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PM's on tuners?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Joe Taylor, Jan 31, 2003.

  1. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I'm getting ready to restring my bass and was wondering if there is any type of PM that can be done to the tuners or any thing else while the base does not have strings attached.

    Like lube the shaft where it goes through the wood, oil the finger board, polish the table, etc.

    PM = Preventive Maintenance

  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    If your tuners "creak" and are developing rust, oil is a must. If they behave just fine, then leave them be.

    Check your fingerboard for dirt. Triple 0 Steel Wool is great for removing figer mud and what not. After that, wipe on a >>thin<< coat of Watco Danish Oil. Use a paper towel; the board will dry overnight. A #2 pencil might be needed in the bridge/nut string slots.

    You can polish the top if you want. If you bow frequently, how much rosin has built up?
  3. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    With most gears you can remove the gear itself(make sure you use the right size screw driver so you don't damage the groove), and wipe off the crud that builds up behind the gear with a soft cloth or paper towel. Do the same in the gear slots and take some Q tips and clean the screw part too. You can probably do a good job without putting anything on the cloth or the q tips, but if you need to you could add a little light oil. After cleaning put a very small amout of petroleum jelly behind the gear and between the gear teeth and the screw. Turn them around a time or two before you put the strings on. This will last you until the next string change. Don't put any oil on the shaft where the shaft goes through the peg box, because this will cause the wood to swell and it could bind up the shaft.
    Clean the fingerboard and nut with a cloth or good quality paper towel and a small amount of denatured alcohol; note I said SMALL AMOUNT; you don't want the alcohol dripping onto the finish of the bass which can damage it; just enought to make the cloth damp. If it's really gunked on then you can use the steel wool. Finish off the board and nut with mineral oil; rub it on and in with your hand, leave it alone for a little while and then re-oil.
    When it won't take anymore oil, wipe it dry with a paper towel and you're through. If you don't have mineral oil then use some baby oil which is thinner and goes on easier. Use the pencil in the nut groove like Nick recommended, and do the same with the bridge grooves.
    You can also take this time to clean the bass. Basses pick up a lot of dust and dirt because they're out of the bag a lot. Wipe it off with a dry clean cloth first. Then wipe it again with a clean and water damp cloth. Do a small section at a time, and immediately dry with a clean cloth or towel. If that doesn't do it, find a bass luthier you trust and have him do it. Most of us make our own cleaners that are safe and effective. If the finish is now nice and clean, you can probably use a commercial polish, although it's probably not necessary.
    Martin Sheridan
    Liberal Midwestern Luthier
  4. Is lemon oil okay to use on the fingerboard?
  5. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    There's lemon oil, and there's lemon oil ;-)

    Most of what's sold as lemon oil is mineral oil with a little lemon added. It's sold to gullible purchasers of Danish Modern teak furniture who are told they need to "replenish" the natural oils in the wood. (This to people buying lacquered furniture!)

    Pure lemon oil is good for cleaning instruments. Put a little on some lint-free cloth and gently rub. I suspect it would be good for cleaning fingerboards.
  6. Limon oil should not be confused with Danish Oil which, unlike mineral oil, is a drying oil. The drying properties help to seal he wood, making it ideal for fingerboards and necks.
  7. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    And to further clarify or confuse, depending on your perspective, what are termed drying oils are actually polymerizing oils. Linseed, tung and other vegetable oils react with oxygen to produce long-chain polymers that result in a tough coating. Adding "dryers" (which are actually metallic oxide catalysts) speeds this up. "Danish Oil", is a name used by a dozen different manufacturers for various mixtures of linseed, tung, other oils, resins and catalysts. It can be an oil or a varnish, depending on the mixture.
  8. That sounds pretty clear and accurate to me.