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Painting/staining a fingerboard, need help!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by vene-nemesis, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    Well i just defretted my MIM jazz but the fretboard wood isnt in very well condition so once i finish filling the fret slots i might tint the fingerboar in black as if it were ebony instead of pau ferro, I was wondering how should i do prepare the fingerboard and wich kind of stain should i use?

    Thx in advance and Happy new Year!
  2. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    if you are going to dye it, I would suggest Metal Acid Dye such as those sold by Luthiers Mercantile(LMMI.com) or an analine dye which can be found at most luthier supplies and woodcraft type places.....check out Stew Mac and Reranch for dyes also
  3. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    thx, would those make a it look black, i mean not translucent?
    Thx for the reply also but mind im in europe and stores such as stewmac aint around :smug: happy new year it is already 2007 in spain!
  4. Hola amigo!

    I've made the same thing to my acoustic bass with a pau ferro board. I ordered from lmii.com the powder for ebony boards. You have to put this powder into methanol. I had hard time to find methanol here, not offered in paint shops or homecare super stores (like Bauhaus, Praktiker etc.).
    I'll soon put my experiment online with pictures if I can find time because I took many pictures while making.
    I didn't have a perfect result. I first sanded pau ferro board and applied the solution. First problem: as it is a very very thin liquid, it is almost impossible to control it, it walks on the face dots, frets, the fretboard binding. It was a mess. No matter how hard you try to be precise with a brush or sponge, you can not control it. Yes I can hear why not to use masking tapes. Just because as the solution is 99% methanol, no masking tape can resist it, and when I've put masking tape, I ended up with a worse fretboard with black drops along all the tape, including the back of the neck(as I said the liquid walks everywhere). It is not easy to remove it too, because when you use alcohol, it removes to be painted parts too. And the fretboard was not absorbing the color evenly. There were many cloudy parts (some really dark parts, some almost pau ferro color and many in between).
    So what I have done? I decided that I did not sanded enough for the first attempt so I sanded again all the fretboard 'till the bare wood, fearing to damage the face dot inlays. This time the wood absorbed better but still it was not perfect. So now I have a blackish fretboard that is OK but not perfect. It looks OK from a distance but when you look closely you can still see some cloudy parts. So keep in my that if you'll use this kind of stain/dye/whatever, send the fretboard very well.
    Maybe it's just me, my clumsy painting skills.
    For wood stain, I also bought one locally, but it was like a paint, covering the surface (not diffusing into the wood) with a shiny non-natural appearance. Hopefully I first tried this on somewhere else, so never put it on the fretboard.
    Hope it helps a little. As I said I will put step by step pictures of my trial.
  5. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
    That sounds like waaay more work than what we've done to ours.

    Black leather dye. Yes, it kicks ass. My brother first did it to his Ibanez 7-string, then his LTD F207, and then I did it to my chopping block bass, and then my black Ibby. It's so damn nice. All of these guitars were rosewood fretboards. Just mask off the sides of the neck to keep from staining the neckwood, and go to town. I even let it dye the frets, and it gave a gun metal finish. They wore off, but it looked really cool! Just give your fretboard a very thorough cleaning, though. NO grease, NO finger sweat. And if you guys wanna try doing your frets, give them a steel wool buffing, and then the dye will give it a thin darkened coating. Nowhere near black delrin frets, but fun enough. If you get dye on your inlays, a pencil eraser will rub them clean off.

    And don't bother trying to dye the very side edge of the fingerboard. It really doesn't make much of a difference, and no need to risk bleeding underneath the tape. We've tried a few methods... masking tape, painter's tape. electrical tape, duct tape... nothing's perfect. Dye loves to absorb and bleed anywhere it can.

    Lemme bug my brother for his before and after photos of his first attempt. We just used some of my black leather dye from Tandy Leather, and it looks so perfectly shiny solid black.
  6. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    please see this post for info on StewMac and LMI being available in Europe


    all the best,

  7. gurzil


    Jul 24, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Feibing leather dye is drying in my garage now. I am trying it on an already fretless, but very worn fingerboard. I sanded it a bit to try and minimize the existing grooves, and applied two coats of the dye. the jar will last forever, based on how much I actually used.

    The back of the neck was finished glossy black and there were no lines or inlays, so the only thing I am trying to save with tape is dot markers on the top of the neck. I'll post some pics, but might be hard to photograph well. And I don't have a before pic, but it is just bland rosewood. :)
  8. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Stewmac is an online guitar-building store, not some type of hardware store we all just walk into. They do ship to europe, as well.
  9. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
    Pencil eraser will clean off any of the leather dye residue that dies on your inlays and dots.
  10. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
  11. IMHO, the pau ferro looks a little bit more oily than rosewood so it absorbs less the dye and tends to form cloudy parts.
    I could be wrong though..
  12. Does anybody know if you can use a dark wood stain to darken a pau ferro FB?
  13. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    The Stew mac ebonizer is REALLY messy stuff. Read the instructions because it will stain finished parts. I just use minwax ebony. As many coats as you think nessasary, buffing in between. If you want a little more gloss, mix in one third tung oil in the last couple of coats and buff.

  14. The google machine must be churning up the oldies.
    Beej likes this.

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