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ModulusMK

Where To Find Black Phenolic?

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Hi there,

On my bass project, I want to install black phenolic as fretboard. But where can I find in small quantities?

I've searched almost everywhere and still out of luck. I asked Norplex-Micarta at their official site, they have what I need, and when they heard that I need only 2 pieces conversation was over! Damn

I want paper based phenolic, a grade that will fit this application of course and not to be heavy. I'm concerned on the necks' weight.

Can someone help me with this and recommend a suitable grade? If someone knows where can I buy or maybe someone have to sold some piece.

Thanks!

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McMaster-Carr sells it under the brand Garolite. The XX grade is paper-based, as I recall. I ordered some a while ago and had nothing but problems. For one, it's difficult to glue. I had more than one glue joint come apart. This was with epoxy... word is Titebond can be used, but I haven't tried it yet. Polyurethane glue might work, too, but I haven't tried that either.

Garolite is not very stiff. A 1/4" thick piece will be noticeably more flexible than a piece of wood. It's probably better when glued up, as the stuff has a lot of strength in compression, but I would want to make sure I was building some extra strength into the neck itself if I was planning to use a Garolite fretboard.

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McMaster-Carr sells it under the brand Garolite. The XX grade is paper-based, as I recall. I ordered some a while ago and had nothing but problems. For one, it's difficult to glue. I had more than one glue joint come apart. This was with epoxy... word is Titebond can be used, but I haven't tried it yet. Polyurethane glue might work, too, but I haven't tried that either.

Garolite is not very stiff. A 1/4" thick piece will be noticeably more flexible than a piece of wood. It's probably better when glued up, as the stuff has a lot of strength in compression, but I would want to make sure I was building some extra strength into the neck itself if I was planning to use a Garolite fretboard.

The better grade of Phenolic is linen based not paper. You may have to roughen up the glue surface in order to bond it. Since it is epoxy based I am surprized it didnt bond using epoxy.

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I also got some from the same place...it's not stiff like you think it would be...the more expensive ones are supposed to be stiffer but they are quite costly...

Ebony is a better material by far imo

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About the stiffness is not much a problem, the neck is from carbon-fiber, not wood. I like to achieve a result something like Modulus, I like the sound they produce a lot. I also found out that they use paper based phenolic. And the surface is pure black with no or very little grain what I'm after.

Fookgub, are you talking about problems with it only for bonding?

I looked around the McMaster-Car site and found a lot of grades of Garolite. Which is the best for fretboards? There are specs listed for each one but still... any recommendations? I'm thinking of the XX grade and the graphite reinforced for better stability... or maybe any other grade?

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The binder for XX Garolite is actually phenolic resin. I don't know if that would make a difference when gluing. I always rough up the gluing surfaces with 80-grit or coarser sandpaper or an old hacksaw blade, and I have had more wood/Garolite joints come apart than not. I've tried a couple different brands of epoxy with similar results. Too bad, because it would be a great material for accent pieces if I could only figure out how to glue it. Oddly, almost all of my joint failures have been between maple and Garolite, so it may be a problem with my wood prep. The Garolite/Garolite joints seem to be holding fine, as is the one Garolite/mahogany joint I glued up.

Bonding is really the only problem I've had with Garolite, but it has been a real problem. I would glue up a few test pieces and make sure you're getting consistent bonds before you glue up your fingerboard. I actually have a 3/16" thick piece that I was planning to use as a fretboard, but it's been shelved until I sort out my bonding process. I would expect radiusing to be a huge chore with Garolite fretboard... it is a very tough material. It will probably show some grain after radiusing, due to the fact that it's made up of multiple layers of paper and resin, but I believe it would take a high polish.

Anyway, I have only tried the XX grade Garolite, but I would expect XX, CE, and LE to all be suitable for fretboards. Stay away from anything with glass cloth unless you know how to work with these materials... they will rapidly destroy most cutting tools. I would not expect the graphite-impregnated grades to be any stiffer than the standard grades. Graphite is added to reduce friction and increase surface wear resistance, not to increase tensile strength.

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LMI used to sell it long ago. I bought 2 blanks from them in the 90's and used them on two guitar necks. Still have this one

It was a "resin impregnated paper".

In the old LMI catalog it says that Charles Fox sometimes used these black phenolic boards and they show a photo of a Charles Fox phenolic board with big block inlays.

The LMI blanks were 21" long. They werer 1/4" thick, but I did my first compound radius job on the one pictured above and didn't like my first results of that, so I ended up making the board thinner in my next attempts.

Anyway, you can contact LMI or Charles Fox to possibly steer you in the right direction.

I remember the stuff smelled like plastic mixed with newspaper, so I always assumed the paper was actually newspaper.

Edit :

I glued the phenolic to maple with 2 hour epoxy. Can't remember what I cleaned the parts with first. Maybe Acetone, Lacquer thinner or naptha. Don't know about the one neck that I sold long ago, but on the one I still have, absolutely no glue failure and this neck bends a lot when the whammy dive-bombs.

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Have any of you tried poly(gorilla) glue?I used that to stick polished aluminum to wood and that stuff sticks to anything

Sad part is that I accidentally dropped a few spots onto the top of the polished aluminum from a piece I THOUGHT had finished foaming...and I see no way in hell to get it off without scratching the aluminum all to hell.

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I contacted both LMI and Charles Fox about grade and gluing. LMI replied that is no familiar with phenolic!

However, the pieces of Garolite XX I've found on McMaster are too big! 24"x36" for $60. I don't need that much.

Contacted them 10h ago for a smaller piece but still no answer... although on the site says they will answer you in about an hour.

How did you guys bought small pieces? Maybe anyone have to sell some piece?

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LMI replied that is no familiar with phenolic!

I hate that when a company plays dumb, because you're interested in a product they no longer sell ( like, "hey, maybe he'll be forced to buy something we DO sell" ).

Then again, we're talking 15-20 years. Might be a completely different crew there now. Sounds like the guy answering questions just transfered over from a Burger King gig.

The old LMI catalog also states that ' Zeta Systems' and ' Rammirez' have used phenolic fret-boards.

I also remember LMI would not slot the phenolic boards for you.

I'm assuming Steinberger used these same boards.

In my experience with other materials from McMaster, they don't seem at all interested in cutting down smaller amounts for you.

What about Modulus, are they still in business ?

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I contacted both LMI and Charles Fox about grade and gluing. LMI replied that is no familiar with phenolic!

However, the pieces of Garolite XX I've found on McMaster are too big! 24"x36" for $60. I don't need that much.

Contacted them 10h ago for a smaller piece but still no answer... although on the site says they will answer you in about an hour.

How did you guys bought small pieces? Maybe anyone have to sell some piece?

Well, I bought a 36"x48" piece of 1/16" thick XX from them. I was intending to use it for all sorts of stuff... accent lines, headstock veneers, fretboards (the 3/16" thick fretboard blank I have is laminated from 3 pieces of the stuff), neck stringers, etc. You may just need to suck it up and buy a big piece. That way you'll have extra if you want to use it for other stuff or make more guitars. It's a pretty good material for control cavity covers, too.

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Maybe there is another crew in LMI... they answered in about 5 minutes but nothing usable.

So I guess I'll have to buy the whole board from McMaster if they are not interested in cutting smaller piece?

I'll have to pay unnecessary 60 bucks for huge piece plus shipping. Damn

Modulus are still in business, yes. Just The Flea bass it isn't anymore Flea, now it's Funk Unlimited. The most recognizable bass from Modulus now bears another name... I don't know what to say about that. Plus that bass it's Flea's design and setup.

Nobody has an excess piece?

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Modulus used to sell seperate graphite/epoxy bass bridges, but maybe only through dealers, but it *was* a part. So maybe a fret-board blank isn't too "out there" (even more so in bad economic times when factory supplies start gathering dust)

How about the 'talk bass' forum ? Perhaps a member there has some extra phenolic.

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Maybe this will help as a possible source

http://www.sdplastics.com/phenolic.html

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I contacted Modulus and San Diego Plastics too somewhere 1 year ago. No answer from both.

Sdplastics is large quantities supplier only and Modulus is replying if you have question about their basses and if you have Modulus bass ONLY. Other way are not interested in any way about anything.

I found the inventor of the necks Modulus uses, contacted him and he told me that is a paper based phenolic that I'm looking for and if I find a source to let him know :D)).

Also I'm in TalkBass and nothing there... some guys there that have good info about something are playing dumb and do not want to help, that was very obvious. I do not know why. In other words it was like "I don't want to tell you", really.

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I contacted Modulus and San Diego Plastics too somewhere 1 year ago. No answer from both.

Sdplastics is large quantities supplier only and Modulus is replying if you have question about their basses and if you have Modulus bass ONLY. Other way are not interested in any way about anything.

I found the inventor of the necks Modulus uses, contacted him and he told me that is a paper based phenolic that I'm looking for and if I find a source to let him know :D )).

Also I'm in TalkBass and nothing there... some guys there that have good info about something are playing dumb and do not want to help, that was very obvious. I do not know why. In other words it was like "I don't want to tell you", really.

I don't get it if you have a source for $60 and its the only source then just buy it. Considering a good fingerboard is now at least $20 and the piece you are buying can make many boards I don't see the problem. What are you trying to find, one board with the fret slots cut for cheap?

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Yes, you're right man, maybe I'm going a little bit too far. I was just considered about shipping of that large piece.. I'm overseas, Europe.

But when comes to choice.. that's it! The price of the piece is ok, nothing about it!

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I've just contacted McMaster about the piece. Damn

They replied to me that they have decided to accept orders from long-established overseas customers. They cannot provide me a quote or accept orders from me :D(((.

I wrote them again. If nothing happens is someone willing to sell me a piece of Garolite XX if have, or I'll pay somebody to buy me a piece from there and send it to me? I'm from Europe, Macedonia.

Thanks, and sorry for bothering

I don't want to be pain in the ass, but I need that piece. It holds down my job for almost a year.

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The European thing makes it rough, I see. Have you asked Martin Koch if he's ever bought Phenolic in Europe ? I once contacted him about finding tools in Europe and he was quite nice (he had a funny story about what it took for him to buy an Austrian made drill bit [ even though he lives in Austria !] ).

Thomas Dramm is another European Luthier (an innovative one too). Can't think of any others off the top of my head, but just thinking what murder the shipping would be for a huge sheet from the US. Plus the paper phenolic is certainly not damage proof. I could imagine a huge sheet getting busted into pieces during a long journey.

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I'm thinking of buying smaller piece. On McMaster they have black Garolite XX 24"x12"x1/4" piece. It's shorter 1.2" for bass scale but I'll attach it when gluing on neck, not much choices I have. That piece cut lengthwise in half or 4 pieces will make it much less in cost to ship. That is what I think, just someone needs to help me if he wants to.

I haven't contacted Martin Koch or Thomas Dramm, but I will right now. Thanks

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Nothing with McMaster. Anyone willing to help, please? :D

The issue is you are looking at one supplier and at the guitar industry. The guitar industry being the least likely supplier. China exports the same stuff probably to Europe. Start looking outside of the guitar industry and USA distributors. Look for manufacturers and follow those leads down to local people. Probably a sign company uses Phenolic and would be more than happy to make a few bucks overcharging you for a small piece. Little do they know they will be saving you a bundle. Be creative in your search. If you were not in Europe shipping within the US would be cheap. dont expect to find the same brand where you are phenolic goes under many names. Their must be a plastics company in your area you can call as well who can give you some direction..

We all have to do our own homework. I recently had to reorder some crank handles and my supplier had jacked up the price by $2 a handle, ouch. So I started looking at anyone who sells the handle wholesale. Well I am now buying my handles at prices well below what I paid this joker two years ago. It may take a few weeks but someone has to be selling it in your country.

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I know about that, the china or other suppliers in my region. I've searched almost everywhere I thought of... Unfortunately my area isn't developed online as USA is. So if somewhere near me there's a phenolic I cant go and travel everywhere and ask if they have because they have no site on web or stuff. The big problem is the BLACK phenolic. Here we have natural brown, but that isn't what I'm looking for. The places I know, when I ask do they have black phenolic, they tell me that black one does not exist.

My area is at VERY low level of information about a lot of stuff because of low internet spread and plus the low information around here. The neck is carbon-fiber, and when I say to someone about it, they look strange at me, "Hey, what on earth is that, is it a metal? Where did you find that, can you say the name of the thing again?"

Many things I've purchased are from USA (my first home made bass is 70% from USA parts just does not have phenolic as fretboard), even the carbon-fiber, which I had to pay "blind" on people that I've never seen or know in my life who can easily take my money and not send me the product and I'm f..ed up! But the guy turned out to be honest and very communicative and send me the product without any issues. Before I find carbon-fiber I've been searching for a source for whole 2 and a half years!!! And finally founded it! (it would be much easier and less time if I were in USA, but I'm not :D).

Now it's the same problem about black phenolic, I found a company, of course you guys here at GP helped me about it, and now they don't want to send me the piece because I'm overseas and "non long-established overseas customer". So if they wont give me a chance how can I be their customer at all? Wrote them again, but second time no answer.

That's why I'm looking for help here, if someone would like to purchase the piece for me (I'll send him money of course), cut it for less shipping and send it to me.

I understand that all of us have homework to do. If someone wants something from here at my place that does not have at his area I would gladly help him.

That is what I have to say for now. Thanks

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So if somewhere near me there's a phenolic I cant go and travel everywhere and ask if they have because they have no site on web or stuff.

I sympathize with you to a point but the more you write the less I do. First a phone book and phone works just as well as the internet, and sometimes it is the fastest way to do business. Most people work using the phone, can you believe it. In addition they actually pick up the phone rather than just delete your anoying emails. I will assume you have phones in your country.

If you had told us where you are located rather than omitting that large piece of the puzzle maybe someone could have help you a bit more other than just sympathize. Since PG members are located all over the world. But to be honest I am getting as frustrated with this whole discussion as you are complaining about not finding some black phenolic.

If you haven't called every possible company who may deal with the product locally you haven't really exhausted your options as you claim.

Good luck with your quest :D

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