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Author Topic: epoxy or sim. coating for fretless fingerboard?  (Read 7676 times)
EscapeNote
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« on: June 16, 2011, 09:20:03 PM »

I have a Sadowsky 24/5 NYC fretless bass, #4298, have been putting a lot of miles on it over the last couple of years.  Recently had the rosewood fingerboard planed/sanded by Bill DeLap, a very fine luthier who lives in my area.  The bass is playing wonderfully, however after a couple of months of solid playing it's starting to show the signs of wear from the roundwound strings again (I use Sadowsky Blue Label, nickel wrap).

Not going to switch to flats - that's a great sound but not what I'm going for on this instrument - but I'm starting to re-evaluate my previous notions about fingerboard coating.  I'm not the bold sort, like Jaco, who would just take the darn thing apart and put some boat epoxy on it - wish I could be that brave!  But, alas, I'm not.  Also, I'm inclined to be more respectful of Roger's work (and my own investment in the bass) and so I want to approach this notion with a bit more caution...

Roger, do you recommend any specific coatings for fretless fingerboards?  DIY OK or better to have my local luthier do the work?  Any compelling reasons for not coating the board?

I'm aware that it would most certainly affect the tone of the bass - my fretless has an alder body, spalted top, rosewood board - but I'm inclined to think that the increased brightness from having a harder surface under the strings would not ultimately be an unmanageable thing.

Anyone else on here have any experience with this?

I'm hoping to play this bass for many years to come, hence my interest in prolonging the life of the fingerboard...
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Flatwoundbass
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2011, 01:01:39 PM »

I have always shied away from coating the boards on my fretless basses.  My logic (and mind you, it could be deeply flawed!) is that even coated boards show signs of roundwound (and flats, for that matter) wear...when the wear gets to be too much down the road, the coating must be stripped, then the fingerboard trued, then coated again...seems like a lot of work.  I can do an unfinished fingerboard re-dressing in a short amount of time, with minimal tools.

You can go years on a board without needing replacement or even dressing...in my experience, the wear kind of stabilizes after a while.  The initial wear is from the wood compressing, but I seem to find that it pretty much stops (or slows way down) after a while...real, wear-down-your-board damage takes a long, long time.   I look at it as the cost of doing business...if in some far off day you need a new fingerboard, then even that is not a huge deal, just a maintenance issue.

My two cents, and probably worth every penny!
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EscapeNote
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2011, 07:12:52 PM »

Flatwoundbass, thanks much for the reply.  The compression over time of the wood is something I'd not even considered but, now that I think about it, it would seem to make sense.  Before acquiring my Sadowsky fretless I'd never owned and played one fretless long enough to make it to a 2nd re-dressing; it sounds like you have and I appreciate the longer range perspective. 

I'm impressed that you do your own fingerboard work.  Have you worked as a luthier or did you learn by trial and error?  I'm handy with tools around the house but have never gotten within 5 feet of any of my basses with anything sharp in my hands (excepting a pair of wire snips).
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Sadowsky
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 07:44:57 PM »

I would only coat a fretless board if you wanted a brighter tone with more sustain, not because you are concerned about fingerboard wear.  I am amazed how infrequently I see fretless basses that need fingerboard work.  There is a big difference between seeing visible wear and having enough wear to cause playing problems.  When you wear a deep enough groove to actually cause any problems, I suggest you have your tech fill the grooves with super glue and then re-level the fingerboard.  You will remove very little wood this way and you can repeat the process many times.

Roger
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EscapeNote
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2011, 11:37:17 PM »

Superglue??!!  Never would dreamed that one up... you are full of surprises Mr Sadowsky!
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Sadowsky
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2011, 01:58:38 AM »

Please call me Roger!  Mr. Sadowsky was my Dad!!

R
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IntenseJim
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2011, 02:26:04 AM »

Please call me Roger!  Mr. Sadowsky was my Dad!!

R

OK Mr. Sadowsky

 
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Fran Diaz
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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2011, 09:01:37 AM »


OK Mr. Sadowsky


hey raggamuffin, are you trying to bust Mr. Roger's balls?  Huh  Angry







 Grin


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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2011, 02:18:18 PM »

Roger, but... superglue is not a kind of epoxy?...

I'm sure it is not the same as coating all the fretboard... but doesn't also make your sound more brighter?
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2011, 03:13:26 PM »

It is very effective and does not change the tone of the notes.

Roger
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