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where can i get a good deal on fretboards?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by K-Frog, Dec 21, 2011.


  1. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    So far, it looks like LMII, or maybe something on eBay.

    best deal I've found appears to be LMII at $17 shipped for a 2nd grade bass fretboard blank (unradiused, unslotted).

    Are there better deals out there for a fretboard blank?

    I have looked, but am not finding a lot.
     
  2. MarcusPocus

    MarcusPocus

    Aug 28, 2008
    Allen, Tx
    Give usacustomguitars a look. The prices are great and the people are better.
     
  3. Did you try Stewart-Macdonald?
     
  4. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    seems like they only had high dollar ebony
     
  5. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    $20 for the cheapest one, before shipping
     
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    $17 for a ready to go fret board is a pretty good deal if you ask me, and for a few more dollars you can have them slot and radius it for you. LMII is the way to go.
     
  7. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    It's the best deal I've found, but since there's so few that I've found, I was wondering if there are other low cost options.
    I think I'll radius and slot it myself
     
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Are you looking for ebony cheaper than $17 a board? If you want lower cost, buy lumber rough and mill it yourself. Even then, ebony is $40/bf if you are lucky so you are not likely to do better.

    Randy Allen also sells fingerboards but he's likely not cheaper unless you buy 5+.
     
  9. rgarcia26

    rgarcia26

    Jun 9, 2008
    Miami Florida
    +1
     
  10. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    nope, that's just the only thing StewMac sells for bass I think.

    I'm looking for the lowest cost acceptable material for a fretboard, typically Indian Rosewood as best i can tell.

    I can mill it my self, have planer, jointer, routers, etc but still need a source for a blank at a low cost.

    I have walnut, ash and maple at my diposal (my body and neck build material), but since I haven't seen enough positive comments on the walnut as a fretboard, I could make my own maple FB. That would be lowest cost option. hmm... anybody use ash?

    I'm trying to go extremely low buck as this is my first ground-up build. To this point, I've only made bodies.
    Never done any fretting either, but I'm a reasonable proficient woodworker and I've been doing a lot of studying and planning on this build, but since I hate to waste a buck, I'm trying to keep cost low in case i have to scrap this one.

    What's the drawback to using maple as a fretboard?

    I mean, any tonal discussions aside, is it just the need to apply a laquer finish?
     
  11. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Maple is cheap and will work. Selecting the right board is important. It is about the softest wood people use for fingerboards (in bass making). Lacquer is generally applied to keep them from getting dirty. Ash is very porous and I personally would not use it. Walnut is in general softer than maple and I do not use that either. Indian rosewood, bought in the rough, is generally $15-30/bf so it is quite a bit more expensive than rough maple.

    You do not mention if you have a bandsaw to resaw 4/4 lumber into 5/16" blanks. If you do, then find someplace that sells rough lumber and that will be cheapest. Here are some other cheap alternatives that are available most places that sell exotics:

    Jatoba, Yellowheart, Purpleheart, Bubinga.
    Less common/more expensive: Chechen, Bloodwood, Wenge, Morado, Tigerwood...

    Start at Woodfinder.com, see if there is anything local. Then widen the net to reputable mail order places. If you don't have a band saw, then you're stuck buying blanks and there's not much available for less than $17. LMII would be my recommendation.
     
  12. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    ah yes, I have a standard 14" bandsaw that i could resaw with if I don't get too carried away.

    I know there's no one close enough( within 2 hr drive) to avoid shipping cost, unless I'm going that way anyway.

    I picked up the wood I have when I was local to a shop during a business trip.

    What do i need to look for in my maple board to see if it's suitable for a fretboard or 2?
     
  13. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Straight grain, clear, minimal runout. I prefer quartersawn though there are those that prefer dead flatsawn. You can do a search for "quartersawn vs flatsawn" here in Luthier's corner and I'm sure you will find one of the many debates on the subject. Worth a read.

    Probably worth giving it a go if you have some nice maple. You'll get a lot of input from people here if you post photos.
     
  14. Zach Ehley

    Zach Ehley

    Jul 16, 2009
    Ive purchased Wenge, Coco, Ziricote and ABW for decent prices at a local hardwood dealer. Ive cut FBs, HPs and acoustic bridges out if it and ended up with choice parts for a fraction of what you get a blank for online. You do have to spend some time digging through the piles to find nice pieces, and some trips you don't find anything worth picking up. So from a time, gas and materials standpoint it may not be much cheaper; but I get better parts and have better matching pieces (acoustic HP+FB+BB) than the crap shoot online.

    If you really want ebony, it seems local hardwood dealer may not be a good deal. For some reason they sell ebony for proportionally way more than the luthier suppliers, compared to the other woods, and the local dealers tend to get junk for ebony. I can cut ABW acoustic FB blanks for $5-10 each, but they would be $50+ online. For some reason ebony would be about the same price as if I get a pre-cut blank online. Ebony $90 bf, ABW $48 bf..??? But if you want black wood, ABW is the way to go...trust me.
     
  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    I got a 3/4*4*48 (S4S finished size) padauk board from Woodcraft for $20, and by resawing made two pieces good enough for a fingerboard and a full length neck-thru lamina of fingerboard thickness. A 36" board would have been cheaper, and yielded two fingerboards.
     
  16. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    Thanks pj,
    I see some favorable prices on there for pieces that i can split and get 2 boards from. I like it.
    Shipping isn't too bad either.

    I have a feeling I may go that route on build #2 if there ever is one. I think I'll use some maple I have on hand for this first attempt.
     
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    One warning though, the board I had had the grain running at a few degrees of angle to the length, so I didn't get to use the 4" width. I pretty much cut a long triangular sliver from one edge, to make a new edge parallel to the grain, and worked from there.
     
  18. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    Was that a problem due to the way it would have looked or was it going to cause some other problem?
     
  19. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    As Matt said, you want "straight grain, clear, minimal runout." My board had a few degrees of runout so I re-ripped the board. You want the grain lines to be continuous from head to body, not slanted and thus having some emerge out the side of the neck.
     
  20. K-Frog

    K-Frog

    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    what kinda problem does that cause?
     

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