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Caring for wood

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Snarf, Feb 25, 2005.


  1. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I've never really polished my basses in any way, and my oldest is six years old (I'm 18, and six years is an eternity :p). When I read how concerned people get with oiling and polishing, I wonder, "Holy crap, I should probably be doing this stuff, shouldn't I?"

    So, some questions.

    How important is it to polish the neck/body, and oil the fretboard?
    How do you actually oil a fretboard? Do you need to take off all the strings?
    What kind of polish should I use for gloss/satin finished basses?

    If you could recommend oils for these kind of boards, I'd appreciate it greatly:
    Rosewood with frets
    Rosewood fretless
    Ebony with frets
     
  2. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Well, with oil-finish instruments, you have to regularly wax them. Or at least it's recommended, to preserve it.

    With lacquer-finished basses, you don't have to oil/wax the body.

    As for the fingerboard, lemon-oil works well. Take off the strings, put some drops of lemon oil on a clean piece of cloth and rub the fingerboard with it. In the end, the cloth will look disgustingly dirty (black and green... eww). It worked with wenge, if I remember correctly, it works with all kinds of fingerboards except maple (or maybe that, too?).
     
  3. pistoleroace

    pistoleroace

    Sep 13, 2002
    WI
    For unfinished fingerboards, I was told by John Suhr to use lemon oil first if the fingerboard is dirty. Let the lemon oil dry for 30 minutes and no more, then use an oil afterwards and let dry for a few minutes before wiping off. He recommends Roche Thomas oil.

    For finished fingerboard, use lemon oil or lemon pledge to clean up, no oil is needed for finished fingerboards.
     
  4. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I am unfamiliar with this concept of "finished fretboard." Would that only be for maple?
     
  5. pistoleroace

    pistoleroace

    Sep 13, 2002
    WI
    Yes, at least all the Maple fingerboards I have had have been finished. Rosewood, Wenge and such would be unfinished.
     
  6. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Awesome, thanks for the replies folks. I should get some of this stuff and stop passively abusing my basses.
     
  7. You asked about frequency of fretboard care. I do it at least twice a year...lately more like every third month. My 1987 Fender Jazz Special rosewood board is still in great shape as a result.

    As far as oiling/waxing bodies go - I disagree a bit with the idea that you should do nothing to a laquered or poly'd body. Use a good guitar cleaner (like Meguiars, etc.) and then use a nice wax on the finish...it will do wonders for getting rid of the small finger scratches and it will even start protecting your finish over the course of time.
     
  8. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    As others have stated, lemon oil works well for cleaning all fingerboards. When periodicaly used on unfinished fingerboards it also hleps prevent the wood from drying out and forming cracks. For darker fingerboards (ebony) I prefer boiled linseed oil. It also helps to harden the wood over time. It does however have a tendancy to darken the wood over time. On unfinished fretless necks I always use polymerized tung oil (several coats of sealer; 10-15 coats of low luster finishing oil) on the finger board. The ploymerizing process creats a much harder and more durable suface that is much more resistant to string wear. There's a great article in the Bass Player archives written by Rick Turner on the use of polymerized tung oil on bodys and necks.
     
  9. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    My lemon oil says it contains "white mineral oil" as well. Is this going to be bad for my fretboard?
     
  10. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner Commercial User

    Jul 14, 2004
    I design and build electric basses and pickups under the Turner, Renaissance, and Electroline brand names.
    Most if not all commercially available "lemon oil" is mineral oil with a bit of lemon scent added. There are a bunch of other oils that are nice including walnut oil and grape seed oil.