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Thread: Fretboard dye

  1. #1

    Default Fretboard dye

    I recently "ebonized" my rosewood fretboard with Fiebing's Oil Dye (the stuff StewMac sells as "fretboard dye") and am pretty happy with the results.
    The problem is, the edge of the fretboard is clear coated along with the neck. The dye would not penetrate into the rosewood on the sides because of the coat, so I have a black fretboard with brown edges. (By "edges" I mean the actual side of the rosewood, where the side markers are, not the edges of the front of the fretboard.)

    How can I remove the clear coat from the edge of the fretboard without removing it from the neck so that the stain will "take" while still retaining the clear coat on the neck?
    Also how can I do it without leaving a distinct "line" that you can feel (and maybe see) where the clear coat ends?

    Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!!
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  2. #2
    JCF Member 6string40's Avatar
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    If what I understand you want is correct, it sounds as though you'd need to sand the entire neck, finish your staining and then either leave the neck raw or clear coat it. If you do it any other way, you're going to have a line where the clear ends...a line you'll be able to see and feel.

  3. #3

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    I suggest you scrape off the clear coat from the edges, using a new Stanley blade. If you're good with detail work, this will be an easy fix. The only problem is if there is clear coat deep into the rosewood. The stain won't stick properly if there's a lot of clear left after scraping.

    A picture for you. I hope it's ok with Dave / Budman to show it here. He is the master of all things In the pic, he is scraping the binding, but you can use the pic to get the idea:


  4. #4

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    jackson1, in that picture, it looks as though he is scraping the binding to be flush with the fretboard.
    What I am trying to do is remove clear coat from the side of the fretboard....

    6string40, if I have to do that then things might get complicated.
    This guitar is a neck-through-body, so I can't just stop sanding at the heel joint.
    That's why I am stumped on how to do this....
    Last edited by DalyTek; 11-29-2010 at 03:58 AM.
    My Gear: Carvin California CT6, Line 6 POD HD
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  5. #5
    JCF (I have no life)Member DonP's Avatar
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    I say leave it.

    I have a Bentley Series 10 Bass (purchased for $70) that had the same treatment (or from a sharpie marker who knows).

    It looks like a rosewood "binding".

    What neck thru body did you do this to? A Model 5? You know those are going for $1200 on ebay now Hope you didn't mess it up

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by DalyTek View Post
    jackson1, in that picture, it looks as though he is scraping the binding to be flush with the fretboard.
    What I am trying to do is remove clear coat from the side of the fretboard....
    I am fully aware. I know what you are asking. I was confident that you could pick up the ideas from the picture and apply the techniques to the side of the fingerboard. I'm sorry but I just don't have a better explanation or illustration. Binding / no binding - doesn't matter.

  7. #7

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    OK, maybe I am misunderstanding you then. To my eye, if I use a technique like that picture shows to scrape off the clear coat from the edge of the fretboard, I would likely get chipping of the clear coat (assuming that it's a hardened coat) or best case scenario would be that it does indeed remove the clear coat, but would leave a very distinct edge where the clear coat ends at the rosewood.
    My Gear: Carvin California CT6, Line 6 POD HD
    "You are dog shit in my shoe." -Newc

  8. #8
    JCF (I have no life)Member DonP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DalyTek View Post
    OK, maybe I am misunderstanding you then.
    I understand. The sides of the fretboard are still rosewood. The clear coat prevents the dye from ebonizing the sides.

    Just leave it as is.

  9. #9

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    Just leave it. Or mask off the edge of the board where the neck and finger board joint is. The with a very sharp knife. Exacto or what ever. Very carefully cut the cut a line at the seem of the board and the neck. Then just caerfully flake it off. the tape will help the rest of the clear from chipping. Or file it off with a fine toothed file again with the neck taped off.
    Gil

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DalyTek View Post
    ... I would likely get chipping of the clear coat
    You haven't tried scraping clear coat lightly with a new stanley blade, my friend :-) No chipping and the shape of the neck/edge will make it very easy to control. Finish off with a slight sand and buff and there won't be any edge. One thing strikes me now... and this is maybe where we misunderstand each other....

    Right:




    Wrong:

  11. #11
    JCF ADMIN toejam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonP View Post
    I say leave it.
    +1
    I feel my soul go cold... only the dead are smiling.

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  13. #13
    JCF ADMIN toejam's Avatar
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    I just don't think it will be that big of a deal to have the sides of the board lighter than the top. It won't be all that noticeable.
    I feel my soul go cold... only the dead are smiling.

  14. #14
    JCF (I have no life)Member DonP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toejam View Post
    I just don't think it will be that big of a deal to have the sides of the board lighter than the top. It won't be all that noticeable.
    On my Series 10 it's noticable, but doesn't look all that bad.

  15. #15

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    Noticeable to the player, but not to the people in the audience.

    You could also put some black pinstriping tape around the edge. You'll have to add the side markers.

    To prevent clearcoat chipping, I'd suggest scoring the clearcoat for the length of the neck along the fretboard/neck line. That way you separate the two sections. If the board clearcoating chips/flakes, it's no biggie since you're stripping it anyway.
    I want to depart this world the same way I arrived; screaming and covered in someone else's blood

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  16. #16

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    I think I am going to join the "wimps" category. Just seems like too much hassle and risk to worry about. I will think of it (as DonP put it) as "rosewood binding."

    BTW, DonP, to answer your question....it's a custom guitar. Modeled after Kirk Hammett's 25th Anniversary ESP.
    Was supposed to have an ebony board, but the shop messed up...twice. *sigh*
    I didn't want to wait for a third build, so I took partial credit and the rosewood board and decided to "ebonize" it.
    All-in-all I'm really happy with it.
    The only things I would like to do are the dye the edges of the fretboard and route an opening for a battery box, but both are beyond my skill levels...
    My Gear: Carvin California CT6, Line 6 POD HD
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  17. #17
    JCF (I have no life)Member DonP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DalyTek View Post
    BTW, DonP, to answer your question....it's a custom guitar. Modeled after Kirk Hammett's 25th Anniversary ESP.
    That sucks.

    If you can, post a picture. Before and after would be great. I haven't grown the balls yet to take the lid off of my bottle of black stuff

    I have a Les Paul that I love except for the fretboard, and a couple of other rosewood guitars that I've had thoughts of using it on. I'd like to see how yours turned out.

  18. #18

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    Wait...what sucks? That my guitar is modeled after Kirk Hammett's?

    It went really well, though admittedly I'd be more scared to do it if my guitar had binding.
    I only did 2 coats. I thought it was a big enough difference to stop there.
    Got enought left in that little 4oz bottle to do another 10-20 fretboards!

    I didn't want to post pics because Ron will nail me for GTWGITS!
    ...But here ya go anyway....



    Last edited by DalyTek; 11-30-2010 at 10:05 AM.
    My Gear: Carvin California CT6, Line 6 POD HD
    "You are dog shit in my shoe." -Newc

  19. #19

  20. #20

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    I "ebonized" a TH-2 Stealth, and of course ran into the same thing with the clearcoat on the fretboard edges. The project had gone so well up to that point that I decided to just quit while I was ahead. I've played that guitar live since then, and there's no way anyone but me would have been able to tell the difference.

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