Relic Project

For quite some time now I’ve toyed with the idea of purchasing a half decent yet cheapish bass I could strip, repaint and age/relic slightly - it’s a look which I really like! So a couple of months ago when a 1994 Fender ‘Squier Series’ P Bass came along at at excellent, affordable price it was pretty much a no brainer. I did a bit of research and some conflicting info came up about these basses. They were not a Squier and they were not made in Indonesia, these were actually built in the Mexican factory and the series of bass was called the ‘Squier Series’ as shown on the headstock. Any way, for a bass almost 30 years old this thing was in excellent condition which made me question what I was about to do. Eventually I pushed out any doubt and remembered why I bought this bass in the first place.

Off I went. I’ll accompany each set of pics with a slight blurb but happy to answer questions in detail.

I started by disassembling and scratching up the existing Poly with some 400 grit sandpaper. Removing the existing black Poly would have been a massive task. I did try a few things to get it off but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided to leave it. Fender actually did this themselves with guitars who’s colour fell out of fashion and the cheapest way around this for them was to paint over an existing finish! You can see the test area under the bridge where I tried to remove the existing Poly finish.

Again, lots of conflicting info on the net regarding painting over Poly with Nitro. Some said it sticks no problems, others said it doesn’t take long for it to start peeling. So in the end I went with using some white Shellac which will pretty much bond to anything and will allow anything to bond to it.

A used an entire can which was roughly 6 light coats. I gave it about 5 days to dry enough then hit it with some 800 grit to remove runs and other blemishes. Next up, it was time to start spraying with Nitro. Again, only one can was required and all up over the next week or so I gave it a coat per day over 6 days.

So while I waited a good week for the Nitro to dry, I got to work aging the hardware. This was a matter of placing all metal parts (except the screws which I tarnished using Scotchbrite) in a tub, then placing an open jar half filled with hydrochloric acid in the corner. The tub was then sealed and left in a well ventilated area.

After 4 hours i took all parts out, washed them off, inspected and put back in the tub for close to another 8 hours. After removing and thoroughly washing with water this was the result …

Also during the drying time I found a second hand 3 ply white pick guard online (the bass came with a single ply all white guard which can be seen in the original photos, but I wanted the 3 ply only for the fact that it had some black running through it) and aged that by rubbing in some dark wood stain with a rag. It had a sticker on it so I left that on so that it would add more of a story to the pick guard when peeled off. At the same time I also rubbed stain into the volume and tone knobs. I forgot to take before pics but here it is up against the body. The tinting came out only slight but just enough to see the contrast between where the sticker was and the rest of the guard.

I did try to darken the headstock by sanding it back slightly and rubbing in brown shoe polish as this is a technique that I’ve read about in guitar forums, but it only made a very, very slight difference. The headstock remains a work in progress while I research the best way to go about aging it and making the headstock darker. Possibly a tinted nitro??

Sanding the body then began and it went like this. Wet and Dry (always used wet) 400, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000 and finally 2500 grit. I estimated close to 7 hours of hand sanding all up. Relicing was introduced from when I started with the 800 grit and progressively increased as I went up through the grades of sandpaper. A few deeper gouges were added with the edge of a putty knife.

Finished off with some car polish to add some slight gloss to the body. I purchased a set of EMG Geezer Butler pickups and some La Bella flats and when they arrived it was time to reassemble.

I finished putting this together last night. It currently plays like crap :joy: so will do a set up on it this afternoon when I get home from work.

Things I’d do different next time:-

  • Buy 2 cans of nitro spray. I was hoping to crack the finish but I believe that I didnt apply enough nitro. This would also leave enough to possibly match the headstock (another look I like)

I’m so glad I went through and did what I did to this bass now. I absolutely love the look of it. Once it’s playing well then I can see this will be hard to put down. I did play it quickly last night through headphones and it sounded great. I cant wait to run it through my 800w amp next week in the studio.


Quite a project! Looks great!


very cool well done…I had also never heard of ‘squire series’ fenders so that was interesting to see with the double logos on the headstock


Fun project, it turned out great.

FYI the easiest way to strip poly is with a decent heat gun (not a hairdryer). Hot enough that it’ll blister your skin. Then use a putty knife. Simples.

There’s also an existing huge thread on project basses that people have made. Lot’s of good info in there.


I did try that, almost had the poly burning at one stage! It would not budge so the decision was made to go straight over the top of it.

Looks like I have some reading to do!!


The trick that I found worked best was to use a chisel to chip away a small flake of the poly. Then when you heat up the paint you can get the corner of the putty knife under an edge of paint. Without an edge to get underneath the paint just blisters and burns.

Once you’ve got it started it’s much easier.

But yeah lots of good ideas on that thread.

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I did try in a test area under where the bridge sits. It would not lift at all so I stopped for fear of damaging the wood underneath.


Dang. That looks great. Matching headstock would’ve been cool but this build turned out really good.

Thanks for posting all the details. :sunglasses::+1:


Thanks Eric. Appreciate your kind words :slightly_smiling_face:


Alright, you did a great job! I really appreciate your work.

However I’m displeased to see that vintage Squier so heavily modified, you lost a lot of value there.
Those are really rare these days and I’m suprised you found it for cheap.
I’d love to get my hands on one of those.

Anyway you gave me few ideas for my build also, thanks!

But yeah, you did what you planned, so good job!

P.S. Is that plastic nut? Why didnt you change that also?

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Its a graph tech nut that came with the bass. I need to file it down as the action is too high. As ive never done this before theres a chance i may stuff it up and end up replacing it to a bone nut.


If it is universally too high on all strings, sand the bottom, don’t file.

If the nut has a flat bottom, put the sandpaper flat on a table and work the nut over it a bit; put it back in and check progress; repeat. If it has a curved one, use the fretboard as a sanding block and wrap the paper around it instead, and sand the nut on that. Nut files should only be needed if individual strings are too high after that.


Eh at least nuts are cheap.

Oh graphtech? Yammy uses those on their new lines.


Thanks Howard. I followed this advice and started with the bottom then made final touches with files individually as they were all different. It plays beautifully now. So happy with the way it plays and looks. And the sound … Geezers + Flatwounds = Heaven :joy:




Looks great! Love the color. And I appreciate the extensive effort you’ve put into not only the project itself but the photos and explanation. Great work!


Graph Tech is a great nut material. It is arguably much more consistent than bone (as bone density, from piece to piece, is all over the board) and largely tonally equivalent to bone. But, as has been discussed forever, nut material is relevant to playing open strings only. Upright bassists (jazz, bluegrass) play open strings a lot. Others (electric bassists), not so much.


Mileage varies. I play them every chance I get as for some genres they can sound dramatically better in context, and particularly picking with effects like chorus.


There are exceptions to everything. But I think the preponderance of rock (and rock-derived genre) bassists will likely fret a note far more often than play an open string, simply because it can be muted/controlled more easily.

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If I had a choice to play an open string or the same note fretted I choose fretted. Unless I need to scratch my nose, shake out my hand or scroll the tabs on my ipad, then its open strings all the way :smiley:

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