Cleaning the fretboard

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by beelzelboss, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. I was playing today, and was just bending a string when i noticed that my fretboard is pretty dirty. It has like grime under where each of the strings would go.

    Its all around the frets then gets thinner until it hits then enxt fret and starts over, sometimes it goes all the way through ot the other fret. Like if the bass were standing up at a back angle (like the back is close to the ground than the front is) a little and poured water down it really slowly, it looks like where the water would go. it would pile up at each fret until it found where my frets are a little bit more (where the strings are) worn.(I'M NOT SAYING THAT ITS WATER THAT MADE THIS.. I DON'T KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED!)..... So any suggestions on how to clean it? I don't think soapy water and a rag would work because water + wood = water-soaked woord

    Any ideas??
  2. lowendgenerator

    lowendgenerator All panic, no disco.

    Mar 26, 2006
    Try a little naptha, aka lighter fluid and a good scrub. Scrape the stubborn stuff off with a credit card, and wash your hands before you play, ya dirty heathen!

  3. lowendgenerator

    lowendgenerator All panic, no disco.

    Mar 26, 2006
    But for serious, it's normal accumulation of oils and dead skin that you put off while rubbing your digits furiously against an abrasive material.
  4. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes work well to clean and condition your fretboard. I like them a lot.

    Make sure you get the grunge off the fretboard, by whatever means. Left alone, the moisture held by that gunk can ruin your fretboard. Granted, it takes a while, but I've seen rosewood turn spongy from fretboard grime (nope, not on one of mine).
  5. Mutato

    Mutato Guest

    Oct 15, 2008
    I use Windex to clean, Gibson Luthier's Choice to condition.

    Flitz on the frets.
  6. What wood & is it coated?
  7. Its an SRX 400 from Ibanez, and i think beleive its rosewood, and i think its coated.. although i could be wrong. I know the back of the neck has a finish on it, but i don't think the fret board has one beacuse i can feel the inlays.

    So whats the best way w/o running out to GC or a music stores..
  8. Dark brown would likely be rosewood & quite likely uncoated. (Unless it's maple & REALLY dirty.)

    I clean my rosewood with my fingerboard conditioning oil (I use PURE tung oil); lightly coat the wood, lightly scrub with an old toothbrush, wipe it all off with a clean rag.
  9. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i believe when reading one of my bass manuals ... they suggested .. and i've done this with great success ...
    for RoseWood ...

    Lemon Oil ... use #0000 stell wool ... i put the lemon oil right on the steel wool ... try to go up/down ... going across the grain too hard might scratch ...

    then wipe with a clean terry rag ... repeat until clean ...

    then apply some lemon oil with a clean cloth , gently wipe of excess ... let sit over night .. wipe off any remaining excess ..

    be gentle , take your time ...

    the lemon oil help re-hydrate the wood .... as it dries out it will start to bow ..

    of course , now for the first time ever , i have a coated maple neck ... have had rosewood , ebony , wenge , purple heart ( no oil on that .! ) over the decades ..

    happy cleaning ...!! DC
  10. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    This is a pretty common topic here, do a search for "lemon oil".

    Real lemon oil is good, but most "lemon oil" wood finish products are lemon-scented mineral oil. Mineral oil will at least prevent the wood from cracking and give some moisture resistance, but it tends to stay gummy over time and isn't a great choice. Pure tung oil or boiled linseed oil is a better bet for most people. Beware of anything with a name like "oil finish", since such products often contain varnish of some sort as well, which may not be what you want (too hard & glossy). Some don't even contain any real oil at all, they're just thinned-down varnishes.


    EDIT: Obviously that's really about final oiling more than cleaning, but you can clean with the oil if the grime isn't too bad. If the oil doesn't cut it, naphtha (lighter fluid) is the usual choice, but paint thinner or turpentine (my favorite for fragrance!) can be used.
  11. So lighter fluid, just like regular old, walgreens lighter fluid should take it off??? thats interestring, i was liking the credit card idea to get the gunk off, but i was going to use a heavy pick... (i have wayyyy to many)

    any more ideas?

    EDIT: well i cleaned it, (didn't use the pick after seeing that i can create grooves, thank god i only did it only 1/8 of my 24th fret. Tried out the lighter fluid, and apart from my bass neck being more flammable than regular wood, it looks nice and still some guink right in the frets.
    And you never realize how badly you need to get your frets releved till you REALLY look closely.... on mine there are visible like dents... now to find somebody in LV that will relevel them correctly... *sigh*
  12. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    Once you've cleaned it with any kind of solvent, you really should apply some kind of oil to the wood or it will dry out and crack sooner. This is especially true in warm, dry environments (since you mentioned LV).

  13. did some oil on the wood, it looks all nice now:D

    thanks guys!
  14. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    Awesome! I love a nice sheen on a rosewood board.
  15. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    Avoid steel wool. It ends up on the pickups. Minute bits get stuck in the wood grain and end up as painful metal splinters in your fingers.

    Use a ScotchBrite pad. Very light abrasion, nonmetallic, no shedding.

    Take it to Ed Roman and he'll tell you how much it sucks.
  16. Ya, ya know i've actually met the man himself. Had no idea at the time and was just looking for an instructor at the time. The guy turned out to be such a dick along with all of his employees i just walked out right there. It was so not even funny that i told him off right there.
  17. Lemon oil {the real stuff}, not lemon scented plege, and a coarse terry type cloth, you know like a WASH cloth, this brings me to the point of keeping your instrument clean. If the fretboard was that bad off, I don't even want to know what kind of shape the strings are in ! And windex on wood, come on...
  18. Stradavus


    Oct 21, 2005
    I use this stuff that I get at my local music shop called "Guitar Honey" which is designed specifically for cleaning fretboards. I just spray down the fretboard and scrub it with a paper towel each time I change the strings (once every 6 months to a year).

    I just checked the bottle and it's made by Gerlitz. Their website has all sorts of guitar care products on it.
  19. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    I use Dr. Duck's AxWax oil on the fretboard. For nasty frets, I'll mask beside each fret and use a bit of Brasso metal polish with a Dremel rotary tool's soft pad.

    I also like to dull the shiny finish on the back of the neck, by buffing it down with a dry ScotchBrite pad. This prevents my thumb and palm from "sticking" to the glassy surface.
  20. Mutato

    Mutato Guest

    Oct 15, 2008

    Been using it for 25 years with no problems. It dries quickly and safely removes dirt and gunk. Follow it up with some Luthier's Choice and it's good to go.

    Now recommending using anything abrasive such as steel wool or Scoth Brite seems a little more dangerous to me.