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Can I get a little help with this one? This is a 1979 Fender Jazz Bass with the lacquer finish flaking off.
Just a little light scraping with a guitar pick and it becomes diamonds on the sole of my shoes. About 15- 20% of the finish is missing altogether, and only about 5% is still intact. In addition, there are a couple of stains on the back (see pics) that seem to be mostly in the top finish. Where the finish is missing, there still seems to be an intact sealer coat. Recommendations?

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Wow, I've never seen a finish like this one. Pretty arty! From what you say, I'd go for a full scrap and re-finish. Trying to melt all this would take forever, and you wouldn't be sure of the result.
I'll second that opinion. Complete take-down to the bare wood and start over.... nothing there worth saving.
Hey,
Thanks Pierre and Mike for your input. I am really clueless on what may have happened to cause this.
(The neck is normal) Perhaps someone used a corrosive chemical on the body; or perhaps there was a failure in the production of the finish wherein the top finish was not compatible with the sealer coat. Anyone ever see this before?
I would like to preserve the patina by not sanding through the sealer-- but if the new lacquer doesn't stick to it....see my dilemma?
I think that the top coats are the problem, not the sealer. A too old lacquer can mess a bit like this when sprayed. To be sure of not having any problem, sand the top coats to the sealer, wash it with ammoniac, rinse with water, wash it with acetic acid and rinse with water. Then you can wipe a coat of shellac and spray your lacquer coats. Using ammoniac and acetic acid will remove any silicone, grease, whatever contaminant you could find. Do not use these products concentrated on bare wood, it would stain it, and make sure you won't hurt yourself nor the environment with these products.
I have seen several body finishes from this 1978-79 era fail. Seems like the clear finish is the problem? I have had luck on smaller stop-gap spot repairs by wicking super glue in the cracks, but your example is seems to be a complete loss.
START AGAIN AND TRY TO KEEP IT OUT OF STORAGE FOR A WHILE IT LOOKS LIKE IT WAS PULLED FROM A STORAGE LOCKER AFTER 4 OR 5 YEARS HOT AND COLD CHANGING ALL THE TIME
Welcome to the wonderful world of refinishing...
Even if this model is not particularly collectible; I am very reticent about doing any refinishing on a vintage piece.Here, I guess there's not much choice Just one of those projects, I hate to love.
I had a Gibson acoustic last fall that someone had stored several years in an attic causing the lacquer to "fish-scale" something like this. I used butyl cellusolve (satisfactory but not perfect). This time, I think I'm going to follow Pierre's advice sans the chemical treatments (worried about staining esp in the end-grain areas). Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion; would still like to hear from anyone who has anything to add with experience to similar issues especially with the Jazz Bass .

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