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Old 10-16-2020, 09:07 PM
poopsidoo poopsidoo is offline
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Default Rosewood fingerboard

I have heard these will”gouge” out. My 1965 J-45 fingerboard is starting to show that. Is there any repair short of replacement? What would that look like?
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:14 PM
Mike McLenison Mike McLenison is offline
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Never heard that. I prefer ebony always anyways.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:15 PM
Mattface Mattface is offline
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You can even out the fretboard with a razor blade if the gouges are not too deep yet.

I've seen Jerry Rosa do it in several videos. You can see it starting at about 13:40 here
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Old 10-16-2020, 10:05 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is online now
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Poopsidoo in Spartanburg, South Carolina wrote:

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Originally Posted by poopsidoo View Post
I have heard these will”gouge” out. My 1965 J-45 fingerboard is starting to show that. Is there any repair short of replacement? What would that look like?
Hey, my roommate at the Citadel was from Spartanburg, as was one of the nastiest of all the upperclassmen. My roomie was a good guy, though.

To answer your question, because rosewood is somewhat softer than ebony, yes, it can and sometimes will start to develop runnels where most of the wear takes place.

It can happen a lot faster than the decades of use you’ve gotten out of the guitar: if a player doesn’t trim his fingernails to keep them short and/or practices poor personal hygiene and doesn’t wash his or her hands before playing, plowing furrows into the rosewood is the result.

Ironically, some of the folks who pride themselves on taking good care of their guitars can set themselves up for premature rosewood fingerboard damage if they slather oil on it at every string change, or any more often than about twice a year.

They usually like the wood to look glossy and think they’re cleaning and protecting the fingerboard when they oil it, when, in fact, excess oil softens the wood and attracts dirt and grit, besides. That grit and dirt acts precisely like sandpaper and just digs the furrows deeper.

You can’t tell those guys that, though - they bristle with indignation if you try.

Anyway, if you’ve been playing this guitar for as long as you have and are only seeing this fingerboard wear now, you’re clearly not playing with dirty hands greasy with fried chicken and dripping with the juice from raw peanuts purchased by the roadside in South Carolina...

The raw peanuts and the Spanish moss are two of the things I miss the most about South Carolina. But do y’all up in the foothills even have Spanish moss? My people are all from the Lowcountry - Charleston and Savannah, mostly - so I’ve never spent much time upcountry.

Back to the guitar repairs in question: this can be fairly simple work but it’s time-consuming, so it’s not a quick, easy or inexpensive repair. The only sensible and cost-effective time to get it done is when you need to have the guitar refretted. The frets have to be out of the way when the repair tech planes the fingerboard to eliminate the gouging that’s taken place.

So I’d recommend that you talk to your friendly local guitar tech and find out what the combined repair will cost you. Unless you’re really digging your way to the opposite side of the planet with the damage that’s occurred so far, you’re probably okay to hold off until it’s time for a complete fret replacement.

But get a professional assessment as soon as you can. If you’ve dug so far into the wood that you almost need to replace the entire fretboard itself, get the work done right away because replacing the whole thing will be very costly, much more expensive than simply planing the fingerboard and replacing the frets.

So, short version: take the guitar to an experienced guitar repair tech and get an assessment of where the matter stands right now, and an estimate on what needs to be done and what it’s going to cost to fix it.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not going to be an inexpensive repair; it might cost several hundred dollars. How many hundreds, I can’t tell you, because that’s going to depend on what needs to be done.

For example, if the wear isn’t too bad your repair tech might be able to pull just the first seven or nine frets and plane only that part of the fretboard. Don’t count on that, though - this goes beyond just the frets and the fingerboard. There are some fairly complex neckset geometry issues that all have to be addressed when this sort of instrument repair is needed.

But if the guitar sounds good enough that you’ve owned it and used it for such a long time - which, obviously, you have - then it’s definitely worth spending the amount needed to maintain it and keep it fully functional.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller

Last edited by Wade Hampton; 10-16-2020 at 10:16 PM. Reason: Spelling correction.
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Old 10-17-2020, 08:33 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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The quick way to fill the divots is with CA or epoxy and rosewood dust. This is rather ugly on rosewood. The way I prefer is to rout out rectangles from fret to fret and inlay matching wood. This can be almost impossible to detect.
OTOH, there is no functional reason to fill them at all.
Trim your nails and wash your hands before playing. The wear is usually between the strings, not under them.
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:06 AM
Skip Ellis Skip Ellis is online now
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I hate rosewood fingerboards and will not own an instrument that has one. Always ebony for me (except maple on Teles) and I'll even go with Richlite over rosewood. It makes nice guitar bodies for those who like it (I prefer mahogany) but, as a fingerboard, it just looks cheap IMHO....YMMV.
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:31 PM
hermithollow hermithollow is offline
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I like Frank Ford's solution. It also works for hiding miscut fret slots.
http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...boardivot.html
If you are careful you can work between the frets without pulling them. You just need a source of dark sawdust.
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:51 PM
Wellington Wellington is offline
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I've always liked rosewood fretboards, I've owned several guitars with them, no issues, my brand new Guild D40 Traditional has one, completely happy with it. I have an ebony fretboard on my LL16 as, I love that as well, nice and smooth but also very endangered.
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:35 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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The divots may cause more aesthetic than playing problems. I have a very old banjo with a dyed pear fingerboard and it has amazing divots, yet plays fine.

Rosewood is of medium hardness as tonewoods go. Ebony is far harder and is therefore less likely to show this kind of wear. There are a few woods harder than Ebony - I have one fingerboard of Ipe (Lapacho is another name). It will never show divots, not in my lifetime.
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:52 AM
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UncleJesse UncleJesse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Poopsidoo in Spartanburg, South Carolina wrote:



Hey, my roommate at the Citadel was from Spartanburg, as was one of the nastiest of all the upperclassmen.
Wade Hampton Miller
Frank Underwood?
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:53 AM
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Tim McKnight Tim McKnight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hermithollow View Post
I like Frank Ford's solution. It also works for hiding miscut fret slots.
http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...boardivot.html
If you are careful you can work between the frets without pulling them. You just need a source of dark sawdust.
I’ve used Frank”s method dozens of times with excellent results with one change in procedure. I prefer a medium bodied CA and mix a slurry of RW dust and med CA and work this into the cuts. Med CA dries slower and will not turn white if allowed to dry on its own without using accelerator. Some accelerators can turn CA white which is an eyesore on darker woods. GluBoost accelerator usually doesn’t turn CA white.
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Old 10-20-2020, 02:12 PM
poopsidoo poopsidoo is offline
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Hey Wade, figured you were from SC with that name. I graduated from Wade Hampton High (Greenville) and to get to Greenville from here the route is Wade Hampton Blvd!!
I bought this guitar in original condition in 2012. did not notice it at all when I bought it. Have played it alot, guess Im the culpret--I did oil the board once in that time.

I appreciate all the info in this thread. I dont think its so bad that I need to work on it now... heck the guitars 55 years old--Ill probaby be playing a harp before this thing needs that kind of work.

I like the ebony boards, but have had some guilds that had a nice rosewood fingerboard.

Thanks for your help!

Bill "poopsidoo"
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1983 Martin HD-28
1965 Gibson J-45
2002 Taylor Big Baby
2019 Taylor 514ce
1985 Kentucky KM850 mando w/lr baggs radius
1959 Gibson A-5 Mando
2004 Fender Strat (Mexican)
Army bugle
Old autoharp
Indian flute
Cowbell
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