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DIY Decorated fingerboard
I'm making an electric violin, and wanted to decorate the fingerboard with liquid gold leaf.
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New member
July 25, 2016 - 2:29 am
Member Since: July 25, 2016
Forum Posts: 1
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Hello all. I started making an electric violin, and is was deeply inspired by one of Mark Wood's instruments. It's a stingray pro, with gold details on the fingerboard. I wanted to recreate this look, but was having trouble deciding what material and technique to use. I considered liquid gold leaf, but I questioned the durability of the paint over time. Will the gold leaf be damaged by the strings, or vice versa? Thank you


July 25, 2016 - 7:16 am
Member Since: March 15, 2014
Forum Posts: 244
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hi and welcome to forum,

you could use gold leaf but I don't think it will last long. You might try polished brass inlaying instead.

 Happy fiddleing

With violins there is no fretting over the music.

Fort Lauderdale
August 4, 2016 - 3:36 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16356

I believe that inlay would last longer. Perhaps @cdennyb has some suggestions. :)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

King for a Day, Peasant for many

August 10, 2016 - 7:09 pm
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1817
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Sorry for the late reply, been busy with so many projects and one was building a 10 string Lap Steel Guitar for myself. It was a welcome break from doing violine fretted fingerboards. So to give some insight as to what you want, here's my thoughts and experiences on  matter. Take it for what it's worth.

The fingerboard is a a harsh environment, abrasive rosin dust is ground into the surface constantly and of course the normal heating and cooling from your fingers playing and then no heated object touching for awhile all tend to expand and contract the surface. This is probably why you don't see "painted" fingerboards, they are all stained or just ebony polished to a smooth finish.

On a guitar, like a violin the fingers actually touch the fretboard/fingerboard so there is an additional abrasion factor at work and of course I'm speaking of the string against the wood surface.

Now, armed with this knowledge you can now see why just simply adding gold leaf decoration to the fingerboard would look very nice initially and within I would suspect a few weeks will have lots of bare spots showing because you wore it off, sanded it off.

On a lap steel guitar I made this fretboard with abalone inlay and clear polyurethane coated it for protection and additional sealing protection from the environment because it's played with a steel bar and neither the strings nor your fingers touch it.

On my fretted fingerboards I do offer them with dots inlayed but the dots are very small and durable and clear coated so playing on top of them does no damage like it would on a gold leaf job.

Hope this helps your choice.hats_off

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"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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