm sure that this depends on the type and quality of the hardware, how the finish was applied, how much abuse the hardware received, etc. Nevertheless, you shoudn't have an issue with good, quality black hardware. Hipshot and ABM are two excellent brands and are the two brands that are used on most "high-end" basses.
  3. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer

    powder coat is THE way to good solid metal coloring.

  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    All the Black hardware we've ever dealt with is either 'Black Nickle' or 'Black Chrome' . The Black Chrome is a step above the Nickle finish. We also have used Aluminum and had it Anodized Black for Back Plates and Truss Rod Covers. All the Bridges, Tuners and Strap Buttions thought have been Chrome or Nickel in Black. Not sure what the Black Screws are but it's one of the first two depending on what you need.
  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I replaced the hardware on one of my basses with black hardware over a decade ago. The only place the finish has worn through is under the height adjustment screws on the bridge.
  6. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    Don't own an ESP bass. Had several ESP guitars. Awesome and all black. Can't say how they are finished. I will say they will stay Black. I don't imagine the basses to be any different.

  7. Thanks for the heads up Ken! :D
  8. Be warned. I have a Carvin with black hardware and the bridge is pretty faded. Looks like brass underneath. Probably happened b/c I rest my hand there while using a pick sometimes. Also could be b/c I've had it 5 years.
  9. Hey people.. thank you. This forum never fails to amaze me. The information was very helpful.

  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Powder coat is probably the best paint-type coating you can get, and it is pretty durable with respect to scratching and corrosion. It is not very good as a wear surface though. Another problem it creates is that it has a significant thickness to it, which cannot be neglected in small precision assemblies such as bridges.

    What you probably see the most of on metal is plating. As KS said, on brass this would be black chrome or black nickel; on aluminum this would be black anodizing. For steel there is black oxide, and possibly other things I'm not aware of.

    I'm not too familiar with the brass work, but I am with the steel and aluminum.

    Black oxide on steel is a short-term "rust preventative" that appears black, but eventually will turn to red rust. It actually is a form of rust. It is used on industrial nuts and bolts, but is always oiled so that it doesn't rust by the time it arrives at its destination. In a very dry environment it can look OK for a few years tops; with a sweaty palm touching it, it would turn in weeks. It offers no significant toughness. It is not normally used on instruments; but if you get one where the black screws turn rusty, that's what was used, instead of the more common blacked brass screws. Also, small set screws are not widely available in blacked brass, so that's why you sometimes see rusty set screws in the bridge of an otherwise top-line instrument.

    The anodizing on aluminum can be anything from a "standard anodize," which creates a very thin but hard outer layer, which can be dyed black or other colors, to what is called "hard anodize," "hard coat," or "hard coat anodize," which is much thicker and very durable, and is used for wear surfaces.

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