Category Archives: Fingerboard

A trip to the luthier

After most of the work was done I took the bass to the well known Dutch luthier Lucas Suringar. He is also selling the new Stagg RDL bass as I mentioned before in this posting. The one thing I did not trust myself with was planing the rosewood fingerboard… As he has a lot of experience with the Stagg EUB I was more than happy to drive quite a bit further to visit him. And it is always fun to chat with him and other customers while waiting for the work to be finished.

WP_20131116_006He took off the strings and removed quite a lot from the fingerboard. The planing revealed some lighter spots on the board but I think this only adds character to it. And after re-oiling the board it was a lot less visible anyhow.

In order to be able to plane the board Lucas removed the top nut. On most Staggs this is glued into place and removing it almost certainly will damage the epoxy on the headstock. As it did on my bass too 😦  But I was able to recover the paint flakes and I have glued them back in place at home and the damage is hardly visible. Strangely enough the top nut on my black Stagg was not glued on at all, something he had not seen before on any of the Staggs he had worked on so far.

The nut itself was also modified. On a stock Stagg the string spacing is not correct (too large). This should be 10 mm heart to heart. So three of the four slots were filled with a mixture of super glue and ebony sawdust and some new slots were cut. A quick re-oiling with some linseed oil finished the job.

After all work was done the Stagg played a lot better. No more buzzing! Top job and also at a very reasonable price (about 30-50% less than other quotes I got)!

Upgrading the Stagg

As I made this website after I bought my second Stagg and because I did a lot of the same mods on that bass too, I will only focus here on the mods I did on the black Stagg that I did not do on the new Stagg. The rest I will document while discussing the new Stagg.

I am afraid I did not take too many pictures because I did not know back then that I would make a website about it…

When I bought the Stagg the strings rattled severely. The main reason was that the fingerboard was not flat. As this is a painted fingerboard (using heavy epoxy) the paint has to dry out very evenly to get a flat board. And on this bass it had not… So In decided to unmount the neck and try to even out the uneven paintjob. Good idea? No…

b_3094Although the paint was applied in a pretty thick layer I sanded right through it pretty fast, thus ending up with a bad looking FB. So I decided to remove all paint from the fingerboard and redye it. This was a long and painful process as below the black epoxy was a thick and hard layer of transparent filler that was very hard to remove. I ended up scraping the board clean meticulously and cut myself several times on the sharp scrapers.. 😦

After scraping the fingerboard clean I turned the thrus rod clockwise as much as I could to give the neck a somewhat convex shape. My theory was that when I now sanded the FB flat and smooth and afterwards turned the thrus rod as much counter clockwise this would create a little bit of relief in the FB. … Well, it did not. Fitting a thrus rod to a neck as thick as on the Stagg is of no use at all!

10077810The last phase was re-dying the fingerboard using Fiebing leather dye I got from a local shop (Guitar Supplies). This worked out pretty well. It was a shame the fingerboard was filled at the bottom with “liquid wood” or something. Don’t know what it was but the Fiebing did not stick to it. After drying I sealed in the dye with a few coats of Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil to prevent me from getting black fingertips every time I played the bass.

After all this I had at least a nice and even fingerboard without bumps. The bass played a lot better but as the fingerboard still had no relief I had to adjust the action to be pretty high in order to prevent the E and A string from rattling. To get it done properly I would have to take the bass to a luthier. But that is not cheap and therefore I started thinking if it would perhaps be a better idea to sell the bass and buy me a new rosewood Stagg version…

Because I like the look of a non-painted bridge I decided to strip the paint of the Stagg bridge.  A bad idea… The epoxy was applied very thick and it was impossible to get it out of all corners of the bridge. And to make things worse… the bridge on this bass was made of two kinds of wood! The bottom was some sort of reddish hardwood like meranti and the top was made of maple. So, even if I could get it perfectly stripped it would look like shit… So I dyed it black again using Fiebings…

Below a few pictures of the black Stagg as it looked when it was finished. A few weeks later the black Stagg found a new owner. In the end I did not loose any money on it but I learned a lot from it!