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Best way to clean a dirty fret board?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by purpletornado, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    Since I'm not James Jamerson I was thinking about cleaning my fret board. What's the best way to go about it? Or should I not do it at all?
  2. snyderz

    snyderz Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Orange oil, lemon oil, Murphy's soap, Ernie Ball wipes, 40 grit sandpaper (sorry). Lots of ways to clean a board, depending on the grime.
  3. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    I see. Let's say some grime. If you look at it right you can see some build up right near the frets. On a scale from 1-10 I'd say it's maybe a 3 or 4, if that helps.
  4. cyclopathic


    May 6, 2009
    Murphy soap (or was it Lemon Pledge?).. any furniture care product would do.

    really hate taking strings off! we had done it with strings on with plastic bag over strings and Qtips, pain royal
  5. JSK5String


    May 19, 2008
    Littleton, CO
    If your fret board is really that dirty, Murphy's Oil Soap will clean it for you. Once you're done with that, I'd put a drop or two of lemon oil between each of the frets and rub it around with your fingers, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soak in. You'll be able to tell if you need to apply any more. Once it's done, wipe off the excess with an old clean t-shirt or something like that.

    Your neck will thank you...
  6. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    I just got some new strings so it seemed like a good time to go ahead and wipe her down as I was changing the strings.
  7. I use lemon oil and scraps from an old Tshirt.
    Works great, and keeps the wood from drying out.
  8. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    Looks like I can get lemon oil from a health food store?
  9. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    It's a highly discussed and contested subject (both here and on The Gear Page) but a few things to consider:
    1. Most lemon oil and orange oil products are actually solvents with a drop of citrus oil and citrus scent.
    2. Murphy's is a heavily diluted solvent so it's mostly water. You don't want it sitting on your raw fingerboard for great lengths of time (read the label on Murphys and it says don't even use it on unfinished wood but if you get your business done quickly you won't hurt anything).
    3. Furniture polish like Pledge contains waxes. Waxes will create a surface barrier on the top of your fingerboard that will prevent oil from penetrating. Continued use of these products will create a dark film (some call it mojo, I call it gross).
    4. Naptha or mineral spirits do a fine job of removing gunk from fingerboards but oiling is required afterwards.
    5. For stubborn gunk, 0000 steel wool may be necessary. Be sure to mask off your pickups so the filings don't stick to them.
    6. Products like Bore Oil, Fret Doctor, and Guitar Honey are considered among the best fingerboard treatments for fingerboards without a lacquer finish (I've used them all and prefer Fred Doctor but YMMV)

    Also remember that environmental conditions determine how important this stuff really is. If your instrument tours or lives in an environment with extremely cold and dry winters and warm, arid summers, then keeping the fingerboard in good condition will prevent undue shrinking & expanding which leads to fret sprout. If you're like me and live in Los Angeles, it's more about keeping the fingerboard pretty.
  10. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Rosewood board? If so, the thread is on track.
  11. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    yes, rosewood on both my basses. One is an '02 Fender J and the other a '99 Ibanez BTB 5er.

    Is it OK to completely remove the strings in order to clean the board? Like I said, I've got a new set from my Ibby and would to do all this at once.

    BTW, just checked out the Fret Dr. site and that stuff looks like it works like charm! Some of those before and after pics are amazing.
  12. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    How about a maple board with dark grime that just doesn't seem to go away unless i scrap it off?
  13. Maybe a solvent based cleaner would cause separation?

    However, I'm still real nervous about what to use on my SR500 body. It appears to be basically unfinished and an open-grained dark redwood. I know it has to be a finish of some sort, but I wonder for sure what to use to clean and protect the body and the fretboard too.

    Where I used Mother's and Meguire's Pro Wax (pure Carnauba, not Carnuba) on my solid color guitars, this Ibanez semi gloss body is a new experience for me.
  14. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    What about some rubbing alcohol? Just make sure you oil your board right away because the alcohol will dry it out otherwise.
  15. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    My Ibanez has an oil finish and looks a little dirty. That made me wonder what I could use to clean it if and when I ever decided to do it.
  16. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I simply use the Ernie Ball wipes. It's a cleaner and conditioner all in one.
  17. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    For the body or the fret board?
  18. orestes71


    May 14, 2008
    I just use window cleaner on a paper towel and just dry it with a fresh piece of paper towel.
  19. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The title of this thread says "best way to clean a dirty fret board".
  20. I guess I HJ'd it so blame me. But the interest with the Ibanez body as it's also an open-wood and not-sealed-in-plastic cleaning and protecting problem too can be answered in the same area - no? .