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Refinishing P-bass


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About seven or eight years ago, back when I was young and stupid, I bought a 1971 (dated by the serial number on the neckplate) Fender Precision Bass from a pawn shop. It has a "clear" finish on the body which looks like someone applied it with a mop. Seriously, there are runs all over the place.

In taking off the pickguard, I looked in the cavity by the jack and saw what looked like a rust colored overspray, so I'm sure it originally had a sunburst finish. The person responsible for messing it up also did a horrible job of re-soldering the pickup wires to the controls. They also stripped off the bridge cover, pickup cover and finger rest.

What I'm wanting to do is take it apart, sand it down, and refinish it myself. I am not confident in my abilities to do a sunburst, so I was thinking of just putting a clear finish of my own on it afterword. I'm thinking of going with polyurethane.

I have access to sandpaper and a random orbit rotary sander to take the current finish off, but I have no spray equipment at all. Can anyone give me the benefit of your experience with spray canned finishes? Also, do I have to do any sealing of the body beforehand? I was thinking it would have been sealed by the factory when it was manufactured. Also, what grits of sandpaper do you recomend and procedure?

Thanks in advance! :-)


Here's a picture of what I am positive it looked like once upon a time. Mine has the same pickguard too:

E-Bay P Bass

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  • 1 year later...

I used 50 and 80 grit sandpaper to get the finish off

Make sure you use a face mask!.. The paint coming off is toxic

Then I used 220 grit today to make the wood really smooth

Before you prime it.. make sure there isnt any dust on it.. I used a leaf blower.. haha

I asked someone today at Home Depot on what to sand seal it with and prime it with...

They said all I need to do is use a primer.. and I dont need to sand seal it if I do that

The primer is drying right now.. and it already looks cool

Now I'm off for a second light coat of primer.. and I'm painting tomorrow

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