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Thread: Stuttering fretboard

  1. #1

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    Stuttering fretboard

    As some of you will have seen in another post, I recently acquired an EBMM Cutlass BFR. It was manufactured in November 2017, and I bought it from a collector, who in turn had bought it privately. On the face of it, it is an extremely clean guitar without a mark on it.

    However, there is an issue with the fretboard. When I received the guitar, I noticed the fretboard appeared to be sticking or stuttering a little when I bent notes. So, I took off the strings, and gave it a good rub down with EB Wonder Wipes. Almost no dirt came off on the wipes, which didn’t surprise me as it looked very clean before I started.

    Using the wipes did not solve the stuttering issue – nothing changed in fact.

    Here is a video which shows me pushing the pad of my finger across the fretboard. Please turn up the volume to hear the noise of my finger on the fretboard and ignore the string noises. You should be able to hear the stuttering sound. (It is the pad of my finger, not my fingernail!)The issue has nothing to do with strings or frets – in fact, were I to take off the strings completely, I could reproduce this sound:

    Dropbox - VID_20200714_160527.mp4 - Simplify your life

    Next, here is a similar video taken of my JP6. Again, please turn up the volume – no matter how hard I push, I cannot get the pad of finger to stutter. Unlike the Cutlass, there is no resisting the finger as I push across the fretboard, and no noise:

    Dropbox - VID_20200714_160550.mp4 - Simplify your life

    I have several other guitars, and the problem is unique to the Cutlass.

    The problem is that it is difficult to control any string bends when playing. Bending up or down, often it is impossible to do this smoothly.

    The problem is not restricted to one area of the fretboard – it seems to be the same all the way up.

    I have also written to customer services, but I wonder if anyone here can throw any light on what is going on here.

    Thank you for reading.

  2. #2

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    That's interesting. Usually that is from a fretboard being too clean than too dirty. Never really seen it on an unfinished fretboard though. I've only heard of it on gloss lacquered fretboards.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  3. #3

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    Maybe check the saddles for build up or slits. I haven't watched the vid but just going off what you had written. Def have some friction going on and possibly a high fret somewhere... Good luck

    * After watching the vid... I'm going with fretboard has some residual leftover oil from the wipes.
    Last edited by SilosRock; 07-16-2020 at 08:59 AM.
    1959 Gibson Melody Maker
    Vintage Sunburst
    1986 MIJ Squier Tele Blonde
    1994 PRS McCarty Tortoise Shell
    2016 EBMM Cutlass Black
    2018 Warmoth Tele Purple Quilt/Ash Rosewood Neck Ebony Board

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    That's interesting. Usually that is from a fretboard being too clean than too dirty. Never really seen it on an unfinished fretboard though. I've only heard of it on gloss lacquered fretboards.
    Agree! My '91 had a similar issue but easily fixed.
    1959 Gibson Melody Maker
    Vintage Sunburst
    1986 MIJ Squier Tele Blonde
    1994 PRS McCarty Tortoise Shell
    2016 EBMM Cutlass Black
    2018 Warmoth Tele Purple Quilt/Ash Rosewood Neck Ebony Board

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilosRock View Post
    Agree! My '91 had a similar issue but easily fixed.
    Thanks guys - if that is the case, how do I fix it?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill S View Post
    Thanks guys - if that is the case, how do I fix it?
    Hey Bill,

    Well, my '91 has a lacquered neck/board. I had some real fine build up on the frets and board. Took some really fine grit sandpaper and worked it lightly until smooth. I don't think that's what's going on with your board since its raw rosewood. I believe you have a light film(from whatever cleaner used) on your BFR but im no expert... Should be easy to sort out my friend. GL

    - Nick
    1959 Gibson Melody Maker
    Vintage Sunburst
    1986 MIJ Squier Tele Blonde
    1994 PRS McCarty Tortoise Shell
    2016 EBMM Cutlass Black
    2018 Warmoth Tele Purple Quilt/Ash Rosewood Neck Ebony Board

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilosRock View Post
    Hey Bill,

    Well, my '91 has a lacquered neck/board. I had some real fine build up on the frets and board. Took some really fine grit sandpaper and worked it lightly until smooth. I don't think that's what's going on with your board since its raw rosewood. I believe you have a light film(from whatever cleaner used) on your BFR but im no expert... Should be easy to sort out my friend. GL

    - Nick
    Hi Nick, I am definitely no expert, but my gut feeling is exactly that. My challenge is that I don’t know a guitar tech here in Spain.

  8. #8

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    Would you consider having a go at it yourself with some fine grit sandpaper?
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  9. #9

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    Try polishing the frets using 0000 steel wool. Cover the pickups so you dont get metallic particles all over them and rub the steel wool from one side of the finger board to the other polishing the entire length of the fret. Only needs a few passes with light pressure. The fret needs a bit of polishing Im guessing. Maybe do all if them while youre at it. Shouldnt take you very long. Im guessing the fingerboard itself is not your issue. Probably the fret wire itself. If it is then use very light sandpaper between the frets on the fingerboard.
    Last edited by Fusionman; 07-16-2020 at 04:04 PM.
    2012 Fender American Special Tele sunburst w/EMG SAs
    2007 EBMM JP6 Mystic Dream w/piezo, matching headstock, dot inlays
    2005 Parker P44 cherry red
    2002 EBMM Axis Sport Trans Gold hum/hum, matching headstock, trem
    1984 custom Parts-O-Caster Strat black w/EMG SAs
    1976 Gibson 335 sunburst

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TripHazard View Post
    Would you consider having a go at it yourself with some fine grit sandpaper?
    I don’t know - my gut feeling is I would rather get a specialist tech to do it. If it is easy and impossible to damage the instrument, then maybe I would consider it if I were given very specific guidance.

  11. #11

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  12. #12

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    So, there was a happy ending....The guitar badly needed a set up and luckily I found someone locally who did a great job. And the stuttering fretboard has been solved by applying a tiny amount of talc to my fingertips! Cost all of one euro. I cannot explain why I do not need this with any other guitar I own, but I am now one happy Cutlass SSS BFR owner!

  13. #13

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    I’m so glad it worked out as the Cutlass is an amazing creation.

    My first thought when I watched it was possibly the guitar neck dried out when coming from a different climate? Rosewood can feel really “chunky” when there isn’t enough moisture in the wood and that grain opens up. Just a thought.



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    StarryNight #G79870 (12/14/16)

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Astrofreq View Post
    I’m so glad it worked out as the Cutlass is an amazing creation.

    My first thought when I watched it was possibly the guitar neck dried out when coming from a different climate? Rosewood can feel really “chunky” when there isn’t enough moisture in the wood and that grain opens up. Just a thought.
    Interesting - it came from the more temperate north of Spain to here in the south where at this time of year it is hot and humid. Maybe it will settle down, but I am happy with my solution- impossible to put it down.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fusionman View Post
    Try polishing the frets using 0000 steel wool. Cover the pickups so you dont get metallic particles all over them and rub the steel wool from one side of the finger board to the other polishing the entire length of the fret. Only needs a few passes with light pressure. The fret needs a bit of polishing Im guessing. Maybe do all if them while youre at it. Shouldnt take you very long. Im guessing the fingerboard itself is not your issue. Probably the fret wire itself. If it is then use very light sandpaper between the frets on the fingerboard.
    +1 on this. I've had good luck covering the pickups with masking tape and then after my work is finished, use another piece of masking tape's sticky side to clean up any steel wool by lightly pressing on and fragments. Don't drag it across the guitar finish though to avoid scratches.
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