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Will removing finish affect tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flash, Mar 10, 2002.

  1. Flash


    Feb 3, 2002
    Salem, Oregon
    I am considering removing the thick transluscent finish on my bass...I think it is an alder body. I can see the grain under the finish and it is pretty nice and prefer a natural look. Will this affect the tone?

    I did a search for threads on this subject but none that I found really covered this. :(

    And sorry if this is in the wrong forum.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. it will indeed affect the tone.
    Finish changes the resonance, so if you remove it, the bass will sound different.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Is your Turser a bolt-on neck? If so, you could loosen your strings, unscrew the bolts and look at the body pocket where the neck fits to see what the unfinished wood looks like.

    It may make an audible difference in tone, good or bad. Junk wood will still sound like junk wood. Playing it a lot affects tone more over the long haul.

    A friend stripped his Precis down to the wood and it really improved tonally.
  4. I'm going to disagree with Al-X on this one. I say finish has nothing to do with tone. Take it off!

    (I'm no expert mind you, so you might want to check with a luthier type on this one.)
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Depending on the bass, it may be more difficult than you think.

    Many translucent finishes are are dyed. That is, the wood is dyed and top-coated with clear poly.

    If this is the case, you may have to sand a significant amount of wood from the surface of the body before you get down to clean wood.

    Secondly. Uncoated wood absorbes everything, so you will need to top it with something. Otherwise your natural look would not be natural very long. It will be sweat and Pepsi.

  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I picked this up from another site you may have heard of this guy. He's built a bass or two.

    "Finish--the bane of the guitar maker's existence--also plays an important part in determining the tone of an instrument. I believe there must be a compromise when choosing a finish: you have to balance the need for protecting the instrument with the sound-dampening effect of the finish. A finish that's too thick kills the resonance of an instrument; one that's too thin does not offer enough protection.

    Modern materials technology now offers finishes that provide good protection from rock & roll sweat, even when the finish is applied in very thin coats. As long as the buildup is not too thick, the resulting tone can be outstanding. There are also new blends of tung oil and urethane that offer the traditional look and feel of a a hand-rubbed finish with much greater resistance to moisture and skin oils. The don't, however, offer much protection from scratching and denting. These new oil finishes require greater care than lacquer or urethane sprays--but I'm really fond of the way they sound.

    There are cases when a piece of wood sounds significantly better with a certain type of finish. I remember building a bass that had a body made of very light swamp ash that received an oil finish. The instrument's tone was okay but a bit mushy and lacking crispness. For some reason, which I can't recall, we had to refinish the bass; the oil was cleaned off and the bass was shot with polyester. When we plugged it in, lo and behold--it had gained brightness and clarity." --Michael Tobias
  7. Flash


    Feb 3, 2002
    Salem, Oregon
    Thanks for all of the advice. I did remove the head last night and it appears the stock is of fairly soft wood. (I can easily cut the surface with my fingernail.) And I believe that it is a dyed finish under the clear coat. I am not dissatisfied with the finish so I may just look into getting a new pick guard instead. (It is a music man copy and I'm not crazy about the "Look" of the MM, especially when it is not a MM.)

    Of corse my best option would be to save the money for that Warwick.

    In fact....I think I'll go down there and put it on layaway today!!!
  8. Mr_Pink


    Nov 30, 2000
    I wouldn't do it cause you can damage your body removing the paint or polyester or whatever.

    If your bass doen't sound great (and I believe the bass has more impact on sound than the amplifier) you should sell it and buy another one.
    If it's just the looks...learn to live with it.

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