1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Fretless fingerboard help

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Berger912, Oct 14, 2013.


  1. I have a fretless 5 string bass with an ebony board. I love the sound of round wound strings, but the fret board is showing some marks fairly quickly. I've heard tung oil is a good alternative to coating with epoxy. Is there a "best" brand of tung oil for fretboards? Will is really keep the fretboard from getting grooves in the wood? I am not handy enough the coat the board with epoxy but how difficult is appling the tung oil? Any help is appreciated

    Peace
    Dave
     
  2. So no one has any help?
     
  3. df85

    df85

    May 4, 2013
    i had the same problem with mine fretless (also ebony fretboard), eventually i just changed to flats before rounds started chewing more wood..
     
  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    SEPA
    On my ebony fingerboard I used Zymöl's 'Bridge'.
    It's a hard carnuba wax, marketed mostly to the orchestral world, I gather.
    I was using half-rounds but I saw no wear marks.
    Pressure-wounds are another possibility... Smoother but still basically round.
    From reading the BTDT stories on epoxy or CA coating, it seems like a process best left to specialists.
    Alternatively, you can have the board resurfaced which can also be a DIY if you're willing to invest in the radius sanding boaards (if your board has a radius) but again, might be a process best left to a specialist - especially if you have a removeable neck instrument.

    Finally - with rounds - technique is important. Gentle touch, no string-bending. Use 'cello-style' vibrato by rolling the pad of the finger. Probably you already knew that, but just in case (or for someone else following the thread...)
     
  5. Matthijs

    Matthijs

    Jul 3, 2006
    Amsterdam
    The main difference in brands of tung oil is wether it is pure tung oil or a combination with other agents that provide more gloss and harden faster.

    I myself use pure tung oil on my ebony fingerboard. I use nickel rounds. Initially they leave some small, hardly noticable marks, but that's just cosmetic, it does not influence playability.

    Applying tung oil is easy: wipe on/wipe off. Just follow instructions on the can. You can make it a bit harder by sanding in the oil. That's what I do. It leaves a smoother surface that's probably a bit harder too.

    As ArtechnikA said: technique is important. About 15 years ago my technique was much harder on the fingerboard and I used to touch up the board with tung oil every other string change. Now it's once in several years.

    I also started with tung oil on a rosewood fretless with pressure wounds. So far I can see no marks.
     
  6. I've played fretless for many years with a maple board which shows marks terrible. Groundwounds (Halfrounds, Brite Flats) were a good solution but they seemed to lose there life fairly quickly. When GHS came out with the Pressurewounds, those are the ticket for fretless. Rounds sound great but they aren't worth the wear or the hassle of coating your board.
     
  7. Anyone know which will be more durable, tung oil or the gun stock tru-oil?
     
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I use pressurewounds as well (DRs), but getting your fingerboard epoxied is not much of a hassle - IF you get it done professionally, by someone who knows what he's going. Moreover, it's not just for the purpose of making it more durable. It's primarily for the sonic benefits, i.e. more clarity of tone, better sustain, etc.

    All my fretless basses (three in total) have an epoxied fingerboard. I wouldn't have 'em any other way. :meh:

    MM
     
  9. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I can only pass along what I've gathered along the way, but if the choice is between tung oil and Tru-Oil, Tru-Oil is the way to go for treating fingerboards. Tung oil is used widely as a sealant for the instrument's body & neck, as an alternative to a paint or clear lacquer finish - but is not recommended for fingerboards. :meh:

    MM
     
  10. MM you are in NY, where do you get your boards coated? I live just outside of NYC. Id prefer a epoxy coating but I don't know who I could trust to coat a board corectly.

    Peace
    Dave
     
  11. deckard

    deckard

    Apr 4, 2003
    Seattle
    I'm not MM but my fretless fingerboard was epoxied a few years ago by Harris Thor (search on "HG Thor epoxy" - he has a very informative website) - I seem to recall he is in New York state, but I can't remember where exactly. Search here on TB, too - others have had him epoxy their fingerboards and AFAIK no one has had a single negative thing to say about his work.

    Personally, I couldn't be happier with his work - he has been doing it a *very* long time & kept me posted constantly via emails re: the progress each step of the way, incl. photos. He also did some inlay restoration prior to epoxying the fingerboard.

    After I got my bass back I took it to Mike Lull for a body refinish and Mike was definitely impressed with Harris' work:"This guy did a beautiful job! This thing just sings now!" - direct quote.

    He isn't cheap (gross understatement) and there is usually a long waiting time, but the results are worth it. (He will let you "cut the line" for an extra fee & now offers a thicker version of the epoxy thing, also for an extra fee: "classic thick coat" he calls it.

    You get the idea - IMHO, I don't think you could do any better than a Harris Thor epoxy job.

    (Disclosure: I play fretless exclusively and this bass is my sole instrument.)

    edit: Holy crap! - I just checked Harris' website and it seems there is a *4 year* wait right now!! :(
     
  12. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yep. HG Thor is the man. His shop is located in Vestal, NY. Just west of Binghampton.

    HG did the epoxy job on one of my fretless basses around eight or nine years ago, as I recall. The waiting list was about 18-24 months or so at that time. And yes, the job didn't come cheap. But if you do business with HG, you need never worry about it being done right, as he does absolutely first-class work.

    MM
     
  13. I called him and his wait time is up to 4 years now. If I was in my 20's or 30's I might concider a 4 year wait time, but at my age 4 years is too long to wait. Does anyone know of some one qualified to coat a board and they can do it in a reasonable amount of time. Let me know

    Peace
    Dave
     
  14. deckard

    deckard

    Apr 4, 2003
    Seattle
    I suggest starting a new thread with an obvious title like "Need Fretless Epoxy Suggestions" or something similar; then in the body of the new thread acknowledge that you know about HG Thor but need suggestions as to who can do it sooner than 4 years, someone who is a professional and has done it succesfully may times previously... make sense?

    Preferably someone with a decent website with examples of the work w. photos, testimonials, etc.

    You get the idea...

    Kind of like fishing... I bet you get some bites/suggestions.

    I seem to recall seeing a thread somewhere here on TB about a guy in Arizona who does it - I think his name is Brian Lewis; try searching TB on "epoxy fingerboard".

    Let us know how it goes...

    ;)
     
  15. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    SEPA
    And here I was wondering what I could do for a "second career" following retirement, in the unlikely event that ever happens...

    If I start learning now, maybe there will still be a niche by the time I'm good at it !
     
  16. I wouldn't think that an oil finish would do much of anything. Oil finishes are not durable at all. Just look at what happens when you finish a body.
     
  17. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Go with the epoxy route. You won't regret it, and there are other people besides HG Thor that can/will do it.
     
  18. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    I have an ebony board. If I epoxy or get it polycoated will it materially change my sound?
     
  19. I've been playing the same Warmoth maple/ebony neck for about 25 years on a few different basses with round wounds.

    I finished the maple part with TruOil and left the fingerboard bare.

    I have a Stew Mac radiused sanding block that I use every ten years or so to sand down the gullies when I need to.

    When I see microcracks starting in the ebony I wipe it down with Roche-Thomas bore oil.

    A little goes a long way.

    I think I've bought only one bottle of that in 25 years too...

    Still have about half left.
     
  20. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    For me it did, but for the better. It gave it more of a growl when using roundwound strings.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.