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Fretboard Finishing


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I just re-radiused my rosebood fretboard using 220 grit sandpaper. My question is, should I apply some sort of finishing liquid to the fretboard, like Tru-oil, Lacquer, etc.?

I have a few good books (including Stew Mac's fret book); however, none of them seem to discuss this.


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I can't help with what you "should" do, but I'll tell you what I did...

I started wetsanding the Rosewood board with 320 and some tru-oil (that's the wet part). Dont use very much, just a couple drops. This made a sawdust goo that started to fill in the pores in the wood. let this dry for a couple hours, and repeat. Mine filled up all the pores after 3 applications. Then I applied two more coats of tru-oil -very-very- thin (remember to let dry in between) and then sanded with some 600 grit I had lying around and then finished with some 0000 wool.

I'm not a pro but I think it turned out great. This is definitely not traditional.

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Rosewood is not supposed to need a protective finish like varnish. I have an old tiny tin of fretboard conditioner [number 1 fingerboard oil] meant for cellos and violins. It's some sort of resinous mix like linseed oil with lemongrass oil in it as well (it says on the can...). It's marvellous stuff to sink in and nurture the wood though it darkens the appearance it doesn't leave a gloss coating. I use it on all my non-maple fretboards once every 6 months to recondition them. I love this stuff and will mourn the day the can's finally used up. I've had it maybe 12 years now and have no idea if it's still available.

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