Fretboard Help

So, my new (old) Carvin came to me in… well-used condition. I’ve spent the last several days cleaning it and setting it up and so on and so forth, but I have a concern about the fretboard.

Supposedly it is an ebony fretboard, and I have no reason to doubt that. When I got it I thought that the fretboard was just really dirty, but there are some spots which are not coming clean and I’m starting to doubt that they’re dirt after all, but actual blemishes or damage to the fretboard. Here’s an example:

Having worked with it closely over the last few days, I no longer think that’s dirt. It almost looks like the fretboard was finished or coated with something, and the coating is coming off… however, I can feel the delineation between the fretboard and the mother-of-pearl inlays which makes me think it’s NOT finished or coated.

I’m not sure what to make of this, or how to fix it. I’m thinking it might be beyond my capabilities and needs to go to a luthier for some attention.

Anyone else got any thoughts?

2 Likes

That’s just funk gunk.

Google ‘cleaning gunk off fretboard’.
I would start there, then reoil.

3 Likes

Most dark fretboards won’t have any coating. A thorough cleaning and some mineral oil will probably fix it. The wood might be a little bit dry, which could explain the inlays sticking out.

2 Likes

On this one it looks like someone may have applied boiled Linseed oil or something similar, and it’s worn thru at some spots.

1 Like

I think you’re right. I followed @John_E’s advice up above, and I’ve been going at it with some 0000 steel wool. It’s taking some elbow grease for sure, but it’s coming up super clean and smooth.

3 Likes

And, after many hours of work, I have a perfectly clean fretboard and I have “proud bass papa” vibes going all through me:

…my arm is sore. LOL.

Again, thanks to @John_E and @Ruknrole and everyone else who replied in the thread for your feedback and pointers.

13 Likes

Holy crap that looks fantastic!

Send me your address, I have a few that could do with your technique!

5 Likes

Great job! Looks outstanding!

3 Likes

Wow! Cleaned up great!

3 Likes

Dang! That is gorgeous! Well done.

3 Likes

That fretboard deserves a catcall whistle. Fine work, Tim.

5 Likes

That would be a pretty amazing before and after pic! Well done.

3 Likes