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Can you use lemon oil to clean a purpleheart wood neck?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MistaMarko, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. MistaMarko

    MistaMarko Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2006
    I just recently purchased a Conklin GTBD-7 bass that has a purple-heart wood topped neck with maple underneath that.

    I know for a fact lemon oil cleaning products can ruin maple necks, but what about purple-heart...or maybe the oils will soak through the purpleheart and ruin the maple?

    If so, what would be my best option for cleaning the neck properly?

    Thanks guys!

  2. only4


    Aug 12, 2006
    Manchester UK
    I don't know but i thought the lemon oil/maple neck issue was because maple fingerboards are sealed so the oil can't soak in, not because it damages it.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I've never heard of lemon oil "ruining" maple wood.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Matter of fact, someone here just recently recommended lemon oil for cleaning my maple fretboard... ? ?
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    I've used lemon oil on maple necks for years.
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Real lemon oil is hard to come by, expensive and is rarely used in this application. Artificial lemon oil, which is simply mineral oil with a lemon scent added and is sold as furniture polish, is not a cleaner. Lemon oil "cleaners" are typically synthetic cleaners with lemon scent added. If it is oil it is a lubricant/penetrant. It is not a cleaner.

    Techs and luthiers typically use naphtha or alcohol. Each has it's strengths and disadvantages. Alcohol can damage nitro finishes and will destroy french polish pretty much on contact. It is very good at removing gunk from a fingerboard. Naphtha (mineral spirits, lighter fluid) besides being flammable, leaves behind an thin, oily residue. It is easy to clean from the finish, will not harm most finishes, and is compatible with most other fingerboard oil treatments. Care must be taken with any rags or paper that is soaked in naphtha as they may spontaneously combust. Soak the oily rag in water and lay flat to dry then dispose of outside or store them in a commercially produce container made for this purpose.

    Oil on unfinished maple will darken the color. It will not damage the wood in any way. It will have no effect on a lacquer finish other than to make a mess.
  7. MistaMarko

    MistaMarko Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2006
    Ah, I apologize for my misinformed claim ...

    So I assume just the store-brand Lemon Pledge stuff (or the store-brand neck-cleaner I can buy at my local music shop) will be fine on purple heart wood?
  8. bigfatbass

    bigfatbass Banned

    Jun 30, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Endorsing Artist: Karl Hoyt Basses
    Maple necks are usually hard finished/sealed/lacquered. Oiling them is giving a fish a bicycle. I clean my maple boards with a q-tip dipped in a bowl of warm water I swished a bar of ivory soap in for 2 seconds. Then I dry it well with an old t-shirt.

    Stay away from linseed oil for a million reasons already discussed in here, but most notably it prevents future oils from penetrating, and never really dries, so it just gets dirty again faster. On unfinished necks I like a lint free rag with a corner soaked in naptha to get the gunk off my frets (if you're funky, they're gunky), and I swear by this stuff for fretboard treatments:


    Bore oil (the real stuff) is god's gift to bare rosewood/ebony, and woodwind players have known it for years. I actually have a fresh bottle on it's way to me right now to spruce up the ash slab fretboard on my upright. Lots of good info on the topic there, too. Well worth a read, Ed Boyle REALLY knows his stuff. Before I found Fret Doctor, I would always go plain tung oil, rubbed by hand, but now it's nothing but bore oil for me.

    And now a brief hijack: BILL!!! How ya been buddy? We need to hook this shuttle 6 up to that schroeder and see if we can knock a bird out of the sky. Also, I sprung for the medium sized bottle of Fret Doctor if you want to test it out on anything.
  9. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Lemon Pledge and it's ilk contain silicone. This is a major no-no as far as musical instruments are concerned. Silicone interferes with any touch-up or refinishing efforts. It is difficult if not impossible to completely rid the finish of silicone. Silicone transfers to the bench and everything else the guitar comes into contact with. Place another guitar on the contaminated bench and, voila! it is now contaminated, too. It's worse than a virus because not many people understand the danger. Don't use it.

    Than includes using Armor-all on your case and amp, too.
  10. dave_p


    Dec 20, 2005
    i also use woodwind bore oil on my rosewood/pau ferro fingerboards. good stuff.
  11. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
    Both my peavey's have maple boards that don't have the hard shiny sealing on them and Peavey recommends Peavey lemon oil (probably lemon scented mineral oil as mentioned previously) on the fretboard and the back of my Cirrus oil finished neck (that happens to have purpleheart streamers). Here is a link to a thread where I asked the Peavey folks this question.

    Here is Conklin's contact info.
    Why not just get hold of them and make sure?
  12. OldBluesGuy


    Aug 14, 2008
    Enfield, CT
    +1 on using Fret Doctor on unfinished fingerboards/fretboards! It's great stuff


  13. bigfatbass

    bigfatbass Banned

    Jun 30, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Endorsing Artist: Karl Hoyt Basses
    Just did a Fret Dr. job on the stripped neck of my upright. AMazing stuff! I am never endingly pleased with this stuff, and I can not recommend it highly enough!

    The left one is the before. Sorry for the strings in the way for the after shot, but I hate having it slacked during a volatile weather season so I retuned it after each of the three applications. Doing the whole bone dry, previously unsealed neck, front and back, used about 1/8th of his larger bottle. That's about $2.50 worth. A regular electric bass board would probably use like half that. Worth every penny 100 times over!

    Attached Files:

  14. bigfatbass

    bigfatbass Banned

    Jun 30, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Endorsing Artist: Karl Hoyt Basses
    Here is a close up of my first test spot on the bridge to show you what this stuff can really do. That is one wipe across the surface, no prep other than a quick damp-cloth rub, and time to dry. You can clearly see were my swath ends, the grain just POPS the second the bore oil hits it.

    Attached Files:

  15. ByF


    May 19, 2009
    Agreed--no spray-on furniture polish on your bass. Period.

  16. I think you mean: "Such an amazing link".

    I use (non pledge) lemon oil on my Conklin GT7 neck. It also has the purpleheart/wenge sandwich neck. To me its great for keeping the woods uniform with eachother. Both woods dry out differently, so that leaves the neck with a bumpy feel to it.
    So I use a kleenex and a few drops of lemon oil, and it keeps it very well moisterized. The lutheirs I've taken it to over time have all said the neck is in great shape as a result. :)

    But after this thread I think I'll buy some of that bore oil. Sounds like great stuff :D
  17. On a side note, last year in my high school woodshop, i learned that purpleheart is a b!tch to work with. heavy as hell, hard, and it burns when you sand it. i just have a thing against it now. not the look, but just the long hours i spent trying to finish my box. :)
  18. Im a sock

    Im a sock

    Dec 23, 2002
    Central MA
    Thats what she said? :ninja::bag:
  19. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Hi all,
    I have 3 basses, all Fender with rosewood fingerboards. I have been looking into different protectants and treatments of these finger boards. I learned of Fret Doctor here on TB. It gets great reviews.

    Ed, the proprietor of Fret Doctor just sent me a very nice, very detailed e-mail about his product. I am very tempted to buy it, but he warned me of 2 things. One of my basses just got treated by my tech who used boiled linseed oil on the fretboard. Ed said that Fret Doctor will not work on that bass unless the fretboard is stripped of the linseed oil. The other issue is with the other 2 basses. They are both several years old and I am not the original owner of either one, so I cannot determine if linseed oil has ever been used. I would love to try Fret Doctor, but I hate to waste the $20 if all its going to do is pool on the fretboards, which is what I understand will happen should I use it after linseed oil has been applied.

    Can anyone offer any insight on this? Opinions on whether it makes sense to try Fret Doctor? I am no scientist and I got a "D" in the only chemistry class I ever attempted, so this is far from my area of expertise.

    Feel free to PM me or e-mail at alanpachter@gmail.com if this seems like a hijack of this thread. Thanks for any help anyone can offer. I have subscribed to this thread.
  20. I find myself wondering why the OP has to "clean" the neck.

    Oil really isn't a cleaning agent...as 202DY points out, "If it is oil it is a lubricant/penetrant. It is not a cleaner."

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