Recommendations on cleaning up this maple fretboard ( Telecaster )

nl128

Silver Supporting Member
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2,080
I have this king bee tele and the fretboard is getting pretty nasty. It's starting to slow down my playing a little bit. It's feeling lumpy when I'm doing bends. I'm guessing it's either dead skin or smushed up lacquer, I'm not sure.

I'd like any recommendations on a safe way to clean up the fretboard without removing the finish, if possible.

If I have to refinish it, I'd like to get it refinished similar to a Danocaster. I own a Dano and I prefer how that feels. If anybody can recommend me somebody that could refinish it similar to the Dano. That would be awesome.

any help is much appreciated , thanks









Here's what it looked like a few years back
 

nl128

Silver Supporting Member
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2,080
Naphtha and a rag
Thanks

I tried naphtha and it didn't do much. The problem is how gummy the grime is. When I get the black stuff off it takes the finish off with it.

I'll probably just have to get it refinished.
 

poolshark

Supporting Member
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3,157
Man, that looks disgusting. Thought it was just finger gunk at first, but if naphtha won't take it off, my money's on gummed up lacquer. If that's the case, you might be able to remove the protruding lacquer with a razor blade. Otherwise, you're looking at a strip/refinish.
 

buddyboy69

Member
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4,954
Wow, do you eat cheetos when you play? Either you have acid for sweat or thats bad lacquer. Personally id use naptha and steel wool, or try rubbing alcohol to get that goo off. Then rub some new lacquer into the voids. But im not overly concerned about looks.
 

nl128

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2,080
Man, that looks disgusting. Thought it was just finger gunk at first, but if naphtha won't take it off, my money's on gummed up lacquer. If that's the case, you might be able to remove the protruding lacquer with a razor blade. Otherwise, you're looking at a strip/refinish.
Wow, do you eat cheetos when you play? Either you have acid for sweat or thats bad lacquer. Personally id use naptha and steel wool, or try rubbing alcohol to get that goo off. Then rub some new lacquer into the voids. But im not overly concerned about looks.
I think you guys are right about it being smushed up lacquer. When I start peeling it off there's bare wood underneath.

I'm going start shopping around for someone to refinish neck.
 

Dana Olsen

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This suggestion is slightly blasphemous, but ....

I've successfully used this method: Wet a couple paper towels, microwave 'em for 15 sec 'til they're real hot, steaming hot, and (maybe wearing gloves for heat protection) wipe/ scrub the grime off fret board and immediately dry it with dry paper towels. Works pretty good on stubborn grime. Follow w/ naptha. You can lay the hot paper towel on top of trouble spots for a few seconds to loosen them up before you scrub.

Try to scrape it down some first - use an old credit card or similar. Just dry the fret board quickly after - should be fine.

Good luck, hope this helps, Dana O.
 

Lobotomie

Member
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847
Wowwww that's bad haha :eek:

I would go to town on that neck with this personally:

Then a refinish. Looks like the finish is already off on half the fretboard anyway.
 

nl128

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2,080
I'm going to start scraping the gunk off tonight. I have some razors and plastic scrapers ready to go lol. I'll try the heated paper towel trick too , thanks for the help.

I'm hoping when I get done I can make it similar to a '68 tele I had. The '68 lost its fretboard finish during a re fret years back before I owned it.
Here's a pic of what that looked like, wish me luck.

 

bgmacaw

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Trade necks with the guy who posted about wanting to relic his guitar's neck and couldn't. Win-Win!
 

Bob Pollock

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5,136
If it's not too late, might I recommend a chisel as the tool of choice? By that, I mean a sharp chisel - razor sharp.
A properly sharpened chisel - in the right hands - will pare away the gunk on that 'board far more accurately and efficiently than any razor blade or scraper, and leave any lacquer which hasn't already melted well alone.

I'd use a fairly broad chisel - maybe 20-25mm - using a scissor action, gently pare the gunk away until it's flush with the remaining lacquer. Once all the crap is gone, you can assess the need for repair. As previously mentioned, it does look like there's a good deal of bare wood there already, and that the lacquer has gone badly wrong.
Assuming that whatever process has caused the current damage will continue, a re-finish is likely on the cards.

Matt.
This is absolutely the correct approach. That's melted lacquer, probably the type containing plasticizers. Carefully shaving away the build up may leave it very playable (and cleaner).
 

nl128

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2,080
Well I spent a few hours cleaning and scraping last night and I'm really surprised it came out so well.

I started using a razor blade but it was too invasive. It was taking too much time to peel off the grime without taking the finish off with it.
Then I switched to these plastic scapers I had laying around and they worked like a charm. They took most of the chunks off while leaving a thin layer behind. After that I switched to naphtha and a rag to clean off the leftover stuff.

I did notice after the cleaning the only thing left behind was hard flakey lacquer. So I'm thinking the problem was the clear coat wasn't mixed correctly and that's what all the lumped up goo was.

Thanks again for all the recommendations. I'll post some pics of how it turned out this afternoon when I get done at work.
 

Tone_Terrific

Supporting Member
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31,539
and the frets appear to be relatively good...mind-boggling.. hazmat suit bad.
'a stitch in time saves nine'
 




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