Completed 1978 Fender Musicmaster Bass: DETONATOR YELLOW with competition stripes!

  • Posted by Krishna
  • at 3/01/2009 01:47:00 AM -
This is a follow-up on a post on a Musicmaster bass that a client wanted me to do in the style of an early 70's Dodge Superbee - in a bright yellow with black racing stripes.

The original post can be found here.

The client did order some black racing stripes, loosely based on the Fender Mustang "Competition Stripes" of the late 60s and early 70s, but when they arrived they proved to be fairly thick vinyl stickers, as opposed to waterslide decals.

I decided to try to make waterslide decals myself, using some clear decal sheet material I had left over from another project.

I made the decals by first spraying a sheet of decal material with gloss black lacquer, in two very light coats to avoid dissolving the decal film. I then cut the decal material into strips of the appropriate width.

In hindsight, there are a few things I should have done differently: I should have clear coated the finish to make it a little more robust & I should have tried cutting the decal material into strips first and THEN sprayed on the layers of black lacquer.

As it was, the decals chipped and cracked in some areas as I applied them to the bass body - which I fixed by actually layering the very thin decals in areas that were damaged.

I applied the wider center strip first, using a decal setting solution (basically white vinegar) and letting it dry before I added the two thinner outside stripes.

The results looked ok - but as I said before, there were crack and chips visible - so I layered on small segments of the decal material. I knew I'd have to clear coat over the decals several times to protect the decals and to achieve a smooth surface.

Once the decals were set, I sprayed several coats of clear nitro over the front of the body - starting light as I was worried about dissolving the black lacquer on the decals, but then building up heavier coats. After letting the lacquer set, I finally was ready to wet sand and then compound and polish the front of the bass (again ! - since I had done this when I originally finished it in yellow!).

The bass's owner brought over the rest of the bass, and without even the use of a soldering iron, I was able to re-assemble the bass in the space of about 20 minutes. And it looked very sharp with the black guard and knobs - and a neck with a little bit of flame in the maple!


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  1. This color is very nice. I am repainting mine soon. Is this the same Detonator yellow that Dodge uses on their trucks and Charger? Thanks, Scott

  2. Thanks Scott - actually the yellow is simply Stewart MacDonald's yellow pigment (which is a paste/thick liquid) in a clear gloss nitro base. I didn't tint it at all - just used it as it came from the bottle. It costs around $10 for a bottle, which is enough pigment for probably at least 4 instruments.

  3. Hey thanks! I really appreciate the response. Do you apply this as a spray or brush on? Scott

  4. It was applied with a HVLP (high volume, low pressure) spray gun - commonly used for painting cars. But you could use any number of small spray guns if you have a compressor to supply air - Home Depot has a decent "detail" spray gun for under $35. If you don't have a compressor, then you could try the Preval Sprayer - or - a cheap solution! You will have to do multiple coats and wet sand between coats.

  5. Sweet! Okay, one final question...waterbase or non water base?

    JFYI: My project is a Fender P-Bass. There was really nothing wrong with the previous finish except for the fact that it was cream...never really liked the color. It has always been a back up bass. When I saw your post on here I decided to shoot for the same exact look (minus the stripes). Our drummer paints cars for a living so having it painted will be a breeze. I appreciate all the help. Scott

  6. I think you want to use nitrocellulose lacquer as a base but looking at Stew-Macs catalog, they do sell two types of pigments - one for lacquers and one for waterbase finishes. I have never used the waterbase finishes, so not sure how they would go on and buff out.