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Clean Fingerboard

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by BassZen, Sep 9, 2003.


  1. I was wondering what a good way to keep a fingerboard clean would be. My fingerboard and strings get sticky if I dont wipe them off with a paper towel every few days and I was wondering if anyone had a better way.
     
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Steel Wool 0000 works great. It just removes the dirt and gunk on fingerboard/strings. No need to re-oil the board afterwards, either. If you get a build-up of steel wool filings on the strings, spray some window cleaner on a paper towel and go over the strings once.
     
  3. I'm a freak for a clean FB. Alcohol works great...even with the steel wool. VERY CAREFUL to not get any on your varnish!!! Especially French polish!!
     
  4. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Using a paper towel to wipe down your fingerboard may be counterproductive. I have found that paper towels carry some residual oils, that may in fact, be contributing to your problems.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Only slightly off topic, where does one find things such as the 0000 steel wool, 843 grain sandpaper,and purified fingerboard oils that you Lluthier types always recommend? For most of us yokels, steel wool is something that you buy at the grocery store. Do most hardware stores have all of the items like this that Lluthiers use, or are these more specialty-type items?
     
  6. Most good hardware stores carry 0000 steel wool, and wet & dry sandpaper. Some will carry Watco Danish oil, but you may need to find a paint store if they don't. Hardware stores also carry Denatured Alcohol which (like Paul W) is my preferred method for cleaning fingerboards.
     
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    You can get the really fine grit papers from LMI or StewMac. The Micro Mesh papers are somewhat pricey, but reusable. Those you can also get from suppliers like Lee Valley. Also, some folks have recently been raving about Abralon abrasives.
     
  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Yo Durrl-
    Lowes and Home Despot sells steel wool and Watco Danish Oil. However, you don't need to re-oil the board everytime you "clean" it with the steel wool. It just takes off the layer of finger jizz. (that's an industry term...) You would have to use a coarser sandpaper to warrant the need for re-oiling.
     
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I believe[and I think Chris will back me up on this] that "jizz" is more of a layman's term and the more correct terminology would be "spooge". While one may not need to use whatever oil for each cleaning, it does tend to hasten the dissolution of spooge. The acids contained in the spooge also tend to dry out the board. I prefer bowling alley wax and 4 aught hobby pads. These pads do just as well and have no filings problem. Available in good hardware stores or at many online resources. White or gray color.
     
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    "Spooge" must be one of those American terms...

    So, wax for the fingerboard. Is it one of those "a little goes a long way" deals? Bowling alley wax is pretty hard, is it?
     
  11. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Ah, SPOOGE...a word I know well and love well. I don't know if there's a colloquial translation difference up yonder in Yankeeland, but down here we use "Spooge" to denote FUNK that is still somewhat moist, or at least not yet petrified (i.e. - you wouldn't want to touch any SPOOGE, as it might come off on you), whereas the dried on and still nasty but basically harmless stuff is referred to as "FUM".

    Now "jizz", on the other hand, is something that - should one find it on one's fingerboard - should cause one to take a fearless and searching inventory of one's personal habits. There's just no reason for it to be there, if you catch my drift.
     
  13. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    And those who insist on playing their fiddle without removing the FUM, SPOOGE, or JIZZ risk a serious buildup of ANGST, commonly resulting in GRUNGE or PUNK instead of JAZZ ...
     
  14. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Well, they DO say that DB is one of your sexier musical instruments, but really, this is edging into "beyond the pale" territory...

    Ick.
     
  15. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    This thread is incomplete without introducing the Yiddish term "SCHMUTZ". When you get jizz or spooge on your fingerboard, and it hardens into fum, you are nearly all the way to schmutz. My fellow luthiers are well-aware of how tenacious schmutz build-up can be, especially on fingerboards and in old seams. Under the right conditions, a chemical/nuclear/bacterial reaction occurs in the presence of dead skin, finger oils, dirt, and rosin dust. I call the resulting material "BASS SMEGMA". This material is completely impervious to every chemical known to man. It can only be removed by scraper blade or C-4 explosive. Unfortunately, if you use a scraper blade, you have now rendered the steel flacid, and it will no longer hold an edge. It also will smell putrid and will infect other tools it is put away with, so it must be destroyed. Now you can understand why I charge $647 per hour for fingerboard schmutz removal, and why I always wear rubber gloves, then bathe in a solution of Clorox and peroxide. So, if you develop bass smegma on your fingerboard, the smartest route may be simply to remove the offending fingerboard, burn it (but use caution, as the smegma fumes are toxic) and get a new fingerboard or a new bass.
     
  16. Thanks for the suggestion Arnold. I had never have thought of using C-4. That would probably work better than my old favorite Hydrofluoric Acid.
     
  17. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    This new-fangled C-4 and hydrosmorific acid is all well and efficient and everything, but what would STRAD have used?

    Or is that Stad? Can never remember.
     
  18. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
  19. Neither Stad or Strad would not have used such efficient methods. The ESSG (Explosives and Stinky Stuff Guilds) would never have permitted it.
     
  20. Thank you all for your wonderful posts, the C-4 worked marvelously and I am now problem free!!!! I can play anthing I want with my air bass. Thank you arnoldschnitzer your post made me laugh a great deal.