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Thread: Zebra Wood body to sand or not to sand?

  1. #1

    Zebra Wood body to sand or not to sand?

    Hi everyone

    I have just received a P Bass Zebra Wood kit as a present.
    I just had a question on whether i should be sanding the body or not?

    I don't want to take some sand paper to the body and all of a sudden find that I have sanded off the colour.

    If it ok to sand is there a recommendation of sand paper grit?

    Many thanks in advance.



  2. #2
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Reading, UK
    I've never worked on one of these bodies, and I have no idea how they treat the wood to get the really dark lines, but seeing as the striping extends quite happily into the pickup and control cavities, I don't see how the 'finish' can be simply sprayed-on or surface deep.

    But, I'd suggest sanding the bottom of a pickup cavity to see what happens before attacking the main body with sandpaper. Better safe than sorry.

    You sand to achieve a particular aim. Typically there are tooling marks around the edges of the body on the end grain, and you want to remove those. You also want to get the top and bottom of the body as flat as possible and remove any dips there may be.

    Starting grit size depends on the depth of any marks. I normally have 80, 120 and 180 grit paper to hand. Deep marks and I'll start with 80 grit, and then move up to 120 and then 180 after that. If 80 is taking too long, then I'll use 60 or even 40, and then quickly run up to the finer grades. But I'll probably start with 120 for lighter work. There are no set rules, but if it's taking too long to remove marks, then you're probably using too fine a grit.

    Always sand with the grain (if possible), especially when using coarser grits. The grain direction is obvious with those zebrawood bodies.

    If you are applying a clear finish, then you'll spend most of your time getting the finish flat and smooth on the sides . Don't go overboard on really fine grits on the body as you'll simply have to repeat the process with the finish. You just want the top and bottom body surfaces flat, and the sides nice and smooth and mark-free.

    Rub the body down after you've finished sanding with a cloth and turps, or a turps substitute like white spirit, to remove loose dust on the surface. Not water, as this will raise the wood grain and you'll need to sand that off (and then you repeat the whole process ad infinitum).

  3. #3
    Hi Simon.

    Thank you so much for your guidance. It is very much appreciated.



  4. #4
    I am in the middle of the same kit. I sanded round the edges pretty hard to clean up marks but only lightly sanded top and back as I still wanted some “grain marks” to be visible and just feel-able. I did not go through the colour at all. I started at 180 with only light pressure. Body was very flat to start with front and back. Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Thanks Rossco for your advice as well. much appreciated

  6. #6
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    I know you got your answer but I'll just add this:

    I have not worked with the Zebrawood that is used in some of the kits, but TTBOMK, it is an engineered timber made from cotton wood and not real "Zebrano" timber. However it will be a solid piece as opposed to a veneered top and can be treated/worked the same as any solid timber body like ash or mahogany.

    PBG does supply some kits that come with genuine zebrawood veneer though.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

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