fretless board protection

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Smit_Dogg, Nov 13, 2015.


  1. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    Hello,

    Last year I had a Lakland Skyline 4402 defretted and ive had it strung initially with flats then moved onto GHS pressurewounds. I am planning on going back to flatwounds (Ernie Ball Cobalts) now the GHS pressurewounds are pretty much dead.

    Lately I've noticed some marking on the fretboard (rosewood) and I was wondering what the best coating for protection would be to put on my board?

    Ive been doing a fair bit of research on the subject and I'm pretty sure i don't want to go down the ultra-hard, super-shiny route such as epoxy or the like. Mainly, because I'm pretty happy with the tone i get already, the time consuming work i'd have to put into the project and because not a lot of finishes are available here in the UK (nor luthiers in my area who actually provide the services).

    I was wondering if Tung Oil or Tru Oil would be the better option for me?
     
  2. Neither tung oil nor Tru oil are going to provide much protection on your fingerboard. As far as I have heard, epoxy and CA are the only two finishes that will really give you protection.
     
  3. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\
    What Jisch said
     
  4. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Not sure what strings you're using, but someone on here told me to make sure I use nickel (and not stainless steel) on a fretless board. Might be worth double checking you're in the same line of thinking before going down the path of armour plating your fretboard!
     
  5. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    As you're planning on going back to flats, you should be fine without any extra protection. I imagine it's the slightly rougher texture of the pressure wound strings that have done the damage. Generally flats on rosewood shouldn't cause any problems. Another option would be tapewounds which are super smooth and guaranteed not to mark the board no matter how heavy handed you are! I used to like the Rotosound Trubass strings when I played a fretless.

    As the others have said Truoil or Tung won't offer any real protection.
     
    vmabus and Smit_Dogg like this.
  6. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    D'addario Chromes for a few months then ghs Pressurewounds, yoshi.

    I was also thinking of using products readily available to me at hardware stores like ronseal ultra tough (polyurethane varnish) or a yacht varnish. Although I've heard folk say these also aren't a good route to take either. The more I look into this project, the more its putting me off it!
     
  7. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    Best protection is getting the tremolo NOT by bending sideways as with a guitar, and not stopping with anymore pressure than req'd to get a clean note.
     
    vmabus and fretless19 like this.
  8. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    Ok, I tried using flats on my fretless and found they weren't anywhere near as nice to use as GHS pressurewounds. I've found a seller of envirotex lite on amazon UK. Would this coating be good to use on my fingerboard?
     
  9. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    I've no experience with 'envirotex lite', so can't comment other than rosewood is oily like teak, so some finishes may not adhere well. Usually a good rub with denatured alcohol (which you may have a difficult time purchasing in UK, from what I've read) or acetone is a req'd step to remove the oil from the surface of the wood, then, as soon as dry, aplly the first coat to seal the oils below from wicking up.
    I think with proper technique for vibrato ( not bending like with a guitar) and just enough 'fretting'/stopping pressure, you may see some marking, but very little actual wear for a long time.
    W/o adding a layer of something significantly harder, there won't be much difference in marking or wear, and those harder coatings like epoxy or polyester will change the tone, probably for the brighter.
     
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Changing the fingerboard will change the tone, are you sure you want to do that? I would personally recommend just working on lightening up your technique. A board will need to be planed years down the line regardless of material, including epoxy (it just takes longer.)

    There were guys covering their boards with carbon fiber (maybe something similar) so it was basically a sticker on the board that seemed to hold up well. There was an old thread about the subject, I doubt I could find it though.

    If you decide to go for the coated route, especially epoxy, I would highly recommend paying a pro or learning on a bass you don't care about.
     
  11. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    Someone not long ago mentioned using an adhesive mylar for a surface- (can be any of many colors or patterns) but don't remember what the tonal change was. And it's completely reversible.
     
  12. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Envirotex Lite is a pouring water clear epoxy that dries very hard. A lot of people use it for stomp pedal finish, and it does require a little practice to use. Because it's pourable, you would have to mask it carefully to create a "dam" around the fingerboard, then re-radius and polish afterwords, not a quick or easy job. The CA route is interesting because most of it soaks into the wood, hardening it before you get some build. It's nasty, toxic stuff to work with unfortunately. I wouldn't do it without a respirator, I react badly to the fumes. I think in your shoes, I'd just polish the board with super fine paper and switch to nickel rounds or flat wounds as others have said.
     
  13. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I've just about finished my fretless build and have been playing it for a quick test (ok, several hours of quick tetsing). I have spotted a load of string scratching on the ebony board. Doesn't bother me visually, but a bit concerned about damaging it and undoing the 20 hours of planing and hand sanding it level!

    Never tried flats, but I remember being told they sound quite dull so I'm a bit reluctant to shell out £30 for it..maybe worth buying a single string to test.
     
  14. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    May 20, 2005
    Epoxy, CA, mylar, and polyester surfboard resins are all commonly used fingerboard coatings. CA seems like the easiest to me.

    Depends on the flats. Some are very lifeless sounding, and some are not. DR Legends sound nice. D'Addario black nylon tapewound have a surprising amount of zing.
     
  15. Trying not to make your bass look cool with natural wear??

    What am I missing??
     
  16. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    May 20, 2005
    Perhaps you're missing that different people like different things.
     
  17. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    Check the 'Strings' thread category-
    Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats may be worth a try. There are at least a couple threads on them.
    I just bought some, but haven't tried them out yet.
    GHS Pressure Wounds (black silks) and Ken Smith Compressors (purple silks) are both compressed flatter when winding, so they're smoother on the fingerboard, and there's less finger zing. Both are Alloy 52, so dynamic, highly magnetic strings. Many happy players.
     
  18. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    The EB cobalt Flats are what I tried. They aren't a patch on the GHS Pressurewounds on my fretless. Although I much prefer EB Cobalt Flats over the GHS Pressurewounds on my Precision.
     
  19. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    How do they compare as far as range of tone and for sustain? ( on the fretless?)
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  20. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    I wasnt keen on them on a fretless. They just didn't feel right on there. I'd say they didn't have the same sort of personality /liveliness as they do on my Precision for some reason. Which is strange as the fretless is active. I find the Pressurewounds too high end accentuated on the Precision and don't have as much authority as the cobalt flats.
     
    JustForSport likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jul 28, 2021

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