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I need advice on the gunk in my grain (PLEASE!)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Peatroosio, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. Peatroosio


    Apr 24, 2000
    I've got a problem that I figure would best be answered here. When I bought my Warwick Thumb BO, the previous owner hadn't taken very good care of the fretboard. The frets desperately needed cleaning. They were covered in buildup and rust. I figured that the best way to clean bell-brass frets is with a brass cleaner. I carefully wiped each fret down with a small amount of brass cleaner on a cloth diaper. Problem solved, shiny frets. New Problem, brass cleaner stuck in the grain of my beautiful dark Wenge fretboard :bawl: Lemon oil doesn't do a thing, (I didn't think it would, but hey, I'm retarded enough to get brass cleaner stuck in the grain.) Any suggestions?:confused:
  2. vlad335

    vlad335 Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2003
    Latrobe, PA
    You could try some #000 steel wool on the Fingerboard. I used this myself today to clean the board and frets on my used Corvette. (Arrived today. Woohoo!) Worked great then I put some oil on the fretboard.

    I was thinking of using jewery cleaner with Q-tips but was worried about the chemicals. Brass cleaner? Oh man...
  3. vlad335

    vlad335 Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2003
    Latrobe, PA
    Another thing...

    If you use Steel wool make sure you use masking tape over the PU's. They will be covered with fuzz if you don't. Use a vacumn to remove the steel wool when done.

    Good luck
  4. I sorta doubt that the steel wool will have much effect on this problem. I've seen it (and done it before :rolleyes: ) and it didn't help at all. Brass cleaner is essentially a finely ground up clay that is put in a carrier that evaporates. So what you've got to do is get in there with a needle and gently flick out the little white pieces that have filled the grain. Sounds tedious and it is but this stuff is sorta tough and that's about the only way I know of the remove it.

    So how do you approach cleaning a fretboard and polishing frets in the future? Just remember that there are 2 kinds of gunk - water soluble and oil soluble. The first can be fixed with a little kitchen grease remover like 409 sprayed on a paper towel and rubbed over the wood. Don't soak it just use enough on the towel to clean without leaving behind a lot of wetness. Some of the tougher gunk might require a little naptha to break up. After doing a cleaning with either, make sure you put a light coat of your favorite moisturizer on the fretboard. Both of those solvents can dry out fretboard wood.

    Polishing frets is real easy. One of the most foolproof ways is to acquire a brown paper bag - the thick ones like grocery stores use. Cut a small patch from the bag and buff your frets with it. Brown paper from bags is the equivalent of 1200 grit sand paper and is very gentle. You can polish the frets without fear of messing up the wood in between with an agressive abrasive or tool.
  5. vlad335

    vlad335 Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2003
    Latrobe, PA
    I like the brown paper bag idea. I will try that on my Warwick when my Fat Beams arrive. Excellent!

    Yeah, I didn't think steel wool would work 100% but its worth a try. Probally gotta get something to wick that stuff out of there.

    BTW... Nice avatar Hambone.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member


    From Bill Cumpiano, classical luthier extraordinaire -

    "Take it from me, I've been worrying about guitars for over twenty-five years: the least amount you use, and the most infrequently, the better! If your guitar's lacquered surfaces get dirty, a moist, clean cotton cloth with a tiny dot of Ivory liquid will remove sticky finger dirt or "road grime." Dulled areas can be brightened up with over the counter guitar "cleaners," which are really just ultrafine abrasive liquids that remove the dull areas by revealing fresh finish underneath. But stay away from all those "polishes." They are unnecessary, bogus consumer impulse items. "Lemon" oil (no lemon it) is the most often-recommended product for fingerboards, but it is less than ideal because it contains waxes which cause it to stay partially sticky and actually attracts more dirt. "Fingerboard dirt" is actually a sticky slurry of sweat, metal dust and oxides, and sloughed-off skin cells accumulate in between the frets. When you can SEE these accumulations, take a small square of plastic scouring pad material (like the fine white pads that 3M sells in grocery stores), wetted by a few drops of paint-store variety naptha or turpentine will clean it all off right quick without harming the guitar or mortifying guitar technicians in any way. The turpentine will leave a bit of residue which should be enough to satisfy the sealing requirement of the bare fingerboard. But you should then buff the fingerboard down to remove any excess...because any sticky excess is counterproductive: it just ATTRACTS dirt and grime."

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