Oil Suggestions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mr80htz, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. mr80htz


    May 15, 2018
    I have a Washburn Taurus Fretless and the fingerboard is a bit warn from strings. I just bought this used so I plan on sanding the fingerboard a bit and oil it up. All I have is Dunlop lemon oil but I was thinking a clearer oil would be better for the light ebony fretboard (fretlessboard?). Can some recommend the clearest oil that's protects the best? Rock on!
  2. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    Sanding to get rid of grooves is more involved than it might seem.
    The fingerboard needs to be level , and radius maintained. A radius block or at least a sanding beam, and a straightedge employed to ensure that the fretboard is flat before you just start sanding. !!!

    Oil is not needed.
    Getting popcorn ready...
    A cleaner contains solvents, bad for wood.
    Simple mineral oil works well for appearances sake, used sparingly.

    A hardwood will take on a nice shine by simply sanding (carefully) to a very high grit ( ex: 2000) then hand buffing with a terry towel with a drop of oil and a lot of elbow grease.

    Let the festivities begin.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
  3. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    ^^^^ prolly best to leave it alone or go whole hog
    Ggaa likes this.
  4. Sponson Thrisby

    Sponson Thrisby

    Feb 15, 2019
    As was said, oil sparingly. I only do mine once a year, typically.
    Lemon oil is ok, but it's basically just mineral oil with perfume and a higher price.

    I have a bottle of food-grade mineral oil from a drug store. Same stuff, but no additives. A a lifetime supply will cost you less than a small bottle of lemon oil.
    Obese Chess and /\/\3phist0 like this.
  5. I was told by the guys at my local shop that bore oil is good for rosewood boards and lemon oil was the way to go for maple.
  6. Isn't maple almost always sealed? It's a very tightly-grained wood anyway...I believe conventional wisdom is to not oil maple as it won't absorb much if any.
  7. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Don't do this yourself. You will ruin the fingerboard. To sing the song (all apologies to Rossini, William Tell, and the Lone Ranger)
    To the tech,
    To the tech,
    To the tech, tech, tech.
    BurningSkies likes this.
  8. Sponson Thrisby

    Sponson Thrisby

    Feb 15, 2019
    You don't oil maple fretboards. They are coated with the rest of the neck in poly, or nitro, or whatever.
    Just clean them with a cloth, maybe slightly damp.
    Relayer71 and Plain Old Barry like this.
  9. Sixgunn


    Jun 6, 2012
    Colorado Springs
    I don't wait 30 minutes after eating, to go swimming.
    Full synthetic!
  10. 31HZ

    31HZ Glad to be here Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2006
    Central VA, USA

    Oh sorry, wrong forum. :woot:
  11. 31HZ

    31HZ Glad to be here Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2006
    Central VA, USA
    Seriously though, is it like this (photo grabbed off of the web)? Nice bass!

    Does it have grooves worn into it, or is it just scuffed? washburn.jpg
  12. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

  13. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    the best (humor only) but for your car!? the best.
    2tonic, Yogi Bear and EatS1stBassist like this.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member


    fingerboard is probably the word you're looking for.

    unless your fingerboard has ruts (like a muddy road) you're probably wanting it to "look good." if it bothers you a lot = take it to someone 'who knows' and let an expert clean it up for you -or- learn how to do it yourself, correctly, i.e., as https://www.talkbass.com/members/3phist0.92701/ suggested -or- don't sweat the looks --- just play it, in tune! good luck! :thumbsup:
  15. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    It’s my belief that oil isn’t necessary.

    However, should you choose to apply oil, I would recommend a food-grade, cold-pressed, unrefined flaxseed oil with no added anti-oxidants (health food stores, in the refrigerator), or alternatively, a museum conservation-grade, cold-pressed, unrefined linseed oil (fine artists’ supply stores). Apply sparingly, and then don’t touch your instrument for a few weeks, until the oil is fully cured.

    The reason you want flaxseed or linseed is that it has the highest proportion of alpha-linolenic acid, which is why it cures so well, but the curing does take a substantial amount of time. It can actually take upwards of six months to fully cure (in terms of fine art conservation), but should be OK to play in a couple of weeks or so.

    What you absolutely do *not* want is for the oil to “penetrate” the wood. You want to create a surface coating, only. Oil of any kind actually weakens the wood fibres.

    And, no matter what kind of oil you choose, it will affect the color and sheen of the wood. While there are other oils which are less yellow than linseed/flaxseed, none of them are quite as good, and may take even longer to cure. Poppy seed oil is a common alternative in fine artists’ paints where the yellow tint of linseed may be undesirable, but it is a much slower drier than linseed oil.

    That being said, under no circumstances should you ever use a linseed oil from a hardware store, especially not a “boiled” linseed oil, as these are mixed with toxic driers. Use only the food grade or fine art grade stuff.
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    This is probably going to be the high point of the thread. I concur. Unless you've got experience in keeping a properly dressed fretless fingerboard, this is a job for the professionals. The OP also doesn't mention that he's having problems in the playing, spots where you're getting wolfing or other harmonic oddities that are the sign that a fingerboard needs some work.

    I do oil my unfinished fingerboards once or twice a year, mainly to clean them though. Most of the orange/lemon mineral oils will help loosen any scunge and help bring a bit of life back into the look of the wood.

    Yes, unsealed maple is a rarity. Usually it's under a poly finish of some kind though sometimes it can be nitro. I've had a bass with a wax/oil finish on the back of the maple neck as well that took a re-wax a couple times a year. Unfinished maple gets UGLY fast, and oil soaking into unfinished maple is really ugly.

    I have a maple neck where the thin poly finish was wearing on the back of the neck from use in the 3-7 range. I was less concerned about aesthetics and more about keeping the neck sealed to stop any moisture/stability issues. My friendly luthier suggested I should use Tru-Oil which would seal/dry/harden easily and would be easy to apply.

  17. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    No JOKE!!!!! Linseed, and few other "finishing oils" Rapidly oxidize on the rags, and will self combust! !!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
    Pauly 4001, BurningSkies and amper like this.
  18. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    Mineral oil is clear but will darken the wood slightly. Any oil will have that effect, it's just the way it works. I use it on cooking utensils that I make regularly. It's also used as a laxative...
    iiipopes likes this.
  19. Stewie

    Stewie Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    My rosewood fretless fingerboard has been with me since 1976. It has never been oiled, or cleaned with soap or a solvent. It has some grooves from playing, but is still great. I use 3in1 Blue (5 wt) for my conventional saltwater fishing reels.

    Come to think of it, I believe I hit the board with Pledge, the last time I changed strings, so the above is questionable.
    TrustRod likes this.
  20. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    It darkens it the same way water does.
    EatS1stBassist and johnson79 like this.