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Ebony cracking?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rumblethump, Sep 29, 2002.

  1. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    Hi all,

    Anyone experience cracking on their 4 year old LB75 ebony fretboard? While putting on some new strings I noticed a couple hairline cracks in the 10th to 16th fret area underneath the A string. Could this be a result of a maxxed out Truss Rod, or might it be just a natural cracking due to the wood drying out?I regularly clean the fret board with Murphy's oil soap when I do a string change (maybe 3 times a year). I replaced the strings, set up the bass, and it seems to play just fine. Do I need to treat the ebony with something else to prevent this? TIA
  2. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Alembic recommends lemon oil for their ebony fretboards
  3. I don't think I would use Murphy's if I were you. The only liquid I'd put on a FB would be lemon oil or something similar designed for FBs. If you want to clean gunk off, I'd suggest very fine steel wool.

    I've had a couple of LB76s for about 8 years and have never had any cracking problems.
  4. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Yep, Ebony does get hairline cracks. But they're usually at the end of a piece of wood. I had this problem on my Elias Fretless bass. It's not as big a deal as you might think, though. Any luthier can put some "Hotstuff" or other CA glue in there and it will be stable.

    Lemon oil is really just for cleaning and doesn't add anything to the wood. IMHO, I use rubbing alcohol (90% evaporates quicker so dries the wood less), then coat with boiled linseed oil. Sometimes I use a synthetic oil made to purpose called Alsyn.
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I don't understand the rubbing alcohol thing. Why does this dry the wood less?

    Cleaning products like Pledge have driers in them that can dry out the wood, and should be avoided. Some products can actually make things worse on your board. I don't know about Murphy's, but like everyone else here, I would recommend buying either a finishing oil (like teak oil) or "fingerboard oil" (lemon oil).
  6. I too use an recommend boiled Linseed Oil.

    I use Naptha as the cleaner to remove dirt.
    It evaporates faster then rubbing alcohol.
    No water added.

    Remember, Rubbing Alcolhol contains anywhere from 40% to 10% water. If using "Rubbing" Alcohol make sure it's at least 90% pure. Denatured Alcohol can be bought w/o any water in it.

    Lemon Oil is for Rookies.

    I can only speak from my experience in oiling fingerboards--I did try
    using Old English Lemon Oil for about a year and did have the sense
    that the boards were getting too dry with that. I never tried other
    types of lemon oil. I also was not commenting on maintaining oil
    finished basses as I do not do oil finished and do not have any
    expertise or opinion on that.

    Roger Sezs:

    "Oils that are sold for wood finishing like tung oil preparations get
    too gummy feeling in my opinion. I have always found lemon oil (as in
    Old English) to make boards dry out faster than if left alone. After
    24 years of this, I still like linseed oil the best."

    --Roger Sadowsky
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I just read a thread on the DB side - Walnut oil was also mentioned for Ebony fingerboards?
  8. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    To all, thank you for your replies. Boiled linseed oil sounds like the ticket. I'm still just a bit concerned about the location of these cracks, being that they are located just about exactly in the middle of the fretboard. I still haven't noticed any change in them since I restrung last friday, and the neck seems pretty stable.
  9. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Hi rumblethump,
    I know we've all been talking about the finish, but I'd get the cracks fixed with a little CA glue before you oil it. Once the oil is in the cracks the glue won't take.
  10. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    By "CA" glue, I take it you are referring to Super Glue? As I live 100 miles from a decent luthier and think I might be able to do this myself, how would I apply (get the glue into the cracks and not every where else) this and not mess up the neck? TIA
  11. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Cyanoc. . .? Can't remember the whole thing. You need to wax off or somehow mask the parts of the board near the crack. Use Hot stuff red label, it is WAY better than super glue. You'll need the solvent as well, so you can remove excess glue from your fingers and the bass. Order some pipettes, that's the best way to control the application. Best,
  12. Is there any more info that can be had for the boiled linseed oil on the ebony fingerboard?

    I used it on the neck of my DB but hadn't thought about using it in the fingerboard.
    Does it have to be rubbed down after it dries or is it a thin coat and leave it type of thing?

  13. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Wipe on, wait 5 minutes, wipe off. Penetrates the wood.
    Easy-schmeezy. . .

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