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Stephen Churchill

Electric Fingerboard (coating)

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Hi, I'm putting together a maple electric/take-down violin. I've prepared a wenge fingerboard and I'd like to highlight the grain of the wood.

Any suggestions on an acceptable coating for a fingerboard? Shellac? Tung oil? I don't want it to interfere with playability (I'll be playing it), or turn ugly with wear....

Thanks

Stephen

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i cant think of any reason to treat it differently than a regular acoustic ebony fingerboard(but there might be some), i would not use anything that leaves a surface coat, like varnish or tung oil, as that will quickly wear and look uneven IMO, i always use linseed oil as do many people, never tried beeswax, stained danish oil might be an option(test it first) if you want change the colour, see what other posters have to say......

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Hi, I'm putting together a maple electric/take-down violin. I've prepared a wenge fingerboard and I'd like to highlight the grain of the wood.

Any suggestions on an acceptable coating for a fingerboard? Shellac? Tung oil? I don't want it to interfere with playability (I'll be playing it), or turn ugly with wear....

Thanks

Stephen

Hi Stephen,

Since it is an electric and non-traditional violin, you might consider using coatings that fretless electric bass players use. Those include epoxy (System Three or WEST Systems) or multiple coats of thin CA Glue (the odor is too irritating for me). Either of those will last very well and will keep your wenge from getting grimy. The procedure would be: dress your fingerboard (adding scoop), then coat it, then lightly re-dress it, probably with sandpaper. If you sand through, re-coat and re-dress.

If you want to explore either of these options, try the Luthier's Corner over at TalkBass (TalkBass Luthier's Corner), where there are many threads detailing the procedures and results.

I like the looks of both coatings, but whether they will highlight the wenge grain in the way you might like, I don't know.

Both coatings may make the violin tone a tiny bit brighter, FWIW.

Joe

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I'm not familiar with the properties of Wenge. I treat Ebony fingerboards with mineral oil. If Wenge is more porous, or softer, you might consider Minwax Wood Hardener. It's a plastic solution that fills the pores and hardens the surface.

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There is a thread that has lots of info regarding fingerboard finish.

Burnishing fingerboards to a high polish

I have the same wish for my electric guitar - to bring out the grain, I still have not done it but really like Jeffrey Holmes post on that thread, I believe it should bring out the grain and feel very nice on the fingertips.

Post #33

smile.gif

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Thanks guys,

I've used CA glue finished before (on some wood turning projects), including on Ebony. It takes a great shine if you like, with a buffing wheel. But its effectively a plastic finish and prone to scratching over time. I'm pretty senstiive to the fumes and try to avoid it these days.

I thought of mineral oil, but given Jeffrey Holmes post I think I'll avoid that. If only for glueability contamination.

I'm not looking for a shiny surface, just grain wetting. I think I'l try a couple coats of thinned drying oil. I have tung oil and like the product, but I think I'll just try some stand oil mixed with naptha.

Thanks

Stephen

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Wenge is a nice african hardwood. It's not as dense as ebony, but has a nice grain structure. Its very consistant in grain lines and color tone (almost too much!).

It splinters easily but is not toooo difficult to work. However, the grain texture is much wider then ebony and some nicks and gouges naturally appear in the wood. I don't plan to fill the grain, I do not expect this to affect the playability of the finished instrument.

For this electric I may make a matching tailpiece and/or chinrest.

info and picture of the grain:

http://www.sykestimber.co.uk/timber/wenge.html

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