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Epoxy on the Fretboard

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by elm3r, Nov 18, 2000.

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  1. elm3r

    elm3r Guest

    Hello all.
    I have a question for you guys:

    I'm currently using a '96 Mexican J-bass Fretless with GHS Bass Boomers .45-105's, and would like to know how to go about coating the fretboard with epoxy properly (A la Jaco), just to save the fretboard from the round wounds. I'm not too sure on how to do this, but I definately want to do it myself.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    I think i'm going to do this pretty soon, but i'm not sure if this is the correct way to do it:
    1. take off strings (no brainer)
    2. Spray Epoxy on fingerboard
    3. Let dry
    4. Sand fingerboard with very fine grit sand paper
    5. Repeat steps 2-4 9 times

    Is that the best way to do it?
  3. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    Step 2:

    I've never studied what Jaco did, but I doubt you'll find any spray on epoxy; it's a thick syrupy mess (and it gets worse as it sets).

    The biggest problem I had is getting the original fingerboard clean and oil-free so the epoxy can soak in. I hear Acetone can help. This isn't much of a problem with phenolic fingerboards.

    I built a "dam" around the sides with masking tape, set the neck very level and poured in a thin mix of epoxy. I used Brownells Acra-Glass liquid (not gel) which is available from Sporting Goods/Shooting stores. It comes with black and brown dye packets and costs about $12; it is a free flowing liquid. I found banging the neck on a solid surface helped settle the epoxy into the old fret slots.

    Use lots of thin coats, and level the final product with a radiused sanding block from Stewart-McDonald; I found 12" radius was nice.
  4. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Really? My friend said he used spray on Epoxy, but maybe it wasn't Epoxy.
  5. the spray in question may have been polyurethane. usually epoxy is 2 parts that need to be mixed before application.
  6. what's with this " like Jaco " stuff anyway ?

  7. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    I'm just coating mine so i can use roundwounds and partly so i can put the flats on my fretless on to my p-bass.
  8. I coated my home made fretless neck about a year ago and I used 3 coats of polyurethane. I used a sponge brush to apply the finish and let each coat dry then block sanded it smooth with a very fine grain sand paper. Came out very nice.
  9. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Jaco apparently defretted his 62 Jazz Bass, put in Duratite wood putty in the holes left behind, and put 10 layers of marine epoxy called Petit Poly-Poxy on the freboard.

    (page 31, Jaco - by Bill Muilkowski)
  10. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Coated my MIM Jazz Fretless a little over a year ago and love it.

    I applied 4 coats of high gloss polyurethane with a good brush (not foam), sanded in between coats with 220 or higher paper. At the recommendation of a local luthier, a did my final sanding using a scotchbrite pad instead of the usual .000 steel wool.
    It looks and sounds great.

    Two points from my experience:

    --my fretboard apparently was finished with an oil or chemical that caused me lots of trouble with my first coat of polyurethane. The stuff just wouldn't dry properly. It took a lot of sanding down and re-doing before my base coat finally took.

    --coating your fretboard definitely changes the tone of your bass. Make sure you are okay with that before coating it.
  11. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Okay, so my friend is giving me some Epoxy, but i'm not sure if his way of appying it was the best way.
    1.What should i use to spread it across the neck? A brush?
    2. A. How can i avoid the oil trouble? B. How much is Acetone? C. Are there any other ways?
    3. What does the Acra-Glass do?

    Sorry about all of the questions, I want to thank you for all of the input so far.
  12. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    1. I think you want the mix as thin as possible to soak into the neck. A brush might allow you to push it in.

    2. Rosewood, ebony, and Cocobolo, are all very oily woods (the reason they don't need finish). To get the epoxy to stick, you need to leech the oil out and get the epoxy into the pores before the oil returns to the surface. You might try a variety of unpleasant solvents and see what works for you (lighter fluid? paint thinner?). Acetone is readily available in nail polish remover. You will want to make sure any of the solvents used evaporate before you put the epoxy down. Be careful, they may eat plastic.

    3. Accra-glass is a Brownells product used for "stock bedding" (making a tight fit between metal parts and the wood stock of a rifle). It's claim to fame is that it's dimensionally stable to .5% so you don't have a lot of shrinkage as it dries. It's also available in a liquid that remains pretty thin until it sets up (marine epoxy may have those characteristics; I don't know much boat lore). $15 will get you a smalll quantity good enough for a bass.
  13. Just a note on the comparative differences between Acetone and nail polish remover - Use only acetone from the hardware store to leach oily woods since this is all acetone and no additives. Nail polish removers, while high in acetone content, have oils in them to keep nails from drying out and getting that "chalky" look. If you used this, you would be putting as much oil back on with the acetone as you would be getting out of the wood in the first place.
  14. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    That's some good info I didn't have; thanx!
  15. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    i just put some acetone on the neck and a thin layer of epoxy, but it is a little sticky (the fingerboard). Will it always stay sticky? Thanks so much for the help.
  16. Your epoxy is sticky because of a poor resin to hardener mixture. Just a little too much resin for the hardener to do it's job properly. Yes, it will be sticky forever! Best bet is to thoroughly remove the existing epoxy and start over. This time, use just a scoshe (technical term for a tad, a little bit) more hardener than resin. This will decrease your working time but since you've already done this before, you should be comfortable with the application. Don't tary or you'll wind up with half the neck coated and a hard brush! Also, don't stop at one coat only. Sand your first application to near removal and coat again. I would repeat as many times as needed until no grain crevices are visible - and then one more time. When you use thin coats, the first several seep into the wood so they are useless to consider as a top surface. The coats put on after these are what makes the fingerboard work the way you want.
  17. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Well, it isn't sticky anymore, it is just rock hard, like a hard wood floor, i've only put on a couple layers so far, and then i'll finish it on the weekend.
  18. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    SPAM ALERT, clean up on Aisle Six!

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