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recent purchase and set up

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by harleyman888, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. harleyman888


    Feb 11, 2014
    My latest purchase is a 94 MIM P bass. I am in the midst of upgrading it with Hipshot tuners, Gotoh bridge and EMG pickups. My other basses have or have had maple fingerboards. The fingerboard on this one is rosewood. It is pretty filthy. I have read that lemon oil is good to use to clean and protect it. I have actual 100% lemon oil not the furniture type of lemon oil. Is this o.k. to use to clean and protect the fingerboard?
  2. Tape off the pickups to protect them. Then, buff the wood and frets briskly with 0000 steel wool to remove the gunk, and then after cleaning the wool dust from the fretboard, wipe on the lemon oil with your fingers fairly thickly. Let it soak in for a hour or so, then wipe off with paper towels thoroughly. Buff it with a clean cloth. Repeat the final buffing several times in the next few hours, (oil will continue to rise to the surface). You can then install the new strings.
  3. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    I wouldn't use steel wool, but if you choose to, a good magnet will help collect the residue/fibers and get them away from the pickups.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Dampen a cloth.

    Wipe the fretboard vigorously.

    Repeat until fretboard is clean.

    Discard the cloth.

    Play the bass.

    No oil of any kind is needed.
  5. VeganThump


    Jun 29, 2012
    South Jersey

    It depends on how dry the fretboard is. Rosewood is not the same as maple, it's not finished. A rosewood board should be oiled 2 times a year give or take, any tech will tell you that.

    OP, you can also use Naphtha to clean all the gunk off the board and once you have it cleaned, then lightly oil it with the Lemon Oil.
  6. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Well, don't tell my 1963 P (with a '72 neck) or my '64 EB-0, both with rosewood boards. They've spent 40+ years in low humidity climates and have never been oiled in any way...and they are still in excellent condition.

    None of my fretboards get oiled. None have ever developed problems. "Any tech" needs a better story than that...and I'm not buying it.

    I recommend that the OP do some searching on TB for a number of interminably long "discussions" about this, in which any number of people offer many variations of oil treatments, while others argue the exact opposite. But this is the first time I have EVER read an assertion that fretboards need oiled twice a year.
  8. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Don't cha think adding oil will make the wood swell and become softer and more prone to abrasion? I do.

    If you want oil, a couple of drops on a cloth then rubbed briskly to help lift dirt makes sense but leaving an oil slick on it to soak in and soften the fibers? Not my idea of a good thing. You may think differently.

    That's my guess and despite what anyone says, my 1962 jazz agrees. The board is in great shape.
  9. VeganThump


    Jun 29, 2012
    South Jersey
    Dan Erlewine would disagree with you but whatever. Look, your fretboard isn't gonna explode if you don't oil it, but it's certainly better for it if you do. Also, you don't soak it in oil, you use a few drops rubbed on there very lightly. I'm not gonna argue with you because it's not worth the argument, but it is definitely recommended to oil a rosewood fretboard by most people.
  10. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I oil my RW boards maybe once a year, about halfway through winter. My home has a very warm, low humidity atmosphere this time of year. I usually wait until the pores in the rosewood grain almost achieve a white-ish edge to them. If I don't see this, I don't oil. When I do apply it, I usually only leave it on for 10 minutes or so and the pores will expel the excess for hours afterward. I think a good application, thorough coverage and well done clean up goes a longer way than letting it just sit on there for hours. A little goes a long way.
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Dan Erlewine suggests occasionally putting a dab of lemon oil on the fingerboard. Frank Ford says

    " Some players talk of "feeding" the unfinished surface of the fingerboard with oil. Fingerboards are not actually hungry and don't really need to be fed, but a light coating of oil gives them a finished and clean look. If you do choose to oil the fingerboard, do it with care. Use a tiny amount of lemon oil or mineral oil on the rag, wipe it on the fingerboard, and then wipe it all off. You don't want to saturate the fingerboard, and you don't want a lot of oil running down into the fret slots. If there are cracks in your fingerboard, consider having them filled professionally, and don't get oil in the cracks. Generally, you'll want to stay away from linseed and other natural vegetable oils, which become sticky and gummy over time".

    Though the seasoned pros do not agree 100% on fingerboard oiling, none that I know of actually advise allowing the oil to soak into the board. In fact they warn against it as evidenced by Frank Ford's advice, and as suggested by VeganThump.
  12. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Usually your hands have plenty of natural oil that will get transferred to the fretboard. I have never felt the need to oil one. If your board is so gunked up that you use npatha on it, I would think a drop or so of oil could be beneficial as naptha will remove some oil from the wood.
  13. harleyman888


    Feb 11, 2014
    Thanks for all the info and tips. I removed the string and used naptha with the synthetic steel wool eliminating the steel wool powder from being attracted to the p'ups. Some of the frets were green with tarnish. I removed the bridge and tuners before applying the lemon oil. I used at the most 15 very small drops. Then installed the new bridge and tuners and wiped the fretboard clean with a dry cloth. I just finished with the set up and it feels like new.
  14. I'm in the never oil rosewood camp. It is naturally oily as is and anything added attracts dust and grime imo. Also my Fender jazz had such a pretty light colored rosewood that I fear would darken with oil.
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I can live with that. Moderation in applying any oil to any surface of any instrument is a good thing. There is always a tendency to think that if some is good, more is better - and it's not so in this case.
  16. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oil is a finish. As such, it sits on the surface. However, given enough time it will soak into the wood a bit. But way less that a sixty fourth of an inch. We're only talking a few thousandths. That is because the oil is sitting on top of side grain.

    The real problem comes when oil is allowed to get under the fret into the slot. Then the oil is wicked into the end grain of the kerf. That promotes a soft kerf which means less holding power on the fret tang barbs. Again, not much of a problem on a properly installed fret. The problem comes when it's time for a refret. The sides of the walls are soft and do not or will not hold the fret. Remedial action, like wicking CA glue into the kerf is called for. An astute repair professional will diagnose this problem and harden the walls with CA using a teflon dam before hand. Expect a phone call and a to pay a few dollars (euros, yen, etc) more.

    The bottom line is Dan, Frank, Turnaround et al have been saying. A quick wipe on wipe off doesn't hurt anything. If you let it soak, you're on your own.

    On a rare personal note, I prefer the look of an oiled board. But it has nothing to do with playability. It is merely cosmetic.