To Polish & Clean or Not. . . Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Introductions » Archive through December 21, 2003 » To Polish & Clean or Not. . . « Previous Next »

Author Message
bucky
Junior
Username: bucky

Post Number: 11
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 2:46 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Brothers:

Jeff here again to ramble about his vintage Brown Bass - I've since found out by the way from Mica that my Serial # 74 - 52 actually *pre-dates* the Series I basses of the Stanley Clarke fame. My question is this - should I clean the brass back to it's original shining lustre or should I keep it "vintage" and do nothing but have the frets dressed, the pots cleaned and the harmonics checked and adjusted? If I DO clean it up - and I am pretty anal that way but I'm holding back - will I destroy intrinsic value at any level? It looks beautiful and will either way. One way it shows it's age and the other it would have a bit of a "facelift". . I'm open to all opinions here. I'm not really a collector so I need some education in that department.

Thanks Guys,

Jeff Sherman
aka bucky
dela217
Intermediate Member
Username: dela217

Post Number: 152
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 3:33 pm:   Edit Post

Jeff - Stanley's famous brown bass has a serial number of 60. I have seen it myself. But he had one before that one for a short time and it was stolen. So, it could go either way!

Anyway, I would leave the bass alone and have tarnished brass. Not that it looses it's value if it's polished, I just think it looks better with the vintage look. I do recommend oiling the body now and again. The original basses from that era were done in Watco oil, then followed up with linseed oil. If you want I can send you a copy of the Alembic owners manual from that time with full instructions on how to care for an oil finish. Michael
elzie
Intermediate Member
Username: elzie

Post Number: 124
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 5:55 pm:   Edit Post

Well, I have to take the other side here. I say polish the hardware. It looks good and shows that you take care of it. If it's originality you are after, it IS still the original hardware, just cleaned and looking good!


Paul TOBO
bucky
Junior
Username: bucky

Post Number: 12
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 6:37 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Michael and Paul:

Thank you both for your replies. The suggestions from the players I've asked outside the forum seem to be running for leaving the brass tarnished. Which given my nature, may be a bit hard to do. It will look great either way but of course I remember her in her prime when that brass just *gleamed*. It was so bright it matched the gold Shaller gears perfectly. Which brings me to another little problem. One of the original Schaller gears went south on my friend and he replaced it with a Japanese knock-off which of course will have to go. Fortunately, he didn't drill any new holes - Whew! Any idea where I might be able to pick up gold plated Schallerís circa '74 for this? I do NOT want to replace all of them with new ones if I absolutely don't have to. And Michael? I would LOVE to take you up on your offer of the manual. . I got nothing but the receipt when I bought this. And the subsequent Xeroxed information pages that were given to my friend the prior owner when he replaced the Power Supply in 2000, were only info sheets for the PS and the trim pot adjustments in the brass plate in the back. I would love to know how to properly oil this. I used to oil it occasionally with Old English furniture polish for lack of knowing what to use. My snailmail address is:

Jeff Sherman
PO Box 1649
Ojai, CA 93024-1649

Thanks Again - that is indeed most Brotherly of you! And re the actual placing of this bass within the Series I family - you know to me it doesn't really matter if it was before, during or shortly after. It plays and sounds like no other . . and has the trademark Alembic quality we all have become obsessed with!

P.S. I will post detailed pictures very soon. .
bob
Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 54
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 7:43 pm:   Edit Post

Bucky,

I'll throw in an opinion as well. As for the brass, as long as you don't have green corrosion, I'd leave it. To me, it looks like it's been around a while but not neglected, and shiny just isn't my thing.

But yes, *definitely* oil the wood. With that sort of finish, it is going to dry out, though given it's age you should easily be able to get away with doing it about once a year (certainly not more than every six months or so). If you do, it will just get more beautiful with age, developing a deep, healthy glow; if you don't, it will probably survive okay at this point, but won't be quite the same.

I have a custom in the works, and it's going to be oiled - partly because it will make me feel good to give it the necessary care and feeding, and I know it will only get better with time if I do so (whereas with the "plastic" finishes, there are some minor issues with shrinkage over time, as has been discussed elsewhere).

Enjoy, and we'll look forward to the pictures.
-Bob
bucky
Junior
Username: bucky

Post Number: 14
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 8:58 pm:   Edit Post

Bob:

Thanks for your input. I'm leaning toward doing exactly what you said. The tarnishing on the brass pieces is *not* green. Just kind of gray looking. And the wood is incredible. I will take your advice on frequency of oiling too. . I had no idea there . . once a month? Once a week? Now I know(-; Any kind of oil you suggest?

Jeff

p.s. Pictures soon. .
bob
Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 55
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 12:04 am:   Edit Post

Jeff,
There's an old adage, which goes something like: every day for a week; every week for a month; every month for a year; and (roughly) every year forever. I don't know where this comes from, but I expect it dates back at least hundreds of years, and these people knew what they were talking about.

If you cut, shape, and oil a piece of wood, it's going to dry out quickly at first, but stabilize over time - especially if you help it along in the early stages. It's easy to see, particularly if you watch places where the end grain is exposed (like cutouts by the neck): you can just tell when it's getting thirsty.

There are others listening here who can perhaps give you better advice on oils, and Michael's offer of the original owner's guide is probably the best place to start. Personally, I've been nurturing a Carvin for ten years (fretless ebony fretboard/maple thru-neck/solid Koa body wings/tung oil finish) with the ubiquitous Old English Lemon Oil, though I recently switched to Jasco - Alembic recommends this for their fretboards. It seems like it might be slightly higher quality, hard to tell - though if you get Mica talking, she may start rhapsodizing about "long chain" molecular structures, and send you off to a health foods store to buy some pure lemon oil... (but maybe I'm remembering that wrong?).

It seems to me that about two or three years ago, it turned a corner and is now starting to absorb more oil than it loses. I can see more depth in the grain, a more healthy glow (though a bit darker, which might have something to do with the Old English), and I also think it sounds better... but this of course is all highly subjective.

I also vaguely recall that - back in the dark period when this discussion was hosted on Yahoo - there was sort of a cult following of Jasco *lime* oil, but it's not clear that exists anymore (Palembic: that would be the green one). I think part of this had to do with it being more effective at cleaning out gunk around the frets, but that's not an issue for me... not sure whether it was truly better for the ebony itself.

I'd like to hear what you learn from the manual (or other opinions that are out there), but my guess is that for a Watco/linseed finish, any decent lemon oil would be just fine. If you needed a more drastic "resurrection", a heated linseed treatment might be worthwile, but that can be tricky and I probably wouldn't try it myself unless I was desperate, and practiced on something else first.

It sounds like yours is in nice shape, so look at it in a good light, apply some oil, let it sit for about 15 minutes, see how it soaks in, wipe off the excess, look at it again, and use your judgement. I think it will be clear.

For my new bass, we spent some time talking about the tradeoffs between traditional tung oil, and a more contemporary polymerized version which they prefer these days. In crude terms, it's basically the same as tung oil with a catalyst, so that it "sets" and eliminates the risk of becoming gummy. It sounded like they had some specific recommendations on how to maintain this - *not* with generic lemon oil - but I'm waiting to follow up on the details until my bass is ready.

Sorry for being long-winded (again), but as you can see I really like wood, and the craftsmen/people who make fabulous instruments out of it. I can't say that I've ever seen a nicer polyester finish than the people at Alembic produce these days, but to me that's still plastic - and long before, they knew how to do the natural thing at least as well.

-Bob
palembic
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 468
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 1:50 am:   Edit Post

***huh-huh-huh***
was I mentioned in here somewhere?
Friends ...
I'm ashamed ...
AND embarassed ...
After cleaning I nurish the fretboard of Bonnie on regular basis (2 times a year) with ...
***gasp***
...Olive oil "extra virgine"
Agree ... the habit dates from long ago and before this fantastic community saw light but ...I admit.
But (...) what do you expect being a hobby cook!
My good Brother Bob Novy -a fine cook also- would maybe recommend a fine Sesame-oil, or walnut-oil.
Anyway ...I cannot return the years.
I did what I did.

Paul


BTW: the fretboard is "as new"
bob
Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 56
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 9:32 am:   Edit Post

Ha! That's great, Paul - and it's probably fine (as long as you stay with the "first press" stuff, of course...).

I'd probably stay away from the sesame - too strong an odor, and it might be a little sticky for this application. Walnut might be interesting, though, I've been using it to good effect in several dishes recently.

And you make an excellent point, Paul: the fretboard should be done more often, like twice a year - I was just thinking about the body.
dela217
Intermediate Member
Username: dela217

Post Number: 154
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 11:00 am:   Edit Post

Jeff - I will make a copy of it this weekend and send it off to you. It is marvelous reading. I wonder who wrote it. Susan maybe? It is quite detailed and describes how to remove blemishes and scratches. It also gives a description of how the electronics work. I don't remember for what type of electronics it was printed for. It may be for the PF5 setup. Either way, I will send it along.

Michael
bucky
Junior
Username: bucky

Post Number: 16
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 2:17 pm:   Edit Post

GOD I LOVE THIS FORUM!! You guys are the greatest! Michael I eagerly look forward to getting the manual. And to Paul and everyone else who has taken time out of their day to help "educate" me all I can give is a big heartfelt Alembic Brother THANKS! We should all get together sometime for a big Alembic Brothers Convention. Bring our axes and our stories and some beer and have blast. . .
bucky
Junior
Username: bucky

Post Number: 17
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 2:18 pm:   Edit Post

GOD I LOVE THIS FORUM!! You guys are the greatest! Michael I eagerly look forward to getting the manual. And to Paul and everyone else who has taken time out of their day to help "educate" me all I can give is a big heartfelt Alembic Brother THANKS! We should all get together sometime for a big Alembic Brothers Convention. Bring our axes and our stories and some beer and have blast. . . Michael in case I didn't give you my PO Box it's:

Jeff Sherman
PO Box 1649
Ojai, CA 93024-1649

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration