Last week, when I picked up my carved bass to practice, metal on my belt bit into the upper bout of my bass, leaving a visible scratch. What I should have done, was use my "Cherry" furniture repair pen to hide the scratch. Instead, I painted on some red/brown spirit varnish, tried to wipe it off, which marred the surrounding area. Before I knew it, I had changed a very simple repair into a major disaster. Now the small scratch had grown to a big ugly blotch. I had violated an important principle of bass repair: be patient, be careful.
I slopped on more red/brown spirit varnish, painting with the grain, then against the grain. After several coats, the blemish was mostly covered satisfactorily, but had developed a very dark border of accumulated varnish. It didn't look too bad, to a guy riding by on horseback at midnight. Since I don't own a horse, changes would have to be made.
First off, the color was also too red, and I realized that, though Calin Wultur Panormo basses are supposed to be finished with red/brown varnish, the upper bouts had been finished with golden brown varnish. The golden brown segues into red/brown further down the bass. It became clear that I needed some golden brown spirit varnish. I ordered some immediately.
I'm fairly confident that I will be able to repair the varnish satisfactorily. I will use this as a learning experience. I am beginning to realize that double bass players almost have to be luthiers in their own right. These basses are fragile and complicated. I ordered a copy of Chuck Traeger's book, Setup And Repair of the Double Bass for Optimum Sound: A Manual for Players, Makers, And Repairers. I also ordered the "Coda," a smaller followup volume offering additional setup and repair tips.
My Big Band class begins again next week. Fortunately, I have another double bass I can use until I repair the Calin Wultur Panormo.
UPDATE: I applied the Golden Brown spirit varnish and greatly improved the appearance of the damaged area. Does it look as good as it did originally? No, but it isn't half bad. I may try and improve it sometime later, with more coats of varnish.