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Any fretless fingerboards impervious to wear?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. I have a Mighty Mite unlined ebonol board, and while it is great, I have been playing Ken Smith Compressors on it for the last 6 months, and there are now scrapes and scratches on the board. Most them are only visible and only are few can be felt with my fingers, but in a year or less it will need to be sanded down.

    I love these strings, and don't wish to use flats yet. I am 99% sure I know the answer, but figured I'd ask it anyway...

    Are there any fingerboards that do not wear down at all?
  2. "Impervious to wear" would violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Everything wears out. If you use stainless steel with will wear faster because it's so hard.

    Flats make the neck last longer but I don't like the dark tone. They still wear on the neck.

    On my Curbow IEP I loose that mwah sound. I use Half wound which is basically a round wound ground to almost a flat surface. It's kind of the best of both worlds but you'll still get some wear.
  3. You're right. They still all do wear down the board. The only strings that I have yet to see wear down an ebonol board are black nylon tapewounds, but I prefer the strings I'm using.

    I just don't want to keep sanding down the board every couple of years.

    Do epoxied boards wear down from using compression wounds? I know that ebonol can't be epoxied, because it doesn't bond to it, but I'm just curious.
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The only way a fingerboard could be impervious to wear from a string is to use a material that is harder than the string. Think stainless steel frets. Of course, the fingerboard would wear out the strings.

    There is no free lunch.
  5. Ohhh... But I want a free lunch.

    Guess I'll give tapewounds another shot.
  6. bearhart74


    Feb 26, 2009
    I highly recommend the method that Pedulla uses on their fretless buzz bass. Nothing is permanent but its about as close as you can get.
  7. Well an ebanol board is already one of the most durable options, but any fretless board will quickly get snail trails on it; this is just a natural consequence of the string vibrating against the board just ahead of wherever you're fingering the note.

    You will invariably find that although these marks develop very quickly they are entirely cosmetic and don't mean that you are anywhere near needing the board truing up.

    If you develop good technique and apply vibrato like a cellist does, in line with the string's axis, instead of sawing the string back and forth perpendicular across the board, your ebanol fingerboard should last many, many years with any kind of string before it wears enough to cause problems.

    I have a fretless that has a rosewood board and I use stainless steel roundwounds on it, so my fingerboard is much softer than yours and my strings are much more abrasive. I have just trued up the fingerboard because it finally had worn a couple of shallow grooves at the points where the most used notes were - but that was after 10 years of frequent use. I trued it up myself in about an hour, using the correct radius block and careful sanding with various grades of abrasive paper and it's turned out pretty well, but even if I had payed a luthier to do it that wouldn't have been an issue.

    The way I see it, if I had used a fretted bass as frequently as my fretless it would have needed a refret after 10 years anyway.

    Just go with it until the wear starts to cause too much buzz, or choking, or intonation problems, if it's just cosmetic wear forget about it - my bet is that it'll last much, much longer than you think
  8. Thanks, not sure about the Pedulla method, but I'll look into it.

    About my current board, I wasn't surprised to see the cosmetic markings, they've been there since a week after I got the board. What prompted this thread, was that for the first time, I was able to feel the gouges into the board with my finger pads. Sure they're only nicks that resemble markings from the outer wounds of the strings, but they have went into the board. You are right, it would likely take years before any sort of a groove was made that caused intonation issues.

    On the cosmetic side though, I don't like how ebonol wears. At first, it is merely a scratch, black in colour, just like the rest of the board, and barely noticeable. But as the scratches go a bit deeper, the scratches become white in colour, which become very obvious (and ugly) against the black board.

    I've never played on a wood fretless fingerboard, I'd assume that this does not happen on wood, only on ebonol. Can anyone inform me if this is true? Whether raw wood, or ones with an oil, or epoxy coating.
  9. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I have an ebony fretless neck, scratches don't turn white. It's relatively new so I don't have to do much to it and I use half rounds on it anyway so it doesn't matter much to me.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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