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particular maple fbd. dirt - it doesn't clean

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by denchiq, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. So I bought this preowned Lakland 55-94 with a birdseye maple fretboard. It is very cool, but the previous owner(s) was very sloppy about the bass. It looks like it's been gathering dirt and dust for years. Some of it on the back of the neck. What's worse, the birdseye board has changed its color drastically. You can see how awesome it really is on the part of the fretboard protruding from the nut to the retainer. But the rest of it...:scowl: it's somewhere close to natural under the strings but brownish-grey between them.

    I called Lakland service and they advised pure orange oil and mineral spirits. I used both. The board became a tad better (nothing changed with the back of the neck). But still, you can only guess it's maple and you can't see the birdseye pattern from, say, 6 yards away.

    The wood and fretwork are great and Lakland particularly warned me against using thinners or abrasives.

    What do I do?
  2. It's not dirt - it's mojo.

    Or patina.
  3. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    I had the exact same issue with a sterling I bought -- awful care by previous owner, and now the beautiful figuring is difficult to make out. Right down to the "clean under the strings, darkened between them."

    The cleaning I did was aggressive buffing with 0000 steel wool, and ax wax -- I really should have tried citrus cleaner. But I got a 40% improvement or so.

    Don't quote me on this, but I think the only real solution is to replane and refret. And the back is even trickier in some ways since you don't want to take off a ton of material and change it's shape...

    All kidding aside, in the end I dealt with it just as phatbass put it -- I chalk it up to mojo.

    If you can get a hold of Liberon 0000 steel wool (I know you can find it on ebay and luthier's mercantile international has an equivalent), give it a try -- ideally best not to use any-old 0000 stuff -- they can contain other random matter that can affect the wood.

    Best of luck!!

  4. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Is it this bass???




    I had a Lakland fitting that description, and I miss it dearly.
  5. No, it isn't. Mine was made in 2001, and yours was most likely made in the early production years.
    Off-center position marks? Hmmm...

    The neck of my bass looks worse.
  6. No, I can make mojo from old grease :)

    I decided to keep it as closet classic as possible: cleaned and degreased but left all the rust on the hardware, and not going to buff all the scratches and the dullness of the finish etc.
    However, other than the dirt and grease, the fretboard is in perfect condition, it would be shame not to try to show all its beauty.
  7. Well as I mentioned the frets are perfect and don't need buffing (other than for visual reasons), and Lakland warned me against using abrasives.
    I did consider doing this and came to the conclusion I ought first to look for a nicer treatment.

    Thanks though!
  8. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    Ask Lakland how they feel about 0000 steel wool -- if you've never used it (apologies if you know this already), it's barely abrasive, and is almost more of a buffing material. In the fretwork class I took, that was the last step for polishing up the fretboard -- nobody did a lacquered board, but it doesn't sound like that's what you've got. Lakland might be cautioning against anything that might change the radius of the board (which would certainly be bad), but you'd have to bust your tail to do that will 0000.

    Anyway, if you find a good option, please post it here -- I'd LOVE to improve my sterling a wee bit...mojo notwithstanding :)
  9. got it!

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