Defretted Bass Neck Oil or Epoxy?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Andy Tasker, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. Andy Tasker

    Andy Tasker

    Oct 12, 2017
    Hi Guys
    I am defretting a Harley Benton Bass neck to try my first forays into playing fretless. The fingerboard is 'Roseacer' and we are filling the fret slots with 'filler' rather than veneer etc.
    My question is can I use a finishing oil (several coats) rather than applying an epoxy if I am using flatwound strings.
    Thank you.
  2. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    My understanding is that Roseacer is Harley Benton's name for roasted maple. I'm guessing they named it that due to the reddish-brown darkening that the roasting process gives maple.

    Acer is the genus of all true maple trees, so it seems like 'Roseacer' is a bit of a pun. (Acer saccharum is hard/sugar maple, Acer macrophylum is western broad leaf maple, Acer rubrum is eastern red maple, etc.)

    You can certainly put whatever finish you want on your board, but an oil finish is not going to provide any protection against wear from the strings. It will make it look nice though!

    Plenty of fretless maple boards have been used on basses in the past 50 years, and while the strings will definitely wear through the finish and make marks on the wood, that's not necessarily going to cause any problems for a good long time.

    If you don't want to deal with epoxy (I don't blame you, it's a pain in the butt), you may want to use a wipe-on polyurethane to add a bit more wear protection. You'll definitely need to level sand it though, which does add a lot of work.
  3. A big determination in how much damage the strings will do is whether you run round wound or flat strings. Also how aggressively you play and whether you bend a lot or not. Personally if I run roundwounds I need to have some kind of finish on the board, CA is my default, otherwise (for the reasons stated above) I'll quickly wear into the board. Maybe it's just marks, but the one time I tried roundwounds on a board finished only with oil, after a few weeks I could definitely see ridges forming.
  4. Andy Tasker

    Andy Tasker

    Oct 12, 2017
    Thank you HaMMerHeD very informative do you have a recommendation on wipe on poly's please.
  5. Andy Tasker

    Andy Tasker

    Oct 12, 2017
    Hi Jisch thank you for your reply I will use flatwounds and I don't bend, slap or play hard so I should be ok for a while shouldn't I?
  6. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Topcoat is the stuff all the furniture guys I know look to when they need a durable clear coat for a table, so that would probably do the trick.
  7. Yes, absolutely, flatwounds will not wear a fretboard at all in my experience.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "finishing oil", but for maple I would put something on that hardens, not lemon oil or the like. Maple will absorb oils from your finger and get ugly, but I don't know how dark the maple is right now, maybe that's not a concern.
  8. Andy Tasker

    Andy Tasker

    Oct 12, 2017
    Thank you
  9. Andy Tasker

    Andy Tasker

    Oct 12, 2017
    Fab thank you
    Jisch likes this.
  10. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    It makes not one bit of difference what finish you put on there. You won't have a satisfactory board until you take out that filler and put in veneer, polystyrene or something that won't compress. You are wasting time putting any finish at all on there. As humidity puts more relief into the neck, the filler will be squeezed out, then you will adjust the truss rod to get the relief back where it's supposed to be and then discover all the little bumps where the filler was squeezed. You will them sand that. This will happen two or three times until you discover that the slots are now rounded over and the neck is unplayable. Congratulations, now you are buying a new neck. but you've got two or three years before that happens. Enjoy.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    It hardly matters what you use if you have used filler in the nut slots. Not a good choice. Please read this thread:

    Defretting and the use of Wood Filler
    Pilgrim and Rabidhamster like this.
  12. Huw Phillips

    Huw Phillips Life is like TV if the channel sucks change it Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2019
    If I was going to go the epoxy route I would do the following, get the small packs of epoxy that cost $5 each and grab a piece of wood to practice on, you need to get the 30 min open time epoxy and get the temperature right not to hot or cold and basically lay it on the test piece and start seeing what works, it’s like thick varnish but it will flow a hair dryer can help to get it moving but needs to be gentle, warming the neck also, basically mess about till your happy the do the neck.
    I saw someone had advertised a bass neck with a $450 epoxy job recently, I am not that rich !!!
  13. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    No filler in the slots. Period.

    Bad choice, likely to let the neck deform later.

    That's a waste of the neck.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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