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  #1  
Old 01-05-2017, 11:15 PM
Don Lampson Don Lampson is offline
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Default Any Experience Staining Fretboards?

Maybe I'm just a fretboard snob of some kind, but I want black appointments on my acoustic guitars, and don't care if the ebony is dyed. I also have a beloved guitar with a rosewood bridge & fretboard, and cringe every time I look at her. Gaaaak! (The guitar is an Eastman AJ617 SB. Except for the RW board & bridge, she's my pride & joy...)

My tech tells me he can dye the board & bridge black as the ace of spades, and that only careful examination will reveal it to be rosewood. Have any of you had experience with this sort of appearance improvement? How long will the dye job last? Do you think I can pull this fashion risk off with panache, or will I just look like a phony, and be shunned throughout pickerdom for trying to present my box as something it's not?

Don
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  #2  
Old 01-05-2017, 11:36 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Well, I'm sure there are those who would sneer at you for your Lady Clairol moment, but the secret to that is to remain mum and let them just guess (only your luthier knows for sure!)

Seriously, dyeing fretboards and bridge black with aniline dye goes back more than a hundred years. I've seen plenty of turn of the 20th Century mandolins, banjos and guitars where pearwood was used for fingerboards, then dyed black to mimic ebony. I think every Orpheum banjo ever made had dyed parts on it.

Now, after several decades, that can backfire with a sort of dry rot that makes the wood crumble when you rub it, but that doesn't manifest itself for a long, long time. I imagine the dosage has been figured out better by now, as well.

So, if you want your fretboard and bridge to be black, your guitar repair tech can handle the job. It's not especially difficult, and it won't eventually wash out like henna applied to hair. It's permanent.

Of course, if you want to take the stealth approach, you could have your tech do it like Grecian Formula, adding color gradually, a little bit at a time. It'll be just like the Grecian Formula TV commercials: "Gee, Don, your guitar looks GREAT! Has it lost weight?"

Seriously, it's not hard to do and nobody will sneer at you if you have it done. Chances are that 99.9% of the other pickers you know won't even notice.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #3  
Old 01-05-2017, 11:58 PM
Highway_61 Highway_61 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lampson View Post
Maybe I'm just a fretboard snob of some kind, but I want black appointments on my acoustic guitars, and don't care if the ebony is dyed. I also have a beloved guitar with a rosewood bridge & fretboard, and cringe every time I look at her. Gaaaak! (The guitar is an Eastman AJ617 SB. Except for the RW board & bridge, she's my pride & joy...)

My tech tells me he can dye the board & bridge black as the ace of spades, and that only careful examination will reveal it to be rosewood. Have any of you had experience with this sort of appearance improvement? How long will the dye job last? Do you think I can pull this fashion risk off with panache, or will I just look like a phony, and be shunned throughout pickerdom for trying to present my box as something it's not?

Don
I use this to darken fingerboards. It's easy to apply, one needn't worry about masking off frets, and it does--at least, IMO-- a pretty good job an getting a rosewood fingerboard to be more ebony-like.

https://www.amazon.com/Minwax-63490-.../dp/B001VRQV5O
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Old 01-06-2017, 01:55 AM
pgilmor pgilmor is offline
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FWIW, I once had a custom guitar built but, upon receipt, was unhappy with the neck measurements (my fault). I asked the maker to replace it (which I paid for) and he did a most excellent job, with one exception: the ebony he used was apparently streaky, which I would have personally had no problem with, but he, or an apprentice, took it upon himself to dye it dark. It's ghastly, at least to me, because the streaks and the surrounding wood took the dye differently. It jumps out like cheap makeup. That being said, my dad was a professional finisher of cabinets and trim back in the day so I may be sensitive to it, but that fretboard looks absolutely terrible.

Never told him, never will, if for no other reason that I am so happy with the sound and playability of the guitar I wouldn't want to have that screwed up. So I let it slide. But it definitely is noticeable, and not in a good way, until you move some distance away.

As for dying rosewood? I don't know, maybe it takes dye better, but I would be more comfortable with the process if the wood was pretty uniform to start with.

Last edited by pgilmor; 01-06-2017 at 02:27 AM.
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  #5  
Old 01-06-2017, 07:47 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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...i have rubbed stain into a fairly light rosewood fret board to give it the look of ebony...worked like a charm.... i used stew mac black mixed with a touch of brown to warm it up and thinned it with a little alcohol....but i would think any stain would work....it was a new unfinished tele neck so the fretboard was pristine...it was fretted though...a well played neck may not take the stain as well so i would scrape it with a razor blade first before proceeding carefully...
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Old 01-06-2017, 08:49 AM
6L6 6L6 is offline
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I've had the rosewood boards on a couple of electric guitars stained black by a techie pro in San Francisco (Dan Ransom). Each one came out looking great!
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  #7  
Old 01-06-2017, 12:29 PM
Don Lampson Don Lampson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Well, I'm sure there are those who would sneer at you for your Lady Clairol moment, but the secret to that is to remain mum and let them just guess (only your luthier knows for sure!)

Seriously, dyeing fretboards and bridge black with aniline dye goes back more than a hundred years. I've seen plenty of turn of the 20th Century mandolins, banjos and guitars where pearwood was used for fingerboards, then dyed black to mimic ebony. I think every Orpheum banjo ever made had dyed parts on it.

Now, after several decades, that can backfire with a sort of dry rot that makes the wood crumble when you rub it, but that doesn't manifest itself for a long, long time. I imagine the dosage has been figured out better by now, as well.

So, if you want your fretboard and bridge to be black, your guitar repair tech can handle the job. It's not especially difficult, and it won't eventually wash out like henna applied to hair. It's permanent.

Of course, if you want to take the stealth approach, you could have your tech do it like Grecian Formula, adding color gradually, a little bit at a time. It'll be just like the Grecian Formula TV commercials: "Gee, Don, your guitar looks GREAT! Has it lost weight?"

Seriously, it's not hard to do and nobody will sneer at you if you have it done. Chances are that 99.9% of the other pickers you know won't even notice.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller

Those crumbling fretboards is a scary specter, but since I'm almost 72, I doubt I'll be around to bare the shame of my deception "decades" later... 8>(

I'm hauling my box down to Steve's Guitar Shoppe, in San Luis Obispo, for one of his dye jobs ASAP! Thanks for the positive reenforcement - Mostly... Wonder if Steve can replace the fretboard dots with 8mm pearl stars, after it's dyed? This could be the beginning of a total makeover for my Eastman......

Don

Last edited by Don Lampson; 01-06-2017 at 12:32 PM. Reason: forgot words
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  #8  
Old 01-06-2017, 04:28 PM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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do a google search for Fiebings leather dye.

just be very sure you want it black, because you are never getting that stuff out of the wood.
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  #9  
Old 01-06-2017, 05:35 PM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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Didn't the Stones have a song that dealt with this topic ?
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  #10  
Old 01-06-2017, 05:42 PM
Tony Burns Tony Burns is offline
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Ok but i like the look of natural wood -love to see the streaks and the grain -
not knocking you -just a nature boy at heart !
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Old 01-06-2017, 05:51 PM
Highway_61 Highway_61 is offline
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I'm going to post this again, for it might have been overlooked because of my having minimal little stature here. But if you want to darken the fingerboard in a way that allows you to control the darkness, and if you want to do it in a way that about as no muss/no fuss as one can get, try the Minwax ebony staining pencil.

I will add that, though we have become used to seeing a lot ebony that is totally black, a lot of (most?) ebony has a great deal of variations in darkness. I don't think you'll mind the rosewood, once you have made it a great deal darker--even if it does have, on closer inspection, some lighter grain showing.
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2017, 06:01 PM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway_61 View Post
I'm going to post this again, for it might have been overlooked because of my having minimal little stature here.
Highway ! You have earned my respect on numerous occasions and have HUGE little stature in my book !


I might even REVISIT some of your past posts.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:33 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Now, after several decades, that can backfire with a sort of dry rot that makes the wood crumble when you rub it, but that doesn't manifest itself for a long, long time. I imagine the dosage has been figured out better by now, as
Ironically I finished this one this morning.

It shows exactly what you are referring to in regards to dry rot.

Steve

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Old 01-07-2017, 08:26 AM
tahoeguitar tahoeguitar is offline
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I too have seen a few of these old rotted pearwood fretboards, but I always assumed the rot was because of the wood and not the dye. Which is it?
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  #15  
Old 01-07-2017, 11:26 AM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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If you want a jet-black fretboard, then IMO the sensible way to go about it is to use Rocklite Ebano. That's ROCKLITE ... not "Richlite " , which is an entirely different material. Rocklite Ebano is real wood. It's more expensive than ebony, but it is totally homogenous, and totally uniformly black.

Here is my friend Rory of Taran Guitars demonstrating his use of Rocklite Ebano in a fretboard.

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