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Tung oil or KrazyGlue for fretless neck?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jsonnenblick, Jun 10, 2002.

  1. OK, I've searched the old threads, read everything that was ever in Bass Player about the subject, and agonized, but I'm still not sure what to do.

    I am looking to protect a fretless rosewood fingerboard, and can't decide between oil (applied by me) and Krazy Glue (applied by a friend who's a guitar repirman for very little money).

    What it comes down to is this: I LOVE the sound of the bass as is with no finish, but also love roundwound strings. . . will Tung oil or the Stew-Mac stuff be protective _enough_ on the board? Also, will Tung oil get sticky when it's hot out? I'd hate that.

  2. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I wish I could help.
    First I ever heard about Krazy Glue on the fretboard, to be honest.

    From what I understand, Tung oil is absorbed readily and hardens within the wood fibers.

    You may want to ask Dave Pushic, as I thinks that's what he'd use.

    Maybe one of the "Ask the Lutiers" Pros can help too.

    Good luck.
  3. Matthew T.

    Matthew T.

    Feb 17, 2002
    Springdale, AR
    I tried tung oil and a few other things on my fretless fingerboard, and nothing worked as well as Birchwood Casey's Tru Oil. Rick Turner recommended it in an old column of his in Bass Player. You can find the stuff at your local sporting goods store. It's designed to be applied to gun stocks, to keep moisture out. It also creates a really hard surface by fusing with the top layer of the wood which it is applied to. Tru Oil is easy to apply. Just use a small paintbrush or a clean cotton cloth. Let it dry at least 24 hours.
  4. Rock City

    Rock City

    Apr 8, 2001
    There are also a lot of oil/urethane mixtures available at woodworking stores. Very easy to rub on, and the urethane hardens nicely!
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    You should be warned that a hard finish applied over the rosewood will significantly change the tone of the bass. It will brighten up significantly and the attack will be much quicker.

    Part of what is giving to the tone that you "LOVE" is the softness of the rosewood.

    Personally I would play it as is. Unless you have a particularly agressive technique or have a particularly poor quality piece of rosewood, you should be able to play it quite a while before the wear of the rounds takes its toll on the board. This, of course, depends on how much you play.

    If you get a couple of years use out of it and then require a re-plane, it is a fair deal. A board can usually be replaned 2-4 times before it needs to be replaced, depending on how deep you allow the wear to get before you get it resurfaced.

    So, this means to you are going to have to replace the fingerboard in 6-10 years. That seems like a fair deal to me.

    If you are getting happy and getting your sound, you should let sleeping dogs lie.

    If you are still concerned, I would consider experimenting with ground wounds or half wounds. These are supposed to be bright and quick like rounds but less abrasive than regular rounds. I have never tried them, but I am sure a search and/or post in the strings forum would turn up some good information.

    good luck,

  6. I should mention that the "Tung oil" contender isn't pure Tung oil, but a product called Formby's furniture finish, which is a blend of Tung oil and varnish. . . it was mentioned by Rick Turner in a Bass Player column on defretting basses.
  7. OK, I just put on a coat of Birchwood Casey's Tru Oil. It was super-easy to do, and cheap -- the whole bottle cost $4.46, and I used just the smallest bit. . .

    One scary thing: the bottle has a warning on it that the contents have been determined to cause cancer in the state of California. So now I can't take the bass to California without putting my health at risk. . .


    I'll post my results tomorrow.
  8. Sofa King

    Sofa King

    Aug 20, 2000
    Rowlett, TX
    My defretted Peavey rosewood has no finish, and the only wear I see is the little tracks from the roundwounds. Other than that things are peachy, and it sounds great :)
  9. I was thinking about applying some to my fretless. It's an ebony board, so I'm mainly doing it to change the tone. I'm hoping it will add a little "mwah" and brighten up the sound a bit. Let us know how it comes out!
  10. OK, I put the neck back on this morning, after applying 2 coats of Tru-oil last night.

    The neck looks great, with a somewhat hard, semi-glossy finish.

    I do NOT think the tone of the bass got any brighter. In fact, I was thinking the sound might even have been slightly darker and a bit muted.

    To the Duke: you will not get more "mwah" by adding this product. IME, the only way to get more "mwah" is to get your neck set up so it's totally flat, with a perfectly-carved nut, and perfectly-radiused bridge saddles.

    Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the Tru-oil, as long as it actually protects the neck from wear. . . which I won't know for a while, obviously.

    I am glad the coating didn't brighten up the tone of the bass; I was really happy with the warmth of this bass' tone, and the warmth is definitely still there.

    BTW, I don't think I ever mentioned that the bass is a Yamaha BBN4F-III, which I bought last week during the Musician's Friend blowout. I recommend them very strongly to anyone who wants a cheap, pro-sounding fretless.
  11. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    Rosewood is NOT soft. It's a much harder and stiffer wood than maple. I have never understood the "maple/hard/bright" "rosewood/soft/warm" myths. They won't stand up to a double-blind listening test.

    I haven't seen or heard any evidence that a hard finish will quicken the attack of any fingerboard wood.

    Tru Oil is a great choice. It adds protection and you can easily build it up as much gloss as you want and renew it when you need to without a major effort. I get mine at Wal-Mart's sporting goods department.
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    Perhaps with a premium sample of Honduran or Amazon rosewood you are correct, but in my experience the low-grade East Indian rosewood used in production instruments in recent years is much softer and oiler than the North American maple that is used by companies like Fender and G&L.

    Some evidence to help our question can be seen in uprights. For years, Kay used Rosewood as their primary fingerboard wood. I see well-played Kay DBs all the time made in the 40s and 50s with the original RW boards that are in decent shape.

    But mass importing of Brazilian RW ended in the U.S. in the 1960s. It isn't uncommon to see 2-3 year-old cheap uprights with RW boards in the shop with the boards chewed up really bad. IME, the DBs with the dyed maple boards wear better. Of course ebony wears best of all.

    You may have seen my defretting site. The URL gets circulated around here every once and a while. That bass was Fernandes Retro 5. A $200 bass. It had a cheap RW board. I played flats for a while. I have a REALLY light touch and still started chewing up the board in just a few months when I switched to rounds. I had to re-plane it before I sold it.

    Of course I would expect companies like Pedulla, EBMM and such that offer RW fretless boards to use a better grade of rosewood than Fernandes, but it is still difficult to for them to use top grade material and it be cost-effective for them.

    Remember the old maple neck fretless P-basses from the 70s? I see those every once and a while and the necks may be very discolored, but are usually pretty smooth.

    Since most higher end fretless basses are fitted with ebony boards, it is hard to say how good quality RW would wear with rounds on an EBG.

    My comments were directed toward the use of epoxy or a heavy polycoat. In my experience, these products do change the sound significantly. I readily admit I have no experience at all with the oil.

    If it can help protect the board against wear withour altering the sound, it sounds like a great product.

    As for the idea of oiling ebony, well ebony is already oily and VERY tight grained. You could coat it, but I would expect that very little of it would absorb and what did would likely sluff off pretty quick.
  13. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    TruOil is a polymerized linseed oil, not a straight oil. It builds up on the surface in very thin coats.

    I don't intend to argue the issue, but if you care to do a little online research you will find that the properties of Indian rosewood are very close to Brazilian rosewood, and they are both harder and denser than maple. Brazilian is certainly much better looking.

    If I were you, I would question whether your Fernandes actually was rosewood. Just like the "mahogany" used on Asian basses and guitars is not genuine mahogany but lauan.
  14. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Maybe I'm out to lunch here, but wouldn't krazy glue crack pretty quickly under the pressure of roundwounds? Seems to me it wouldn't last long.

    But then again, it is Krazy! ;)
  15. 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.

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