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Cleaning your fretboard/fingerboard

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I get asked this so many times I'd figure I'd make it a sticky.;)

Cleaning Your Fretboard

In general terms, I'm referring to a rosewood or ebony board. If it's sealed maple you can still do all this but you could go with another form of cleaner as opposed to lemon oil like denatured alcohol. That evaporates quickly and it SHOULDN'T be a solvent on MOST sealers used for fingerboards, but TEST IT FIRST if you're not sure.

I'll describe what I do to the most gunked up fingerboards I see and I mean mildew is growing on them, ok? :unsure:;)

Take the strings off. Tape a cover over the pickups if it's an electric or the soundhole if it's an acoustic. Moist gunk is easier to get off than dry gunk, but it's messier. I'll start with a small bowl of lemon oil and a soft toothbrush. Dip the brush in the oil and then start scrubbing the finger board. I work from the nut towards the bridge. It's ok to go right over the inlays.

Now I'll take a clean rag and kind of using my fingernail underneath I wipe straight across in the creavace of the fret and board to get out built up gunk. Use the rag to wipe off the whole fingerboard. Still got gunk? Use can use a soft scraper like a credit card edge. Is it still in the pores of the wood? Time to break out the 0000 steel wool. You want to avoid rubbing too hard and across the grain of the wood. But, if you HAVE to go across the grain to get very stubborn build up next to frets, that's ok, just do as little as you need too and then work it with the grain to remove those marks. You can also use the steel wool to do any minor fret dressing you might find like a small nick or if they're just dull and need to get a little layer of oxidation off. The steel wool will produce tiny steel fibers as it's waste. This is why you covered your pickups because the magnets in them really attract them. When you're all done w/the steel wool, wipe it all down again w/a clean rag using a little more oil if you have too. If it's an acoustic I'll also use oil on the bridge at this time. Carefully remove and discard your taped barriers, string 'er up and you're good to go.

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If you're in the U.K. (as Gothika is) try Wilkinsons, or a 'Four Candles' type hardware shop. Ask your parents if you don't know what 'Four Candles' means, or even a car body shop. Hope this helps.

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well my fretboard seems to get dirty quickly, idk mayb im shedding from my caluses or something. should i take my strings off ever time i clean my guitar, cuz it kinda seems like a huge pain to take the strings off and go through all of that if its gonna get dirty after 2 songs. sorry if im coming off as a lazy bum but is there another way to clean my fretboard without taking the strings off?

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Hey r1p32, Ya probably shouldn't play the guitar while eating barbecue, don't cha know!!
:lol: But what if you are playing blues at a BBQ joint? You gotta eat some ribs!?! :lol:

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Hey r1p32, Ya probably shouldn't play the guitar while eating barbecue, don't cha know!!

I don't know, it makes sliding on the strings infinitely easier.

Bending becomes a pain though.

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I'd use denatured alcohol preferably over naptha just because it's so much less flamable. It's flamable but naptha is essently lighter fluid. Let it dry and then treat it w/just a touch of oil; lemon, bore, boiled linseed, etc. Not tung oil though.

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Juste essuyer avec un chiffon doux après avoir joué sur l'instrument.

^Just to wipe with a soft rag after having played on the instrument. ^

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I've been using NAPHTA to clean the body with but have never used it on the fret board. Is it ok to use NAPHTA on that as well? Also, should I do anything else after cleaning? For cleaning the edges I've found Q-tips to work well.

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I've got a maple board. Can I still use lemon oil?

Denatured alcohol? Acetone, you mean? Please use layman's language. I'm a commerce student. Lack knowledge in sciency stuff :P

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