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Ebonizing Your Fretboard

Make your Laurel fretboard black in a few easy steps. It doesn’t take long, and the result looks cool.

I brought a new Jackson X Series Kelly KEXQ – Transparent Green for another  project. First I wanted to stain the Laurel finish on the fretboard to ebony black. Why? because I love black fretboards.

So the same as I did in Part 1 Using 200/220 sandpaper, lightly sand the fretboard, you don’t want to damage your frets, or make your fretboard uneven so go lightly. Light sanding will make the fretboard more receptive to the ebony stain.

When that’s done, wipe down the neck with mineral spirits, wearing latex gloves because the spirits/stain will go everywhere.

Use ordinary blue painters tape to mask the areas of the neck that I didn’t want to stain. Cover the majority of the neck and guitar this way and I also add shrink wrap as you can see in the photos.

The black stain I use is Minwax Ebony 2718. Used a foam brush to apply it to the neck.

Stain over the fretboard, the inlays and white binding (you can tidy those up later with mineral spirits and a rag, and it won’t stick to your frets at all). Once you have it on there, leave it alone for at least 20 minutes. The longer it’s on there, the darker your finish will be.

Use a rag rub off all of the stain. Repeat this step again and again until the cloth comes up clean. If you think the fretboard isn’t black enough, re-stain and wait another 10 – 30 minutes, then wipe the stuff off again repeat.

When it’s “dry,” you can now remove the painters tape. You will notice that some of the stain has bleed under the tape (it’s unavoidable), but it’s easy to clean that up using mineral spirits and a rag.

Let the fretboard dry overnight. If you need to tidy up the inlays, wait until this drying phase is done.

Once happy with the end result I use Dunlop 65 Lemon Oil to polish the neck and its done.




About the Jackson Kelly

Armed with a slab top, electrifying angular shape and lightning-fast neck, X Series Kelly™ models exude metal sophistication, while also delivering massive sound and reliable performance at an exceptional value.

The X Series Kelly KEXQ features lightweight and resonant poplar body-wings with a gorgeous quilt maple top. Its through-body maple neck has a scarf joint and graphite reinforcement for rock-solid stability that guards against climate and humidity changes. Built for blazing playing speeds and comfort, the 12”-16” compound radius laurel fingerboard hosts 24 jumbo frets and pearloid sharkfin inlays.

A pair of volcanic Jackson® high-output humbucking bridge and neck pickups give the KEXQ plenty of tonal girth with searing high end and crystal clear mids. Tone is customizable with a three-way toggle switch and single volume and tone controls, while a Floyd Rose® Special double-locking tremolo system provides superior string stability and dynamic tremolo action.

This metal-worthy axe is available in a new sophisticated Transparent Green finish with white binding, Jackson pointed 6-in-line black headstock and black hardware.

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