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How to refinish a worn maple fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Asomodai, Jun 28, 2011.


  1. Asomodai

    Asomodai

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Location:
    London UK
    Hi guys.

    I might be buying a bass that has a fair amount of playwear.

    The maple fingerboard looks very dirty, I assume the finish has worn down to the bare maple and the dirty has been soaked into the neck. Is there an easy way to get the "brand new" maple look? Is it just a case of sanding and refinishing? Would the frets have to be taken out?

    Heres a photo of the neck.

    [​IMG]

    Rob.
     
  2. allexcosta

    allexcosta Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Location:
    Boca Raton - FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: MLaghus Custom Basses
    But it looks so good now...
     
  3. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    i see no way you could sand that with any significant effect without pulling the frets first

    also +1 to it looking good now; wear is one of the things i like about maple boards
     
  4. vintager

    vintager

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    Slovakia
    what a nice board..
     
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  6. irishpride28

    irishpride28

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Please, do yourself a favor and just leave it the way it is.
     
  7. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Disclosures:
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I have heard of a product called "mojo off" you can try that......... :bag: :D
     
  8. Asomodai

    Asomodai

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Location:
    London UK
    Ahem... I VALUE YOUR OPINIONS.

    However I was not asking for any of them. Anyone with legitimate advice on the steps I could take?
     
  9. Ben Coffin

    Ben Coffin

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Location:
    Auburn, AL
    +1

    I had a similar case come into the music store I used to work at, a EBMM that had never once been cleaned in who knows how many years (Some call this mojo, others call it careless). The maple fretboard needed some real love. If I recall, we used a damp rag to clean it lightly, just water on the rag, but I don't remember what was done next. The only valuable advice I can give you is really what not to do, I know for a fact we did not use any of the Dunlop cleaning products we normally use on rosewood boards, which explicitly said to not use on maple fretboards. Hope someone can give more helpful advice, and good luck on bringing that board back to its original status.
     
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I don't think there is much you can do without a refret being involved.
     
  11. allexcosta

    allexcosta Banned

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    Apr 7, 2004
    Location:
    Boca Raton - FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: MLaghus Custom Basses
    +1...
     
  12. Sardine

    Sardine

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Maine
    A wipe down with a little bit of naphtha on a soft paper towel or cloth will get rid of surface gunk. Don't drown the neck with it or it could get under the finish around the worn areas and cause some gnarly finish damage. Just a tiny bit will do. As far as the pitting, there's not much you can do about that without removing the frets and leveling the fingerboard. However, if this bass has any vintage value (just a wild guess based on the wear) anything more than a good cleaning will severely impact the value of the instrument.
     
  13. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Disclosures:
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    It might help if you could find out what finish was originally used on the fretboard.
     
  14. Stilettoprefer

    Stilettoprefer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    How does it play? If it has that much wear it must be pretty comfy and a refinish (which this would likely require since its gonna need a leveling) would change that feel and would cost a lot, roughly $300 for just a re-fret and re-fins aren't cheap by any means.

    I'm praying for my tele to look like that some day though:p clean maple bugs me haha.
     
  15. Matthijs

    Matthijs

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    IMHO (and I know you didn't ask for it) that wear is not to bad, a good cleanup might be enough. If you want it to look as new you can not do it without a refret. I tried it once without a refret on a cheap bass. If playability is your main problem (but it doesn't look that way) You can get close to a playable result, but it will look worse compared to just a clean up.
     
  16. miguel2u

    miguel2u

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Warmouth can make you a shiny, brand new neck and you can put the old one away for safe keeping.
     
  17. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Is it just dirt, or are there actual depressions in the wood? If it's just dirt, you can try steel wool. That worked on my Tobias when I bought it. If the depressions are very shallow, you could try the damp rag mentioned earlier, that should raise the grain a bit.

    I must be in the minority, because I can't stand that kind of grimy look. To hell with "vintage mojo", that's just nasty. If it were mine, I'd definitely clean it as much as possible, pulling frets if needed.
     
  18. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    MEXICANADAMERICA
    how 'bout some full length pix?!!

    how is she gonna look before and after? will you be refining the entire bass. nothing worst than a mis-match. :confused:
     
  19. Dadagoboi

    Dadagoboi Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida Swamp
    Disclosures:
    CataldoBasses: Designer/Builder ThunderBuckerPickups:Consultant
    If it is nitro and only the finish is worn you can remove all of it with remover and careful use of scrapers and steel wool/scotch brite pads, naptha etc. and then refin it.

    That's what I'm going to do with this bass which has a very thin nitro finish with no fret or fretboard wear. I don't anticipate any problems, I've done this before. Maple cleans up fairly easy and if necessary I'll use bleach sparingly and a very light toner coat to even everything out before shooting clear. The face of the headstock is good so I'll leave it alone.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. jcrbassman

    jcrbassman

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    When I have maple necks that are worn through, there seems to dirt, and oxidation going on. The metal of the string, along with oils in your skin can make it look awful. If I choose to touch it up, I go first with naphtha to remove the oils (crud), then use oxalic acid (Savogran wood bleach) on the exposed wood. I have had success with unfinished (waxed?) OLP maple guitar necks this way. If it was on a vintage guitar, I would really have to decide if messing with it would diminish it's value!!!!
     
  21. Dadagoboi

    Dadagoboi Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida Swamp
    Disclosures:
    CataldoBasses: Designer/Builder ThunderBuckerPickups:Consultant
    Wow, this thread is old!

    Here's how my maple board turned out (center). Cleaned, sanded, bleached, toned and clear coated.

    [​IMG]

    And the bass:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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