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What finish for fretboard? (Read 4204 times)
mblue
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What finish for fretboard?
Jul 4th, 2009 at 7:35am
 
I am trying to decide how to finish a new fret/fingerboard.
The Manual says, on page 101, "The fingerboard does not get any Tru-Oil finish".
And, on page 113, it says "use a drop of fingerboard oil on each fret space".
I found "Dunlop Fretboard 65 Ultimate Lemon Oil" at the Guitar Center, so I am guessing that this the type of fingerboard oil that The Manual is referring to.
How does the Tru-Oil finish differ from the Lemon Oil finish?
Any information and/or advice related to fretboard finishing/finishes would be greatly appreciated.
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dochughes
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Re: What finish for fretboard?
Reply #1 - Jul 4th, 2009 at 12:04pm
 
I'm no expert - and have limited experience - but I can tell you what I used on a couple of fretboards with good results.

I used ColorTone Fretboard Finishing Oil purchased from LMI.  I applied it before putting the frets on.  It appears to penetrate the wood and dries within a few minutes.  While it does leave a nice "glow" to the wood, it doesn't leave any sort of gloss, and there is no buildup of finish.  

It's worked well for me, and unless I read somewhere about something better, I'll probably continue using it.

But it sounds like the stuff you got would work.  You can't go wrong with anything with "ultimate" in the name, right?
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unkabob
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Re: What finish for fretboard?
Reply #2 - Jul 4th, 2009 at 4:26pm
 
I use two coats of Danish oil. It soaks in and leaves nothing on the surface. It improves the grain of the wood and I believe that it seals the pores of the wood. That may prevent hand-oil and dirt from getting into the wood. I expect that the oil that you have does the same thing.

Bob
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Matt Blacka
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Re: What finish for fretboard?
Reply #3 - Jul 4th, 2009 at 9:45pm
 
Hello,

Tru-oil has componenents that act as a normal wood oil, but has other components that cause it to build up on the surface of the wood and provide a varnish type finish, more so than a standard wood oil finish. One of the reasons that fretboards do not get this kind of finish (or laquer finish etc) is because it would then wear unevenly on some frets and look bad. It is then very hard to sand back the fretboard and reapply the finish to even it out, as there are the fret wires in the way.

To avoid this, lighter oils such as lemon oil are used, that penetrate the wood to stop it being so dry and prevent risk of cracks, but do not hang around on the wood surface.

It is my understanding that the criteria for a good fretboard timber is not only high density, but also a relatively high natural oil content (such as ebony) which also helps the timber to not dry out over the years, event though it does not have a sealed finish.

Hope this helps,

Matt
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MAKAIO Ukuleles, Australia www.makaioukuleles.blogspot.com
 
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mblue
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Re: What finish for fretboard?
Reply #4 - Jul 5th, 2009 at 7:54am
 
Thanks you all..These 3 replies contain so much great information.
I now understand that the fretboard needs a finish that will not keep building up when it is re-applied. The finish would end up being very thick where the strings don't touch, and stay thin where they do touch.
It is great to be able to fully understand why I am using one thing instead of another.
Thanks again.
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konacat
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Re: What finish for fretboard?
Reply #5 - Jul 6th, 2009 at 9:14am
 
mblue,

I have been using Howard's Feed and Wax and it seems to work well.  Easy to apply, conditions the wood, provides a nice look without attracting dirt. It is popular on the Official Luthiers Forum. I reapply at each string change or as needed. If you put a finish on the fretboard the finish can wear off and look bad.

http://www.howardproducts.com/feednwax.htm

Philip
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mblue
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Re: What finish for fretboard?
Reply #6 - Jul 6th, 2009 at 1:34pm
 
Thanks Philip, "beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil" all in one. That sounds good to me. I will definitely get a bottle and try it out.
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