racerx:fretboard care and feed question

hey rex

so yesterday i pull out my fender/macguiers stuff and clean polish -

anyway - i used the polish on the fret board and now it has some "drag" - tough to bend the strings, they kinda get stuck at a certain point -

the web how various methods for cleaning and shining -

what method do you use?

do this sound good ?

When you polish up a fingerboard, here are some tips! To eliminate scratches, little dings from slide guitar playing, finger gunge etc.. and light playing wear, Take a small piece of 400 grit sandpaper, spread a little oil (a few drops) on it, and then lightly sand the frets across the fretboard. Then a little piece of 500 or 600 grit paper, and then a piece of 0000 steel wool, all with a bit of oil as a lubricant, and to pick up dirt and dust. Take a soft cloth, clean the surrounding finish, and carefully wipe down the fingerboard, getting any excess oil and residue off of it.

or this?

take a small square of plastic scouring pad material (like the fine white pads that 3M sells in grocery stores), wetted by a few drops of paint-store variety naptha or turpentine will clean it all off right quick without harming the guitar or mortifying guitar technicians in any way. The turpentine will leave a bit of residue which should be enough to satisfy the sealing requirement of the bare fingerboard

(from william cumpiano)

unless you are getting your frets dressed, Id stay away from using any kind of sandpaper on the frets/fretboard. 0000 steel wool is fine, then use some bore oil (used for wooden clarinets) on the fretboard (only if the board is maple/rosewood/pao ferro...not maple)

 Ze Dano is very much on the right track. Bore oil is great, you can also use Guitar Honey(a readily available fingerboard oil) or Dr Duck's Axe Wax and Srting Lube. Most important is that you use VERY little. A common mistake is to saturate the fingerboard, which is the equivilant of forcing food down your dogs throat at mealtime. A little is a lot with fingerboard oil. I suggest the following procedure:

2 paper towels

1 pad 0000 steel wool(must have 4 zeros on the package. Any fewer is too rough)

i small can lighter fluid(naptha)

some kind of fingerboard oil

CAUTION: DOn't smoke while you do this or you might die. I'm just sayin'.

tear 1/4 off one paper towel, dampen(not soak) with naptha. With guitar laying flat on comfy surface, strings well out of the way, start at first fret and scrub across the fingerboard to remove wax,dirt,skin,Frito residue,etc.

clean only a fret space or two and then use the rest of the paper towel(a little at a time) to clean off the naptha/contaminant before the naptha evaporates. move down(or up) the fingerboard in this manner, loosening grime and cleaning it up progressively. Naptha is pretty benign, so it shouldn't affect plastics or finishes adversely, but be sparing and keep it off other surfaces anyway. Better safe than sorry.

When you think you have cleaned enough with the naptha, use the other paper towel. tear off a 1/4 of it and give it a bit of the fingerboard oil, just a drop or two. Let it soak out into the paper towel piece before you apply it. It should be enough to put a sheen on the fingerboard, but nowhere near enough to pool or wet the surface.  After a couple minutes, use the rest of the second paper towel to clean up any excess oil and grime.


Now it's steel wool time. Working only with the grain, polish lengthwise up and down the fingerboard until frets and fingerboard shine. Follow with a new paper towel folded twice into a polishing pad and it will shine.


Beyond that, I also use a small stainless steel shield to cover the fretboard and polish each fret lengthwise with 0000steel wool. It makes them shine like chrome and makes bending easier and smoother. You can get the shields at www.stewmac.com. Six of them for $10.29, worthy investment.

For a REALLY filthy fingerboard, you might use the steel wool first to cut off gunk built up by years of playing. I prefer to clean with naptha and oil lightly before polishing with the steel wool. Less tendancy to work the steel wool too hard.


thanks both you guys

the steel wool wont scraps the inlay ?

sheesh...if it ain't dirty, you're not playin' enough :)

sreiter - thanks both you guys

the steel wool wont scraps the inlay ?

 That's why you use 0000 wool only. It's the finest readily available. Don't use a lot of pressure, especially over inlays. Be firm, but not white knuckle about it.

shootzen -

it was getting a little grimey - (it was six months of playing 6 hours a day since i had the guitar set up, aso it was cleaned then)

thing is, I spaced and took all the strings off instead of one at a time, so i figured fuck it - let me get the dead skin off now -

rex -

thanks - i still need to get to SJ one of these weekends - beers are on me -

BTW - while surfing the net for neck cleaning tips (should have done that first)

I found things written by William Cumpiano (hand made acoustic guitars)



he has a oil formula that his mentor had (Michael Gurian - http://www.guitarnotes.com/gurian/)

he gave me the formula - maybe you'll like it

he wrote:

"you can blend it yourself: it is a blend of lemon, cocoanut and eucalyptus oils, 3:1:1"

 "you can blend it yourself: it is a blend of lemon, cocoanut and eucalyptus oils, 3:1:1"

Sounds like it would mix well with rum.j/k


I fear using some oils until I know if they putrify over time. Don't want stinky guitars.

if you google there ma,es. they're considered master builders

it's what they use -

hey, just thought i'd share -