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veneer on a fretboard????

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by poomwah, Jan 14, 2012.


  1. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    I have an opportunity to pick up a fretless. The two things I don't like about it are that the fingerboard is lined, and its not epoxy coated.
    What do you experienced luthiers think about putting a piece of veneer on top of the fingerboard, epoxying it, then going over the whole thing with a radius block????
     
  2. It certainly is doable. But personally if the fretlines bothered me that much I don't think that hiding them would be worth the effort... I would either make a new neck or try to cleanly lift off the fingerboard and replace it with an unlined one and then epoxy it.
     
  3. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    thanks Diogenes, I agree, definitely the best way to do it, but both methods are WAY beyond my capabilities, both in skill, and cost
     
  4. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    LOL
     
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    If the edges are already rolled, it will be hard to get the veneer to conform to them. How are you planning on applying the veneer?

    It's doable, but you should have a plan for how you are going to apply pressure to the veneer to get it to adhere to the old board. You might see the edges of the old board if they are already rolled and you do not sand back (you should sand back at least a little if there is any oil or wax on the board anyways). The other thing to watch out for is that veneer is obviously very thin and you will not have a lot of room to level/sand it once it is down.
     
  6. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    my idea was to get some radius blocks, use one to level the fingerboard first. Then use several radius blocks as clamping cauls to attach the veneer. Was hoping that would cut down on the leveling afterwards and hopefully keep me from sanding through the veneer.
    The edges of the board showing dont bother me terribly (at least not in my mind right now, once I see it that way, it might be a whole different story)
     
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    glue will seep through the veneer and probably make it to the other side. you will want to do something to avoid gluing the cauls to the neck.
     
  8. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    Thank you VERY much for that warning
     
  9. devo_stevo

    devo_stevo

    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    So true. Been there and done that...
     
  10. What about dying the fb? If you used a dark walnut or black transtint or stain, you could diminish the lines appearance. Depending on what the inserts are made from - hopefully they're wood. If so, they will still look different than the rest of the board, but you could bring the inserts and fb much closer in tone and that could save you a boat load of work.

    Hell - You could try to minimize their impact this way and if it's still not good enough you could try the veneer method as you describe.
     
  11. RobertUI

    RobertUI Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    I was thinking that you could even just try a completely opaque epoxy on the fretboard, in which case you wouldn't see any of the lines at all.
     
  12. Opaque Epoxy is more fun to say too.
     
  13. T-34

    T-34

    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    I've saved a bass from junk bin last year (defretted Ibanez SR405). Somebody tried to put the veneer on top of the fretboard exactly like you've suggested (and certainly to cover up for the butched defret job too). But obviously this wasn't easy to do, there were air bubbles under the surface and edges were horrible to look at...

    I had to remove the veneer in order to make the bass playable, then replaced wood putty in the slots by pearwood veneer, leveled everything and now this bass feels and plays well!
     
  14. If the veneer is really thin, I'd say don't do that at all. I have leveled a fingerboard taking it's thickness down by half and clued a second, half-thick fingerboard on top of it with GREAT success.

    My original FB was too low - and already had it's edges rounded... I decided I needed to flatten it and add another 'half-thick' fb on top.

    P1010004-4.


    P1010013-4.


    I sanded the original one flat:

    [​IMG]


    Prepped another finger board:

    P1010007-2.


    Glued 'em up (the darkness you can see between the two boards is not the round - the new FB is wider and is casting a shadow)

    P1010010-2.

    Then refined things:

    P1010009-5.

    After all that I radiused the new fb sandwich and this baby plays like butter!

    But a thin veneer = no, IMO.
     
  15. RobertUI

    RobertUI Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    Wow... that's a great job with the fingerboard addition!

    I still say go for....

    OPAQUE EPOXY :bag:
     
  16. T-34

    T-34

    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    Great idea, tZer!
     
  17. Thanks, gang.

    Necessity is indeed a mother. That solution worked out very well for me and because that bass was my very first build, I gave myself permission to ignore the less than perfect aspects. It's full of "mistakes" - or rather, things I can deal with since it's my baby, but would never allow on a bass for someone else - but that bass, flaws and all, feels and plays GREAT and sounds fantastic. I couldn't ask for more out of a first build and it illustrates how some band-aid fixes can work out really well.

    And I also agree that opaque epoxy is probably the easiest route to masking the fret markers.

    In order of tries - I'd do this:
    1) see if you can dye or stain the existing situation
    2) opaque epoxy
    3) flatten it and glue a new, thinner, but not 'veneer thin' FB on top.

    If you do this gradual progression you'll be faced with removing the opaque epoxy between 2 and 3 before you can continue. That can be a pain - bit I've done that twice now too - and really, it's just elbow grease, gritty sandpaper and scrapers.

    It sounds like you want zero trace of those markers. I doubt that stain or dye will make them vanish enough but who knows? You might like the look...
     
  18. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    thanks for all the info and advice guys, I think opaque epoxy is the way I'm going to go :]

    and tzer, that bass is BEAUTIFUL
    I would be proud and absolutely ecstatic to have a "flawed" bass like that
     
  19. Thanks, man!

    I love it! The flaws are definitely the kind that I can live with!

    Be sure to post pics of the opaque epoxy application. I am interested in seeing how it turns out. It could be a way to create hard-surfaced, tinted fingerboards using less traditional woods.
     

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