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Cure for a sticky fingerboard?
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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
August 13, 2012 - 8:24 pm
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So, inspired by the thread about tape, I removed the applique that I've had on my violin for about five months. Now, I'm left with sticky goo on the fingerboard.

I've tried rubbing it off, but just seems like I'm spreading it around and only making my fingers sticky. I don't want to use alcohol because that would probably ruin the finish.

Any suggestions on how to remove the glue residue without damaging the wood?

duncecapdunno

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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cdennyb
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August 13, 2012 - 8:51 pm
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Glass cleaner without alcohol.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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August 13, 2012 - 11:41 pm
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If it's a true Ebony fingerboard, alcohol won't harm it at all. I use it all the time to clean my string's and the fingerboard.

Glass cleaner if it not Ebony or if it's painted . Dennis is right.      hats_off

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Crazymotive
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August 14, 2012 - 3:13 am
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Fiddlestix said
If it's a true Ebony fingerboard, alcohol won't harm it at all. I use it all the time to clean my string's and the fingerboard.

Glass cleaner if it not Ebony or if it's painted . Dennis is right.      hats_off

This seems to be correct. My fingerboard is true ebony wood and I've used alcohol to clean the strings up at the fingerboard and also to remove a tiny bit of grease from my fingers that got onto the strings and upper part of the fingerboard and never had any problem. Of course avoid getting any on painted or varnished  parts.

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DragonLady
Buckhannon,WV
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August 14, 2012 - 9:27 am
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What about rosewood finger board? Would the alcohol ruin it or will it be fine?

16 years of experience and relearning.

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DanielB
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August 14, 2012 - 10:03 am
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No matter what the fingerboard may be made of, I would use the mildest method possible to start, and only progress as far as necessary into stronger methods.

So I'd start with a dry cloth, then damp (but not wet) cloth, then maybe window cleaner, and then on to alcohol or naphthalene (lighter fluid).

My reasoning would be that firstly the mildest methods are preferable since they have less risk to the fingerboard or the rest of the instrument.  Secondly would be that even real ebony is sometimes color treated or stained to enhance it's appearance.  Many pieces of ebony are not evenly dark, and while that won't necessarily harm their functioning well as a fingerboard, it is possible that a lighter streak in the wood was stained a bit to give a nice uniform appearance, so solvents and aromatic hydrocarbons like naphthalene might take off some colour.  Using solvents like alcohol or lighter fluid also could dry moisture out of the wood.  I couldn't say for sure if it would be enough to increase the chances of cracking, but I would be at least as careful about putting them on wood as I would be of getting the wood too wet.

I figure you probably threw away the applique?  If you haven't thrown it out yet, then you could experiment on the removed applique to find out what will remove the adhesive on it. 

I can think of one thing I would try before maybe anything but dry cloth.  Tape.  Adhesive usually sticks to adhesive better than it sticks to anything else.  So I'd try cutting a little strip of something like duck tape and stick it to the areas where you have adhesive on the neck in very small sections and pull it off quickly and see if it lifts off any of the sticky residue.  Kind of like using tape to remove lint from a garment.  It shouldn't damage the wood to try.  It may not work either, though.  I haven't ever tried it for something like this.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Kevin M.
Nicholson, Pa
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August 14, 2012 - 11:45 am
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Daniel tape is what I use to take it off.  I would however use alcohol over water.  Water can ruin wood and most stains are either water or oil based and while alcohol will effect water based stains it would take a great deal of rubbing to do anything. Rosewood will not be hurt by alcohol as it doesn't really hurt any wood.  It will soften a spirit based finish and can ruin it but it can also repair it buy blending small scratches, this has to be done with a knowledge of French polish. Getting back to cleaning glue residue off of fingerboards elbow grease is the best. Just rub it with your finger and it will ball up and come off.

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DanielB
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August 14, 2012 - 12:20 pm
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Well, Kevin, you and others here are more experienced than I, and so I note with much interest the preference for alcohol as a cleaner. I hadn't considered that most of the stains may not be alcohol/spirit based. 

My own experience is more with guitar fingerboards and assorted electronics.  Other than the dust and dead skin, there the usual "gunk" next to the frets may be oil if they ever actually wipe down the fingerboard with anything.. But often is actually sugar/starch from food.  While it could come from particles in the air from cooking and etc in a home, most often it is from playing without having washed or wiped off their hands after eating.  So I usually try a damp cloth with mild soap first before going to alcohol.  Sometimes it is enough. People don't typically put tape on guitar fretboards, though, so the adhesive traces aren't anything I've seen there.  With my electric violin, as the tapes came off, I just rubbed the bit of adhesive off.  A minor pain in the butt, since it wasn't a lot of adhesive from those thin strips.

I have seen ebony fingerboards even from reputable companies where after some wear or cleaning, lighter colored bits of the grain became visible.  While it is possible that never is done on violin fingerboards, I would kinda doubt it.  But I will definitely admit I have little idea what actually might be used on violin fingerboards as stain base, and you and the others here definitely have the experience on that.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
August 14, 2012 - 1:04 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
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Thanks for all the thoughtful and helpful responses everyone. I knew that I could count on all the violin building and restoring experts to weigh in.

Since I've already tried rubbing it off with my fingers and only seem to have accomplished smearing it around, I'm going to try the tape trick next. I can't believe that I didn't think of that myself, as it was a common trick in the old days of graphic arts to pick up rubber cement. In fact, I even had a tool for that -- a square of gum rubber.

And, good idea to try it on the old applique first...I do still have it.

Thanks again all! I'll let you know how it turns out.

hats_off

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
August 14, 2012 - 8:03 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
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OK...tape did the trick!! I used some masking tape. Ran it back and forth perpendicular to the fingerboard (under the strings) and it looked and felt better in no time. I had to use several pieces of tape and may have to touch it up a little more, but it's almost back to non-sticky normal.

Thanks, Daniel. And everyone else. It was good to hear the other possible solutions for future reference in case an even stickier problem arises.

thumbs-up

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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