Clean the GRIME off a rosewood fretboard?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by cruisemates, May 5, 2011.

  1. cruisemates

    cruisemates Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,922
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    I know this has been asked, but most threads trail off into how to "preserve" a rosewood fretboard. My concern is cleaning the gunk off of one. I bought a used guitar where the grime is caked around the frets and from what I see it eventually gets into and ruins the strings.

    What cleaning fluid and applicator would you use to clean a rosewood fretboard? I have read that lemon oil is okay for cleaning with a scrubby dishrag. What about a light toothbrush?

    For the preserving part I have read a light mineral oil (food grade) or bore oil is best. What do the pros use?

    But my main concern is cleaning - I know some people say "just use a cloth" or "an old pick to scrape it off," but my hope is that I can restore the rosewood to like new condition.
     
  2. Guitar Whiskey

    Guitar Whiskey Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    114
    Location:
    Southern California
    Use a loose box cutter blade to scrape the gunk off and fretboard oil of your choice; not lemon oil.
     
  3. Mudder

    Mudder Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    3,628
    Location:
    St Helens, Or
    I use warm soapy water and a toothbrush to get the gunk and grime off. Then wipe dry and treat with bore oil.
     
  4. alberob

    alberob Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2003
    Messages:
    1,631
    Location:
    East Islip
    I always used lighter fluid [naptha] .It evaporated quickly and did the job.:hide2
     
  5. VintageKnob

    VintageKnob Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,768
    Location:
    Southwest Idaho
    I've had a 1957 Martin 000 that I've always used 0000 steel wool, using a light rubbing dry on the finger board, takes off the black finger grease. I wipe it clean with a soft cloth and then apply a light, very light coat of lemon oil. Then I buff it out, turning the rag to a clean spot until I'm not taking any more off.

    I inherited this guitar from my Mom, I've been playing since I was old enough to start scratching it up ;-).
    Never had a problem.

    Same thing with my 1973 Les Paul, works great.

    - D
     
  6. cruisemates

    cruisemates Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,922
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    I admit I used that weird Doctor Bronner's Soap (You know the one from health food stores with all the weird psychobabble on the label? DILUTE! DILUTE!) on one guitar that is now in the shop getting a full neck & fret job. (ummm, not because of what I did....)

    It is made with water, coconut & olive oil, glycerin, hemp oil, jojoba, peppermint, citric acid and vitamin E. I diluted a lot and used a toothbrush. It did get the neck very clean (the water turned dark brown) - but left the wood obviously dry.

    I have heard of people using Naptha which may not be so bad because it fully evaporates - but I would definitely treat the wood afterwards.

    I have also seem 0000 steel wool highly recommended - but while it does clean most of it I would think that still leaves some skin oil residue behind.

    Bore oil seems to be highly recommended for after-cleaning preservation. You can also buy rosewood oil, and I wonder why that is not recommended?
     
  7. mjm59

    mjm59 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,725
    Location:
    Chicago area
    In a similar vein, I was shown a technique to use butane (squirt it onto the rag, not the wood), worked very well and didn't seem to have any ill effects on the wood as it left no residue. Later, I was taught to use Scott's Liquid Gold, not just cleans, helps to condition the wood. Also, lasts much longer than the butane.


    Mike
     
  8. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,473
    Location:
    Hong Kong, China
  9. cruisemates

    cruisemates Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,922
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    Now I did read that you have to watch out for furniture polish or any product that has wax or silicon because you don't want to seal the wood. The soap I used had glycerin, but if anything it left the wood dryer than expected so I don't think it had much.
     
  10. clemduolian

    clemduolian Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    2,254
    Location:
    Sin City, Wah? Oooo!
    Gerlitz Fingerboard Honey...cleans and protects
     
  11. sidekick

    sidekick Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2009
    Messages:
    784
    Location:
    London
    Just an observation... If you do use 0000 steel wool, (as recommended in the Dan Erlewine - "How to make your guitar play great" book) remember to cover the pickups with masking tape.
     
  12. mdr40z

    mdr40z Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    23
    I much prefer the straight loose razor blade as a scraper technique to steel wool, the steel wool really doesn't get close enough to the frets and shows evidence of your visit
     
  13. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London On
    I seems to me that you go at the fretboard with warm water first to remove anything water soluable, and then use naptha (lighter fluid) to remove anything non-water soluable. Those two agents are safe and should take care of everything that is gumming up your fret board (the whole guitar for that matter). May have to go at it a couple of time depending on the amount of dirt, and a piece of flannel is the ideal rag to use. (I got this from Dan Erlewine's Guitar Repair Guide...I think I paraphrased him fairly accurately). I know this process works well from experience. Make sure you finish with the oil on the board after its clean.
    Barnzy
     
  14. AD

    AD Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Messages:
    2,844
    Same here. I've used steel wool for years and Guitar Honey is a no brainer as it only takes a few drops and takes a considerable less amount of time compared to steel wool. A bottle will last you for many years.
     
  15. randelli

    randelli Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I use Guitar Honey and an old shoestring to get in tight against the fret wire.
     
  16. Will-

    Will- Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    265
    Location:
    Nottingham UK
    This method works best for me but i apply the lemon oil then rub it in with 0000 wire wool then buff it out with a cloth
     
  17. cruisemates

    cruisemates Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,922
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    I talked to my guitar tech and he said a "good quality guitar-specific lemin oil" is good - meaning not furniture polish.

    He only used steel wool on my Les Paul - so soapy solvent or naptha.

    I have already used a soapy solvent on another guitar which is now looking a little dry so I am about to apply the Lemon Oil I just bought at GC. I sort of feel I had to use something stronger as there was a lot of grime, however this lemon oil says that if you still hve buildup after one application you can let the lemon oil sit for 20 minutes before you rub it off and that should take the grime off.
     
  18. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Messages:
    5,281
    Location:
    Wherever I am
    My Luthier says Johnson Kleen n Shine to clean followed by Guitar Honey to condition.
     
  19. AnthonyL

    AnthonyL Silver Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    2,882
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Fret Doctor and elbow grease. Works like a charm...
     
  20. Rickenbacker53

    Rickenbacker53 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2010
    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Michigan
    Plus 1 on Naphtha. I have had Luthiers tell me this. Works great. Don't use WATER. That could raise the grain. Naphtha is the best: It's not going to hurt other parts of the guitar either. Can be used anywhere. Just no Smoking!!!!!!!!!!
     

Share This Page