I just acquired an Ibanez SR506 6 string bass. I would like some help in determining how this bass is finished. I know how to determine if the finish is poly or nitro or shellac, but to me the finish on this bass looks like it was just wiped with stain. Or is it stained and varnished? As always, thank-you for and looking forward to replys.

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Not an expert but judging from the dings on the back it's not wipe on stain. It reminds me of the finish used on a lot of kitchen cabinets with the color in the finish. I noticed that even the light scratches lighten in color which means that they have removed pigment from the surface as the finish is removed A wipe on stain would be soaked into the surface of the wood more than that and the color would remain under the light scratches. 

It looks to me like a light/thin layer or two of flat lacquer/pigment that was sprayed on. The neck looks to me like it was finish separately and might not be the same finish as the body.    

Hi Ned, thanks for the reply. I believe Paul is right-I did the poly test. I was a little concerned about attempting the test before I posted because I couldn't make up my mind where a good spot was to do the test. I know better now that I've thought it through.

Hello Lee.

It's a poly finish.

Those are REALLY NICE contemporary basses. Nice score.

Paul (:

Hi Paul, thank-you for your reply. I got it for $100.00 and some banjo lessons (fellow teacher in my school district). I'd like to touch up some of the dings-get the mohagany color back in. What would be the best way? I haven't worked with poly before now. I've been able to steam out some of the deep dings, but not totally back to the way it was before. Also, I don't like the way it finished-feeling the grain. Would I be able to fill the pores effectively then spray on a couple of thin coats of poly? Or could I shellac then spray nitro? Looking forward to your expertise!

It's a thin satin polyurethan finish. Kind of hard to touch up. I would use very thin CA glue then scrape the excess and try to get the same gloss (or non-gloss) with steel wool, leather pad... whatever I think can help.

Touchups are not easy. One of the hardest science to master.

Hi Pierre, thank-you for your reply. I kinda figured that it wasn't going to be easy. I've got other instruments to practice on before I get into SR506.

Hi Lee.

Pierre gave you the best plan to follow for touching up the dings.  When he stated that was a difficult task to master, he wasn't kidding.  Touch-ups on stain finishes are virtually impossible to blend-in invisibly.  I'll only add that to give the instrument a cohesive appearance post ding fills, go over the whole instrument w/0000 steel wool or the white Scotch Brite pads (available at auto paint shops).

As for the feel of the neck, I'd give it a good sanding w/400 grit (use it dry) give the new/additional finish something to bite into.  Then, I'd brush on (or spray...your choice) enough coats of poly to fill the grain (sand between every 2 coats to level the surface).  Be sure to let the finish full cure before sanding.  Once it builds to the desired level, give it a light wet sanding w/400, 600, 1000 & 1500 and a final rub with Meguiar's # 7 and you'll have the same feel as a high end custom instrument.

Oh got that bass for one heck of a great deal!!!!

Have fun with your project,


Hi again Paul,

Time for me to get some Meguiar's and use my other bass for a little while longer.

Any recommendations for brand of poly? I plan on spraying so I can improve on my technique.

I set it up-returned the neck to have some relief. When I got it, someone had tightened the truss rods so the neck was in a slight back bow. New strings, adjust for intonation, minor pickup and string saddle height adjustment and everyone at church was sitting up and taking notice and making compliments. Yup, heck of deal for both of us.

Thanks for your advice and help and I do plan on having fun!

"Any recommendations for brand of poly?"

Not really Lee.  I'd say just stick with a trusted name brand.     This looks good for the back of a bass neck:

And the adventure begins! Thanks Paul.


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