I also posted about this on a classical guitar forum but have you guys ever gotten a very dark purple sort of stain on the cloth after cleaning an ebony fretboard? The cleaning was just with warm water on a coarse microfiber cloth and lots of elbow grease, especially along each fret. It's my everyday player (classical) guitar and it's been about a year since its last through cleaning, although I wipe everything down each day after playing.

Usually the schmutz that comes off a fretboard to dark gray to black but this was a definite purple hue, about like the stain a real inky Malbec wine would leave on a wipe tablecloth. I just can't imagine where that coloration would originate from wood, string and fingers.

I'm sure the fretboard is ebony, it's slightly stripy with brownish mineral streaks here and there but overall fairly black. I can't imagine it was dyed, partly because it's not solid black and partly because it was (back in the day) a fairly pricey guitar from the Kohno shop. Otherwise I'd figure I had just taken some dye of an "ebonized" rosewood 'board or something like that.

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Fretboards are often dyed(stained) for whatever reason.....cosmetic,esthetics.Some even use shoe dyes...
I once had a friend bring me a piece of Ebony from Jamica it was still in the limb .I used it to make head pieces for Ukus and when you sanded it it had a purplish color to it so the Ebony that comes from that area must be all like that.Bill.""""""""

Strange as ebony isn't native to Jamaica - I've travelled there over 25 times during the past 30 years and I've never even seen a plantation that was planted. But "logwood" is native, common, and was/is commercially used to make a purplish dye, there are some Dahlbergias (rosewoods), Swietenias (mahoganies) and - my favorite - "lignum vitae" Giaiacum - which is often light and greenish but sometimes darkly striped and quite striking. So I suspect that whatever type of wood you got it wasn't a "ebony' (although American persimmon is). And then there are lots of "whatever" woods that the my Jamaican friends don't really differentiate that are dense, hard, and heavy that are "run of the mill" at any little sawmill. Including one - that I used to remember the species - that they call "cedar" that isn't even close although being beautiful and used for cabinets and doors.

Iam sorry Rob my friend tells me it was Africa he got the Ebony from .I sure hope you will forgive the mistake that was 7 years ago when he bought it back to me .I will except 40 lashes with a wet noodle for that one.Bill.""""""""""""
Linguini or angel hair? I just can't help but love the Jamaican woods and wish that I could identify more of them. Not that I can afford to travel anymore but somehow it amazes me that common folk have access to rough cut lumber of species that are either known and expensive exotics here (mahogany and rosewoods, etc.) or unknown and I still wonder what I've got (and all I did was ask for the wood scraps from a friend's house building project - which he branded as a "weird Americanism" - much like going up to a construction site and asking for the scrap white pine, etc., pieces). And I never did get a sample lof logwood which is an interesting species used to make dyes and medicines as well as 'wood" items.

'Tis such a wonderful world - ever play with a hard scrap of mesquite?

We do a lot of ebony - Madagascar, Gaboon, Maccassar etc - you are likely removing a component of the dye which may have reacted with the mineral streaking (which you can remove with muriatic acid) or simply a component of the dye which is somewhat water soluble (mineral spirits will remove dye well, just for the record). Other than that I don't see extractives (things taken up by the tree from the sil and surrounding microcosm through it's root and cellular structure) like the purple bleed you describe - I would bet it's dye component if it was my own money. Rusty.
Yeah, on balance it seems it has to be a dye residue. On a guitar this old, it's probably equally likely someone did a dye or color treatment of some kind in recent years. Perhaps even when it was put on the market to sell a couple year ago, which is when I acquired it. I wonder if that StewMac "ColorTone" stuff has any purplish tint to it...
"Black" dyes, stains and inks are all green or purple if you dilute them enough.
Not always the case, Greg. Many years ago my main supplier used to stock some stuff from Germany called "ebonholzbeise" ! It was totally black all through as is Indian ink. Since it was rather a thick liquid, I'm wondering if, like Indian ink, it was a suspension of very fine particles of carbon. I think it was mainly used by the violin trade, to remove lighter streaks from fingerboards but it clung well to light woods, so may have been used to ebonize pear wood boards. I don't think you can get a black stain. Using chromatography reveals reds, even yellows, but mainly highly concentrated blue or purple in most stains.


I can't remember but aren't there some chemical treatments that "permanently" change the colors of some woods to black using acids and ammonia and metal salts (in various combinations with various woods). I've seen "ebonized" white oak using ammonia to blacken the tannin in the wood and while most of it had aged to a silver grey some hidden areas were quite really "black" (the pieces had set on a front porch for generations so this was an extreme test of color fastness). And I've got a small scrap of "oak" (looks like chestnut oak but I didn't directly acquire the sample) from a tree that was hit by lightning that is very black but not at all charred - but I'd have not idea how to duplicate the effect short of attending Burning Man and experiencing "Dr. Electro"). I guess I'm asking as you seem to have some knowledge and experience in the area while I - and "information sponge" - don't (can't help it, I come by it naturally as my mother was a reference librarian.



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