Using Higgins India Ink to darken a streaky ebony fingerboard

5F6-A

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My 2003 OM esque spruce and rosewood acoustic guitar is lovely. Has been to so many battles with me (and it shows) and it sounds better every day. No wonder everybody who plays it, loves it.


Listen to it in this clip:



Anyway, the only thing that bothered me slightly was the streaky ebony fingerboard. The ebony was of good quality but not uniformly black with tan, grey and pale maroon streaks. I decided to use some Higgins India ink (sold by Stewmac and others). A couple of very thin coats and a final polish with fret doctor and fine steel wool did the trick fantastically. The black of the ink matches perfectly the black sections of the original ebony and the streaks have almost vanished. No need to mask inlays as they wiped off relatively easily. Overall, very happy with the result.


See:



What do you think? Any similar experience/ BTW, don't bother ordering more than one bottle. With the content of one of those little bottles you can "ebonize" probably a hundred guitars.
 

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integra evan

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I personally love that streak in the ebony, but it does look like you did a good job of using the ink. Would be interesting to see how it holds up in the long run. Have a picture of the whole guitar?
 

DavGrape

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I like the streak, too!
But the inked looks great.
 

5F6-A

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I guess the streak will come through at some point... yes, I guess it's kind of cute. I'll publish a picture of the whole guitar at some point. :)
 

Stinky Kitty

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+1 for preferring the figuring. It's your preference that matters though.
 

grumphh

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I think hiding away that streak was a good idea. :)

Some woods look nice when streaky and give a cool look, other woods streaks just look like, well, crap, and disguising them is a good thing.
Ebony is one of those woods that only rarely has attractive streaking - imo :)
 

OldBenKenobi

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I've never ebonized a board, but as an amateur comic artist and something of an ink connoiseur I wouldn't use Higgins on a fretboard. Higgins holds up poorly under an eraser so I can only imagine what strings will do to it over time, and its matte flat matte finish is a poor substitute for ebony's shine IMO. Were I to blacken some streaky ebony my first instinct would be to reach for Speedball Super Black, which on top of being extremely permanent also has more of a sheen to it.

That being said, you appear to have gotten great results and your ebonized board is a massive improvement. I too dislike the streaks of ebony, the whole appeal of an ebony board is that it's pitch black!
 

ArchEtech

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I love figured ebony when its evenly all over the place and not one random streak. Although.....your guitar looked just fine as is, it does look better all black.
 

Dolebludger

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I’ll agree that the striped ebony does not look good with just one big stripe. I do have a Tele type that has a totally striped ebony veneer top. Being fully striped, it looks great.
 

moreles

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I think there are better substances than India Ink to dye a fretboard. India Ink is heavily pigmented and not really a dye or stain. Maybe it soaks in, but it would not be my choice. I'm surprised to hear that it's sold for that purpose, not because it's terrible, but because I can't see how it's the best choice.
 

5F6-A

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I think there are better substances than India Ink to dye a fretboard. India Ink is heavily pigmented and not really a dye or stain. Maybe it soaks in, but it would not be my choice. I'm surprised to hear that it's sold for that purpose, not because it's terrible, but because I can't see how it's the best choice.

Options?
 

PierM

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That product works good because it’s water based, so isnt acting as a siccative layer. Since does sink deep into the pores and fibers without changing the feeling and wood proprieties, I think it’s a good choice if you want your fretboard to be darker, without using a more dense dye. Only cons is that you really need to properly prep the board to make this working.
 

5F6-A

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That product works good because it’s water based, so isnt acting as a siccative layer. Since does sink deep into the pores and fibers without changing the feeling and wood proprieties, I think it’s a good choice if you want your fretboard to be darker, without using a more dense dye. Only cons is that you really need to properly prep the board to make this working.
Very interesting stuff
 

PierM

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Did that old Peavey yesterday. I did alternate 4 stain with Higgins, with micromesh 3600, and oil. Worked very good.

I also like the fact that this is not producing a real pitch black, but since it’s kind of transparent. does still preserve the oroginal wood color, so now it does look a very dark brown rosewood. Originially was a ugly pale tonality.













 

Dirtyclinic

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I love that there is a "during" photo because Mitch Hedberg has joke where he says "where are all the DURING photos?" anyhow...…..the fretboard looks great. I have a rosewood fretboard on an SG that is very light in color and it bothers me a little bit. I should look into something like this.
 

5F6-A

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I love that there is a "during" photo because Mitch Hedberg has joke where he says "where are all the DURING photos?" anyhow...…..the fretboard looks great. I have a rosewood fretboard on an SG that is very light in color and it bothers me a little bit. I should look into something like this.
You should try it. The results above (i.e. Peavey) are great.
 




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