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Cleaning a grubby rosewood fretless board

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by the low one, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    I have a MIM fretless with a rosewood fingerboard which is in great shape after being played regularly for years. I only use flats on it and for the last 2 years I've been using chromes.
    The fingerboard beneath the strings is a bit grubby. Is it best to just clean this with nothing more than a damp cloth and then wipe dry?
    The only other treatment I use is an occasional spray and polish with furniture polish which I find works well to nourish the wood.
  2. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    I use nothing but lemon oil on rose wood once per year
  3. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    Furniture polish will build up over time and get gunky
  4. Clouz

    Clouz The Ayatollah of Jack and Cola

    Jan 26, 2013
    linseed oil is the best thing to use on a rosewood neck
  5. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Yes, and a gentle cleaner would be a good idea, too. I use a 10 to 1 mix of Simple Green and water. And just enough to clean the gunk off the neck. Let it dry and treat with linseed oil.

    Geri O
  6. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    I disagree. If you must use linseed oil, use boiled linseed oil. I'm a luthier and I use shellite (lighter fluid) or white spirit (dry cleaning fluid) to clean rosewood boards, It's very efficient and also evaporates away quickly and without a trace. Then I polish them with brown canauba wax. It is very hard wearing, in fact you have to start buffing it before it fully hardens. It buffs to a nice gentle lustre. It waxes the frets and protects them to a certain extent. It is a paste so doesn't run under frets and into slots. And being brown it doesn't leave white streaks (like regular waxes) in rosewood pores. Oh, and the one I use (Feast Watson) smells like oranges, and my customers recieve a nice scent when they open their cases! :)
  7. Clouz

    Clouz The Ayatollah of Jack and Cola

    Jan 26, 2013
    some luthiers say to use boiled linseed oil and no wax products. others swear by carnauba wax. i guess it all boils down to what works best for you. i have also heard that any kind of lemon oil is not good. is there an industry standard for cleaning and maintaining a rosewood board?
  8. I used "Tru Oil" for my Warwicks and was very happy with the result. It was formulated for gun stocks and states that anyone who uses the product will shoot straighter. Hoping it applies to playing better bass as well. The product was recommended by Warwick, has some great app vids on youtube, and is the preferred oil for luthiers. Makes not only the body but fretboard come alive and glow!
  9. I cleaned body and fretboard 1st with a soft scrubber and mild detergent, then applied the oil after thoroughly drying them.
  10. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    tru oil should never be used on FB's-I use Dunlop FB oil-good enough
    on an unfinished warwick, all you need is the WW wax for the necks or Howards feed and wax.
  11. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Whatever you do OP do not use water, it will dry out the rosewood and make your neck look like ****.

    I like Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes, naptha works alright from what I hear. I have used lemon oil for treating necks but it does not clean necks.
  12. Jim C

    Jim C Spector#496:More curves than Sophia + better sound Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    MM recommends True Oil for there unfinished maple fingerboards.
    Thought I'd use it on a SX rosewood board.
    It looks super shiny and feels slimy; had to clean multiple times and then multiple times with steel wool.

    Either boil linseed oil or bore oil (for wind instruments) works well. Then again Sadowsky recommends Planet Waves FB oil instead of linseed so that's probably really good as well.

    Also, I was a fan of Simple Green until it stained a very expensive alloy part I machined; the stuff is banned from my shop.
    +1 on Wonder Wipes or lighter fluid
  13. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    Source: Fodera - http://www.fodera.com/PublicPages/CaringyourFodera.aspx

    "...Every Six Months

    At least once every six months if you have a fingerboard made out of Ebony, Rosewood, Pau Ferro or any other unfinished wood, while you have the strings off of your Fodera, you need to oil your fingerboard. We use clear mineral oil with no additives (found in most pharmacies). Apply it to the surface of the fingerboard using a clean, soft, dry rag (and old tee-shirt is perfect for this). Allow it to sit and be absorbed for approximately five minutes before removing any remaining mineral oil with a different clean, soft, dry cloth. Restring your instrument only after all excess oil has been removed and take extra care to make sure that you do not get mineral oil on your strings!
    Give body, back of the neck and hardware of your instrument a gentle rub down with a very slightly damp, clean, soft cloth (or tee-shirt) and then immediately do the same gentle rub down with a clean, DRY, soft cloth. Do not put the damp cloth anywhere near the control knobs or pickups.
    At your option, you can apply a very light coating of clear wax (we use MINWAX Paste Finishing Wax). Rub on a small amount with a clean, soft dry cloth and then wipe it away with a different clean, soft, dry cloth. Take care not to get any wax on any of the hardware, pickups or fingerboard. The wax should only come into contact with the finished wood...
    If your pots have gotten a bit noisy, they can be cleaned with anti-static spray. We use Anti-Static Spray made by STATX Brands (Cat. No. 64-3310) and sold at Radio Shack.
    Change the two 9-volt batteries in your pre-amp..."
  14. Here's a couple pics of my truoiled bodies/fretboard. Didn't have any problems (fretboard's rosewood). Looking forward to treating my Jazz and RBV fretboards the same way next string change with the same results.

    Attached Files:

  15. Dredmahawkus


    Nov 4, 2012
    I use fret doctor. I have no idea whats in it other then lemon oil cuz you can smell lemon! but it does a great job! and keeps the wood nice and dark.
  16. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    I've never tried tru oil as it's not available here, but I've always believed it to be like danish oil - a mix of linseed, polyurethane and turpentine. (I'm happy to be corrected about this.)

    If you use this, its very important to clean the board very thoroughly with solvent (not just soapy water) before applying as the residual lemon oil or whatever was used before may prevent it from drying properly. I'd also be very careful about getting polyurethane on other parts of your guitar by way of drips, runs or sticky fingerprints. I've used danish oil for many years, and it takes several hours to dry, and several days to harden. I have used it on a few fretboards, when I had the time to let it dry and give it a few coats, but for a gigging muso who just wants to clean and maintain their axe at a string change, I think the carnauba wax is the best option, but it takes a little practise and some elbow grease as well...
  17. remove strings, spay with some simple green, nice soft brush, maybe a tooth brush (I use a surgeon brush). Wipe it down clean and add some linseed oil, wipe again.

    I've heard of using naphtha for cleaning it, I use that for bodies but I'm a little weary of using it in an open grain fretboard. I've heard stories of it seperating the board from the neck but I don't know how much truth is in that. Other members here use it and don't seem to have a problem though. I somewhat doubt it myself because from using it on other things I know that it evaporates almost instantly.

    Lemon oil is rubbish, most aren't even lemon oil and just contain it and are intended for furniture. Actual lemon oil would peel the skin off your bones.

    the biggest rule to follow is don't leave anything on there for long, you put it on then wipe it off.
  18. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Don't remove the mojo.
  19. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    Thanks for the replies everyone. There seems to be quite a few opinions and different methods to achieve this depending on your preference and experiences.

    I thought I'd show you my fingerboard, which I don't think is that bad really, to see what you think.

    Attached Files:

  20. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    This looks like the most balanced approach so far. No doubt folks will come up with solutions that work best for them, but with this, I've seen the error of my ways and I'm ceasing the use of Simple Green today.

    Thanx, Robbie!

    Geri O