Sweat bad for rosewood?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by GroovinOnFunk, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. GroovinOnFunk

    GroovinOnFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    I'm thinking about picking up a Fender AVRI '64 J bass.

    Here's my situation: My hands sweat a lot... I mean... A LOT. It sucks, but whatever, that's the position I've been in all my life. Anywho - I've always stuck to maple fretboards. The exception was my first bass, it was rosewood. I remember I was in college and I'd leave the bass at school, when I'd come back it would be like, almost stained with dead skin and sweat and gross crap on the rosewood.

    Again, it totally sucks, and my strings last 1 show (I keep them on through rehearsals and stuff, but need to put on a fresh set right before each show), but I sweat a lot! Like... A LOT!

    Should I get a '74 AVRI to get the sealed fretboard and stick to my usual maple?

    Kind of wanted the '64 though... I don't know...
  2. taurus1


    Sep 13, 2006
    Vancouver B.C.
    I'd be more worried about eating the finish off a maple neck. I can't see the sweat being a problem unless your sweat is really corrosive, I'd just wipe the neck down after playing it.
    it's amazing how much rosewood wears, I did a refret on my old strat and when we sanded and leveled the neck I couldn't believe the wear patterns, it looked like huge gouges.
  3. GroovinOnFunk

    GroovinOnFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    it's more that this wouldn't necessarily be my main bass... so wiping it down is good and all, but sometimes it just pushes the dead skin and gunk into the pores of the rosewood. then you let it sit for a while and it gets nasty... i dont know, is there a way to clean it thoroughly without necessarily having to take the strings off?
  4. GroovinOnFunk

    GroovinOnFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    Nafta? Will straight up lighter fluid work?
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I think you're grossly overthinking it, bro. I wouldn't use any sort of alcohol or naptha because it will also remove the lubricating oils that keep the rosewood from drying and cracking. And then you'll just end up re-oiling it and making it too soft after a while. Best to just wipe it down as good as you can and live with what you can't remove.

    Or stick with painted maple.
  6. cbyrd2200


    Aug 31, 2009
    Get the 64 if it's what you want, the 74 sounds different due to its 70s pickup spacing.

    Keeping your rosewood clean is an aesthetic choice. The cleanliness of your fret*board* does not affect your tone. The cleanliness of your fret*wires* does, however. Polish them when you change your strings to keep your bass sounding bright, or don't polish them in order to get a duller sound.

    All in all, you're worrying too much about something that doesn't matter. Worry less about the sweat on your fingerboard and start thinking of how you can put more on. :bassist:
  7. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    WWSHD? What would Steve Harris do?

    Throw on a couple of wristbands sporting the good ol' Union Jack and rock that thing.
  8. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Holy crap............:eyebrow:

    To the OP, you're grossly overthinking this. Keep the rosewood clean and well-oiled, and don't worry too much about the rest.
  9. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown

    Feb 16, 2011
    Cut & paste from the "Ten Most Wanted Fenders" web site describing James Jamerson's 62 P bass, which BTW had a rosewood fretboard.

    ...To most other musicians, that bass was unplayable. Jamerson kept his action very high, and his neck was bowed due to lack of truss rod maintenance. He rarely cleaned his guitar, and he never cleaned the fretboard. To Jamerson, the sweat and dirt on the bass was the secret of his sound, the essence of the funk...

    So apparently even a massive buildup of mung on the fretboard won't hurt.

    There is also a topic somewhere in this forum regards wearing gloves while playing and the guy who inspired the topic wearing thin silk gloves because he produces a load of corrosive sweat and the gloves helped make his strings last longer, so that may be an alternative if you are concerned about goop on your neck.

    Last of all. When I was young and could only afford someone else's old castoff bass I wound up with more than one bass sporting crud buildup around the frets. My solution was a worn out toothbrush and an old lightly dampened T shirt. If I hit some particularly stubborn crud, I'd dampen the brush with warm soapy water and scrub/wipe until the crud was removed. I did this on maple slabs as well as rosewood and ebony fretboards and never had any problem as a result of this cleaning. Most of the crud I was removing was not from lack of cleaning, but from boiling and oiling flatwounds thinking it would make an electric sound more like an upright, which was popular with country players when I was a kid. Either way, the crud was still a mixture of oils, sweat, and whatever random dirt/dust, etc., happened to wander by.

    Go for the rosewood if it's what you want.
  10. GroovinOnFunk

    GroovinOnFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    Thanks. I could see how that would add to the vibe of the '64.
    I actually did the silk gloves thing for a bit. Loved it, but honestly grew so tired of having to explain myself to everyone I play with. I do a lot of for hire stuff so am constantly working with new guys and it just got tiring.
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Wipe it down - use a soft toothbrush on the wood if you want to clean it up a bit.