Unfinished Fretless P Bass neck, HOW TO? What would work for DiY

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Rapisme, Feb 23, 2017.

  1. Rapisme

    Rapisme Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    Just picked up an Allparys precision Fretless neck no lines. Been on YouTube seen a few different variations from Epoxy, Marine, Tung Oil, Tru Oil, I'm lost! Please help! The neck is brand spanking new and never mounted. So here's my question, what is the easiest, least expensive way to coat the fretboard that I can DIY?

    All contributions will be appreciated.

    Thank you Talkbass.
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    What wood is the fingerboard made of?

    The most common fretless board woods, ebony and rosewood, don't require coating with anything.

    Harder materials like epoxy change how the instrument sounds. Both tone and sustain. Right now you don't know what it sounds like and whether you like it or not.
    gebass6 and Rapisme like this.
  3. Rapisme

    Rapisme Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    It's rosewood board. I've seen a uTube where a guy just added a few coats of tru-oil. But then another cat mentioned tung oil?
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    What are you wanting to accomplish by coating the board?
    gebass6 likes this.
  5. Rapisme

    Rapisme Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    In all my years of playing I've never seen a naked fretboard on a Fretless. So consistency is probably what I'm most after.
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    There's a significant difference between oil and finish. If you just want the wood to not look raw, a penetrating oil-type finish is probably okay. (really more of a conditioner than finish) Just make sure it is absolutely dry before re-string the bass. Whatever you use, you'll probably have to re-apply it with regularity.

    Any type of finish that dries on the surface of the wood is just going to sluff off in no time due to the abrasiveness of the strings. It will look awful. Tung oil or tru oil will look cloudy and dull after one practice session.

    If you want actually get a finish on the wood, you'll need the very hardest epoxy you can buy or some other very, very durable coating. Pedulla uses polyester. This will change the tone of the instrument significantly. Just make sure it's what you want.

    It just depends on what you are going for. Classical stringed instruments do not have finished fingerboards and last decades. Of course, they are hard ebony and use flatwound strings. If you want to use rounds, you're going to have to use a hard finish or you'll chew it up in no time, especially rosewood.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    If you've ever seen a mass produced fretless with a rosewood or ebony board you've seen an unfinished board.

    It's a myth that rounds will destroy your board in a short period of time. You can get years of maintenance free play out of a fretless if you use proper technique, regardless of the strings. And then all it needs is a bit of sanding.

    String it up and play it as-is. See if you like how it sounds. If not, then look at coating options.
    DiabolusInMusic, gebass6 and vin97 like this.
  8. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    This is true. My fretless has an ebony board--and after 20 years of playing EB roundwounds, is still glass smooth.
    vin97 and lz4005 like this.
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    It's not quite a myth! Well the time is not exactly "short" and the board is certainly not "destroyed", but with sharp rounds it will develop grooves, even if Ebony. My Alembic (ebony) was supposed to come from the factory with pressure wounds, but in fact were rounds. After a short (months) time they started to chew the board. yeah it would have taken a while to get to where it would need to be sanded (which is not a big deal) but nevertheless I freaked out and got ground wounds for it. Those are still my standard fretless strings. Bright enough for me and produce ZERO chews on the wood (ALL my fretless basses are unsealed natural wood either ebony or rosewood. What you need is a fingerboard treatment every so many months. It just depends on how fast your finger mung builds up and how fast the wood dries out. Lemon Oil followed by Bore Oil works well but these days I just use commercial board treaters like Fret Doctor or Ernie Ball. You DO NOT want stuff that seals the wood (like linseed oil or tung oil) unless you really want to do that. Maple fretless boards are usually sealed often with epoxy or poly.

    Rosewood is softer than Ebony so using flats or ground wounds will prevent the need for sanding. My Rosewood 5 er has gone years and there are not even marks on it let alone grooves. (It has grournds on it) As for Rounds, some really like the tone and just do it with a periodic sanding being part of the cost of getting that tone. Pressure wounds (slightly brighter then grounds) reduce chews, but do not eliminate the chews, but take a lot longer between sandings. These are TRUE pressure wounds (GHS) flattened between rollers not the rounds that came with my Alembic.

    Personally I would not coat the board with anything that seals it (epoxy, etc.) unless you are in love with a Jaco tone or you have actually heard/played one beforehand. I had a fretless maple neck coated with poly and I ripped that fingerboard off and replaced it with ebony. Coating does change the tone.
    Rapisme likes this.
  10. vin97


    Mar 7, 2016
    just leave it as it is. bare rosewood feels so much better under your fingers than plastic.
    the epoxy has zero to do with (the jaco) tone (the string height/angle is what matters) and rounds will not eat the wood up (what people identify as grooves is mostly just dirt building up).
    Rapisme and gebass6 like this.
  11. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    If you want the Jaco tone having epoxy or something similar will make a difference in my experience. You get a different tone with bare wood, such as ebony and rosewood. They are both equally good and give you just as much "mwah" but there is a different quality to it. Mind you, the Jaco tone does also come from your electronics being in the right place too. As far as actually coating it, I don't think it is a necessity unless that is the tone you are after. If you love the tone you get now then don't coat it. There are just as many cats that prefer the tone of wood over the tone of a coated board.

    If you want a good coating job, pay a professional. Unless you are familiar with finishing and neck work there is a bigger chance you damage the neck. Most people fail to properly radius their boards after the home DIY epoxy jobs. Heck, even some recommended professionals aren't very good at it. I have a neck done by HG Thor and, let's just say, his work is greatly over-rated.
    Rapisme likes this.
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