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Black Fingers


w7ptt

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Hello all,

 

I just bought a brand new Epiphone Les Paul with P90 pickups. The guitar looks, feels, and sounds great. There is a problem though. After 10 minutes of play, my fingers are black. I took it to my guitar tech and he took off the strings and cleaned the fingerboard with some sort of cleaner for guitar fingerboards. He then put on new strings. I am still getting black fingers (not quite as much, but still pretty bad).

 

Any thoughts?

 

Bill

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Hi Bill, welcome to the forum.

 

Epiphone and a lot of other manufacturers use a darkening dye on their fretboards. The dye has a tendency to rub off on your fingers when the guitar is new. This phenonemon has been discussed a bunch here and it's definitely the dye, not the strings or frets as some have suggested.

 

In any case, you can reduce this problem to almost nothing by cleaning the fretboard with Naptha, a common and inexpensive mild solvent available at hardware stores. Naptha is used in most repair and manufacturing shops and is safe to use anywhere on the body or fretboard. If you don't want to use a petroleum-based product, other commercially available fretboard cleaning products will work equally as well.

 

Cheers, Brian

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Hi Bill, welcome to the forum.

 

Epiphone and a lot of other manufacturers use a darkening dye on their fretboards. The dye has a tendency to rub off on your fingers when the guitar is new. This phenonemon has been discussed a bunch here and it's definitely the dye, not the strings or frets as some have suggested.

 

In any case, you can reduce this problem to almost nothing by cleaning the fretboard with Naptha, a common and inexpensive mild solvent available at hardware stores. Naptha is used in most repiar and manufacturing shops and is safe to use anywhere on the body or fretboard. If you don't want to use a petroleum-based product, other commercially available fretboard clening products will work equally as well.

 

Cheers, Brian

 

 

 

Hi Brian!

 

I just talked to my guitar tech and he said he used Naptha when he cleaned my fretboard. I guess I need to tell him to go back and do it again? I know when He did the cleaning with Naptha the 1st time, he spent about 15-20 minutes rubbing on the fretboard.

 

Bill

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It could be the strings.

I have a tendency to press down too hard on the strings when I play and often have black fingers after playing. Especially when they are new. And I know my situation is not caused from the fretboard.

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What make strings are you using?

 

Reason I ask is that I had this problem for a while with D'Addarios on my maple board Tele. A bulk pack of 6 sets from a local guitar shop so all from the same batch. Next pack I bought were a different batch and problem had gone away.

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What make strings are you using?

 

Reason I ask is that I had this problem for a while with D'Addarios on my maple board Tele. A bulk pack of 6 sets from a local guitar shop so all from the same batch. Next pack I bought were a different batch and problem had gone away.

 

 

Hello,

 

My string brands are D'Addario and GHS. About an inch and a half area on each of my fingers is black.

 

Bill

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I've owned my EPI LPs for 3 years now (ALREADY?) and I condition

my fretboards twice a year at least, AND....... I still occasionally

get the "Black Finger", usually after a long playing session.

 

Most likely the dye, as BrianH mentioned. It oozes to the top like

primordial goo. [biggrin] It will become less and less noticeable

over time. If it's REALLY bad, another cleaning may be in order, but this

is something you CAN do yourself, just to keep the $$$$ in your own pocket.

 

This is how I clean and condition my own fretboards, just skip the

"Fret Polishing" part for now as you have a new git......

 

"CLEAN/OIL FRETBOARD and POLISH YOUR FRETS!!!"

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/54572-wire-wool/

 

AND...... Welcome to the Forum!

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I can understand the dye problem, but I have NEVER gotten black fingers except for when I have played my guitar and not wiped the strings and fingerboard down afterward. Due to oil secretions and already present dirt on my fingers.

I ALWAYS wash my hands before playing.

 

Are your fingers sticking to the strings or fretboard while you're playing? Or the strings feel "rough" as you do slides?

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I've never used GHS strings (I use EB Power Slinkies on all my electrics other than the Tele) but it's interesting that you use D'Addarios as well and are experiencing the same problem.

 

I'm wondering if there is an issue with the cleaning process and some of the lubrication used in the manufacturing process is getting left behind on the string surface. Either that or, and most likely, the final anti-oxidation process on some batches is faulty.

 

Couldn't have been a dye problem with me as the Tele has a laquered maple board.

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I can understand the dye problem, but I have NEVER gotten black fingers except for when I have played my guitar and not wiped the strings and fingerboard down afterward. Due to oil secretions and already present dirt on my fingers.

I ALWAYS wash my hands before playing.

 

Are your fingers sticking to the strings or fretboard while you're playing? Or the strings feel "rough" as you do slides?

 

 

Hello,

 

My fingers are not sticking to the strings or fretboard while I play, and the strings do not feel rough when I do slides.

 

Bill

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Hello,

 

My fingers are not sticking to the strings or fretboard while I play, and the strings do not feel rough when I do slides.

 

Bill

 

Ok, so lets do some troubleshooting. When your tech changed the strings, did he put D'Addarios back on it?

Also, Brianh said to use some naptha to clean the fingerboard, Zippo lighter fluid is naptha, get you some and use a soft cloth and see if you can pull any residue off the fingerboard. May just be the dye. If your cloth turns dark quick then you know where the problem is!

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It could be the strings.

I have a tendency to press down too hard on the strings when I play and often have black fingers after playing. Especially when they are new. And I know my situation is not caused from the fretboard.

Kudos to SG.

 

Do you see a commonality in these replies?

You say your fingers are turning black......not brown (like the fretboard).....black.

 

Maybe your fingers are just very acidic....Mine are.

Even if you don't like them, try a different brand of stings. Maybe some Gibsons or Elixir Nanowebs?

Is this your first guitar? What is your experienced with other guitars?

 

It is possible that some kind of residue is embedded in your fretboard. Although this is unlikely, a good cleaning should have taken care of it.

If not, I do have a suggestion. I am, however, reluctant to explain it until I have a better idea of your age and level of experience at working on guitars. Sorry if it sounds snooty. I am just being cautious.

 

Keep in mind that you will likely have this guitar for some time to come. Don't get too worried if this minor problem takes a couple of weeks to work out. We are here to help. (Trying to be encouraging)

 

Willy

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Kudos to SG.

 

Do you see a commonality in these replies?

You say your fingers are turning black......not brown (like the fretboard).....black.

 

Maybe your fingers are just very acidic....Mine are.

Even if you don't like them, try a different brand of stings. Maybe some Gibsons or Elixir Nanowebs?

Is this your first guitar? What is your experienced with other guitars?

 

It is possible that some kind of residue is embedded in your fretboard. Although this is unlikely, a good cleaning should have taken care of it.

If not, I do have a suggestion. I am, however, reluctant to explain it until I have a better idea of your age and level of experience at working on guitars. Sorry if it sounds snooty. I am just being cautious.

 

Keep in mind that you will likely have this guitar for some time to come. Don't get too worried if this minor problem takes a couple of weeks to work out. We are here to help. (Trying to be encouraging)

 

Willy

 

 

 

 

Hi,

 

I know everyone is trying to be helpful, and Willy I don't take you as being snooty at all.

 

I have been playing guitar for 10 years. I own several other guitars and have never had this problem (PRS Santana, PRS Custom 24, Gibson ES-335, Gibson 58 VOS Les Paul, and a Fender Strat (maple neck).

 

Bill

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W7ptt,

 

OK... Either you are an adult or a very rich kid.

You could try a fretboard scraping.

I do not recommend this if you are not comfortable with it!

I do, however, do it to all my new Epis.

 

Sometimes the coating on the fretboard is the equivalent of very thick shoe polish.

You can scrape it. I use a utility knife blade. I would suggest starting with an old credit card. It may be all you will need!

 

If you scrape the frets spaces toward you (top to bottom and back again) you may be surprised at the gunk that comes off. Keep the top of the straight edge angled toward you with the bottom away. (you are dragging it)

Caution Must Be Taken!!! Work around the inlays or you can scratch them severely!

 

I am not responsible if you try this and cut off a finger or destroy your fretboard!

 

The above is a one time project!

 

Clean with naptha and then follow Animalfarm's instructions for fretboard care.

When using steel wool (discussed in AF's link) make sure and tape off your pickups with painter's masking tape. (Steel dust not being good for your pickups)

 

Hope this helps

 

Willy

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If it's the dye from the fret board how come I had exactly the same problem on my Tele which has a laquered maple board?

 

Not saying you're definately wrong but the fact that I had the exact same problem with a batch of D'Addarios and the OP also is using D'Addarios whilst I've never had it on any of my Epi's (all of which are rosewood boards), or my bitsa 'Strat' which has also has a rosewood board, which are all strung with EB's seems to point in the direction that it's the strings which are causing it.

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Pretty sure its was the D'addario strings fitted to all my SX 's and Richwoods .My fingers turned black on all three .One maple and two rosewood .It went the minute I changed to my regular Rotosounds .They didnt turn black on my Squier CV strat with a Rosewood board either .The Squier strings were decent quality ,I have only just changed them after lasting months .

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Just keep on playing it until it doesn't happen any more. You can always wipe off your fingertips. The more you play it, the faster the black stuff will dissipate, so just keep on playing until it doesn't happen any more. Use naphtha and fretboard conditioner or a little "bore oil" ( used on clarinets) to keep the fretboard clean and slick/conditioned. When my fingers are discolored from the fretboard stain, I'm usually happy knowing I've practiced enough for that particular session, then just use a little soap and water and I'm set to go.

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I've been having black fingers for a couple of months after I bought my Epi. I'm pretty much sure the strings were the cause, as I usually rubbed the fretboard after playing with a cloth to remove some grease from it - the cloth was brownish after that, but the cloth I used for string conditioning was absolutely black. Though, when I changed stock strings to Rotos the problem didn't return. My friend who has a Strat with a maple fretboard also was having black fingers, and he was pretty much sure it were the Fender stings he used, as the problem came back every time he put on a new set.

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this is very common with new guitars. many manufacturers use dye to darken the fretboard.

Its happened to me with all my epis. just wait a bit till it dries out.

 

Which is why it happens with D'addarios on a tele with a laquered maple board ](*,)

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