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View Full Version : finished vs. unfinished neck how to tell the difference?



zivilars
05-14-2016, 03:22 AM
Hello,

this is a dumb question and maybe I'm just lost in translation when it comes to the term – but: How exactly do I tell the difference between an unfinished and a finished neck?

Reason behind the question: My fretboard conditioner (as most of others) says it's for all UN-finished fretboards. I'm not 100% sure with two of my ukuleles if the fretboard surface is the "raw" wood or if it was sealed with some finish. Can I "harm" a finished fretboard using oil (although sparingly) on it – in the sense that it won't absorb it and leaves me with a smeared fretboard forever (even after rubbing it off again after with a cloth)? Or will it simply not be effective, but do no harm?

Thanks in advance for any reply.

DownUpDave
05-14-2016, 03:44 AM
I have never, ever heard of a finished fretboard. Fretboards do not have a poly or lacquer finish applied because it would peel and wear off into a mess from the strings and your fingering presure. Most are either raw or they have been treated with an oil. Your fretboard conditioner is mostly likely some type of lemon oil and won't hurt anything. If you do apply it is high gloss area it can always be removed with a damp cloth of soapy water.

Doc_J
05-14-2016, 04:01 AM
Maple fretboards typically have some finish (MyaMoe uses Tru-oil). But, the oily tropical hardwoods (rosewood, ebony, Cocobolo, etc.) don't require a hard finish. Finishes can wear out on a fretboard.

Lemon oil is also a cleaner but it shouldn't hurt a finish applied and wiped off.

zivilars
05-14-2016, 04:39 AM
Hi DownUpDavve, Hi Doc_J – thanks a lot for your answers, really appreciated! That gives me ease of mind that the headstocks of my ukulele probably all are unfinished. The one on my Big Island Honu Rope Tenor became a bit "cloudy" and I have the suspicion that this may have happened because of my cleaner/conditioner – although it is a good, "safe" one (F-One Oil – http://musicnomadcare.com/Products/Fretboard-F-ONE-Oil/ and I use it very sparingly / not very often. On the other hand, as this is the most "glossy" looking neck of all my ukuleles it may very well be that it normal and simply not that much visible on my other, more matt necks. I'll probably apply the F-One once or twice a year from now on, only use a few drops and directly wipe the headstocks off after that. Should be safe doing this, shouldn't I?

Thanks again for the answers, have a nice weekend!

DownUpDave
05-14-2016, 06:08 AM
I am a bit confused. You have referenced necks, fretboards and now headstocks. The neck and the headstock would have a clear coat type hard finish on them and I would NOT apply a fretboard conditioner type oil to those areas. Only to the fretboard itself.

Doc_J
05-14-2016, 06:10 AM
Hi DownUpDavve, Hi Doc_J – thanks a lot for your answers, really appreciated! That gives me ease of mind that the headstocks of my ukulele probably all are unfinished. The one on my Big Island Honu Rope Tenor became a bit "cloudy" and I have the suspicion that this may have happened because of my cleaner/conditioner – although it is a good, "safe" one (F-One Oil – http://musicnomadcare.com/Products/Fretboard-F-ONE-Oil/ and I use it very sparingly / not very often. On the other hand, as this is the most "glossy" looking neck of all my ukuleles it may very well be that it normal and simply not that much visible on my other, more matt necks. I'll probably apply the F-One once or twice a year from now on, only use a few drops and directly wipe the headstocks off after that. Should be safe doing this, shouldn't I?

Thanks again for the answers, have a nice weekend!

Glad if that helped.

That F-ONE oil looks like a good fretboard conditioner. Once or twice a year, would be plenty often to use it. I usually use Howard's Feed'N'Wax when I notice my FB looks dry. Many folks recommend Planet Waves 'Lemon Oil' for unfinished wood fretboards.

Most headstocks and necks are finished. Usually just the fretboard is unfinished.

cml
05-14-2016, 07:26 AM
I use F-ONE, and I've applied it to all of my ukes' fretboards! Worked great, they look like new.

zivilars
05-14-2016, 08:02 AM
@DownUpDave: Ah, sorry for the confusion! My bad, I mixed up the English terms ... I always meant the fretboard, of course!

@Doc_J and @cml: Thanks for the replies. Seems like F-One is a good choice. :) @Doc_J: Do I understand you correctly that you consider fretboard conditioning once or twice a year as already quite often and would use it less? Or did you mean that one bottle of F-One will hold a plenty of times when only using it once or twice a year?

Thanks again!

Doc_J
05-14-2016, 10:44 AM
@DownUpDave: Ah, sorry for the confusion! My bad, I mixed up the English terms ... I always meant the fretboard, of course!

@Doc_J and @cml: Thanks for the replies. Seems like F-One is a good choice. :) @Doc_J: Do I understand you correctly that you consider fretboard conditioning once or twice a year as already quite often and would use it less? Or did you mean that one bottle of F-One will hold a plenty of times when only using it once or twice a year?

Thanks again!
Cleaning a fretboard once or twice a year should be plenty often.

zivilars
05-14-2016, 11:56 AM
Got it - good to know! Thought I was rather conservative with once or twice a year ... Guess the best thing is to simply keep an eye on the fretboard if it becomes too dry and then use the cleaner/conditioner when required. Thanks for your input!