Possible to stain fretboard?

rsm

Senior Member
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14,080
I'm considering getting an inexpensive guitar as a beater and to practice my limited modification skills (new pickups, maybe split coil switches, new pots, etc.), just not crazy about the rosewood fretboard (should be ebony as it would look much better IMO) on this model which is white body, black hardware, black/white humbuckers (to be changed), black headstock, neck is maple.

Is it possible to stain a rosewood fretboard? Not worth replacing the neck. What kind of stain? Oil based? Thoughts? Advice?
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
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40,988
sure, staining raw fretboard wood is a common thing, usually on really cheap import instruments where they're trying to disguise whatever mystery wood the board is made of.

not a fan.
 
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AdmiralB

Member
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Is it possible to stain a rosewood fretboard? Not worth replacing the neck. What kind of stain? Oil based? Thoughts? Advice?

I've done it before. The stuff Stew-Mac sells is actually leather dye (which I've used often on, well, leather). It works, but it's really only a good solution when the fingerboard is just a fingerboard and not attached to a neck.

If your board is finished on the sides, then you either forget about them and leave them their original color, or you sand. If you sand, or the sides were never finished in the first place, you'll probably have issues keeping the dye on the board and off the neck. It can leach under the finish at the edge, not far but enough to be seen (and be bothered by).

It will also stain inlay, and most of the chemicals that remove it also melt a lot of inlay materials.

And finally...it stains everything. Skin, nails, countertops, even things you'd think can't be stained. It will of course eventually wear off your skin. And also the fingerboard; you'll get black fingertips for a while after the application, and pretty soon the original wood will begin to show anyway.
 

rsm

Senior Member
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14,080
In my research, I found someone using/recommending Higgins India Ink (blue/black) - they have a waterproof version that may resist sweat better - which turned out nice...I'd like to have something that looks like my Steinberger phenolic fretboards - solid matte black.

This will be my Frankenstein/beater/mod guitar so I'm not too worried about minor mistakes ;)
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
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8,913
I used Fiebings black to stain a light rosewood fretboard on an inexpensive nylon string as an experiment. Worked fine. Go slow. Light application, small amounts, use a Q tip and not the applicator that comes with the dye. Yes it can get away from you so taking it slow with small amounts of dye on the applicator is helpful. My nylon string had no fretboard markers. I have read a magic eraser will clean the dye off of fret board markers but I would NOT take that at face value since the dye is pretty tough to remove otherwise. I put one coat on, let it dry for a while and then wiped thoroughly with a naphtha dampened rag. The dye darkened the board but the wood grain still shows up. No finger staining and the dyed look has stayed. If you are going for ebony black, I recommend several coats.

hunter
 
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