IPE for Fretboards?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by fatdaddypreacher, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    rummaging through my lumbersource's stash, and came across some ipe. it is quite common for porch and patio decks, but strikes me as quite dense and hard and may be a candidate for fretboards. the board i saw has wonderful brownish, orangish coloring like a deep rosewood. Has anybody tried to use if for fretboards?

    I may be interested in getting a test piece and resawing it if someone wants a go at it. anybody familiar with it?

    it has a specific gravity rating of .85-.97 and density is reported to be 66-77 pcf.

    thanks.
     
  2. evolved_insanity

    evolved_insanity Senior Member

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    :applause:I have some Quaretersawn Ipe fretboards sitting here that I plan on using. Make sure if you get it that you are using the kiln dried Ipe and not the air dried stock they use for decks and outdoors. That stuff will split on you in your house or on a neck. If it is kiln dired, make sure you still let it acclimate to your house.

    It will polish up nicely (i've used toothpaste to polish it before), and will take very few oils if you decide to oil the fretboard. Do yourself a favour and use something lighter for the neck though.:cool:
     
  3. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    good info. thanks. never thought to check for kiln dried. i assumed it was, but may not be since it's used for decking primarily.
     
  4. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    Ipe is excellent even for making necks but they need to be matched to a guitar with a body that's on the heavy side, for balance purposes.

    Ipe tends to ring very well (good for sustain) and has a fairly high ring tone, which makes for more even note to note sustain across the fingerboard.

    Ipe is related to Pernambuco, which is what good violin bows are made out of. Ipe has been successfully used to make some very good violin bows, too.

    I think very highly of Ipe as an instrument wood.

    CJ
     
  5. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    i was kind of wondering about it's brilliance, as the piece i picked up seemed to me to have potential for those properties, but having never seen a reference or mention of it being used, i was wondering. I think i'll dig out a piece of quartersawn and play with it. thanks.
     
  6. vista

    vista Senior Member

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    I have a lot of experience working with ipe. I think it may be one of the nastiest woods to work. It dulls bits quickly,creates a fine dust which stains everything orange,splinters easily and the splinters burn if you happen to get them in your fingers. It is so oily that while drilling on the drillpress there would be puddles of oil and plumes of smoke. I found it hard to glue because of this,but a wipe with acetone prior to gluing helped. The specific gravity is actually around 1.06. Yes,it sinks. All that said it should make a great fretboard, as it polishes up well is nice looking and is extremely hard. Let us know how it goes

    Brian
     
  7. Kalamazuu

    Kalamazuu Senior Member

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    I know it is commonly used for bows, so I would imagine it'd be good for fretboards.
     
  8. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    that sounds a lot like an old flip wilson routine about getting set up with a 'homely' girl. 'she has a nice car, will pick you up, show you the town, have a bunch of laughs with you, then bring you home'. yeh, but what does she look like?....'Man, you ought to see her car!'

    thanks for the rundown...or warning.
     
  9. Kalamazuu

    Kalamazuu Senior Member

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    I know it is commonly used for bows, so I would imagine it'd be good for fretboards.
     
  10. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    would seem so. thanks.
     
  11. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    It's been five years since this thread had any activity. I just wanted to mention that I rough cut a neck blank from Ipe and will be using it in this winter building season. The blank is absolutely full of musical note when tapped. Scratching the end grain with a fingernail makes the other end of the neck blank speak clearly. Its tap tones sustain well and it supports tap tones from a deep Marimba-like bass gong to high harmonics. It's going to be matched up with a fairly heavy singlecut body and I expect really good results from it. Fingerboard will be (I have to decide) either Cocobolo or African Blackwood. For the truss rod slot I'm using a carbide end mill and my full sized knee mill.
     
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  12. Open_Book

    Open_Book Senior Member

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    Dave Weir uses Ipe.
     
  13. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Please let us know how it turns out. I'm very interested!
     
  14. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    So am I!

    As an interesting side note, Ipe is a close relative of Pernambuco. Pernambuco, as I'm sure you know, is the preferred wood for violin bows. Bow grade Pernambuco is tested with a "lucci meter" which tests the piece for the speed at which sound propagates through it. Faster = better = higher price for that blank. When Ipe is tested with a Lucci meter, the result is that sound travels through it even FASTER than through a master quality piece of Pernambuco.

    So, it outperforms Pernambuco as far as the Pernambuco tester is concerned. Yet Ipe is really dirt cheap stuff. It's not much more expensive than clear pine.

    There's obviously a market for Ipe violin bows.
     
  15. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    i have since resawn a board i got for testing and playing around with, but must confess that i haven't been doing much in the way of building. I was very impressed with the stability it displayed when, and after, it was resawn.

    please keep us informed, as i too am very interested in the results.
     
  16. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    I think some big name guitar companies who have been having "issues" getting certain fingerboard woods might do well to consider Ipe as a new board wood. The cost is right, it'll certainly hold a fret (Oh yes it will!) and a lot of it is even an attractive color for a fingerboard, but it does need to age a bit after milling so the yellow fades away.
     
  17. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Senior Member

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    I wonder about the heat generation when cutting, since it is so hard. I had a piece with internal stresses stop my table saw dead in its tracks. Most big companies use gang saws and if I am not mistaken, most of those thin kerf blades are carbon steel and the heat generation could wreck temper. If they are high speed steel, then they would only have to worry about blades dulling a little quicker. Then again, maybe they just haven't had the right "incentive" to consider it or switch.
     

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