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Newbie refinish question

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Joined: 9 years ago
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Hi all,
I'm in the process of tackling a refinish of an old bass I picked up on the cheap. A previous owner apparently made a wallhanger out of it, the jack and pots were gone, and the original black finish had been ripped off except for under the bridge and pickguard. They had put a thin stain all over it including over the remains of the black inside the horns and on the body tapers. I'm currently sanding back down with a 1/4 sheet sander, and coming along ok. My question is, the back of the body looks like they stripped it with a 6" grinding disc. It's gouged horribly. This is a solid body, should I just run it through a planer and smooth it, or keep sanding, or give up on a natural finish and smooth it with filler and paint it?
BTW, I have pics of the body I can post, I just didn't know the etiquette on pics.
Thanks in advance!