Maintaining Fingerboard WITHOUT Steel Wool?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Brad Barker, Mar 31, 2002.

  1. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    Is using steel wool necessary to maintain a fingerboard?

    I plan on applying linseed oil to the 'board next time I change strings, which will be soon. Is it mandatory that I use steel wool for the 'board to last?

    It just seems to be a big headache: covering the pickups with masking tape, vacuuming, etc.
  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I have never used steel wool and several of my basses are over 20 years old.
  3. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    It's not necessary to use steel wool. I do because it cleans the frets. Makes them shiny & smooth.
  4. i use steel wool, but i take the neck off. works way better than leaving it on.
  5. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    that's great to hear.

    thanks, all.
  6. alaskabass


    Dec 31, 2001
    Removal of neck, masking of pups and vacumm cleanup are not required to facillitate fingerboard P.M.

    Slipping an old t-shirt over the body or wrapping a rag around the body is all you need to do to protect the body.

    Using 0000 steel wool cleans the board, preps the surface and polishes the frets all at the same time. Using a tack cloth after the steel wool cleans up fibers left behind.

    A light oil and wax treatment finishes the job off and you are all set to play again.

    Works for me and saves time too! YMMV,
  7. If you can find some of the finer grades of ScotchBrite, you'll be able to do it without steel wool. Check the automotive paint suppliers.

    Alaskabass is right though. Large coverings are easier and simpler than masking off small pieces.
  8. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    are there any disadvantages to using steel wool?

    even though i just got a package of steel wool (more than i know what to do with, assuming i knew what to do with it already;) ), i will probably just bring it into a shop for my fine tuning needs.
  9. Ok, I don't think I get this. You clean the fingerboard with steel wool? Doesn't that harsh up the wood on the fingerboard?
  10. alaskabass


    Dec 31, 2001
    Using 0000 steel wool will not "harsh up" your fingerboard. It is a finishing grade of steel wool.

    Lower grades (000 or less) of steelwool will score your fingerboard (harshing as it were).

    Fiber residue is the only drawback to steelwool and is really insignificant IMO.

    The finer grades of scotchbrite are a great alternative to steel wool when available.

    No harshing here,:D
  11. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    i made sure that i got 0000 grade steel wool, so i have nothing to worry about (except for getting some of the stray steel stuck to the pickups).

    i was unaware of what the lower grade steel wools do. i'm lucky i got the right kind.

    i have yet to act on anything, though.

    i plan on borrowing a friend's guitar and doing the whole setup and maintenance thing for him. it was $70 new, he rarely plays it, and the electronics are bad, so it won't be missed!:D

    (see my other thread-"Spector: bridge from HELL" to know why i want to borrow his guitar)
  12. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    for those >10 lurkers (if that) interested in the latest:

    i finished doing the whole string changing deal!

    it took me a couple hours, but i think it's worth it.

    i can actually see the color of the wood now. it was much easier than i expected. i'm not sure how effective i was with the steel wool: there are still some "sweat marks" on the 'board.

    i also did my best job yet on the string windings, despite the strange bridge of the spector (the quick-release system isn't so convenient when trying to begin winding a new string!).

    tomorrow i'll do the intonation and action...


    (my guitar teacher highly advised not doing it, as did you guys. i probably would have chickened out after removing that cover anyway).
  13. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I've been using toothbrushes to work on my fingerboards.