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J-35 Fingerboard Lacquer


Bozz

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I just purchased a new J-35 from our local Gibson dealer. I am extremely happy with its playability and tone. But, when I got it home and into a room with a lot of natural light, I noticed what seems to be excessive amounts of lacquer (or similar substance) in random places all up and down the fingerboard. I can see brush marks (or maybe rag marks)here and there, and even a faint thumb print just above the 5th fret. With the light at the right angle you can see these large unsightly bluish, grayish, shiny areas. This is pretty disappointing, especially on a new and relatively expensive instrument. The dealer said they will contact Gibson, but the warranty has an exception for finishes, so I don't have high hopes for a repair, or replacement. Does anyone have any thoughts on a remedy, or is this just something that I'll need to live with?

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I just purchased a new J-35 from our local Gibson dealer. I am extremely happy with its playability and tone. But, when I got it home and into a room with a lot of natural light, I noticed what seems to be excessive amounts of lacquer (or similar substance) in random places all up and down the fingerboard. I can see brush marks (or maybe rag marks)here and there, and even a faint thumb print just above the 5th fret. With the light at the right angle you can see these large unsightly bluish, grayish, shiny areas. This is pretty disappointing, especially on a new and relatively expensive instrument. The dealer said they will contact Gibson, but the warranty has an exception for finishes, so I don't have high hopes for a repair, or replacement. Does anyone have any thoughts on a remedy, or is this just something that I'll need to live with?

 

You don't say where you got it, but Guitar Center and Sam Ash have a 30 day return policy. I would have them replace it.

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It is a Gibson and their quality control is bad, which is a shame. I would take it back to the dealer and get your money back. let the dealer have at it with Gibson especially since the dealer should have found those defects and sent it back before selling it to anyone.

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Sorry to hear about your poor Gibson quality issue...you are not alone...many have discovered this..I had the exact same problem on a Woody Guthrie AJ model ...years ago. shiny ugly uneven lacquer or perhaps glue, randomly all over the dark fret board ruining it...as well as two other expensive Gibson models..very unsightly..when seen at an angle in light... It would not come off either....In all fairness, I just bought a new Gibson Hummingbird that does not have that fret board issue, or I would not have bought it.

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The fretboard on my J-35 had a similar issue and I went over it with 0000 steel wool, then a very light, quick application of FretDoctor. It's much better but still has a couple slightly shiny areas that I think will disappear over time. Nothing I'm worried about, especially since the guitar sounds so good. I wouldn't consider anything on the fretboard part of the 'finish' but if it's that bad and Gibson doesn't offer to take care of it, I'd suggest having the dealer get another one and hope it's at least as good sounding as the one you have, and hopefully with a nicer fretboard. If the second one has issues or doesn't sound as good, you can then decide if you want to keep the first one (since it sounds so good) and deal with the fretboard...or not. At that point it certainly won't hurt to take it to a local tech and see what can be done before making a decision. The steel wool application could very well improve things, but it's always good to get a pro opinion before you do anything.

 

Good luck.

 

DC

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I must be the luckiest guy around here, I have 6 Gibson's now and had several others in the past and my friends own a few also and absolutely no problems. fit and finish is great, plays great and sounds great. I must be shopping in the right places

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If it's nitro cell.........acetone, be VERY careful to NOT get it on any finish you DON'T want to remove. I recommend using maybe a cotton ball or something similar put a little on it and rub it lightly and use it sparingly.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I bought the guitar Friday afternoon, from the only Gibson Acoustic Five Star Dealer in my home state. There is a GC in my home town that had a nice looking J-35 that I played several times. But, I chose to drive to a privately owned guitar shop in a city that's 120 miles away. This shop has been in business since the 70's and I just wanted to support their small business, rather than the big national chains.

 

The guitar they sold me has a beautiful tone, so I am not overly excited about exchanging it for another. Maybe another will sound as magical, or maybe not.

 

The dealer is contacting Gibson for me, so I'll wait and see what they say. So far, they are saying all the right things. In the meantime, I probably won't be doing any work on it myself. But I will definitely keep everyone's suggestions handy in the event that I am left with the guitar, as is.

 

I passed up buying it at GC, with the sole intent of supporting a small local music business. How ironic would it be if that decision ends up biting me in the butt?

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how long have you had the guitar for ?

does the fretboard look dark like ebony ?

 

JC

 

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The fretboard is Rosewood and I was actually surprised that Gibson had put lacquer on it.

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Owned many Gibson Guitars and Mandolins over the years and I've never had a QC with any of them. As already mentioned, I'd be tempted to take some 0000 grade Steel Wool and give the fretboard a vigorous buffing with the grain on a few frets to see if the finish is coming off. I use 3 in 1 oil to condition the board. If you don't like the results, then I'd make travel plans.

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I've never seen these kinds of QC problems either, but if I did, I'd take it back to the dealer and have their repair man clean it up. Actually, personally, I'd do it myself and save the trip, but if you're not confident doing that, don't. But the bottom line is you're removing excess finish from raw wood. Steel wool. Light sandpaper at the most. Mask off the edges of the board and take the stuff off.

 

P

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I once asked about rosewood looking much darker than normal on gibson acoustics . and Jeremy Fuller from Fuller's Guitar said that sometimes excess moisture could be the case and that the rosewood would dry up over some time ... I don't know if this is what's going on with your J 35 but I'm going by the fact that it's a rosewood fingerboard and that you got it friday .

 

I hope gibson can help you out !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JC

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I suspect what you are seeing (photos would certainly help this discussion!) is grain filler under a dyed fingerboard. Similar to the mahogany on the back of an LP, rosewood can have some extreme open grain, some might even call them cracks. The filler will absorb the dye in a different way than the natural wood, therefore will have different reflecting/absorbing qualities.

 

It will all "even out" over time.

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One way to fix the surface of the fingerboard is to burnish the wood with a razor blade. lay the blade of a new single edge razor blade across the fretboard at a fret and lightly scrape towards the next fret with light even pressure. With a little practice you can scrape (or burnish) very quickly with a back and forth motion. This will clean the stuff of the fretboard and leave a smooth even surface...

 

The whole job should take about ten minutes.

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Gibson fingerboards typically have no lacquer finish.

 

Are you saying there is a spotty overspray of lacquer on the board?

 

As noted above, some photos would be very helpful in clarifying the issue.

 

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Here are a few pictures. Thanks for the input.

 

http://s1375.photobucket.com/user/tdrex72/media/003_zps1c3a4476.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0

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Ummmm ... after looking at the pix, I would suggest getting a bottle of mineral oil, the type used to treat and clean kitchen cutting boards. Dampen a rag with it - about a quarter-sized spot on the cloth will probably do it - and gently scrub the fingerboard with it. The oil is good for the board, anyway, and it will clean and condition it and help seal it. I do this just about every time I change strings on my J-45; while the strings and bridge pins are out, I usually do the bridge as well. Just a little bit of mineral oil goes a long way, and it does not appear to have harmed the finish, either. It makes the fretboard feel nice under my fingertips, and my strings last longer.

 

If those spots are still glaringly shiny, you can take it back, or trade it, or whatever - but truthfully, if you play it for a while, all of those spots will disappear as you break the guitar in.

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Ha! It's a rosewood fretboard. Rosewood is a highly resinous wood. It gets shiny where you play it (& it looks like you had a nice weekend breaking her in), and it gets a dull appearance where you don't. It's fairly easy to see what chords you like! And you say you like the tone; I say play it in good health, and buff the "dull" frets at the first string change. Enjoy.

 

ps- a test to see if this is the case; slacken the strings and see if those shiny areas have dull areas in the "shadow" of the strings.

pss- using the magnify feature on photobucket shows the filler that L5Larry was mentioning which is frequently used with rosewood.

 

And thanks for putting up the pics.

 

 

edit: uhh... unless those whitish deposits are wax. I think some grain filler is visible as the dark areas between the grain. If someone got some wax on the fret board, maybe when polishing the guitar, it would've gotten into the grain like that, and you'd want to use some naphtha or other fast oxidizing solvent to get it out (maybe even using an old toothbrush), and then treat the board with a conditioner. Not a terrible chore. Loosen the strings, put capo against the first fret/nut, , pop bridge pins out, leaving strings out of the way, clean, condition, reinstall string ball ends, pins, tune up, done. Beats driving 240 miles round trip.

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