Pau Ferro fretboards on Epiphones blacken the fingers...

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by Beery Swine, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Beery Swine

    Beery Swine Member

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    ...and I *think* this is normal, possibly from the wood itself or maybe they roast it a little to get the color a bit dark so it resembles rosewood a bit more, so this is just a heads up to anyone wanting one of the Chinese imports. It washes off easy enough.
    I have 2 Epis with pau ferro, a '66 SG and a new Les Std Plus. They both leave some kind of black residue on the fingers after playing for a bit. I never bothered trying to polish or clean the SG's fretboard cuz I'm lazy, but eventually my fingertips took the vast majority of the residue off anyways. When I first got it, I thought it was the strings, like they were **** or something, so the 2nd or 3rd day I changed to a fresh Ernie Ball set. Didn't alleviate the problem and I wasted a perfectly good set of stock Epi strings. I fully expect the new Lester to do the same after a few weeks.
    Hopefully this hasn't already been covered.
    Here's a preview if you get one:
     

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  2. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, not a fan of Pau Ferro boards. I think they've been sneaking them on the Gibby SGs for the last couple of yours also, although there's no black coming off the fingerboards. They are just the lightest reddish brown that I've ever seen on the Gibson SGs. 2018s are horrible in this department. I guess I should just be happy it's not Richlite :rolleyes:

    Maybe now that CITES has taken Rosewood for finished Musical Instruments off their list, Rosewood will become available and used once again. :smile:

    I unwittingly bought an 2018 Epi Casino with a Pau Ferro board. Should have sent it back. I just don't like the looks of it, prefer the rosewood.
     
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  3. Beery Swine

    Beery Swine Member

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    I can definitely understand that sentiment, but when it comes to slightly different things. I like nickel covers on humbuckers and couldn't care less whether or not it makes them sound worse. Sounds good enough with them anyways. The looks of the fretboard, otoh, it's fine by me.
     
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  4. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I have a couple guitars that do that as well, I always thought that it was something they had put on the fretboard to make it look darker because many people, like arcticsg mentioned above, don't like the look of the lighter wood. I bought a second hand inexpensive SX acoustic guitar from a guy who I don't think played it at all, and it has a dark, matte coloured board, but the coating they put on comes off fairly easily exposing lighter wood underneath.

    20190906_065712 (1024x731).jpg
     
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  5. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I had a protoype G&L ASAT Deluxe II Korina with Pau Ferro fingerboard. Never had any issues with it. Very solid guitar and intonated up and down the entire neck perfectly.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. PixMix

    PixMix Well-Known Member

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    It’s probably dyed to make it darker. If you give it a wipe down with some lemon oil or other approved fretboard oil, it will probably get rid of the excess dye that is just sitting on the surface of the fretboard.
     
  7. Voxman

    Voxman Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a 91' Tom Andersen " Drop Top '' With a Pau Ferro fretboard and it's moderately light brown. Let me see if I can Find it …..


    28676-cba4cee177b55f18bd0d380fd7fb1324.jpg
    I think that's the natural color as your wear spots seem to me to show a similar color in the wear spots of your fretboard. Whatever they did put on your neck must of not have soaked into the board
     
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  8. Voxman

    Voxman Moderator Staff Member

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  9. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    When I finally get around to changing the strings on that acoustic I plan on giving the fretboard a good clean to remove the residual dye.

    My J&D Luthiers SG has a lighter coloured board. The specs say it's rosewood, and I suppose it could be, but maybe it's Pao Ferro or something else. I would have preferred a slightly darker wood on a black SG, but it plays just fine.

    20190228_165458 (730x1024).jpg

    I got a guitar from an Australian company, Artist, and they had covered the "Eco-Rosewood" fretboard with shiny black lacquer, apparently in an attempt to hide the colour of the actual wood. It looked like plastic, absolutely horrific, and I sent it back.

    Companies should just forget all these masking techniques and use these new woods in their natural state.
     
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  10. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Epiphone guitars have their fretboards coated with something at the factory, and it comes off black on your fingers if you play it a lot before changing the strings and cleaning it.
    >That's the best thing to do with a new guitar anyway,
    strip those factory strings off, clean the fretboard, treat it with fret doctor, polish the frets with Gorgomyte, install good new strings in your preferred gauge, and then set it up and intonate it for those strings.
    >I bought my ES-339 new, and got the black stuff on my fingers when I was following my own inclinations and played the guitar a lot stock, just to get a
    handle on its qualities. But after cleaning and new strings, it stopped doing that.
    >If you buy a used Epiphone, that black stuff should be gone. Unless the guy never
    played it or changed the strings. That could happen.
     
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  11. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I don't understand all the angst about fretboard wood.
    At this stage in the collapse of the tropical "tone wood" industry, we can expect guitar
    makers to use whatever they can get. The fact that guitar makers used rosewood or ebony in the past means nothing if those trees are not available any more.
    The more tropical forests are burned down, the less tropical tone wood is
    brought to market.
    I believe that substitute wood is what we should expect in any reasonably priced guitar. The real rosewood and ebony will be reserved for the custom shop orders,
    IMHO anyway.
    56@100.jpg
    The most recent new guitar I bought was a Gibson J-45 AG.
    The top is Sitka Spruce,
    the back and sides are Walnut, the neck is Maple and the Bridge and Fretboard are also made of Walnut. To hell with tropical tone wood. My new Gibson is made of all North American hardwoods, all sustainable, all in good supply.
    I think guitar makers ought to use cherry, walnut, ash, beech, birch, how about Osage Orange... And I'm sure they do. My walnut fretboard gave off no black
    substance to stain my fingers. It's a Gibson.
    Caledonia 8@100.jpg
    The picture above shows my Epi's fretboard (which I think is Rosewood) after
    I cleaned all the black coating off, and rubbed some Fret Doctor into the wood.
    It darkened up nicely. Whatever wood it is, it's hard and smooth and feels
    great to play.
    So I happily bought my Epiphone ES-339 online, knowing that sometimes Epi
    guitars don't have the same features advertised. I wanted that guitar
    and I wanted that price. So you might think it was
    going to be rosewood, and get one made with Pau Ferro or something else that
    we don't even know the name of yet. For the price I paid, I didn't expect a
    Gibson. But my Epiphone turned out to be a real prize, made out of whatever.
    Chinese guitar makers know how to do that. And they seem to be able to get
    all the Rosewood they want. I think the international tone wood market is a can of worms.
     
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  12. Voxman

    Voxman Moderator Staff Member

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    All guitars should be hewn from an axe felled tonewood tree.
    Carved with gouges and rasps.
    Pickups should be hand wound.
    The finish should be colored with the blood of a virgin, applied under a full moon and cured under the first rays of dawn on the summer solstice at stonehenge.
    Anything else sounds like crap!
     
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  13. Beery Swine

    Beery Swine Member

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    1 axe-felled Sequoia = exactly 1 guitar
    Anything less (or more) is HERESY!!!
     
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  14. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    My last Epi, a casino, came with the pau ferro board. There was no dye or black on it. They weren't trying to hide anything, lol ;)

    I cleaned and oiled it and it didn't change one bit. Same color and shade as before I oiled it. I sure prefer my older Casino's rosewood fretboard.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. S.Ustain

    S.Ustain Active Member

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    Pau Ferro is a decent tonewood with acceptable physical properties, but the color does not go well with most guitar body colors, and the factory treatment (smoothing and conditioning) is, for Gibson and Fender anyway, poor. Apparently, companies just don't want to bother with the $$$ handwork required to make a smooth board. I would suspect that makers are using a dark conditioner to create a better visual appearance, but that this comes off in use. Since EI Rosewood can be pretty ugly in its lighter-colored form, and is also unpleasant when not smoothed properly, you see plenty of guitars with yucky fingerboards that are rosewood, but still terrible. Some of this crap makes Richlite and baked maple seem elegant.
     
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  16. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

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    I havent seen any problems like this with gibson fretboards.
     
  17. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    No, unfortunately they just like to use the most streaky, lightest rosewood that they can get away with at times, like what was used on this 2018 SG Standard example. Hard to believe they'd let that out of the shop. And before you ask, it's been oiled.

    You know, it wouldn't be so bad if that was the crap rosewood they were using for fretboards in their online and in print photo ads. But no, they use the darkest rosewood on the planet so you think that's what you are getting when you order one.

    Yeah, I still love my Gibbys, but...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    I'd do the baked maple :D
     
  19. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    It's dye.
     
  20. Hector

    Hector Well-Known Member

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    I love the Indian Laurel on my two Squier Strats.

    The rosewood on my SGs is great too.

    The Roasted Grandillo on my BFG also leaves nothing to be desired.

    My Framus with Brazilian Rosewood is very, very nice.

    Frankly, there are alternatives to Rosewood. It is a question of perception.

    I do wish I could get a hold of a Gibson with a Roasted Maple fretboard to fell and hear the different. The only one I have seen locally was totally gooched, so didn't buy it.
     
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