Staining a maple fretboard in a colour?


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06-15-2008, 07:37 AM
I was wondering, why aren't maple fretboards stained in any colours? What negative effects would it have?

I searched a bit and all that came up was darkening and staining it black, but what about a red fretboard for example?

Or would it just look crappy and wear off soon? Could anyone explain this a bit?

skater dan0
06-15-2008, 07:41 AM
ritter royals have a bass with a stained blue maple fretboard and it looks fantastic,

here's the link (

i guess no one does it because most people want natural wood as their fretboard colour

06-15-2008, 08:48 AM
Holy ****, a 10-bolt neck!

But that fretboard is really nice, I might just try and stain a regular maple fretboard one day...

Absent Mind
06-15-2008, 09:10 AM
I love that all blue bass, very nice!

I think its more a convention thing than anything, people arnt willing to try new things because they are so use to bog standard natural maple/rosewood/ebony.

I can see no negatives to staining a fret board.

06-15-2008, 10:03 AM
Don't they only use hard maple for fretboards? I might be wrong, but the grain is so tight on hard maple that you can't stain it. You could use a colored transparent finish, though.

06-15-2008, 10:42 AM
I dunno if these are stained but

06-15-2008, 10:51 AM
I dunno if these are stained but
Why are those even legal?
They have to be the worst looking guitars ever fs.

And I think staining a maple fretboard would be really cool, it probably isn't done a lot because of mass producing costs and bothers etc, but a custom with it would be nice.

06-15-2008, 10:53 AM
It shouldnt be hard to stain just about anything. And not sure the reason for not staining maple fret boards. Things tend to get done the same way for a long time for no other reason than "we have always done things that way". All you can do is try it.

skater dan0
06-15-2008, 10:59 AM
i've never seen the appeal of those deans, they look god awful, at least the ritter looks classy

06-15-2008, 12:57 PM
on the ritter ones after looking at it for a bit it just looks so right to me
id say deff give it atry

06-15-2008, 01:17 PM
Alright, I have a neck that I defretted (the frets were filed down too low).
Question is, should I fret first or stain first. I think it'd be easier to stain without any frets but I'm afraid that the wood might start playing tricks on me, swelling some fret slots too tight or warping otherwise. Then again, staining once fretted will be a bit more tricky, or not?

I have experience from oiling a body when the TOM bridge holes were suddenly a tiny bit too close to each other... don't ask me how it's possible.

06-15-2008, 02:30 PM
Be a whole lot easier to stain then fret.

06-15-2008, 02:50 PM
Yes, but couldn't it somehow mess up fret placement? That's what I'm most afraid of.

06-15-2008, 03:07 PM
id say stain then fret, and if you have a problem with the slots swelling, you can always very carefully open them up a bit with a file, just tape of the stained parts before filing them

06-15-2008, 03:34 PM
Okay, but has anybody even just darkened their fretboards with stain?
I guess you'd just do it with frets on, that's why I'm leaning towards fret -> stain, it seems to be a tested working solution. Or can anyone recall any problems staining with frets on?

06-15-2008, 03:41 PM
come to think of it, a lot of people like that vintage tint on their tele/strat maple boards, and they probably fret first, so i don't think it would be a problem at all, its not like the metal frets are going to take the stain or anything

06-15-2008, 04:10 PM
i've never seen the appeal of those deans, they look god awful, at least the ritter looks classy

hahaha, a friend of mine is getting one. She wants to learn guitar. Specs wise they dont look too bad though. It has an alder body. But this is all off topic...

Absent Mind
06-15-2008, 04:17 PM
I would stain first, much easier! the stain is only going to affect the top surface of the fretboard, and doesnt penatrate very deeply, so the chances of it swelling horizontally arnt huge, even if it did, either saw or file the slots back to width.

Much easier than masking off every fret, even then, if it you stain and it swells then it will push up on the seated frets, which isnt good :p:

06-15-2008, 04:25 PM
Okay, seems that both are possible then. It's not actually necessary to mask off any frets, the stain shouldn't do anything to metal, and rosewood fingerboards are quite commonly darkened with a stain - I highly doubt anyone would remove the frets just to do that :)

06-15-2008, 07:18 PM
What kind of Maple is your neck? Just from a wood point of view stains don't really 'take' to Maple all that well. I mean, it will stain, but I can see it not being long lasting.

I do find if you want to tint or colour a maple neck, coat it in a tinted nitrocellulose lacquer... That will give you the nice gloss colour. I can't see long lasting great effects form a stain onto a hard, tight grain Maple wood.

- Rich

LP Addict
06-15-2008, 09:01 PM
your fretboard doesnt have to be hard maple, it gets a hard finish, so it could be pine if you really wanted it to be, as long as it will adhere to another wood and take a hard finish.

06-16-2008, 02:20 PM
What kind of Maple is your neck?

How do I find that out?
It's maple, it used to have lacquer on it, it does feel pretty solid. Any specific clues that I should look for?

06-16-2008, 03:53 PM
Well, I'd be guess an american rock maple.

I still maintain you'll get better results form a tinted lacquer. Also, as a personal preference I feel lacquerd necks play nicer.


06-16-2008, 04:19 PM
But would a tinted lacquer show off the wood grain the same way a stain would?
Sorry if this is a noob question, wood finishing has always been a bit of a mystery for me, I'm just discovering everything :)

06-16-2008, 04:22 PM
I am building some lap steels right now and am staining maple for the neck. It's a hard wood, so your best bet is to steel wool it then apply the stain heavily and over the course of a few days. Leave it on a while and just steel wool between coats.

06-16-2008, 04:31 PM
Another possibly stupid question: why should I prefer steel wool over fine sandpaper?

06-16-2008, 04:32 PM
Use whatever you want. For rubbing out finishes like this I use steel wool.