Fretless fingerboard treatment

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Danny Adair, Jan 2, 2001.

  1. Does anyone have experience with chemicals/treatments used to finish and protect fretless fingerboards? I have heard several reports that using roundwound strings and/or an agressive attack can cause a fretless fingerboard to become ground down and grooved, and those fabulous DR strings are starting to eat into my beloved fretless bass.

    I have heard of people using polyester resin, tung oil, and other treatments. I have also heard that the best finish depends largely upon what wood is used for the fingerboard. Does anyone have any suggestions for the optimal finish for pau ferro fingerboards? How many coats must be applied? How much sanding and finishing must be done between applying coats? How often must coats be reapplied?

  2. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I'm no expert, but I have finished a few fingerboards. I had good luck with two-part epoxy paint on a rosewood board. Rosewood is very porous wood, and I put three coats on it, sanding in between. I tried polyurethane once, but the kind I used wasn't hard enough. I tried to use the two-part epoxy paint on an ebony board once, with horrible results. It didn't soak into the wood at all and chipped off the first time. I tried again, and it stayed on better, but it choked the sound badly. I had been getting grooves from slapping with SS roundwounds, but I use tapewound strings now, and I see almost no wear at all on my ebony-board fretlesses. I'm sorry, but I have no experience with pau ferro. Good luck!
  3. I had the rare opportunity to hold and play one of John Turners and I believe that his are some kind of CA (cyano-acrylate - superglue) and they are the sweetest! John will be glad to tell you more.

    From what I've learned any and all coatings more complicated than the occasional oiling of natural wood will alter tone. Some more than others and in all of them in subtle ways. It puts an interesting twist on the choice because you won't be able to tell how it affects YOUR neck until you use it! By that time if you don't like it you've messed up a neck for sure. I'm even contemplating the possibilities of doing the same thing.
  4. camerondye


    Nov 7, 2000
    I just bought a fretless and am waiting for it to get built and sent to me, but I have heard of a string that won't kill your fretboard as much and still get the roundwound sound. They are GHS Brite Flat strings. They are ground down roundwound strings. Makes sense to me, but I have not used them. I know you can get them at but I have never looked for them in stores. When I get my bass, that is what Im gonna try out.

    Cameron Dye