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Fingerboard Questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sadowsky, May 5, 2010.


  1. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    New York City
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    I moved this post so I can start a Sticky on fingerboards.

    IMHO, I do not like lemon oil. Lemon oil is regular mineral oil that has chemical drying agents, scent and color added. Although it works fine in the beginning, the drying agents eventually dry out the board more than no oil at all. Better to use straight mineral oil.

    I have always liked boiled linseed oil. However, even the smallest can will dry out before you can use even a fraction of it and the rags you use to apply it can cause spontaneous combustion.

    So we are now using Planet Waves Hydrate. It works well and comes in a small bottle. We sell it on our webstore.

    Oiling a board twice a year should be fine.

    Roger
     
  2. P. Bass

    P. Bass

    Mar 17, 2010
    Toronto
    I have often wondered about the difference in natural oil content of Brazilian,Madagascar,& Morado fretboards, & their inherent ability to maintain that content. Does the degree of open pore of these woods have a bearing on drying? Thanks.
     
  3. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    New York City
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    I don't think it is a matter of open or closed pores. Brazilian has the highest oil content of the three. I have not detected any difference between open and closed pore Madagascar. Morado has very closed pores---almost silky in nature. It gets much lighter looking when it is dry, but I don't find it feels much different.

    Roger
     
  4. jmeyers44

    jmeyers44

    Sep 20, 2008
    Roger,
    I have a quesiton that is very popular in the Sadowsky Club. Can you go over the sonic differences between the fretboard woods that you offer? In your opinion is fretboard choice key to final tone of a bass?

    Also do you support the use of 0000 steel wool to clean raw wood fretboards?

    Thanks.
     
  5. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    New York City
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    This is my opinion, based on building over 4000 NYC basses during the last 30 years. From brightest to warmest.

    Maple---tightest and brightest. best for slap. can produce more string and fret noise than others. Requires a finish to keep from turning dirty and grey.

    Ebony--not as bright as maple. most immediate attack and punch of all our fingerboard woods. Note is more fundamental and less overtones. Best for fretless.

    Morado Also known as Caviuna, Bolivian Rosewood or Pau Ferro. Although not a "true" rosewood, I have been a fan of this wood for fingerboards for 30 years. Also used a lot by Stu Spector. Grain is very tight and smooth. More warmth than maple or ebony, but tighter than East Indian Rosewood. Excellent wear resistance, even on a fretless. For fretless, produces a somewhat more "acoustic/upright tone than ebony.

    Madagascar Rosewood A less expensive alternative to Brazilian Rosewood. Many boards have the spider-web like grain of Brazilian. Rich reddish brown colors. Can be more open grained that some others. Tone is the same ballpark as Morado and Brazilian.

    Brazilian Rosewood For me, the King of tonewoods for fingerboards and acoustic guitar sides and backs. Beautiful browns and blacks. Wood has very high oil content. Banned from export out of Brazil in log form since 1969. Currently protected by the CITES treaty which prevents shipment between countries without intensive permits. Same treaty that protects tortoise shell and ivory.

    I personally believe, IMHO opinion, that all things being equal, the fingerboard can have a bigger influence on the tone of the bass than the body wood.

    Regarding care of raw (unfinished) fingerboards. 0000 steel wool is fine under the following conditions:

    1) you completely tape off your pickups with masking tape so no steel wool dust can get on or into the pickups.

    2) you vacuum of as much steel wool dust as possible before you remove the tape.

    3) you spray the pickups with compressed air after removing the tape

    R
     
  6. R Baer

    R Baer Commercial User

    Jun 5, 2008
    President, Baer Amplification
    Thanks for the info Roger. Also, a word of caution on lemon oil. I had always used linseed oil on the entire neck of my Ken Lawrence, but after reading an article somewhere that said lemon oil was better for the wood, I decided to try some next time I oiled the neck. To my dismay the lemon oil ended up reacting with the wood/linseed oil and ended up darkening the wood on the back of the neck considerably. :crying:
     
  7. Laklandlover

    Laklandlover Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA BABY
    Hi Roger,

    What is the best way for caring for a maple fingerboard?

    James
     
  8. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Bassist
    IIRC, you can clean your maple necks and boards with the "Everyday Polish" and Sadowsky cloth that come with the bass. There is no need for special care or products.
     
  9. Hi,

    I was wondering if Roger or anyone else would be able to tell me where does Cocobolo fingerboards fit in the tone spectrum?
     
  10. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    New York City
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    I've only done two in my life so I don't have a strong opinion other than to put it in the rosewood family

    R
     
  11. Thanks Roger.
    So does this mean it is close to what Ebony might be like?
     
  12. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    New York City
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    I think it is closer to brazilian or madagascar rosewood than ebony.

    R
     
  13. Hey Roger . Can you give us your opinion on the usual tone produced by certain wood combinations like Alder-Rosewood , Ash-Maple , Ash-Rosewood , Alder-Maple . Also In general , how big of an impact do chambered bodies have in general ?

    Thanks ,
    Vibhas .
     
  14. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
  15. abassman84

    abassman84

    Sep 27, 2007
    Fontana, CA
    So all the maple boards are finished? Even on the metros?
     
  16. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    HI

    Yes. NYC's get 7 to 8 coats of nitro laqueur. Metros get the same treatment

    Rob
     
  17. abassman84

    abassman84

    Sep 27, 2007
    Fontana, CA
    Haha thank you Rob for your detailed answer. Sorry for the bad question.
     
  18. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Hi

    LOL. Bad question? Sounded sensible to me.

    Rob
     
  19. TapyTap

    TapyTap

    Apr 26, 2005
    Roger,

    Have you ever considered Katalox (Swartzia cubensis) or Ziricote (Cordia dodecandra) as fingerboard woods?
     
  20. My Sadowsky pau ferro after 20 years and I like it dirty*

    sadowskydirtyboardcloseup.

    sadowskydirtyboardcloseup2.


    *that's what she said
     

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