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What's with the fingerboard finish?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by rooboo, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    I have just a few years ago undestood the fun in playing a Telecaster. I come from a Les Paul background and no matter how much I love the my Tele these days – I still wonder about the finish on the fretboard.

    Les Paul's don't have finished fretboards. I like the way my fingers connect to the wood on a LP board rather then the thick layer of sticky polyester on a Telecaster.

    Is it a rosewood/maple thing? My Stratocaster doesn't have a finished fretboard. But then it is rosewood too.

    What happens with a maple fretboard without finish? I get's discolored I guess, but is that all? I'd take discoloration over sticky polyester any day.
     
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  2. KellyCaster71

    KellyCaster71 Tele-Holic

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    It's somewhat of a rosewood/maple thing. I'm sure there are some builders who will comment on the layer of protection that maple benefits with a layer/layers of poly or nitro. Maple doesn't have the same hardness as rosewood. But with that being said, there are some finishes that are lighter than others. I've played some satin finished maple necks that almost feel bare. I've also played some nitro finished necks that have a much thinner layer.
     
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  3. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Plenty of non "sticky polyester/nitro" maple tele necks out there ,just google gun stock oil finish and satin finish.
     
  4. tintag27

    tintag27 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Bare maple discolours quickly, so it is usually sealed. My CV50 has a glossy sealed maple fretboard tinted to emulate a vintage fretboard (not my favorite feature but it plays well).
    On the other hand my old Music Man Axis Sport also had a bolt-on neck with a maple fretboard - but this was a beautiful satin feel - so it can be done...
    Axis Avatar.png
     
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  5. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've finished RW FBI with TruOil a couple times and I really like those necks. The oil in the RW got me on the third one and the T-O wouldn't cure...
     
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  6. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

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    I really like the satin finished maple necks as well. The neck on my Lite Ash Tele has worn to a subtle shine along the most played areas. I recently bought a Squier Vintage Custom II and the neck finish on that is surprisingly nice.
     
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  7. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    Yeah I know they're available through aftermaket dealers. But I have yet so see a original Fender (or Squier) maple neck without finish. I reckon this must have a reason. If it's only cosmetics I'm gonna get me a unfinished Warmoth (or similiar) in the near future.
     
  8. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    All modern american teles (american std,deluxe,elite etc.) have satin finished necks.
     
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  9. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Bare maple gets grimy looking.
     
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  10. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    My point exactley!
     
  11. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, I get that. And I think if I give it a quick clean up every string change it'll be mangageable.
    I read Warmoth says 10% of their necks without finish get's warped and if you keep it unfinished they'll terminate your warranty. I read that as legal mumbo-jumbo. I mean in other words 90% of the unfinished maple necks does not get warped. I think I can take it with those odds. As long as it does not affect the tone.
     
  12. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    One of my Tele's has a Tru-Oil finish on a maple neck and it feels better than any poly I've tried.
    And it ages like a fine Meerschaum pipe, it is developing a golden brown hue that makes it look older and richer.
     
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  13. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    Sounds like a good alternative to unfinished. Do you have any pics of the guitar to share?
     
  14. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

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    Unfinished maple will "move" a lot until it finds its balance. That balance changes with any moisture change. I've seen maple warp up to a 1/4" over 12" while sitting on my bench for just a few days. I'd always finish it somehow to prevent strong moisture shifts. Rosewood, ebony, and richlite are more stable.
     
  15. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    New glossy lacquer can be sticky, that's why they need to be broken in.

    I greatly prefer bare rosewood as well, they look and feel better than maple to me, but find yourself a shop that carries Rickenbacker and find out how awesome a lacquered rosewood board is o_O
     
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  16. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    What's you expert's thought's about above mentioned Tru-oil. Will it harden the maple enough to prevent from warping and still not be as sticky as poly?
     
  17. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    Tru-Oil is great, you can leave a very thin finish with around 6-10 coats since the stuff should go on as thin as possible. Leave it to cure for a couple weeks, more is always better, then hit it with finishing wax on some 0000 steel wool. You'll be left with a protective finish that's not tacky at all, easy to repair, and cheap. TO is often aptly described as a great "in the wood" finish rather than gloss lacquer being "on the wood."

    What's more, tru-oil is stocked at your local wal-mart, cheap, and you can do the project in your living room. I recommend applying it with a folded up coffee filter. Who wants to spray nirto (or poly) when TO is so much easier (and safer)?
     
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  18. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    This sounds awesome! Will this TO harden enough to even prevent the much dreadded eventual warping of the maple neck?
     
  19. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well, it's originally designed as a gun stock finish, so it's meant to handle being out in the weather....
     
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  20. rooboo

    rooboo Tele-Meister

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    Cool, thanks for info. I'm from Sweden – we know nothing about guns :)
     
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