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fretboard material (Read 4632 times)
drfrancov
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fretboard material
Jan 31st, 2009 at 4:24pm
 
Has anyone ever used oak or cherry for a fretboard?...I know they are hard woods and as far as I understand it they could be used...If I were to use oak, could I stain it to a darker color?
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unkabob
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #1 - Feb 1st, 2009 at 2:26pm
 
I have used cherry for fretboard and bridge on my last pineapple and it worked out OK. I started with a piece of cherry flooring and made two fretboards and a couple of bridges.
Samples and leftovers from a flooring store are an inexpensive (cheap) and local source of exotic woods.

Bob
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drfrancov
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #2 - Feb 1st, 2009 at 3:22pm
 
Thanks Bob!...What did you think about using oak?...The reason I have some is because I got it cheap!
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unkabob
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #3 - Feb 2nd, 2009 at 5:05am
 
Somewhere on the board I read that oak has a stringy grain structure that gives great strength but does not transmit vibrations well. They may have been using it for bridges or soundboards.

My only consideration would be for slivers from the fretboard. The fretboard has minimal finish and I have found that oak can give nasty slivers. It may be that stringy grain structure again.

Just my thoughts.

Bob
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drfrancov
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #4 - Feb 2nd, 2009 at 6:48am
 
I will give it try and let you know...I am planning to cut it into 2 x 3/16 x 13 blanks...I might ebonize it with black leather dye...We'll see in a couple of weeks (or sooner if work allows).
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Zippyzingo
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #5 - Feb 11th, 2009 at 6:38pm
 
I've seen several guitars with oak backs and sides plus a few with necks too. It seems to work well.  I don't recall ever seeing a fingerboard or bridge made of it but I can't think of any reason why it couldn't be used for a finger board unless it is the size of the grain. The grain may need to be filled and a finish applied before use to keep down excess wear.

Personally, I think that an oak bridge may be a bit on the heavy side, particularly on a uke with it's light strings. It could be a matter of trading response for looks. Just an opinion.
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jack
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #6 - Feb 12th, 2009 at 6:20am
 
I use a lot of white oak in my furniture, but I wouldn't recommend it for a fretboard.  It is not a dense wood and has a large cell and ray structure, which causes it to swell and move a lot with changes in humidity.  If you are going to try it, try to get it as 1/4 sawn as possible, and I would saturate with ca glue or pentrating epoxy before cutting the fret slots.
Jack
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drfrancov
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #7 - Feb 12th, 2009 at 3:12pm
 
Jack,

Thanks for your input...I will look into using the oak for necks and I will get some maple for the fretboard...What do you think?...Is there a way I can stain the maple for this purpose?
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #8 - Feb 13th, 2009 at 10:56am
 
When I was in Waikiki last week I took a free group ukulele lesson at the Royal Hawaiian shopping center (bragging intentional).  They had about 20 loaner student concert ukes for those who did not have ukes with them.  All of these ukes had black stained fingerboards and the stain had rubbed off from finger and string wear.

I would suggest that you leave the maple its natural color and enjoy the beauty of the maple.  If you have a good lumber yard near you, you may be able to find figured (sometimes called striped) maple which would add some interest.

The current tenor uke I am working on will have figured maple neck, back and sides with spruce top and ebony fingerboard bridge peghead veneer and binding.

Don
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Zippyzingo
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #9 - Feb 13th, 2009 at 12:30pm
 
Fender has made lots of instruments with maple fingerboards and it holds up pretty well. The catch is that it's light so it really needs to be finished to prevent stains from dirty, sweaty fingers.  I suppose you could try staining the maple before finishing to protect it from wear but I don't know that maple will soak up enough stain to look like ebony. I think it's more likely that you would have to paint it or try tinting in the finish which returns you to problems of wear.

I must say that is seems sort of a shame to me to use a nice piece of maple for a fax ebony fingerboard.  If I wanted dark without the price of ebony, I think I'd look into black walnut. I'd need to make sure the grain is straight and tight and well seasoned but the price shouldn't be much different than maple and it's already dark to begin with. I could stain it with fingerboard stain or just wait since walnut tends to get darker as it is exposed to light.

In the end, I think staining/finishing a lighter fingerboard may pretty much eat up any savings over an ebony board and, IMO, nothing else really looks like it anyway.  Why not just purchase an ebony board to begin with or change your design to incorporate the board you choose?  

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drfrancov
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #10 - Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:17pm
 
Thanks for your input Zippyzingo...I agree with you...I actually bought some rosewood fingerboard blanks from Allen's guitar and luthier supply website...That will take care of darker fretboards...I will cut the maple for some clear fretboards and some necks....And use the oak and cherry for necks...You guys are great!
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jack
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Re: fretboard material
Reply #11 - Feb 14th, 2009 at 3:52am
 
As far as staining, I use dyes for all of my coloring on guitars.  I use trans tints which come from Jeff Jewett and are sold at most good woodworking stores and websites.  They give you more consistant colors and are easy to apply with water or alcohol are sold as a liquid. You just add basic colors together, a few drops at a time, to get the shade that you want, in vary small quantities.  Just be sure to wear gloves. They work under oil or water finishes.
Jack
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