Fretboard Moisture and Tone

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by c_mac, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. c_mac

    c_mac Member

    Messages:
    3,675
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Location:
    Iowa
    I've noticed that when I oil my fretboard that my tone seems to mush up a little. However if I let it bet dry my tone sounds brittle. There seems to be a sweet spot with the fretboard moisture that seems to have a BIG effect on my tone. What say you guys?
     
  2. SGNick

    SGNick Member

    Messages:
    3,582
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but this sounds like one of those "entirely in your head" things.

    Or, maybe, I just never bothered listening for a difference, so I never noticed one... it's either/or!
     
  3. paraedolia

    paraedolia Member

    Messages:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    You missed the possibility that Eric Johnson's handle here is c_mac :D
     
  4. DavidH

    DavidH Member

    Messages:
    2,365
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Oil isn't hydrating/adding moisture anyway,it's just putting oil on it.
     
  5. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

    Messages:
    2,467
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Location:
    Hong Kong, China
    Did you "thoroughly" clean off all the oil??


    ;)
     
  6. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

    Messages:
    24,154
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Location:
    Gretchen's House, Bluesland, TX.
    I believe from experience than when a fretboard gets too dry your tone suffers.
    Too much moisture or too little is not good either way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  7. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Messages:
    16,945
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    In the context of the entire rig, i'd think moisture would account for a very VERY small part of the overall tone. But perception is reality a lot of times. If anything, it might feel different.
     
  8. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

    Messages:
    24,154
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Location:
    Gretchen's House, Bluesland, TX.
    It's according to how dry it gets before you condition it.

    I have an LP that I pulled out to jam with and was surprised that it sounded nothing like it always had.
    After conditioning the neck the sound was back in spades.

    In my case it was more than just a little on the dry side so it was a larger moisture difference than just normal maintenance.
    But it did illustrate the importance of a balanced moisture in the fretboard.
     
  9. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Messages:
    16,945
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Yes, I stand corrected. I guess I based my thoughts on my Ebony boards. It seems to change very little compared to a rosewood. But I can see where an extemely dry board may have a noticeable sound difference, still small but noticeable. The lack of moisture may change it's density.
     
  10. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

    Messages:
    24,154
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Location:
    Gretchen's House, Bluesland, TX.
    I notice the ebony board on my Martin retains moisture better than the rosewood.
     
  11. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Messages:
    16,413
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Maineville, OH
    I don't notice any difference before and after. I oil my fretboards twice yearly, both times in winter in my very dry climate.
     
  12. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

    Messages:
    24,154
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Location:
    Gretchen's House, Bluesland, TX.
    If you condition at reasonable intervals you probably won't notice.
     
  13. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Messages:
    16,413
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Maineville, OH
    Yeah, but even when I've "rescued" guitars that have not been conditioned, I've noticed no tonal change. It's all about keeping the fingerboard from cracking, imho. Nothing else.
     
  14. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,997
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    Golden Valley, AZ
    Ebony is self lubricating.

    I believe that continual conditioning of rosewood could "dampen" a guitar's resonance. Heck, yes.
     
  15. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

    Messages:
    24,154
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Location:
    Gretchen's House, Bluesland, TX.
    So do I.
    I would only condition if there is noticeable dryness.
     
  16. Trebor Renkluaf

    Trebor Renkluaf I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse? Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,984
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Location:
    InSaneDiego
    I've often wonderd - if oil is so good for our fingerboards, why don't we oil the inside of our accoustic guitars?
     
  17. David Collins

    David Collins Member

    Messages:
    2,253
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Just reach inside with a can of this.

    [​IMG]

    I find lemon flavor to work best on mahogany, olive oil for rosewoods, but it's hard to beat Original flavor for spruce tops.
     
  18. maellaguitars

    maellaguitars Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Spain
    I agree with bluesjuke.
     
  19. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,957
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    New Joisey
    I have to shoot myself now.
     

Share This Page