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Thread: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

  1. #1

    Post 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    Kindly advise as to "cleanup" options on this fingerboard.
    Much Thanks
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  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Brooklyn, NY, USA

    Default Re: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    I always go with the most gentle first. So try a slightly damp rag. If that doesn't cut it, a rage slightly dampened with Naptha. For tough spots use a toothbrush to scrub. For built up crud,use a razor blade. Don't expect a maple board to come out looking new.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    It's a blonde '57, with the contoured body and the V-neck?
    (Not that I have any idea how to clean it )

  4. #4
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Durham, NC

    Default Re: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    Send it to me, I'd be glad to clean it!

  5. #5
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC

    Default Re: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    Maybe someone already went at it with files or sandpaper?
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  6. #6

    Default Re: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    Yuk! It almost looks like it has been painted black at one time and then scraped. First try: grey Scotchbrite sideways across the grain and see how much of the black comes up. Actually, I'd pay a luthier to recrown those frets first. If the scotchbrite doesn't get the results you want (you've got dirt or paint in the grain) then you use a fresh utility knife blade held perpendicular to the fretboard and scrap up and down (with the grain) in between the frets. Luthiers/techs do this frequently, and if you have a fresh blade you can get quite a smooth surface. This is really your only option, short of pulling the frets and sanding and refinishing the board (which is probably more $$$ than you want to put into it). Once you have the maple cleaned up, I would brush down a few of coats of poly to keep the dirt out of the pores for a few years. And definitely get those frets dressed, that's some really crude work done by the last guy who worked on it (I'd be embarrassed).

    I'm a tele guy but don't really know anything about vintage mandocasters. I don't know if the clean up work I'm suggesting would affect the value of the instrument, but if you bought it as a player rather than an investment, I would clean it up. I bet it sounds great through a tube amp though. Nice find!

  7. #7
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Southeast Tennessee

    Default Re: 1957 Fender Mandocaster Fingerboard Cleanup?

    Yes, it looks like the board was stained or painted black or brown at one time, then an incomplete effort made to get rid of the color, then new frets were installed.

    Your dilemma:
    If it plays well, do you want to leave it alone and live with the discoloration?


    If you want it to look right, do you want to go to the expense of pulling the frets, sanding the fingerboard down to bare wood, sealing it with new finish, and re-fretting it?

    I don't think a middle of the road solution will work on this one. Whatever it was colored with has sunk into the grain. I doubt that it will be possible to get rid of it without pulling the frets.

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