Jump to content

fretboard neck finish


Recommended Posts

Hi everybody,

I have two unfinished necks; one maple neck with rosewood fretboard and one maple neck with maple fretboard.

First, I made some research on the internet to get some information on the neck finishing and for the fretboard this is not clear. For the neck, it’s pretty well documented. To resume, there is three way: use nitrocellulose (as Fendre), use polyurethane lacquer or use oil (tru-oil, Danish oil).

However, concerning the fretboard, it’s isn’t clear. What I found is that for the rosewood fretboard, the is no treatment. Only citrus oil, just to preserve the wood. For the maple fretrboard, there is a lot of things. True or not, I don’t really know.

-          First, the sweaty hands can change the color of fretboard in the long run. So laquer is recommended. For oil finish, some people says that oil doen’t protect from moisture od change of color. However, it’s possible to finish maple neck with oil. So I don’t understand why not fretboard.

-          Then, for laquer application on fretboard, what is the process? How many coats and should i sand between layers?

-          If it’s possible to finish fretboard with oil, How many coats and should i sand between layers?

Thank you a lot for your answers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Macarel31 said:

However, it’s possible to finish maple neck with oil. So I don’t understand why not fretboard.

Mainly because any oil finish doesn't provide a hard-wearing, moisture-resistant finish to any type of wood. The lack of effectiveness of an oil finish on maple are compounded by the fact that maple has extremely small pores that won't allow deep penetration of an oil finish, and as a surface coat it is extremely thin and relatively fragile. Sweaty finger tips pressing against nickel steel strings imparts tarnish on to timber, which also happens to show up more plainly on pale wood like maple, so you're likely to end up with some discolouration on an oil-finished maple fretboard after a few months of playing. Nitro or poly are significantly thicker and more durable, so any grime and muck tends to sit above the surface of the finish, which allows an opportunity for the user to wipe it off when it becomes too unsightly and (hopefully) restore the look of the original finish if required.

Discolouration on an oil-finished neck itself will still be apparent but will take longer to appear, simply because the palm of your hand isn't in simultaneous contact with any metal surfaces while playing, and the tarnishing effect of steel-on-sweat isn't able to develop.

 

30 minutes ago, Macarel31 said:

Then, for laquer application on fretboard, what is the process? How many coats and should i sand between layers?

I believe the most common method is to install all your frets and the spray clear on the whole neck. The clear won't adhere to the frets, so it's relatively easy to remove the finish from the frets by scraping or careful sanding/scrubbing with steel wool. Obviously with the frets installed you won't be able to sand the finish between coats, in which case you just polish the fretboard on a buffing wheel to achieve the desired level of gloss.

 

33 minutes ago, Macarel31 said:

If it’s possible to finish fretboard with oil, How many coats and should i sand between layers?

Bearing in mind it won't be a particularly hard-wearing or long-lasting finish that may require some restoration every so often if the eventual blackening becomes too much, as many coats as you feel comfortable with. Assuming you're finishing the fretboard before inserting the frets, maybe 4-6 coats as a minimum with a light sand between coats as directed by the application instructions of the finish you're using.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/26/2019 at 9:46 AM, Macarel31 said:

for the rosewood fretboard, the is no treatment. Only citrus oil, just to preserve the wood.

Actually most any oil will do, although vegetable oil may get rancid and mineral oil won't cure to a finish. Boiled linseed oil has been used for centuries on stringed instruments. The stuff they sell as "Lemon Oil" is some regular mineral oil with lots of turpentine and a drop of lemon scent plus optionally some yellow colourant. That's mainly intended for those without any knowledge about how to apply oil. Agreed, it's better than nothing and regular use of it will both clean and moisturize the fretboard, but oiling the right way will give a much longer lasting result.

On 7/26/2019 at 9:46 AM, Macarel31 said:

If it’s possible to finish fretboard with oil, Yes it is  How many coats and should i sand between layers? Tens

As you may have seen the lacquered maple fretboards wear during time. Also, some people just don't like the feel of the lacquer on the fretboard and would rather have it oiled despite it getting tarnished. Some like the hard feel of the lacquer, at least for certain music styles. Some take the partially worn-out half-dirty looks as a sign of a well loved instrument. As you see, it's a lot about preferences and opinions.

The right way to oil is to flood the surface evenly and keep it flooded until all spots are equally moist. You can use wet'n'dry sanding paper or other fine abrasives to create a slurry of fine wood dust and oil and use it as filler. When the oil starts to get tacky, take some industry class paper towel and wipe the wood fully dry. Wait for some 5-10 minutes and wipe off all the oil that's sweated out of the pores. Any oil on the surface will transform into a sticky mess and stay that way for years or even decades! You can use the abrasive for several layers at the start, gradually going to finer grits if needed. Flooding isn't required after you've soaked the wood, just apply oil so that everything is covered. I repeat: Wipe the excess off at every pass! You should be able to get a solid, shiny, dirt and moist resistant finish to any wood with oil and dust slurry but it will take time and lots of elbow grease! Then again, patching an oil finish is pretty easy. Fixing a worn spot on lacquer usually requires a full refinish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...