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Stripping an ebonized fingerboard

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Gearhead43, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I though I'd toss this question out there for any luthiers or others who have done this.

    What is the best method to remove an ebonized finish from a Kay or Engelhardt fingerboard? Considering that the fingerboard is in good condition, no bad wear or buzzing, but may be not looking so good as the thin black finish wears through.

    I have seen a few Kays and Engel fingerboards that have had the ebonizing removed, so I know it can be done.

    Also, instead of removing the finish, could you just re-dye the board with the analine "fingerboard" (leather) dye? - or will the existing finish prevent good results? I have never been able to find a clear answer on what the black finish actually is, either. Specifically, the finish used on Engel/Kay boards I mean, not the CCB black "paint" which seems to be different stuff.

    I understand having a nice ebony board installed would be ideal, but for those of us short on cash, what would be the next best thing in the mean time?

    My 1995 EC1 maple fingerboard looks OK so far, but a friend of mine's 79 Engel fingerboard is looking pretty rough. He says there is a dark wood underneath the black stuff on his.

    Any insight will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. tskaggs

    tskaggs Guest

    Oct 13, 2005
    This stuff will make snow black.


    I would say you could probably go over the board as-is without stripping, but if you do decide to strip it, I would sand it off with 320 - 400 grit. That shoudn't be difficult at all, and you won't risk getting any stripper in places you don't want it.

    I've also used Valspar oil based ebony stain to even-up streaked ebony wood, but you will probably need the concentrated stuff. You don't want it to end up gray!
  3. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    A hard fingerboard is difficult to stain well, as the wood does not absorb the stain very deeply. The result is a colour than will continue to wear under the strings. I have not yet found a really good stain for rosewood or hard maple.
  4. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    If you are happy with the scoop/feel of your board i wouldn't touch it with any abrasives, or you might end up needing to get it dressed. If you add color to your board, the worst that can happen is it gets darker. Another coloring to consider is india ink. Best of luck.
  6. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    Well, my friend has already stripped his board, turns out there was nice rosewood under his ebonized finish.

    I will most likely just dye mine when the need arises. I have seen some bare maple boards that had the ebonizing removed and think they look kinda cool actually. Maybe when mine needs planing I will just have the luthier leave it bare.

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