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oil vs. water

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Killed_by_Death, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. Definitely!

  2. Definitely Not!

  3. unsure

  4. carrot juice is best

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Oiling your unfinished fretboard, a waste of time?

    People seem to think it moisturizes the wood, but it can't since oil & water don't mix & to be moist it needs dampness (water vapor).
  2. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You’re not trying to put water into the wood - I do think a bit of oil now and then helps, but I’m not a wood scientist.

    When I played violin, the corresponding stuff they had made a big difference sound wise. OK, here I don’t really know, but it seems like a reasonable thing to do.
  3. I’ve always used a little lemon oil on a fretboard ( an unfinished one).
    It never seems to hurt it. The wood drinks it up. Of course, wipe off the excess.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  4. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Not a waste of my time... I oil my rosewood boards, every string change.

    Not sure where, or why, water is brought into this equation...
    nbsipics and Element Zero like this.
  5. It's why people run humidifiers in their jam-space.

    TBH you are, if you're running a humidifier in the room with the instrument.
    Lance Bunyon likes this.
  6. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I always thought water came out of the woo...
  7. If you don't humidify the room they're in, yes the moisture comes out. (in the Winter months)
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  8. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Sorry - wires crossed. I agree that running a humidifier is trying to keep a certain amount of water in the wood. That’s part of keeping an instrument healthy. I have weighed basses in the winter and summer with a precise scale - they do weigh more in summer. A few tens of grams - not a lot, but it’s real.


    I meant that the act of oiling the fretboard was not about putting water in the wood. I assume, like leather, that maintaining a certain amount of natural oils in wood is helpful for longevity.

    So, we’re maintaining both water and oil in balance. Perhaps the right salad dressing would be the ticket? ;-)
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  9. I like wonder wipes it makes it look better. I have a Dehumidifier in my apartment. Gulf Coast Texas is drained swamp.
  10. I've heard/read different opinions from respected instrument techs.
    Some say/write the oil just seals in the moisture, which to me means it should be moisturized prior to oiling it.

    Putting oil on a dry board just seals out the moisture.
    Others state that the oil makes no difference & that the moisture can come & go, passing right through the oil. I find these folks to be in the minority.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  11. doesn't ebony and rosewood have natural oil?
  12. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Manufacturer of my main fretted ebony board bass says to use mineral oil on it every six months or so. Makes it look purdy.
    funkinbottom and Spidey2112 like this.
  13. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Maybe, oil it late summer, when the humidity is up and has a chance to introduce moisture to the board...
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  14. I do mine with furniture cream (moisturizing) in the Fall.
    (wax-free, silicone-free)
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  15. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    I think humidity matters with acoustic instruments where you have cross grain glue joints like the sides to the top and back and internal bracing. On solid bodies, not so much. Many of the techs here say an ebony board can benefit from a little oil now and then. If ebony can benefit from oil, then I guess other woods can too. I haven't ever oiled any of mine though.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  16. My bass is glued together, rosewood top on a mahogany body. (maple center, hippie sandwich)
    It probably matters more. I had a u-bass that the bridge pull up on over the Winter, I assume from the low humidity.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  17. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    You rosewood top on the mahogany body isn't a cross grain situation though. The wood grain on both pieces runs parallel to the strings; not an issue, even with the hippie sandwich added in.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  18. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Oiling your fingerboard makes it look nice but that's about it. Word of caution: apply sparse amounts and wipe-off quickly. The stuff has the nasty tendency to seep into fret slots and wick-up through the exposed end grain. IOW, don't allow it to marinate like chicken teriyaki.

    Spidey2112 likes this.
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Oil inhibits, but does not prevent, moisture loss. But most fingerboards are sealed and that does more to inhibit the exchange of moisture than oil. Non-drying oils, like mineral oil, may make the board look pretty, but it won't do a lot to prevent moisture loss and cracking. Drying oils will help a bit, but won't help much with sealed boards.
  20. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    Oiling is not necessary and won't actually prevent deteriorization. But if you like the way it looks, go for it.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.

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