Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Guide to keeping your bass clean

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Saorex, Oct 10, 2004.


  1. Saorex

    Saorex

    Mar 7, 2004
    Quebec, Canada
    Hi guys.

    I've used the search thread but couldn't find a complete guide. Only small advices here and there...

    Ok. I've been playing bass for something like 7 years now. But I've never made a "good" cleaning to my instruments. And to be true, I don't have a clue of what should be done.

    I'd like to have some advices on general cleaning (body, fretboard, strings...) and also ways to "hide" or repair minor scratches. Also, what products should I use to do all this work.

    Thanks a lot guys! I love this place!
     
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Fill a bathtub with hot water and dishwashing liquid. Drop the bass in and let it soak for at least 20 minutes. Scrub with some steel wool, rinse, and blowdry. If you want the shine to come out compound it. Use a buffer if you've got one but sit on the neck as my bass flew out from under once and got scratched.


    Uhhh.... or some people are nervous about doing all that... I actually prefer:

    Ernie Ball guitar polish for the whole thing. If it's really gunked up I use a drop of of soap in some water and a damp sponge. I actually scrub my neck a bit with one of the coarse (but non abrasive) sides of a dishwashing sponge. I make sure though that it's just damp, and I dry immediately with a rag. I don't believe wood warps as quickly and easily as people tend to think, but I don't take any chances anyhow. I've used a Q-tip and windex to get around metal parts that are difficult to get to. Not sure what else there is?

    When I first got my MM I painted the pole peices on the pickup with clear nailpolish. I read somewhere that it preserves the life and prevents them tarnishing and rusting. The polish has since worn off, and my girlfriend moved out - so there's no longer any nailpolish on them.
     
  3. Saorex

    Saorex

    Mar 7, 2004
    Quebec, Canada
    Thanks Joe. I'll try this out.

    One question remaining: can I take off all strings off the bass at the same time? Some seller told me it could really be bad for an instrument, but we were talking about a cheap bolt-on guitar at this time...
     
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I take all my strings off all the time. It's the only way I can really get the neck clean. I've also heard that you shouldn't do that, but I'm begining to think it's a myth. I've never encountered a problem doing it, and I've done it literally hundreds of times. I think bass and guitar necks are a lot sturdier than people give them credit for.

    I wonder what other people's take is on removing all the strings?
     
  5. Saorex

    Saorex

    Mar 7, 2004
    Quebec, Canada
    I've also done it once or twice, but then remembered what that guy had told me... But I really don't know if it's a myth or not.

    I think that at least neck-thru or set-thru basses can handle it. I mean, the neck is independant and therefor it can't "separate" from the body... and I don't think the neck can "crash" on itself...
     
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I don't think it's a problem at all, particularly with modern basses.

    I should say that I change strings one at a time... but that's simply out of habit. Some of my fingerboards are getting pretty grungy so I guess it's time to pull all strings off and clean 'em up... that, or trade the dirty basses in on brand new ones and save myself the bother. :D
     
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Depends on the bass. Some necks are more stable than others. I usually do one string at a time out of habit. I typically don't have trussrod issues this way. If you take all of the strings off a less sturdy neck, the neck may not return to the same relief when you restring it. That's not a myth.
     
  8. Saorex

    Saorex

    Mar 7, 2004
    Quebec, Canada
    Ok thanks a lot. I'll ask the guy who sold me my new bass what he thinks of this...

    What do you guys use to clean/release rust from your strings? And how often? Is it worth it?
     
  9. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    In fact it is not a myth it was a problem with those bolt-on basses that came with three bolts, neck wrappage was so common (even without getting off the strings) that some players and guitar techs and then sellers started to tell people to be aware of inflicting big pressure changes such as getting all the strings off or turning the truss rod too much in a day, but nowdays some brands have incredyibly nice and well done instruments that are like tanks, just like modulus carbon fiber necks.
     
  10. Saorex

    Saorex

    Mar 7, 2004
    Quebec, Canada
    Thanks a lot Nemesis. That's a bit what I thought... Today's neck are much tougher.
     
  11. bluemonk

    bluemonk

    Dec 17, 2002
    Michigan
    I don't think anyone has said anything about the fretboard. I've read whole threads on just cleaning the fretboard. There seems to be some controversey: does lemon oil dry the fretboeard out? Don;t use the guitar poli=sh on the fretboard. They make a specific fretboard cleaner that has lemon oil in it. But don't use furniture polish with lemon oil in it. It dries out the wood.
     
  12. Saorex

    Saorex

    Mar 7, 2004
    Quebec, Canada
    Thanks to you bluemonk. That's something I didn't know.
     
  13. I've found that windex works great getting fingerprints off solid finishes, and making them uber clean and shiny.
     
  14. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Don't clean them. After about 6 months you can't tell or smell the difference.



















    I'm not kidding.
     
  15. Anti_Wish

    Anti_Wish

    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    i use lemon oil on my fretboard on my EUB. it doesn't dry out the wood. i read about that in a bass player article like 5 years ago, and still have the magazine around my house somewhere... time for some early spring cleaning.
     
  16. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Off to Setup...
     
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    It depends on the fretboard. They vary in composition and finish.
     
  18. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Brad, if you check back in on this thread... or another MTD owner... what would you suggest for cleaning an MTD top (the satin-finish that looks like oil but is synthetic, iirc)? At an angle, I can see a shiny spot where my fingers brush the top on slap stuff.

    The sheet that Michael Tobias includes with the bass offered some guides, but I somehow got the sheet for a different bass - I've mailed it back to the dealer and am awaiting the sheet for my bass. I remember that it said something about "butcher's wax" - never heard of the stuff... hmmm.

    Thanks for any suggestions...
     
  19. ONYX

    ONYX

    Apr 14, 2000
    Michigan
    I've used lemon oil on all my guitars and basses for 20+ years with no ill effects. The trick is to make sure that the lemon oil that you're using DOES NOT contain drying agents. Also, don't saturate the fingerboard: wipe on, wipe off--don't let it soak for any great length of time. Also, don't apply it too often-- maybe once or twice a year.
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I don't know... my MTD 635 has the rare gloss finish.

    I'd ask Mike.

    On my Elrick's, "Briwax" is recommended. IIRC it's a combination of butcher's wax, carnauba and carcinogens;). From what I understand it's not something you just slap on, you have to follow directions carefully or major fun ensues. I found the best price for it on eBay. I still haven't tried it... my Elricks show practically no wear from playing (and they do get played, sometimes mercilessly). Apparently Briwax is great stuff for that kind of finish.

    I have no idea if you should use it on an MTD.