Picture of Ebonizing a Rosewood Guitar Fretboard
You can make your rosewood fretboard a nice piano-like black in a few easy steps. It doesn't take much in the way of parts or time, and the result looks fantastic.

I started with a Mighty Mite Neck (CR2910) which has a rosewood finish on the fretboard - however, it really didn't look that great and I was using a black pickguard which made the flaws in the rosewood show even more. The difference in the finish product is night and day - it really looks much nicer, and didn't take much effort at all.

Note: It's important that the NON-FRETBOARD part of the neck has some sort of finish on it. Don't use this method on a raw neck.
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Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation
Using a bit of 200 grit sandpaper, lightly sand the fretboard. The key word here is LIGHTLY, you don't want to damage your frets, or make your fretboard uneven. Don't skip this step: this light sanding will make the wood more receptive to the stain.

Once you have that done, wipe down the neck with odorless mineral spirits. I would recommend wearing latex gloves in order to prevent leaving any fingerprints on the surfaces you want to stain.

Step 2: Taping up the neck

Picture of Taping up the neck
I used ordinary 2 inch painters tape to mask the areas of the neck that I didn't want to stain. I recommend that you cover the majority of the neck this way; it prevents stray dye marks from appearing on the maple sections. It really pays to be thorough on this step - be patient, and do a good job and it will make the remainder of this project easy.
 so did staining the fretboard screw up the inlays?
skipernicus (author)  old_bass_masta5 years ago
 Not at all, although your mileage may vary - my inlays were plastic. I tidied them up with a q-tip with a very tiny bit of mineral spirits. I'm not sure how it would effect other materials.
 good to know, definitely don't use acetone, it would dissolve your inlay.
a guy at guitar center told me that if you use a certain fretboard oil enough, it will ebonize