Pale streaks on the fretboard

ivanvir

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Hey guys,

I have a 2018 Les Paul Studio, very nice guitar, but there are some pale spots on the fretboard driving me crazy! When I bought it (almost 2 years ago) fretboard was really dry so I treated it with Dunlop lemon oil and it was ok for a while. But those streaks appeared again so I treated the board with Dunlop 02 I think, and it actually got worse after 2 or 3 days. After that I tried Music Nomad's F1 conditioner and Bore Oil but with no success. I am afraid that putting more oil could actually damage my fretboard or loosen the frets, any suggestions what to do? Spots are mostly grouped in the 2-8 fret area with a particulary nasty looking streak between the first 2 strings. It is interesting that when I put my finger on it it feels like wax or something, it is very smooth, definitely feels different than rest of the fretboard. Also, it shines under the light, like there is some reflecting material in it. Here is a picture of it, any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
IMG_20210411_225745.jpg
 

CB91710

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Ya, do NOT over-oil it.
If it's dry, like they often are when new, they can use a fairly good treatment.
After that, they should be treated no more than once a year... twice if you live in a very dry climate (the kind of climate that requires you to adjust your truss rod twice a year)
I over-treated a couple of my guitars in the 90s (good heavy oiling every string change) and the inlays started to pop out.

It's wood. It is a natural product, and it has its own color and feel.
That one looks odd because the dark areas are under the strings, but the patterns do seem to follow the grain, so I'd think it's a characteristic of the wood.
Next string change, I would use Naptha (Zippo fluid) and a fine ScotchBrite pad to completely clean everything you can get off of the board. If it feels waxy, that may help cut it. It's possible that before you bought it, it may have been treated with lineed oil, which will tend to seal the wood.

I would certainly avoid flip-flopping between products, particularly if you noticed a negative reaction after using one. While most fretboard and bore oils are nothing more than scented mineral oil, some of the scents or filler chemicals may not be compatible from brand to brand.
 

AcVox

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Please stop drowning your fingerboard in oils it won't end well, please believe me.
I see nothing in the image you uploaded, we need something hi res to comment further, and in this regard your in the right place for expert advice my friend.

A pale brown board is not the sign of a dry board any more than a dark brown board is evidence you've struck oil. This is a common fallacy others can explain.

Try to get us clear images of these spots you mentioned, I guarantee you will receive a positive and friendly response..
 

CB91710

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And again... it's wood.
We think of Ebony as being a solid black wood, and traditionally, it is. It is also often dyed to darken it and even out the finish.

But a couple of years ago, Fender started kicking out the necks pictured below.
They are Ebony... Fender's PR line was that evenly colored Ebony was getting more scarce and harder to source.

api6fyb4p__36319.1541195760.jpg

lpbebonyhstk.jpg

0990001921_fen_nck_frt_1_rr.jpg
 

ARandall

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The very nature of grain is that it is actually a visible representation of the slower and faster stages of the yearly growth cycle.
In places where the climate is extreme, that entails some massively different structure and also hardness. I have built a few guitars now using Western Red cedar, and that has some incredibly hard sections (which are shiny) and some very soft sections which are open and porous.
Of course not only do these wear differently, but they also react to any product (finishing or otherwise) differently.
 

LPTDMSV

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S
And again... it's wood.
We think of Ebony as being a solid black wood, and traditionally, it is. It is also often dyed to darken it and even out the finish.

But a couple of years ago, Fender started kicking out the necks pictured below.
They are Ebony... Fender's PR line was that evenly colored Ebony was getting more scarce and harder to source.


View attachment 530804
There's an interesting documentary (probably on YouTube or the Taylor guitar site - Ebony Project) with founder of Taylor guitars going to Africa, finding out how the ebony was being harvested and realising that the obsession with all-black boards was causing a lot of wasted felling effort, wasted lumber and harming local livelihoods - most ebony has pale streaks in it and that should be something in the wood we could learn to love, like curl in maple.

Anyway, back to the Gibson Studio 2018 which should be rosewood :) , really hard to be sure from those pictures but it looks pretty gunked up to me. I would concentrate on thoroughly cleaning it as advised by others here, and if it turns out to have some natural pale streaks, I would learn to love them, or trade it in - but if it sounds good, it *is* beautiful!
 
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Dilver

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Practically all the rosewood Gibson has been using for the past several years doesn’t look right. I’m not Gibson bashing - I love Gibsons... but it’s all way browner than typical rosewood which is much redder in color. Everyone thinks they’re dry, so they drown them in oil. But it’s just the color and appearance of the wood. I suspect Gibson has been sourcing rosewood from other places than they used to, and perhaps even different species of rosewood (there are lots).
 
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ARandall

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Practically all the rosewood Gibson has been using for the past several years doesn’t look right.
Thats what was said in the late 60's when the switch to madagascar was made......and then later when the switch to Indian (which is more purple) was made :dunno:
As the demand for wood grows, you have to keep searching for new places to supply it. An inevitably the comparison to the older stuff is unfavourable until such times as the 'collective attention span' wanes and it is normalised.
 

LPTDMSV

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Thats what was said in the late 60's when the switch to madagascar was made......and then later when the switch to Indian (which is more purple) was made :dunno:
As the demand for wood grows, you have to keep searching for new places to supply it. An inevitably the comparison to the older stuff is unfavourable until such times as the 'collective attention span' wanes and it is normalised.
Yes, absolutely. Not that rosewoods are the only or the best woods for fingerboards anyway, also nothing that there at least 19 different types of tree that technically qualify as rosewood as well as other trees that are habitually called rosewoods because of similar properties or appearance Dalbergia (rosewood) genus | The Wood Database (wood-database.com)
 

ivanvir

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Hi guys,

thanks for all the answers and info, really appreciate it.

Now, just to point a few things out: I am not interested in completely dark fretboard, I actually like when fretboard has some lighter streaks in it - IMO, it is a beautiful thing. @AcVox , I didn't really drench my fretboard in oil at every string change. I did it 5-6 times during the last 2 years which is a bit too much, but I used the oil very sparingly and didn't leave it drenched overnight like some guys do. Anyway, I took some pictures of that area and the whole fretboard, too, so you guys can take a look at a difference between that 2nd - 10th fret area and the rest of the fretboard:

IMG_20210412_093545 (1).jpg

Now, this doesen't look too bad as the fingerboards tend to get darker overtime and I have really sweaty hands anyway, so my guess was that, over time, areas would get more even. However, that spot between high E and B string, between the 2nd and 5th fret specifically, does not look healthy to me and it feels different, like I am gliding my fingers on wax or similar smooth surface:

IMG_20210412_093755 (2).jpg


Forum won't let me upload better quality pictures, sorry about that.

@CB91710 this is not the first time I hear about the Zippo fuel trick. How much should I use it for cleaning? I would like to avoid using grit papers (hope that's the right phrase!), ScotchPad looks like it's a very fine paper grit but I am really untalented for that kind of work and I will surely screw something. Can I use cloth instead, even if requires more work?

Once again, thanks for all the answers, cheers!
 

LPTDMSV

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Interesting photos, thanks.
However, that spot between high E and B string, between the 2nd and 5th fret specifically, does not look healthy to me and it feels different, like I am gliding my fingers on wax or similar smooth surface
Hmmm yes, that does look a little strange - like filler, almost. Did the board wear unevenly, and someone tried to repair it perhaps? You could scratch at that surface a little and see if you get any kind of plastic smell/shavings off it, or if the surface seems very hard and impervious to scratches. You will soon know if it's not wood, at any rate.
 

ivanvir

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Interesting photos, thanks.


Hmmm yes, that does look a little strange - like filler, almost. Did the board wear unevenly, and someone tried to repair it perhaps? You could scratch at that surface a little and see if you get any kind of plastic smell/shavings off it, or if the surface seems very hard and impervious to scratches. You will soon know if it's not wood, at any rate.
Well, apart from me trying to darken the fretboard with a couple of different types of oils, no one did anything to it AFAIK. Now, I did try to scratch the area with a fingernail in a cloth method and it seems that after that, there were very little pieces of something left on the cloth which did not look like wood. It was almost white in color (more like dirty white) and a bit shiny, I could take pictures tonight if they would be of any use. It took a lot of scratching to remove just a bit of that material, though.

edit: I think it started to wear unevenly, yes. Especially after I used Dunlop 02 (Deep Conditioner). But the streaks were already there from the beginning, that's why I started using those products in the first place.
 
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LPTDMSV

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Well, apart from me trying to darken the fretboard with a couple of different types of oils, no one did anything to it AFAIK. Now, I did try to scratch the area with a fingernail in a cloth method and it seems that after that, there were very little pieces of something left on the cloth which did not look like wood. It was almost white in color (more like dirty white) and a bit shiny, I could take pictures tonight if they would be of any use. It took a lot of scratching to remove just a bit of that material, though.
My guess, at this point, would be someone tried to fill in wear patches or damage on the fingerboard with a glue/resin tinted with sawdust to match the colour, or something like that. Before you owned the guitar. But yes, please post your pictures and we will see what others think!
 

ivanvir

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My guess, at this point, would be someone tried to fill in wear patches or damage on the fingerboard with a glue/resin tinted with sawdust to match the colour, or something like that. Before you owned the guitar. But yes, please post your pictures and we will see what others think!
I'd be very (and unpleasantly) surprised if it turns out that it was damaged or something. I bought it new from Thomann Germany, they are a reputable dealer - I don't think they would sell it like new item. But hey, one can never know, I'll post pictures later when I scratch some more of that material! Thanks, man!
 

Freddy G

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Well, apart from me trying to darken the fretboard with a couple of different types of oils, no one did anything to it AFAIK. Now, I did try to scratch the area with a fingernail in a cloth method and it seems that after that, there were very little pieces of something left on the cloth which did not look like wood. It was almost white in color (more like dirty white) and a bit shiny, I could take pictures tonight if they would be of any use. It took a lot of scratching to remove just a bit of that material, though.

edit: I think it started to wear unevenly, yes. Especially after I used Dunlop 02 (Deep Conditioner). But the streaks were already there from the beginning, that's why I started using those products in the first place.
Take a new sharp single ended razor blade and scrape in between the frets.
 

CB91710

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@CB91710 this is not the first time I hear about the Zippo fuel trick. How much should I use it for cleaning? I would like to avoid using grit papers (hope that's the right phrase!), ScotchPad looks like it's a very fine paper grit but I am really untalented for that kind of work and I will surely screw something. Can I use cloth instead, even if requires more work?

Once again, thanks for all the answers, cheers!
A microfiber cloth will get the job done without risk of damage.
Naptha evaporates quickly, so there's not a big problem of having too much, just apply it to the cloth, not the wood directly.
 

ivanvir

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Something is definitely coming off the fretboard when I rub it with just a cloth:
IMG_20210412_195427 (1).jpg


Those really white lines are where my fingernail was. However, I feel like I am polishing it more than removing it, so I am going to try the Zippo method on a fret or two.
 

ivanvir

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Look even worse now after the Zippo treatment, like another really ugly streak is forming and the color is coming off the fretboard...I'll just stop:

IMG_20210412_201431 (1).jpg
 

LtDave32

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Zippo fuel / lighter fluid or camp stove fuel, or "white gas".

It is a fuel, not a solvent. It will not harm nitro at all. I keep a gallon of it, camp stove fuel on the shelf. 12 bucks at wal mart.

You can dunk an 80 year old nitro finish into a barrel of it and it would be fine.

I use it to clean and degrease wood before spraying.

Use it on your fret board to get all that nonsense off and see what it really looks like.
 


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