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 Post subject: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:43 pm 
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There is a myth I myself believed for some time: maple freatboards should always be varnished. I believe many of you have heard this before. The thing goes on saying that a maple freatboard that is not painted will wear out and twist because of humidity. As a matter of fact, many brands of guitars and basses out there only paint their maple freatboards. With other woods, they don't.

Further more, I had never seen a maple freatboard that wasn't varnished on any guitar I'd seen or played. For that reason, I always stayed away from maple freatboard guitars - I prefer the unvarnished feel. Even so, I do admit that varnished freatboards haver their own special charm.

Now all of the sudden I find myself with a 650 S, which has a beautiful - unvarnished - maple freatboard, and I love its feel and growly tone. So that brings a few questions to my mind:

- Is this myth true (or part true) but RIC dicovered a secret formula for protecting unvarnished maple freatboards?

- As far as I am concerned (not 100% sure) the 650 line are the only production guitars that have unvarnished maple freatboards. If there are others, they're not many. Why is this?

- Why do other guitar brands insist on always varnishing their maple freatboards?

Thanks for any comments or opinions.


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 1:51 am
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Quote:
Is this myth true (or part true)...


I wouldn't fret over this (pun intended). The 650 series has been in production since the 80's, and I've never heard of this condition coming up in either of the Rickenbacker forums I read.


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:49 pm 
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Location: Louisville, KY
As far as I know, the reasons for the other companies varnishing their maple fretboards was more cosmetic, as were the changes that prompted those companies to switch to rosewood fretboards in the 60's. I have to admit, I've never heard of any such myth about the use of maple in the fretboards distorting like that from a lack of varnish.


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 1:00 pm
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Location: Colorado
Here is some info from Warmoth about the necks they sell ...

*****************************************

To Finish or Not to Finish?
All our necks are dipped in an oil based penetrating sealer which is compatible with virtually all secondary finishes. This provides enhanced stability; however, it is not adequate protection for playing. We strongly recommend you apply a hard finish to all Maple, Mahogany, and Koa necks. Oils do not validate our warranty requirements.
We understand the attraction of raw or lightly oiled necks. They feel fast and are not sticky. Unfortunately, they are much more susceptible to moisture related warping and twisting. Our experience is that hard finished necks seldom warp. Less than 1 out of 200 (0.5%) are returned for warpage. Raw or oiled necks don't fare as well. About 10% are rendered useless from the torture. The more acidic your perspiration, the higher the odds are against you.

If you must play a raw neck, that's cool; it's ok. A neck is just a tool. Just be aware of the risk. If yours does the pretzel act, we don't want to hear about it.

For a valid warranty, a hard finish must be sufficiently thick to completely cover the wood. That means no wood is exposed and you are actually playing on the finish, not the wood. Now, it does not matter to us who applies the finish. Of course we would like to do the finish for you, but if you choose to do it yourself or have it done elsewhere the warranty is still valid.


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:15 pm 
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Location: Colorado
I build my own non Ric basses ... I built some with necks that were just sealed and nothing else ... some of them warped slightly ... now I mix tung oil and mineral spirits and give a neck 2 coats ... that way I increase the protection and I still have the wood feel ... so far the necks I treat this way have held up fine ...

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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:57 pm 
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Ok, so maybe the trick is in the tung oil... There is actually some finish on the fretboard but it feels like there isn't.

The truth told, I'm not the least bit worried about my fretboard or neck twisting. I know RIC quality and I know these guitars are as durable and sturdy as they get. I'm just curious.

Great replies there, thanks... So according to Warmoth it is not a myth!


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:13 am 
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the finish slows down the changes in humidity in the wood ... it will still equalize with the climate it resides in but when the neck is finished it takes longer for the humidity level in the wood to change ...

Also the best humidity level for maple is 35% ... I try to keep my basses in a humidity level above 20% and below 80% ...

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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:44 am 
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Location: Lakewood, CA
The finish on a maple fretboard is mainly for looks. On a maple fretboard with no finish, after playing for a while, the oils from your fingertips turn the wood a dirty grey color. Check Keith Richards well used Tele after the finish wore off.

Some guys like the look of a worn maple fretboard. Leo hated it. That's why he laquered his maple necks. Rosewood doesn't have this problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:09 am 
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Location: Santa Ana, CA
While the 650 does not have a gloss finish, it is sealed quite well with two component system that involves an oil coat and a polyurethane coat. It's no more susceptible to humidity than any other guitar.


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 Post subject: Re: Varnished freatboards
 Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:23 am 
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So there IS a secret formula...


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