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Negative Effects Of Sealing FB

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Growly Lytes, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    Hi guys,
    This has been on my mind for ages & still havent tackled it yet.
    What would happen if i was to seal my Rosewood Fretboard with Linseed Oil.
    My hands sweat like no tommorrow even to the piont that it tarnishes the fretwire very quick to a yellow like rust.
    I see alot of maple fretboards sealed up with whatever they use to seal them.That means the wood is rejecting any moisture & dirt 'totally' from getting into its pours.
    Ive tested (BLO) & it dries properly if you know what your doing.The thing is id like to put more than just one coat & i know that would seal the fretboard but what is going to happen if i do this ?
    We are always trying to protect the fretboard with oils & cleaners.
    If im correct i see alot of fretless basses with their FB`s sealed,they have a nice feel & are very shiny.To me it feels great & looks great but im really worried about giving it 2-3 coats.
    Please Help.
  2. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    Do it!!!!

    It's well known that linseed oil protects rosewood fingerboards. Keeps the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out.
    You only need about 7 or 8 drops. Rub it well into the fingerboard, then wipe off. Don't let it sit. You don't want to marinate it, just get it into any open grain to seal it.....
  3. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    O.k, so its alright to seal it ?
    What if i was to add another coat 24h later ?
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    It sounds to me like you just need to wipe off your bass between sets and whenever you're done playing (this will also prolong string life as well). The tarnish on your frets is not caused by how much you sweat, but by the chemistry of your sweat and the key is to wipe off that sweat whenever you're done playing.

    In general, rosewood really doesn't need to be sealed. It's very resilient stuff. A little boiled linseed oil is fine once every year or two but the shiny boards you see have been epoxied or sprayed with a clearcoat and buffed to a shine.
  5. Hi.

    What do You wish to accomplish by doing so?

    A "clearcoat-like" finish?

    If You do it with light coats and don't let the FB to be saturated with the oil, I guess there's no harm done.
    Guess because I haven't treated my rosewood fretboards in any way.

    OTOH if You soak, or as geddeeee there put it, marinade the FB, problems may surface.

    DO REMEMBER to dispose of the linseed oil soaked rags accordingly.

  6. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    A "clearcoat-like" finish on Rosewood with BLO.
    I will do it in very small doses till i can get the results.
    What harm can come from it ?
  7. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    The Fretless Basses with epoxy spray & clear coat buffed to a shine are sealed so can i do this in a similar way with the BLO ?
    It seems they are sealed totally by this process (fretless Basses).
    Can i do the same with Linseed Oil to my Rosewood FB ?
  8. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    I've coated a Fender fretless RW board with wood stain, oil, even sumi ink. No bad effects other than the stain and ink coming off eventually, but none of them hurt the board or caused any damage to it. It didn't seem to absorb any of those that well.
  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    In my experience, unsealed rosewood gets just as filthy as maple but because it's dark, you don't see it as much.
    I can't think of bad effects coming from a good coating.
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    I would recommend against using BLO as it's more of a water repellant than a protective finish. If you want a smooth, patina or gloss finish gunstock oil would be my first choice followed by Tung oil. Both of those are oils mixed with a polyurethane that you can wipe on and build up multiple thin coats that are suitable for polishing with steel wool or a buffing wheel.

    Just remember you're applying a wipe-on finish to an open grain wood and skipping a lot of the steps needed to obtain a smooth flat surface that can be buffed to a gloss. If you were applying a proper finish you would first apply grain filler and sealer followed by several coats of clear and then 2 or 3 stages of buffing compounds.
  11. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I would be very cautious about choosing products to apply to a fingerboard. In particular, finishing a fingerboard is a big step. Rosewood has a lot more resins in it than maple, and a finish is strictly optional. It looks different finished, and not every potential buyer is going to appreciate a glossy RW fingerboard.

    That said, there's a lot of misconceptions about rub-on finishes out there; many of them propagated by the finish manufacturers themselves.

    This is illustrated quite well by the above comment about polyurethane in Tung oil. As a matter of fact, most commercial "tung oil finishes" have little or no Tung oil in them. This is rather sad IMO, as the real thing has almost magical properties.

    Real Tung oil is a natural oil, that comes from a nut. It generally can't be found in anything close to its natural state except from specialty suppliers. I like Lee Valley Polymerized Tung Oil- it's near-unadulterated, with no urethane in it.

    Like Linseed oil, Tung oil should not be used as a finish unless it's been polymerized (boiled or cooked). This changes the chemical properties, creating a product that dries hard, and doesn't penetrate as far. It can be used to build a protective film finish that's only a few microns thick, yet surprisingly durable. It's harder and longer lasting than BLO. It's also food-safe, something to consider given how many miles your fingers travel up and down your fingerboard.

    If it isn't over-applied, it creates a natural patina that doesn't look too obvious, and helps to repel dirt and moisture. However, like any oil finish, it requires periodic re-application. The saying in woodwork is "once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year for life."

    If you want a lower-maintenance finish, I would use Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil gunstock finish, the stuff that G&L uses on their "oiled" necks. It's formulated to repel the corrosive chemicals in rifle shells, and doesn't need re-application unless the finish is damaged.

    I wouldn't put products like Danish oil, Minwax rub on poly or 1870 Tung Oil anywhere near a fingerboard.
  12. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    Well i still havent done anything yet.
    I will only go ahead when i feel confident about it.
    After lots of reading im pretty sure 8-10 drops of BLO should be o.k.
    I will then after Linseed Oil apply Lemon Oil or or some commercial Fb conditioner once a year.
    Its hard to get somewhere in this field when everybody has a different method ?
  13. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    For my fretless, I use an oil product used to treat/finish/seal rifle stocks. Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil. It should probably do what you want for a fretted board. Check it out online. It's pretty tough stuff, since hunting rifles see a lot of weather.
  14. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    Stay away from lemon oil on a rosewood fingerboard. It will undo all the good work that the linseed has done. Lemon oil dries out the wood, so will open up the pores.
    Save it for furniture. Citric acid is very caustic.

    Use linseed oil only. Apply it maybe twice a year, if that. The whole point of the linseed oil is to keep all the sweat out, and the natural resins in....
  15. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    Im going to look into findiing that oil in Australia.
    Havent seen it anywhere yet but i havent been to a Gun shop lately either.
  16. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    Thank you,
    This is the kind of info people need.....
    Advice with confidence.
    I tested it on lots of different wood (blo) & had success.Found a Makeup Box Rosewood that had been in a draw for about 12 years.Dried up & very light in colour the pours where open wide tunging for a drink.
    I cleaned it with Simple Green Degreaser then hit it with Linseed oil & it just transformed the box.
    Oh btw - Im planning on Cleaning the FB with " Simple Green Cleaner & Degreaser & a Surgens Brush.......Has anybody tried this ?
    Ive seen Davey On Yt doing it right before he Oils Fb`s with Linseed Oil.
    Surgens Brush scrub with Simple Green then Linssed Oil.
  17. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    Davey is THE man!!! Knows what he's talking about. Plus he's a bass player...
  18. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Avoiding "lemon oil" preparations is good advice. Once again, most commercial products are a stew of other chemicals, and actually dry out the f/b.

    But Simple Green? Really?

    I used that on my motorcycles for years, to degrease chains and back wheels...

    Not something that I'd want to apply to a musical instrument. The usual rule of thumb is to use the mildest chemical that will remove a given contaminant, and I've never seen mung on a fingerboard, that needed that kind of solvent action to remove it.
  19. mjbing


    May 5, 2005
    Western Oklahoma
    I use Warwick Bee's wax.
    Before it gets nasty.
    Rub in in.
    Let it set awhile.