Resurfacing ebanol

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by godoze, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Has anyone levelled/resurfaced an ebanol fingerboard ?
  2. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    What's wrong with it?

    I've used phenolic fingerboards on a few basses that are now about 14 years old. I haven't had to do anything to them, but every now and then I would wipe a little Watco danish oil on them, and then let dry to give them a little more sheen.

    Is it dull, or do you have worn spots? You can try staining it black if you are seeing too much of the paper edges (which appear as lighter streaks, almost like wood grain).
  3. bassrique


    Nov 27, 2007
    I bumped this thread because I'm thinking about getting a fretless with an ebanol board. I use roundwounds. I wonder how many playing hours before the board needs to be worked on to sand away the deep grooving. My previous experience is an ebony board coated with a tough epoxy. Should I expect the same wear w/in a similar time period?
  4. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I played an bass with an Ebonal fingerboard and roundwound strings for about 8 years... no discernable wear, only the occasional "less shiny" spot. I wouldn't worry about having to resurface it.

    IIRC, Ebonal is basically multiple layers of thin paper soaked in epoxy and compressed to make it dense.
  5. koobie


    Jul 11, 2007
    Portland OR
    I'm kinda dense, please bear with me. Is the epoxy already black or Ebony colored? Or is a dye 'poured in' during the manufacturing process? If it's a dye, these fingerboards could be manufactured in just about any color, no? Imagine, a lime green fretless fingerboard, that'd be something for your eyes to take in.
  6. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Ebonol is black paper phenolic plastic. It's made with many layers of thin black paper and phenol resin under pressure. Phenol resin is similar to epoxy. The color goes all the way through, but because it is in layers, when you radius the fingerboard, you tend to see fine lines that look like wood grain.

    I also have a fretless with a phenolic fingerboard and use roundwounds on it. As SBD said, there are just faint marks from the strings that look scuffed.

    There are different grades of phenolic though, but the one used for lutherie is generally Grade XXX Black Paper Phenolic.

    If the surface is scarred up, it can be leveled as you would do with wood. If it just needs to be shined up, you can use some 0000 steel wool.

    Here's a shots of my fretless showing some scuff marks from the strings, and a close up of a fretted neck showing the grain lines. The fretted bass had been sitting in storage for about 10 years, and was never finished, so the frets are not polished and the fingerboard got dull looking. A little steel wool and a wipe coat of danish oil makes it nice and shiny.