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The best way to clean your bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Muusers, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. There must be someone around here that knows how to clean your entire bass, step by step. Post it and let's make it a sticky, because I for one (and I suspect many others) don't know how to clean a bass from tip to toe:)
  2. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Sweat, grime, spilled beer...no problem!


    I've used a very dilute soapy solution (e.g. Ivory, Murphy's) for gloss body finishes. On natural finishes, I've used lemon oil and/or naptha if the thing is really gunked up (fingerboards are the worst!). Honestly, I never let my basses get to the point where they require more than a light oiling or waxing. OTOH, I've received second-hand gear that should have been driven through a car wash.

    El-Bob likes this.
  3. dcr

    dcr Supporting Member

    Gad! There's one in every crowd!

    organworthyplayer337 likes this.
  4. Step 1:

    Microfiber cloth. You wouldn't want any other type because it could scratch the finish.
    Planet Waves has some nice ones.

    Step 2:

    Some sort of cleaning/polishing fluid, I use both Dunlop and Fender, Dunlop for cleaning grit and stuff and Fender for making it shine :D
    Before you do this, you may however clean the dust or some other easily removed stuff with a dry cloth.
    Anyhow, you spray a few times over the top of the body then rub gently, combining straightforward and circular motion.
    Leave it alone for a few minutes to dry off then repeat with the backside, the back of the neck, headstock and hardware (not the pups).
    You needn't spray the cleaner more than 4 or 5 times during the whole process.

    Step 3:

    Lemon oil.
    Does the job quite nicely for the fretboard, though you'll have to remove the strings for this one, if you want it completely clean. This time, you don't spray it on because it is applied directly from the bottle that has some sort of gauze over it. Press down on the board and squeeze the bottle lightly, moving it parallel to the frets (with fretless basses you can go randomly, I guess) for each fret, then rub in and leave to dry.

    The lemon oil has a huge warning on the package that one should not use it on maple boards. As I don't have any instruments with maple fretboards, I wouldn't know for sure, but my luthier told me that if the board has epoxy or some other protective layer over it, then it shouldn't be a problem.
    Step 4:

    String cleaning.

    I've only used something called Fast Fret so far. It works on the same principle as the lemon oil does, only this time you go along and between the strings, from the nut to the end of the board, then wipe gently with a cloth.
    Honestly, I don't fancy it very much. The strings are ''faster'', sure, but it feels like someone left the bass in a jar of jello overnight.

    That's about it, from me. I'm sure others will have something to say as well.

    Also, you might find this thread useful:

  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Doug, c'mon now....you were thinking the same thing!

  6. I use something like this for everyday cleaning: a soft bristle (hair?) brush just to remove daily dust. It's long bristles allow to clean those tricky angles or cavities between PUPs and body, between neck and body, near the tuner's tiny screws, below bridge saddles, etc...


    and I add a deeper cleaning every 6 months or so:
    I grab a piece of toilette paper and use it to moisten(dunk? sorry, my english is not that good) the fretboard with ethilic alcohol (medicinal alcohol, 2 or 3 bucks in drugstores) and inmediately strong brushing it with a hard bristle brush, something similar to this:


    This makes the fingerboard stay shiny for a quite long time, plus it kills fungus, microbes, bacteria, or whatever is there in (almost) direct contact with the wood (cause the rest of the bass is fully laqued or painted).

    after that, alcohol and toilette paper for all metallic parts, including strings.

    Last, I use a soft cotton cloth to remove stains caused by alcohol's drying. Many synthetic cloths/rags work pretty good. Here in Argentina we can get of these at the mall:


    Lastly, every few years, you can also use some sand paper to remove oxide from the contacts within the "female" cable jack in the body.

    All this has kept my basses clean for like 8 years now. Of course, there are better ways. This works for me at least and I'm sure you have all neccesary supplies at home already.

    I hope someone corrects my spelling.
    Have fun cleaning!
  7. Hi Muusers, don't worry cleaning a musical instrument it's a simple task. :bassist:
    As a luthier/instruments repairer here's what i do: (For all of the step of cleaning i use a old white cotton t-shirt) I start by cleaning the entire instrument with water only (Just a bit of water on a rag). After that i look at the fretboard, if there's lot of dirt and grim i GENTLY clean the wood by using a steel wool no.0000 (That step is for rosewood, ebony or like NEVER DO THAT ON A MAPLE FRETBOARD. In that case, stick with plain water). If the fretboard is not that dirty i use a product call Goo Gone or stay with the water cleaning step. The steel wool cleaning step is even good for bringing the shine of the frets. When the fretboard is clean i wipe a bit of lemon oil (With a different rag). If i want a bit of shine on the body, i use the fender's cleaner/polish made by Meguiar's. You can use it on the chrome parts as the bridge, tuners. In the case you see some small scratches, you can use Scratch X by Meguiar's (You maybe find it a auto parts).
    Hope that help. :)
  8. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    Others may have different ideas, but here's what I do when I first get a used bass. Remove the strings. Take lemon oil (except on maple boards) and clean the board with it using a dry wash cloth and a toothbrush, using the toothbrush to get in the nooks and crannies and frets. Once clean, wipe all that you can off. Then apply a heavy coat of the lemon oil to the board and let it soak for several minutes. Then wipe with a clean wash cloth. For the body and headstock, I use a guitar cleaner/polish. My choice is Fender mist & wipe finish enhancer that is made in conjunction with Meguiar's. It has no wax or silicone. I know some folks, including one luthier that I know, use Commercial Line Pledge - a matter of choice. I use a similar approach as I use on the fretboard - go over it once for a good cleaning, then follow up by a second application for the final shine. Cotton swabs and/or pipe cleaners are used to get hard to reach places like around tuning keys, pups, bridge etc. Unless the strings were like new, I install new ones ofter coating them with a protectant like Finger Ease. A final wipe with a paper towell or polishing cloth, you've got a clean shiney bass to thump with. BTW-If you're going to touch up chips etc., do that first. With the maple board, still clean, just don't soak it with the lemon oil. With new basses, I do pretty much the same except for the strings. Works great for me. :cool:
  9. Bear_Bass


    Dec 28, 2011
    this is all very complicated stuff. Simple thing is soapy water (not heaps of soap otherwise it will leave marks) for the body and lemon or linseed oil for the fretboard. If the neck is super gunky yes 0000 steel wool will be good but it shouldn't get to that point. For all metal products i just use a damp cloth.
  10. Blue

    Blue Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2004
    South East Penna
    I usta clean annually ... now don't worry about it. The dust acts as a protective cover.
  11. xxx666


    Jan 12, 2008
    Endorsing Artist G&L Guitars
  12. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Dry rag.
  13. I um, I cleaned my Violin Sunburst bass with nail varnish remover last night. :bag:

    Literally put it on cotton wall pad, rubbed over the finish, quite hard in places, and then go over again with a lightly damped cloth, after that went over with T-towel and then microfibre cloth..

    Its so shiney no, and no damage comes of it. (well ive been doing it for 10 years on this particular bass, and no damage so far)
  14. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    You've heard of Ultrasonic Cleaners, right? They're used by jewelers, bicycle mechanics, anyone who wants to get small parts very very clean.

    So...for bass, you'd want an Infrasonic Cleaner.

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