painted rosewood u-bass fb

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by swarfrat, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    Ok, I'm not EVEN gonna post this in general, because I know a bazillion people who don't even know what a u-bass is will say what they did on the painted maple board threads. But this is the LC, so..

    I've been eyeing sources for a stalled project. I'm wanting a 5-string u-bass with a little longer scale than Kala sells. Kala still has fretless 5-string necks in parts for $100. Scale length is nominally 20.5" (lined rosewood fb). I can't get any more length than that out of their body, but the fretboard is listed as 18.625". It's lined though. I was hoping to go 23" scale (about the longest you can get out of most u-bass strings, with the exception of Pahoehoeeeeeeeeeeeeeees)

    I was actually planning to do Kala round wounds prior to considering fretless, which are silk and steel (cause Pahoehoes could stretch around the earth 3x before they settle in), but would consider reds or thunderguts.

    My questions are 1) Will anything stick to rosewood? I know it's got a reputation as being really oily. 2) I wasn't really expecting any wear issue with thunderguts/reds on paint, but if silk n steel is still an option (even one that requires refinishing from a couple times over the life of the instrument), I'd still like that option. What's the most durable hard surface I can spray/soak/rub/etc. I mostly want an opaque finish because the board is already lined for a different scale than I want.

    I considered a Squier mini conversion (but that'd be fretted) and the fingerboard is a bit narrow for a 5-string u-bass.)
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    I suspect there would be a possibility that the lines will telegraph though any normal paint simply from being "not rosewood" amid rosewood, thus affecting the paint layer.

    Not that I've done any rosewood painting, but an oily wood calls for either an oily paint or an alcohol "paint" (i.e. white shellac - killz, et al) or just a layer of shellac. After shellacking, you can paint with whatever. With an alcohol soluble pigment you can make a dark shellac.

    Given the fretless aspect, have you considered pouring a black (or other opaque color) epoxy surface?

    I suppose there's also "don't look at the lines, and confuse onlookers" approach, which would take the least amount of time.
  3. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    I was considering epoxy anyway, but I just wasn't used to thinking of epoxy as pigmentable. Don't look at the lines certainly has merit too. Especially if I can darken them up enough that they don't really scream. I hadn't really considered the various chinese uke necks etc.. but a quick run through ebay right now didn't really show any suitable for an electric, nor any wide enough for a rubber stringed fiver.
  4. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Since you're going to be doing quite a bit of work building the instrument anyway, how about getting a slice of rosewood veneer and just gluing it right over the fingerboard? You'll have to do all the same finishing and set up that you would from just painting it, and this way, it will continue to look authentic. Or, plane that old fingerboard right off and put a new board on...
  5. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    You know... The Kala, being a short squat slab of maple for rubber strings, doesn't even contain a truss rod... I guess if we're talking surgery... It might not even be saving me that much work. Maybe my long ago original plan of QSRO is a good one. Maybe even neck through since its only 23-25".
  6. You could also use a guitar neck and set it farther into the body. Get a cheap one, pull the frets, and use black(or whatever color) epoxy to coat the board. If a six string isn't wide enough, grab a seven. Then you'd have a truss rod, and could just set the bridge for whatever scale you want.

    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  7. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    That seems like an awful lot of work compared to a scratch build for a fretless. Single bridge saddles are 60mm long, the Kala headstock is about 6" for a 5-string, so I'm looking at about a 32" x 3" x 7/8" neck blank for a neck through. I can get that out of a 35" neck blank from LMII - $27 for QSRM. My bridges are 15mm wide, so at the butt it's only 3" wide, 2.25" at the nut - I can get it all on the neck through - and this might even be a good candidate for a whim I've always had of doing a fingerboard all the way up to the bridge since it's a piezo only short scale neck through instrument.
    RBS_Johnson likes this.
  8. That certainly spounds a lot cooler. Give it a funky body shape that lets you access higher up then normal and you'd be golden.
  9. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    It'd be mostly aesthetic I'm afraid. I don't really trust my fingers, ears, or the giant rubber strings to sound so hot in the 3rd and 4th octaves.
  10. Something like this Maybe?


    Even if it is just for looks, it's still a neat, different idea.
  11. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I've tried Rustins Plastic Coating, Epoxy and Superglue on rosewood fretless boards. The superglue has, so far, been the most successful. Having said that, I use flatwounds on my current fretless and simply oiled the board.
  12. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    Yeah. Not sure how it'd work or look, I've not got beyond sketches, but the aesthetic idea was actually that the body would match the radius like some sort of star trek prop or something. Just a big rounded contiguous surface from nut to bridge to body edge.
    RBS_Johnson likes this.