Hey luthiers, how to properly disassemble electric bass guitar for refinishing?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by dbhost posted 12-01-2010 09:25 PM 3453 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2651 days

12-01-2010 09:25 PM

I have a mid 90’s Ibanez SR500, not the newer model with the Mahogany body, but the older P/J pickup configuration with what looks to be a Walnut body. The finish appears to be simply clear poly, and it is peeling off like Clearcoat on a late 80’s GM built car… I need to refinish this thing. Now the question I have for you is…

What do I need to do in order to make sure that I can separate the neck from the body, and put it back together properly?

How do I strip the original finish off of this?

How should I refinish this? I was actually thinking about spraying lacquer to get a good clear finish that gives me that honey gold color…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

3 replies so far

View Ripthorn's profile


1402 posts in 2404 days

#1 posted 12-02-2010 05:21 AM

It depends on the neck joint. If it is a neck through, you have what you have. If it is a set neck, it’s the same story unless you HAVE to get the neck off, then you have to heat the joint to soften the glue. If it’s a bolt on neck, you can just take out the bolts and pull the neck off, simple as that. You also want to make sure all hardware is off (duh). And be careful, because that poly is usually REALLY thick and usually has a crazy thick sealer coat that can be nigh unto impossible to get off. If you post picture of the area where the neck meets the body from both the front and back, we can help you more.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2269 days

#2 posted 12-02-2010 09:02 PM

Ripthorn is right on. I checked Google for images and found what appear to be neck-throughs as well as bolt ons.

I am suspicious that it is walnut. My hunch is that it is likely alder and has an opaque stain on it. The best place to check is the pickup cavity. Loosen the strings a lot and remove the screws (the J pickup) and gently lift it up and check. I hope I’m wrong!

Lacquer is an acceptable finish, the sheen of your choice. Not as durable as the conversion products, but probably fine.

Assuming it’s a bolt on, you can attach a hunk of wood to the neck pocket (with standoffs so it isn’t touching the bottom of the pocket) so you have something to hold on to and hang it from in the finishing process.

When it comes time to reassemble it, you’re into a full setup but you can accomplish that yourself with some great help that’s on the web.

This is a worthy project! Onward!

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2651 days

#3 posted 12-02-2010 10:13 PM

I misspoke. It is NOT walnut… Not sure why I put that there. It is a lght color hardwood, possibly maple.

It is a bolt on neck, not a neck through, and the neck is flawless.

I have never seen another one like this one, every other SR500 I have seen has a Mahogany body, and SR5 laminated neck like my SR-480, and they have pillow / block style pickups which is where they differ from the SR480. This one has a maple looking body with a solid neck and P/J style active pickups. The OEM pickups were the same models as what are on my SR480 and were badly string worn from a previous owner that played a LOT of slap… I replaced them with some hot EMG-PJ active pickups that I got from Guitar Center about 5 years ago… Replaced a lot of very worn hardware like the tuning machines, knobs etc.. and restrung the thing with GHS Bass Boomers. I gave it some good strap buttons and a nice split leather strap, it plays really nice, just looks like it barely escaped from the landfill…

So, if not lacquer, what else to refinish it with?

-- My workshop blog can be found at

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics