Staining a rosewood fingerboard - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BK bassist, Jul 21, 2018.


  1. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    I could use some advice / suggestions / maybe even a sanity check ...

    I have a matte black custom Fodera P bass and it is easily one of my favorite basses, especially for gigging.

    I love everything about it except the rosewood fingerboard is a much lighter color than I'd prefer it to be and I have been thinking about refinishing it to a dark ebony color.

    I live in Brooklyn, NY and only a few miles away from the Fodera factory but I can't imagine them doing a refinish for less than $1,000 and that's waaaaaay too much for me for something like this.

    I see there are a few products on the stew mac site that will darken uneven ebony boards but I can't find anything specifically made for rosewood and would it even matter to use that product on rosewood?

    Black Fingerboard Stain | stewmac.com

    or this:

    ColorTone Liquid Stains | stewmac.com

    I also have to keep in mind, it's a dotted fingerboard too so if I attempt this job myself, I'll have to find sticker dots similar in size to cover them ... I'd be curious to also know what the dots would like like if I stained over them as well.

    Anyone ever attempt to re-finish a rosewood fingerboard? If so, can you offer any suggestions or advice as to what works well and application tips too?

    Considering the replacement cost of a new neck if I fooked this up, maybe I should let a pro do it, so any suggestions on a good luthier in the NY Metro area who does work like this?

    Thanks for the help, below is a pic of the actual bass.

    37DBB0AA-B79A-4357-BB73-B79A420C0D97.PNG
     
  2. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Here's a better shot to show how light the board actually is .... please disregard the bass face :rollno: .... and yes, I do actually have a right eye.

    image (12).png
     
    Gfkfloyd likes this.
  3. Solude

    Solude

    Sep 16, 2017
    Even easier than all that. If you can use a marker, you can do it yourself. Wipes off clean from finished surfaces like the frets and neck with paper towel.

    ebony-wood-stain-minwax-interior-64-imaginative-finish-marker.jpg
     
  4. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Do you have personal experience using this marker?
     
  5. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Just found this on youtube:

     
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Maybe Fodera will trade necks with you instead of refinishing.
     
    TN WOODMAN and BK bassist like this.
  7. Solude

    Solude

    Sep 16, 2017
    Not on a bass but on some bedroom furniture and a bookcase. Very easy and great results.
     
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Difference being that the furniture does not have to absorb skin oils and movement on a daily basis.

    I used a marker on my dining room table. Looked good 'till stuff is moved around on it and some spills. The marker won't penetrate sealed wood.

    One thing I did use on a dry rosewood fingerboard that darkened it was Old English walnut oil.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
    BK bassist likes this.
  9. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    I have - and it works very well for just such a job. Plus, it won't stain MOP inlays either.

    Here is thread to my (and several others) experiences with it - also some suggestions to other available products to consider as well.

    Best of luck! :thumbsup:
     
    mikewalker and BK bassist like this.
  10. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thank you very much for your help.
     
    stingray69 likes this.
  11. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    1. coffee. (works on white shirts)
    2. shinola. (worked in Vaudville)
    3. buy a piece of similarly colored wood and practice with light stains.
    4. sometimes a sealant will darken a light stain
     
  12. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Quite welcome sir - I think you'd be well pleased with the results, certainly the cost, and how long it keeps your fingerboard looking dark.

    Again, best of luck no matter what route you go. :thumbsup:
     
    BK bassist likes this.
  13. I can see no reason why the ebony fretboard stain would not work on rosewood. Rosewood has a more open grain that should absorb stain more easily. How the dots would, or would not be affected, is unknown. If immediately wiped off of them with Q tips I don’t think it would have enough time to effect them.
     
    stingray69 likes this.
  14. Smith357

    Smith357

    Jul 7, 2018
    OH
    You will get much better penetration and more even coverage if you use acetone to remove the oils, both the natural rosewood oil and old finger oils, before trying to stain rosewood.
     
  15. DavC

    DavC

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i use ' F-one' oil to condition my necks ... it does darken them a bit ... and it does not evaporate as quickly as lemon oil products ..!!
     
    Florinda4 and MCF like this.
  16. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Man oh man, I wouldn't want to much around on a bass like that unless I was sure of what I was doing. Just for ha has, see what some local luthiers, or even woodworkers, would charge. Do it up right.
     
    GrooverMcTube likes this.
  17. TrevorOfDoom

    TrevorOfDoom

    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I'd suggest at least asking Fodera about their pricing for that sort of thing, just so you know what you're looking at either way.
    Cuz what if they'll do it for a really good price, but you don't know and try something and mess up your neck?
    Wouldn't you feel silly.

    BTW, $1000 to refinish/stain a fingerboard?!?
    INSANE. No reasonable luthier would ever charge that much.
    The best in the biz charge far less to completely strip and repaint an entire bass.
    Ask Fodera, then make the decision.
     
  18. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    You could be right, but ..... as a bass player who’s owned a few Foderas over the years and who’s called Fodera numerous times for various and different mod price requests, I’ve been blown away but what they charge.

    I will call them on Monday and post their price, let’s see what they say...

    Let’s have a gentlemen’s bet .... I say it’ll absolutely be at least $750-$1000 to refinish that fretboard.
     
  19. Not an expert but thinking one of the advantages of rosewood is that it is an oily wood and doesn’t need a stain of any kind and if stained might eventually wear off or come off on fingers, etc. I would consider (on proven advice ) some conditioning product (lemon oil based or not) known to naturallly darken wood.

    I have been playing guitar since 1969 and bass guitar since 2006 and have never put anything on a fingerboard besides my fingers and the skin, oils and sweat from them.

    Swapping for a naturally darker board seems a good option or just keep playing this one -might get darker over time.

    That’s a beautiful bass as is to me but I understand it’s what suits you that matters. An ebony board would look good too but lately I’ve been seeing ebony lighter than that or 2 tone ebony. I personally wouldn’t want to experiment with that expensive a bass or even my lower priced ones either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
    Lance Bunyon and MEKer like this.
  20. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    I appreciate all the conditioning suggestions and I’ve reconditioned many a rosewood neck and the lemon oil conditioning only darkens the wood slighlty and temporarily

    I can’t imagine I’d ever sell this bass, so I’m not really concerned about the potential resale loss that self mod’ing a Fodera will cost me .... I just want a darker looking fingerboard to match the black body.

    I don’t want to swap the neck out unless I can swap it with another Fodera neck and again, that will be very expensive.

    I’m just looking for an affordable option that will do the trick and look good.

    I appreciate all the suggestions though, thanks
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jul 23, 2021

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