G&L ASAT Bass Refinish

  • Posted by Krishna
  • at 1/23/2008 02:36:00 AM -
Ok some of you may wince, because this bass had a very nicely done factory cherry sunburst finish when I started on it, but the owner simply didn't like it and wanted something brighter and louder and more ... ORANGE !!!

This is a very cool bass - sort of a Telecaster body, but hollow - used on a full-scale bass. Very lightweight and balanced. May have to shop for one of these - the only G&L I have is a 1983 L-1000, which is built like a tank, but unfortunately weighs as much one too!

This bass was finished with a relatively thin polyurethane finish. The owner and I agreed that I'd leave the majority of the old finish on the bass, and then prime over it, before applying a candy apple orange finish. This is the same as the classic candy apple red finish, which combines a silver or gold metallic undercoat with a transparent red overcoat, except that in this case the overcoat is more like the transparent orange used on a Gretsch 6120.

Here is the bass before .. yes yes .. very pretty.

The bass was disassembled and then sanded with a random orbital sander and sanding pad - mostly to rough up the finish enough for primer to adhere well. The bass was sprayed with flat white nitro primer - then wet sanded again before being ready for the silver undercoat.

The silver undercoat consists of clear gloss nitro lacquer, with fine "Brilliant Aluminum" powder stirred into it - the powder is tiny flat metal flakes that are suspended in the clear nitro. A similar approach is used to do the classic Gibson "gold top" finish, except powdered bronze flakes are used. The picture below shows the body and headstock after the initial layer of silver undercoat.

Once the silver coat was wetsanded and a second layer applied, the guitar was ready for the tinted "candy" coat.

Since its easy to add color, but impossible to take it away once sprayed, I started off with a very lightly tinted mix of clear nitro, lemon yellow dye and cherry red dye, and sprayed several light coats over the guitar. The color wasn't very strong and the guitar took on a distinctly GOLD look !

I decided at this point that maybe there was too much yellow in the mix - or too much green in the lemon yellow - or something just not ORANGE about the color, so I went to Rockler's and bought a bottle of "orange" dye. I mixed this again into clear gloss nitro, and after test spraying a silver painted piece of wood, I started spraying the G&L again. And this time there was no question - this bass was going to be ORANGE!!

The color is tricky to capture with a flash - the silver undercoat reflects strangely through the topcoat, but the first blurry picture gives a better impression of how orange the bass now is. Better pics will be coming tomorrow.

(Update  11/17/07)

Finished up with the bass - and I really like how it looks !  Hopefully the customer will too!

After the pictures above, I applied several nice wet clear coats - to build up the depth of the color and protect the candy orange color.  Then some good old wet sanding with 800 and 1000 grit paper, followed by compounding and hand buffing and "viola" - a nice metallic orange finish.

I applied the replacement headstock decal that G&L was kind enough to send - using a decal setting solution (aka white vinegar) and then once it was patted dry and in place, a decal softner to really get it attached to the finish.  The next day I did a two light mist coats of the headstock with gloss acrylic lacquer - when those were dry, I did a heavier coat to really gloss the headstock and protect the decal.

After wiring up the bass - plugged it in for a little bit - very cool bass, I really must keep my eye open for one of these - would look pretty cool in Fiesta Red with white plastic pickup covers ??


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  1. Hi Krishna,

    Great article!Awesome paintwork! Living in Cape Town,South Africa it is incredibly difficult to find anyone who refinishes guitars. Hence, i've taken it upon myself to invest in spray painting equipment and a few books from Stewmac...and tips and suggestions from various forums. Wish me luck! :)

  2. Best of luck Arjun - I think much of it comes down to careful preparation of the surface being painted, and then taking your time applying the finish (not too many coats at once) - and then of course - lots and lots of wet sanding and buffing.

    Perhaps I'll write a post on the specific equipment and materials I use - could be helpful?

  3. that would be EXTREMELY helpful... i'd like to possibly try my hand at this as well.