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A redyed maple fingerboard, what to do?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Eilif, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Here's the situation.

    I have an Englehardt EC1. It was made with "ebonized" fittings. i.e. maple with a heavy dye and laquer of some sort. I had it setup a few years ago, and along with soundpost adj, a new bridge and nut, and a restring, they shaped and replaned the fingerboard.

    Of course they had to redye the top of the fingerboard to make it dark again, but now that dye is wearing off. I have am happy with the shape and feel of the fingerboard and I don't want to mess with it. Money is tight right now, and I don't play DB often enough to make paying a professional a priority, so at this point I think I have 3 options.

    1) Continue to let the dye wear off, slowly revealing the maple beneath.

    2) redye the fingerboard. If so, what kind of dye?

    3) remove the dye and go for a natural maple color, probably involving some kind of oil finish.

    What do you all think?
  2. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    i'd let the dye fade. it'll make it look like you play that bass all the time. we on the EB side call it Mojo, and it's a wonderful thing. :bassist:
  3. If it was coming off on my hands I'd find the nastiest solvent I could and scrub that pig down; otherwise I'd just ignore it. It just is what it is... When it wears out, save up for a a good ebony piece.
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ...but don't splash that solvent all over the bass. Probably should go without saying, but ya never know...
  5. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    How many bottles did you need to redye your fingerboard? Also, did you use anything to clean the fingerboard first?

    I think I'll either redye or just let it get more Mojo'ey, as even though the dye is wearing, I don't think I could get it down to bare maple without sanding.
  7. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I haven't had to dye mine yet, but I have read about it. One bottle is enough to dye it many times. You should probably just clean the board well first, then wipe on the dye with a lint-free cloth. Let the dye soak in, then when it's dry you buff with a cloth until no more dye comes off on the cloth.

    I don't think the remaining black parts need to be removed first, the dye should blend with the black already on the board. This is what I have been told, but maybe you can get some more input from a local luthier who has done this.

    I couldn't find any info on a good way to remove ebonizing either. It seems as though some sort of stripper should work, but I would have to be 100% certain beforehand, and sanding may not be the best idea either, because you could end up needing it planed afterwards.

    It's wierd how my Engelhardt ebonized finish looks like a "coating" sitting on top of the wood, but I have read that dye can look that way when it's used on dense wood, because it doesn't penetrate that far into the wood.

    I am still a little unclear on dying my maple board and how to get the best results, most of the info here seems to be for dying streaked ebony or rosewood.

    I know that removing the ebonizing can be done, because there are alot of Engel and Kay C1s running around out there with naked maple boards. Maybe they got that way from having a luthier plane the board.

    Still, re-dyeing seems to be the easiest thing to try first.
  8. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    You'll be paying a bit of a premium for it at that seller. This is just Fiebing's Leather Dye. Supposedly the "oil dye" is a new improved version, whatever. But you can probably buy this somewhere local to you.

    The Fiebing's page:

    A little cheaper online source (maybe you can do even better):

    I know at least a couple of guys who use Fiebing's after fixing up student violins to make the board black, they like it. The actual traditional way to do this is with black analine dye. This is usually available at art supply places. It works well, but is very bad for your lungs, and people who work with it a lot use a respirator. Probably the leather dye is a better choice unless you have the right equipment/working environment.

    Have fun.
  9. +1 Fiebing's Leather Dye

    let it dry and follow up with Formby's Gloss Tung oil (seals the dye in, and keeps it from getting on your fingers when playing).

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