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Purple Heart Fretboard Question


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I've done a handful of refinishes, a couple repairs, and one complete overhaul in the past, but now I'm going to start my first from-scratch build. I've decided to do 2 guitars at once to save on shipping, gas, etc. The goal is to sell one at the end to cover my budget, and it looks like I can do the pair for a total of around $300 before pickups. I haven't decided on electronics or anything yet.*

Anyway, I'm looking at the basics right now- I want to do a LP double cut with a bolt on neck. I like the feel and higher fret access of a bolt-on, plus the adjustability seems like a good idea for a first build.

I'm looking at poplar for the bodies, I can get 2 8/4 pieces in the dimensions I need for a total of about $30.

I'm debating between a painted finish (crackle or airbrush) and a spalted top. Maybe one of each. I know poplar isn't so hot in the looks department, but I also don't think I'm ready to dive into a laminated carved top.

For the neck, I'm purchasing a piece of hard maple very soon that will serve as the outside 2/3 of both necks ($10 on craigslist), and I'm thinking a purple heart laminate would look really cool. (Only need about 1 bf, so it will be around $7)

Finally, I must decide on a fretboard wood. I see that many people use purple heart for bass fretboards, and even the occasional dulcimer, but it's much more rare on guitars. I've heard that it's an oily wood, so my question is this:

Do I need to clearcoat a purpleheart fretboard (like maple) or can I just leave it raw and oil it (like rosewood)?

I'm not a big fan of maple boards, and I've already got 6 rosewood-boarded axes.

As for the budget, by the way, I'm going with all black hardware from GFS. Total cost for 2 guitars is around $180. (Bridge, tailpiece, tuners, straplocks, neck plate, jack plate, pickup rings, knurled knobs, and 3 pos switch) It'll be another $8 for fretwire from Grizzly or UJ and $15 or so for a Stewmac truss rod.

*No electronics yet because I generally play EMG's, but I am a broke college kid and can't afford to shell out $400 for 2 sets right now. This is a lo-buck build to the -enth degree, but I still want to do something unique.

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If you're getting the hardware from GFS, why not get their pups as well? I've heard good things about them.

Technically speaking, I don't believe purpleheart needs a finish, but I could be wrong. However, if you want it to stay purple, you'd better put one on anyway, preferably one with UV protection like an outside Spar poly. You'll hear conrtasting opinions and testimonies about UV inhibitors preventing the PH from turning brown and how long it takes to happen, but one thing is fairly certain - it will turn eventually. It may take years, it may take months, but it will happen.

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If you're getting the hardware from GFS, why not get their pups as well? I've heard good things about them.

Technically speaking, I don't believe purpleheart needs a finish, but I could be wrong. However, if you want it to stay purple, you'd better put one on anyway, preferably one with UV protection like an outside Spar poly. You'll hear conrtasting opinions and testimonies about UV inhibitors preventing the PH from turning brown and how long it takes to happen, but one thing is fairly certain - it will turn eventually. It may take years, it may take months, but it will happen.

I'm not especially worried about the color change. That actually sounds kind of cool. I'm just wondering about how the wood will hold up, and what will keep it in the best physical condition.

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You can oil purpleheart and it will stand up very well. PH is super dense and very very hard. The color change would bother me becuase it turns an odd shade of brown.

This guitar has a purple heart fretboard (and body) which was clear coated with a UV blocker. To this day it's the same reddish purple it was the day it was buffed out.

DarkStar_Custom_002.jpg

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I would say purple heart needs come kind of finish due to humidity, I cannot comment on u.v. My experiences with it show it to not be particularly oily but very splintery and prone to tearout.

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