Staining Fretboard with Higgins India Ink

Byle

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I am staining a fretboard and i tried my best to mask everything off tightly but i think some of the ink seeped through the sides of the tape and i can see it on the side of the neck through the tape. I am letting it dry overnight (first coat) but if it ends up being on the neck what can i do about it? Thanks
 

Trashhxkingg

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I am staining a fretboard and i tried my best to mask everything off tightly but i think some of the ink seeped through the sides of the tape and i can see it on the side of the neck through the tape. I am letting it dry overnight (first coat) but if it ends up being on the neck what can i do about it? Thanks
Hey man, if you’re using the Higgins non-waterproof India ink, as suggested(by stew Mac).. then you can just wipe down the side of the neck with a damp rag. just be careful not to wipe off the ink on the fretboard. Unfortunately it’s inevitable and some of the ink will seep through the tape.. although, if your neck is unfinished I’d recommend lightly wiping it with naphtha or mineral spirits if the water doesn’t do the trick.
 

c7spheres

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Hey man, if you’re using the Higgins non-waterproof India ink, as suggested(by stew Mac).. then you can just wipe down the side of the neck with a damp rag. just be careful not to wipe off the ink on the fretboard. Unfortunately it’s inevitable and some of the ink will seep through the tape.. although, if your neck is unfinished I’d recommend lightly wiping it with naphtha or mineral spirits if the water doesn’t do the trick.
I always thought that was odd to use non-waterproof ink. You'd think you'd want water proof. DOes this stuff wear of and you gotta re-apply it after a while or after a few processes does it not come off and stay there forever, even after cleaning with fretboard cleaner etc I wonder?

I have a beater guitar I do experiments on and was gonna try different inks/dyes on each fret to see results. So far ready to go I have a black(purple) dye water based from StewMac, Some kinda stamp pad ink, and Minwax ebony pen marker, Minwax cherry and walnut dyes too. I figure put them on and see what they look like. I see online the MInwx ebony pen marker seems to work really well, plus I used that same stuff on my cabs I built and it's black and doesn't wear off, so I'm guess that's probably the one.
 

Trashhxkingg

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I always thought that was odd to use non-waterproof ink. You'd think you'd want water proof. DOes this stuff wear of and you gotta re-apply it after a while or after a few processes does it not come off and stay there forever, even after cleaning with fretboard cleaner etc I wonder?

I have a beater guitar I do experiments on and was gonna try different inks/dyes on each fret to see results. So far ready to go I have a black(purple) dye water based from StewMac, Some kinda stamp pad ink, and Minwax ebony pen marker, Minwax cherry and walnut dyes too. I figure put them on and see what they look like. I see online the MInwx ebony pen marker seems to work really well, plus I used that same stuff on my cabs I built and it's black and doesn't wear off, so I'm guess that's probably the one.
So I personally prefer to use miniwax Ebony 2718 stain pen because it cures much darker and doesn’t rub off on the fingers like the India ink does if done improperly.. but dependent on the type of fretboard and condition of said fretboard, I opt between that and the Higgins non-water proof. It is suggested to use the India ink(stew-Mac recommends) cause it’s a lower viscosity and can penetrate deeper, plus the idea is you want to stain the fretboard not seal it completely since regular India contains a sealing agent so it will ruin the fretboard and make it unable to soak much needed fretboard oils given you’re staining an untreated fretboard. Certain maple fretboards are treated so you’d have to see what to do before preparing to stain. My little trick using the Higgins non water proof first to Darken as much as possible then lightly sand again And hit it with the miniwax to finish the job.
 

c7spheres

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So I personally prefer to use miniwax Ebony 2718 stain pen because it cures much darker and doesn’t rub off on the fingers like the India ink does if done improperly.. but dependent on the type of fretboard and condition of said fretboard, I opt between that and the Higgins non-water proof. It is suggested to use the India ink(stew-Mac recommends) cause it’s a lower viscosity and can penetrate deeper, plus the idea is you want to stain the fretboard not seal it completely since regular India contains a sealing agent so it will ruin the fretboard and make it unable to soak much needed fretboard oils given you’re staining an untreated fretboard. Certain maple fretboards are treated so you’d have to see what to do before preparing to stain. My little trick using the Higgins non water proof first to Darken as much as possible then lightly sand again And hit it with the miniwax to finish the job.
That sounds like a good method I'll have to get some higgins to experiment with. It makes sense now why to use non water proof now. Glad I have a beater to experiment on. No worrys if I mess it up. : )
 

Trashhxkingg

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That sounds like a good method I'll have to get some higgins to experiment with. It makes sense now why to use non water proof now. Glad I have a beater to experiment on. No worrys if I mess it up. : )
Yeah man it worked great for me after trial and error.. just follow stew Mac steps for the India ink and then I recommend lightly sanding with the same grit(600) instead of the steel wool and then hit with a few coats of the stain pen, but make sure you let it sit between coats atleast 10 and 30 min the longer it sits the darker it stains. Follow up by letting it cure for atleast 24 hours and the finally as stew Mac suggests rub it down with 0000 steel wool to get any excess pigment off the surface and once your done wipe it down with fretboard conditioning oil(I personally use f-one by music nomad) here’s my results so you can judge for yourself:)
 

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c7spheres

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Yeah man it worked great for me after trial and error.. just follow stew Mac steps for the India ink and then I recommend lightly sanding with the same grit(600) instead of the steel wool and then hit with a few coats of the stain pen, but make sure you let it sit between coats atleast 10 and 30 min the longer it sits the darker it stains. Follow up by letting it cure for atleast 24 hours and the finally as stew Mac suggests rub it down with 0000 steel wool to get any excess pigment off the surface and once your done wipe it down with fretboard conditioning oil(I personally use f-one by music nomad) here’s my results so you can judge for yourself:)
Yep, Looks good! thanks for the input on this probably saved me a lot of time and headache.
 

Byle

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So I personally prefer to use miniwax Ebony 2718 stain pen because it cures much darker and doesn’t rub off on the fingers like the India ink does if done improperly.. but dependent on the type of fretboard and condition of said fretboard, I opt between that and the Higgins non-water proof. It is suggested to use the India ink(stew-Mac recommends) cause it’s a lower viscosity and can penetrate deeper, plus the idea is you want to stain the fretboard not seal it completely since regular India contains a sealing agent so it will ruin the fretboard and make it unable to soak much needed fretboard oils given you’re staining an untreated fretboard. Certain maple fretboards are treated so you’d have to see what to do before preparing to stain. My little trick using the Higgins non water proof first to Darken as much as possible then lightly sand again And hit it with the miniwax to finish the job.
thanks man, I found out after doing 2 stain jobs so far, but i did not know about the pen. So you just draw on the fretboard with the pen after 2 coats of ink? Do you just do lines with the grain of the wood?
 

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@lewis that looks great too!. I'm asuming light sanding is necessary then. I was hoping to avoid that but I'll just have to setup a clean spot for dust. No biggie. Gonna experiment on my beater guitar then move onto the 7620's eventually if I feel confident. I can do this type stuff but when it comes to liquids and soldering or paint I'm abysmal at it : )
 

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@lewis that looks great too!. I'm asuming light sanding is necessary then. I was hoping to avoid that but I'll just have to setup a clean spot for dust. No biggie. Gonna experiment on my beater guitar then move onto the 7620's eventually if I feel confident. I can do this type stuff but when it comes to liquids and soldering or paint I'm abysmal at it : )
Only sanding i done was a tiny amount to prep each fret, and on Layer 3 or 4 (cant remember now) of the Finishing Oil and used 000 wool :)
All other layers of stain and oil had none.
 

Trashhxkingg

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thanks man, I found out after doing 2 stain jobs so far, but i did not know about the pen. So you just draw on the fretboard with the pen after 2 coats of ink? Do you just do lines with the grain of the wood?
Yeah miniwax ebony 2718 stain touch up pen, you can purchase them at you local hardware store. They have a marker style tip and you just push it down and draw it on easy as hell.. the sanding is just to get the fretboard to accept more stain as you play and wear down the fretboard it smooths and close up so you just sand lightly with whatever grit sandpaper( I recommend 400 when using the India ink and 600 for the final stain with the pen) then wipe it down with some naphtha to get any oils and moisture out of the wood then pretty much go through the steps I stated before until you’re satisfied there’s no wrong in having to do it a couple of time some wood is just finicky and you have to really get the stuff in there.
 

Byle

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Yeah miniwax ebony 2718 stain touch up pen, you can purchase them at you local hardware store. They have a marker style tip and you just push it down and draw it on easy as hell.. the sanding is just to get the fretboard to accept more stain as you play and wear down the fretboard it smooths and close up so you just sand lightly with whatever grit sandpaper( I recommend 400 when using the India ink and 600 for the final stain with the pen) then wipe it down with some naphtha to get any oils and moisture out of the wood then pretty much go through the steps I stated before until you’re satisfied there’s no wrong in having to do it a couple of time some wood is just finicky and you have to really get the stuff in there.
hey man my two stains i did with the india ink, i tried my best to get as most off as i could, but when im playing weeks later still a little of the black is coming off the fretboard, is this normal? does it stop eventually?
 

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My experience with the India Ink was not that positive. It seems you need to put just enough to "wet" the surface and not too much to soak the fretboard, as it dries really really fast. Or if you put quite a bit, wait a minute or so and then wipe it, which means you do a couple of frets, wipe, another couple wipe etc etc. If it dries and there's too much, it's a bitch to clean, as I had it on inlays, frets and in between frets and fretboards. I had to sand it off the inlays, frets and fretboard. You can use paint thinner to remove off the inlays and frets but then it takes it off the fretboard too and it's difficult to have a uniform coat like that.
 

Trashhxkingg

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hey man my two stains i did with the india ink, i tried my best to get as most off as i could, but when im playing weeks later still a little of the black is coming off the fretboard, is this normal? does it stop eventually?
Yeah that happens sometimes did you follow stewmacs instructions let dry overnight, lightly wipe it down with damp cloth, let sit again overnight, then lightly sand with 0000 steel wool to remove any excess pigment? Like I stated early In this thread I like to use both the India ink and the ebony stain pen by following the instructions on stew Mac for the India ink till it says rub with steel wool instead I lightly re sand it with 600 grit and stain it with the pen(about 3 coats) waiting 10-30min between coats while after each coat lightly wiping it down till the stain no longer comes off onto the cloth and then letting it dry/ cure for 24 to 48 hours to get the best results.
 

Byle

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Yeah that happens sometimes did you follow stewmacs instructions let dry overnight, lightly wipe it down with damp cloth, let sit again overnight, then lightly sand with 0000 steel wool to remove any excess pigment? Like I stated early In this thread I like to use both the India ink and the ebony stain pen by following the instructions on stew Mac for the India ink till it says rub with steel wool instead I lightly re sand it with 600 grit and stain it with the pen(about 3 coats) waiting 10-30min between coats while after each coat lightly wiping it down till the stain no longer comes off onto the cloth and then letting it dry/ cure for 24 to 48 hours to get the best results.
yeah i did all of those steps, will it just stop coming off eventually?
 

Byle

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My experience with the India Ink was not that positive. It seems you need to put just enough to "wet" the surface and not too much to soak the fretboard, as it dries really really fast. Or if you put quite a bit, wait a minute or so and then wipe it, which means you do a couple of frets, wipe, another couple wipe etc etc. If it dries and there's too much, it's a bitch to clean, as I had it on inlays, frets and in between frets and fretboards. I had to sand it off the inlays, frets and fretboard. You can use paint thinner to remove off the inlays and frets but then it takes it off the fretboard too and it's difficult to have a uniform coat like that.
for it not to stick to inlays, you cannot rough them up with the sandpaper, you gotta go around them
 

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for it not to stick to inlays, you cannot rough them up with the sandpaper, you gotta go around them
I'm talking about the cleanup after you apply the India ink. And it is near impossible to avoid the inlays when applying unless you use a small paintbrush for detail. The guitar I was applying it too was an Ibanez with massive shark tooth inlays. As for roughing up the inlays I used a 1200 grit paper and then 0000 steel wool to clean them up. Then I just started using the paint thinner. But then had the problem with the fretboard being affected around the inlays. I managed in the end to find some balance but I never managed to get it jet black. Just darken it up. Fibings leather dye was a lot easier and better to work with in terms of clean up.
 

Trashhxkingg

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yeah i did all of those steps, will it just stop coming off eventually?
Honestly, what I would recommend is to go back over lightly with 0000 steel wool then once over each fret lightly with a dampened rag.. then hit it w/ fretboard conditioning oil(music nomad f-one oil, stew Mac fretboard finishing oil) this is what I did to really seal it in there without sealing the fretboard completely. If that doesn’t work I’d recommend re-sanding then hitting it with the miniwax ebony 2718 stain pen
 


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