WHy do bassists love "natural" finishes so much?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bunkaroo, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    This has been on my mind for a while, and just gets reinforced almost every time I open a FS/FT thread. It's kind of come to the forefront as I contemplate getting my first P bass.

    I've noticed the majority of basses owned and FS/FT here tend to be some kind of natural finish, whether it's tan, dark brown, or whatever the color of the wood it. I find most of these basses at best boring to look at. At worst I hate finishes like Tobacco Sunburst - I think they look like the toilet after a bad night of indigestion (no offense to those with one :)). Oh and I hate tortoise shell pickguards too - awful!

    Now don't get me wrong, I like the look of the wood grain, but I think it's even better when it's seen through a translucent color finish. I love the quilted color finishes too.

    So back to the original question - why do bassists seem to love natural finishes? The majority of guitars I see played and in catalogs are either solid colors or something other than natural. And yet, it seems basses get more love around here when they are some kind of natural finish.

    I'm sure I'm the weirdo and in the minority here, but it will be fun to read the replies. Flame away! :D
  2. ual


    Aug 12, 2010
    Meh, I like all finishes.

    Actually I lie, I HATE sunburst/tobacco burst.
  3. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Because natural looks so good:)
  4. I must admit, I prefer either black, white or a custom metallic paint job to natural ... on most basses. I agree with you that natural, unstained wood can look a little, well, 'boring' :meh:.

    That said, when I went shopping for a StingRay recently, I opted for a natural ash finish, partly because I liked the grain in it (good to know that it's a tidy two-piece body and not a mis-matched laminate :D) and secondly because I think that it's a pretty iconic look for the StingRay. So, in this case, it's more about association than pure aesthetic criteria ...

    (Look away ... ugly bass warning :spit:) ....


  5. Generally you get a better piece of wood when you buy a natural finish bass. Paints and some stains can hide flaws in the wood.
  6. ual


    Aug 12, 2010
    Natural is my second favourite SR finish. Just pipped by Powder Blue w/ Tort p/g :D
  7. Cuthbert


    Aug 25, 2010
    natural finishes are soooo late 70s...
  8. rumblinbass


    Aug 22, 2003
    Wimberley, TX
    natural finish = better tone for metal.:bag::D

    I dig both. However, you don't want to cover up a really premium choice of lumber with a coat of paint.
  9. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Thats the appeal.
  10. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    +1 to every bit of this. Well, except the toilet comparo. I don't think they're THAT bad.
  11. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Mike Lull GK Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass
    I'm with A
    My preferences are in the following

    Black (Its just plain safe and neutral to everything)
    White or some kind of natural
    Darker Red / Cherry

    Something about seeing the grain can be very pleasing.
  12. Aspidites


    Oct 20, 2009
    Berkeley CA
    And here I thought I was the only one.
  13. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Maybe I exaggerated. :)

    I have some credit at Sweetwater and I wanted to pick up the American Standard P 5-string, but they only have it in tobacco sunburst with tortoise shell p/g. Hence my vitriol.
  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    It saves me a ton of money on paint! :smug:

  15. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Corollary: Sometimes the wood isn't just better, it's AWESOME (scroll up one post). Then, a natural finish is the natural choice.

    Personally, I like pretty much any finish but black (my Sapphire Black Bongo is the exception).
  16. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    I've always been afraid of owning a white bass for fear of it yellowing. 3 of my 6 basses are black though (kind of ironic I guess since this could be considered more boring but I like it).

    Looking at that StingRay above, it reminds me of someone slapping strings on a piece of furniture.
  17. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    I'm quite the opposite. I love natural finishes, also bursts. I also like solid colours. Classic colours on classic instruments. I don't really like modern looking finishes. Not too sure why. Especially if it makes the instrument look less like a slab of wood and more like a spaceship. So really I like everything except modern looking paint jobs, or tacky ones like flames, with particular fondness for plain ol' natural :)
  18. Oooo. Maple, natural and black. My all-time fave colour scheme. You sir, have a very pretty axe right there.

    I find that what I actually like changes with the bass model. As in, though the Maple/black/natural look is my fave, I think it'd look stupid on a bongo.

    My fave Music Man-specific shade is that sadly discontinued Blue Dawn. I'm not even into Music Man, but that Blue Dawn makes me weak in the knees.
    Of the new Fender American Standards, it's gotta be candy cola and maple (which mine is), because they don't offer a natural one.

    But generally, I'm into stuff like amber or straight up natural. Finishes that remind you that your bass is made of a big, beautiful slab of wood.
  19. IngerAlb


    May 11, 2007
    It depends on the bass, I'd say. I normally prefer stealth basses and obviously black is my 1st colour choice, but on the other hand my Ws are natural finish.

    I like to see the grain of the wood on a bass. I've asked myself why too and my explanation would be that since a bass has a more natural voice than a guitar (except for those maniacs that like to have a bigger pedalboard than the guitarist) - since you normally chain it with an amp (and maybe a compressor) and that's pretty much it - it feels natural to have a natural finish. Further more, I feel I can bond better with a bass with natural finish, it's a more personal experience. Without trying to sound too kinky (I hope :D ) it's like touching someone else's skin as opposed to touching a person dressed in a thick coat...
  20. MarTONEbass

    MarTONEbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    Like others have said, with a natural finish instrument, you usually get a nicer piece of wood. IMO, and others, better wood sounds better! I personally love transparent finishes because you get color and woodgrain!

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