Friday, January 27, 2012

Fingerboards & oil.

About two years ago, I stumbled into a pawn shop looking for... I dunno.  Trouble?  Truth is, our town has several in close proximity, and I'd never darkened their door.  Since the advent of eBay, the fantastic deals of old are long gone - market price is set on the net, blue book be damned, and many of the items end up listed there as well.    As it happened, however, there was a very old, VERY battered Alvarez hanging on the wall with a $40 price tag, and I was feeling a little rebellious.

You see, since I settled down and grew preternaturally old, I played.  A lot.  Paid for college, among other things.  But law school has a habit of recruiting amazingly talented & diverse people and flattening them out into little robots - amazingly strong and focused on a but single thing.   And in the years since I went through that process, the guitars have largely stayed in their cases.

But the simple truth is, you want your kids to grow up around YOU.  Who you really are.  And I thought we needed a guitar around the house.  Nothing fancy, mind you.  The nice things stay in their cases.  I needed something I didn't care about.  Something that could get hurt, broken, or outright destroyed.

A $40 Alvarez fit the bill.  Perfectly.

Perfectly good guitar, once I adjusted the tension rod & worked on a few technical details.   Played about as well as I could expect for a $40 axe. 

But it looked like hell.   It had obviously been exposed to the elements.  The top end of the fretboard, along with the high end, were weathered as hell.  So was the bridge, which looked as if it had been left out in the sun for an entire summer.  After a while, I noticed the fretboard was affecting playability as well. 

I reached out to an old friend, who recommended ColorTone Fretboard Finishing oil, which I had seen online.  I took the strings off, wiped everything down, and used 00 grade steel wool and gently rubbed down the fingerboard & the frets.  This removes a thin layer of wood & metal from the guitar.  Made one pass over the fingerboard, came back, wiped it down, and... wow.  Plays like an entirely new guitar.  I had no idea how much this would affect the playability.  The change is remarkable.

Planning on doing the same thing to the Les Paul this weekend.  But of course, I tried it out on the beater first.

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