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Linseed oil finish for a fretless FB?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by eukatheude, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Hi,
    I recently got an used fretless Warwick (rockbass, sadly) streamer. I'm happy with the playability, not so much with the sound (pickups are to blame) and i've noticed string marks are starting to appear on the fingerboard. I know I should use flats but the store where i bought them was out of stock for the rest of the month, and i definitely didn't want to wait a month to play my new bass. :D
    I've read than linseed oil is good for "sealing" the wood. Do you think that is going to work on this bass? I'm no wood expert, but the wood is dark enough to be ebony. Or maybe dyed rosewood...
    I've considered epoxy but that would be problematic seeing as i live in a small apartment with not much space for this stuff... Linseed/tung oil on the other hand would be easier to do and easier on the landlord's furniture if ever spilled. Has anyone ever tried this?
  2. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    It depends on what you are trying to do. If you would like create a hard barrier which your strings will not mark then the answer is no Linseed will not help. Linseed is quite soft and would not help protect your board.

    If you would like to give your fingerboard a good clean, prevent it from drying out and dirt getting stuck to it then yes, Linseed works well for this. This is how I use Linseed on fingerboard whether fretless or fretted, just apply a decent coat, wait 15 minutes or so then wipe off completely. This is basically using Linseed in the same way most would use Lemon Oil.
  3. Thanks for the clarification! Usually for that purpose I use Almond oil, which IME gives great results, especially in bringing out the figures on dark woods (which are all I got :D ). What would you recommend for the first purpose? I've read about Tru-Oil but i doubt that's sold under that name here.
  4. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    For creating a hard coating on a fingerboard, most people use either an epoxy, a thick clear polyester finish or many thin coats of CA glue. If you've never done this, I suggest you seek professional assistance as it's a fairly involved project.

    Keep in mind that this will change how the bass sounds. For what it's worth, the small marks left by round wound strings on wood fingerboards are seldom problematic except in the case of players who dig in really hard. If they really bother you, you could remove them with 600 grit sandpaper once a year or so without affecting the life of your fingerboard one bit. If it were me, I would pass on the coating option.
  5. I do dig in. I'm no luthier but I have done more than a few setups, electronics works and by all means I'm interested in learning more about this. Plus I can try it first on a cheapo fretless I have here, too.
    I wouldn't mind changing how it sounds, because as of now I'm definitely not satisfied. I've seen some epoxy coating pictorials... I just don't have the space to do it in this house.
    Glue? Seems weird, I ought to check out some tutorials if there are any. Also poly seems like an option, though I'm not sure if it's feasible here.

    Why in the world does nobody start a rent-a-workshop business with hourly rates, I don't know.
  6. I just finished a de-fret with a finish of ca.
    I put several coats on the neck letting each one dry. after 5 or 6 coats of ca, I wet sanded with a radius block (which I made) and checked for imperfections. I ended up with 2 additional coats. i wet sanded those with the radius block to 600 grit then polished with mirror glaze on a buffing wheel on a cordless drill. Looks pretty good.
  7. How did you make it? What tools did you use? I'd love to get one but i don't feel like paying 20 bucks for a piece of wood.
  8. I don't understand your question. I defretted the neck and finished it with ca glue.

  9. If you mean the radius block i made a router jig . I post the link
  10. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Was there a specific brand of CA glue you used?

    Also, how did you apply the glue - did you just pour it on, or did you use some sort of applicator?
  11. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    I found this link:


    seems to be pretty helpful.

    I was going to epoxy my Warwick ebony board, but being ebony it's pretty hard and has very thin pores and requires quite a lot of work to get the epoxy to seep in to dry, but this is more of a surface finish, so I don't think it would cause the same issues.
  12. I used thin superglue. I dripped it on the neck and sanded it in with 320 grit wet/dry paper. I applied several coats this way.
  13. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
  14. ArtechnikA

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

    Feb 24, 2013
    Meanwhile - you might give Zymöl Bridge a try. It is a hard carnuba wax primarily marketed to the orchestral guys & gals. I used it on an ebony fingerboard and liked the results. I still use it on my Dymondwood fingerboard although I doubt it needs it, other than it makes it look nice and shiny. The small jar will last you a long time.
  15. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    Epoxy on ebony? I almost started crying. Why man? What do you hope to gain from what you're sacrificing?
    ColdEye likes this.
  16. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Ideally, I'd like a board that doesn't get any scratches (even if they only effect the aesthetics), and a little more nasally fretless buzz, if I could.

    The CA/Super Glue finish should do both and give it a shiny coat. But now I'm curious, what would I be sacrificing?
  17. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    Ebony is super hard already. It has a beautiful color (almost black) and super smooth with just a light oil finish (if even that). Yes, it might wear some, but just get those marks removed by a luthier.

    If you epoxy it, you lose all that and then your fingerboard might as well be rosewood. You have a plasticized surface contacting your string instead of an organic one. You paid a ton extra for that ebony. It's almost impossible to get any more because of environmental concerns for slow growth trees.

    Let your ebony free!
  18. I understand. I wish there was a halfway. I might just give up and use flats.