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Idea - fretless fingerboard coating

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by budman, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I'm sure ya'll have seen flowers in a clear vase and at first glance the flowers appear to be sitting in water, but then on closer inspection you realize the flowers are fake and what appears to be water is a hard crystal clear acrylic substance. I bet that stuff would make a pretty good fingerboard coating. Seems as though you can buy it at most craft stores. http://www.crfolks.org/items/Aristocrat_Liquid_Illusion_Flower_Resin_Kit_6344128.html

    I'm thinking you could make a dam out of tape around the edges of the fingerboard and pour a litte bit of this in there. This stuff appears to dry without bubbles, which I like. I see two drawbacks though. One, this stuff looks pretty liquidy and if you use too much you would end up with a flat fingerboard that would have to be radiused again...unless you want a flat fingerboard. Two, if it is liquidy and you had a radiused fingerboard the stuff would run away from the center and a heavier buildup would happen at the edges. Any thoughts on this stuff or how to get an even coating on a radiused fingerboard?
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Rotisserie spit.

    BTW I'd put some of this on a board and scrub it wit an old string to test what the effects are.
  3. I'd tend to go more with industry-grade materials instead of craft materials...not to take away from this product....

    And you'd have to do multiple thin coats on a radiused board, and sanding is definitely something you'll have to do...

    Or, yes, rotisserie spit. ;)
  4. Justice


    May 24, 2002
    Houston TX.
    I have a neck I could bring you if you felt like pulling the frets and trying this stuff out.
  5. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    :meh: We may just have to experiment.
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I think you have to ask yourself what is wrong with materials that are currently used: spar varnish, epoxy, and polyester. Maybe you want to undertake this as an exercise in curiosity but in the end you may sink a lot of time into a solution that's not as good. If you are unhappy with these three surface coatings people generally use, or if the experiments are their own reward, then give it a shot.

    I've used spar varnish and epoxy. The spar doesn't really get bubbles, but it takes a long time to cure and runs may never cure (the edges of the fingerboard are a problem). Epoxy bubbles pretty readily and is a pain to mix and apply. I have used some of the thinner epoxy treatments in my latest batch and they seem to work pretty well without bubbles or runs, though they build up more slowly.

    If you do try it, we're all expecting a full report on the results. ;)
  7. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN

    Don't you mean poly-urethane. I know theres a lot of people out there doin strange stuff, but I have never seen polyester covered fingerboard :D
  8. Tim__x


    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    Nope, he means polyester. A few TB's have glued Mylar (a brand of polyester) sheeting on their fretboards. The oh-so-famous Pedulla coating is also polyester.

  9. This situation hits me right at home.

    "Radical Bass Concepts for the Cognizant" is my slogan that partially means "The path to great playing and sounding instruments isn't as narrow as it's been made out to be by the traditional manufacturers and the big name builders." That means that I'm always on the lookout for new materials that are suitable for use in the craft. This could be one of those products and we should be quick to test before we're quick to condemn. Matt is right, there's nothing wrong with the list of coatings he mentioned and one would be wise to stick with what works for such a critical process. But let's think this through...Has this little craft company come up with something so incredibly new and different that we've got to sit around and debate it's merits? Nope - I'll bet dollars to donuts they are repackaging an already perfectly engineered material that, more than likely, is exactly one of the materials on Matt's list. As technology marches on, it trickles down to the rest of us. What we see here as a casting resin for flower arrangements could have easily been used in the space program 20 years ago. So the real question boils down to "Is this material of a high enough grade to use on an my instrument?" My first guess from the current uses shown is yes. At least that's enough info to go out and try it on some scrap for the purpose of some stress testing.

    I've gotten the occasional query about why I don't produce more instruments than I do. My answer is that I'm a hobbyist and a lot of my time is spent chasing ideas like the one above.
  10. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    heck , throw in some rembrant acryllic colors between coats.

    hmmm a chrysler blue fretboard :)
  11. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN

    Hmm.. I didn't know that such coatings were called polyester generically.