Best way to clean my beater acoustic's fretboard?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by RoscoeElegante, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Hey, all. Hope this finds you well.

    Held up my acoustic beater to a rare morning sunshine in these parts--and Lordy, this thing looks like Keith Richards uses it to clean his Barbados toes! Quite the gunk map 'tween them frets.

    I guess that's what happens if you don't clean a fretboard for 20+ years, and pick the thing up while cooking dinner, between house chores, etc., without even thinking of washing your hands first.

    So what's the best approach, tools, wood-'n-fret-respecting de-gunkifier, etc.?

    Thanks.
     
  2. adeiderich

    adeiderich Tele-Afflicted

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    Lemon oil and a soft bristle toothbrush has always done the trick for me. Then wipe the excess oil off with a soft rag.
     
  3. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, adeiderich. Is the lemon oil I can (presumably) buy at our local grocery store adequate to the task, or should I hunt online for something specific to guitar cleaning?
     
  4. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

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  5. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    A rag and WD40 work fine. I used to oil my fretboards now and then, but have gone to just cleaning up every now and then with WD40 when restringing . It's thin, unlike the thicker oils used to "treat" the fret board. You are cleaning mostly not treating. The WD40 loosens up the goo so you can get it off. DO NOT brush a fret board as brushing can remove some of the softer grain in those crevices wood has leaving more prevalent grooves in the wood over time.
     
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  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've bought a few guitars like that! To cut the old grease takes a cotton cloth you can later discard and a 50/50 mix of water and ammonia. Put it on the cloth and use that to scrub the neck. Let it dry and then find your favorite oil to treat it (there are many conflicting opinions on what is the best oil). Use a razor blade to scrape (with the grain) too-hard gunk that still doesn't come off, but usually you don't need to resort to this.

    WD-40 has a 'drying' formulation to it, not sure I'd trust that. Lighter fluid "Naptha" is similarly suggested by some, haven't tried it -- too many images of Jimi Hendrix burning that Strat....

    On electrics, steel wool will break down and leave fibers that get into your pickup magnets and over time nick up the bobbin wire.

    .
     
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  7. Mike SS

    Mike SS Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    6554-large.jpg Formulated specifically for guitar rosewood fretboards, and is available at guitar/music stores and online at MF and Sweetwater.. I don't know about spraying WD40 on wood. It contains a high concentration of petroleum based solvents. Not really meant for treating wood.
     
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  8. 5ofeight

    5ofeight Tele-Holic

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    When they are that bad I usually make up a little warm soapy water and give the fb a good scrub down with a brush, finish it off by scraping the stubborn crud out with a stanley blade and then re-hydrate the fb with D'Addario Hydrate.. I did read somewhere that gun oil makes for a good fretboard preservative/coating/feed but I have as yet never got round to trying that as I dont know where any gun shops are here in Scotland..
     
  9. jaybones

    jaybones Friend of Leo's

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    I would buy a bottle of mineral (baby) oil from a big box pharmacy. Lemon oil is just mineral oil with some lemon scent added, along with some upcharge in the price.

    About a buck should get you a lifetime supply.

    While you're there get a soft toothbrush and use that exclusively. Wouldn't want to risk mixing them up.

    I use Stew Mac Restoration Oil which is mineral oil with a little brown stain added. If I'd known then what I know now I would have bought mineral oil and saved a couple bucks.
     
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  10. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'm a Dan Erlewine disciple. His first go-to for cleaning is "warm breath". From there I think he recommends a barely-damp cloth, and then naptha. I usually skip the damp cloth and go straight to naptha. Naptha is just lighter fluid, available in the yellow squeezy bottle, or can be purchased in quart cans in the paint department of your local home center. Don't get anything oily like mineral spirits or aggressive solvents like acetone.

    I simply use scraps of old cotton t-shirts, no fancy brushes or abrasives. If there's a lot of built-up gray sludge, I usually scrap it off with a guitar pick or old plastic card. (Hotel key cards work great. Whenever I find one my in pocket that I forget to turn in, it goes in my guitar-fixing-tools drawer.)

    If you can't get fancy guitarist-targeted lemon oil, just grab a bottle of mineral oil from Walmart or you local drugstore (hint: it's in the laxatives section). It's the same stuff without the lemon scent. Big ol' bottle for way cheaper. I just used the Walmart stuff on the fingerboard of my neglected-for-28-years Washburn acoustic, and it worked wonders.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  11. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I scrape it off with my fingernails and call it good.
     
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  12. luckett

    luckett Banned

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    The Dunlop 65 you recommended is primarily a petroleum based solvent.
     
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  13. HolyTele Tube

    HolyTele Tube TDPRI Member

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    Lemon oil does a great job. If it is a very dirty fretboard I have used Howard’s feed and wax and a grey scotchbrite pad
     
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  14. Mike SS

    Mike SS Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I have a bottle of it in my hands right now, and am reading the label. There is no warning about containing petroleum distillates. There are warnings about swallowing it, getting it in your eyes, and prolonged skin contact. It is also VOC (volatile organic compound)compliant, biodegradable, and a "green" (non polluting) product. It is pure lemon oil. It can be toxic, as it contains citric acid, as do oranges, limes, and grapefruit. At my job as a mechanic we use industrial hand cleaner mad from citrus oils. However, they contain NO PETROLEUM BASED SOLVENTS.
     
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  15. luckett

    luckett Banned

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    You do realize that mineral oil is a petroleum distillate and is safe for consumption or prolonged skin contact right? It's frequently used in food products, marketed as a skin moisturizer and other cosmetic products intended for long term skin contact and none of them have warning labels about containing petroleum distillates.

    I'd love to see a picture of the label where it says that it's pure lemon oil.
     
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  16. Mike SS

    Mike SS Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    The label contains no list of ingredients, other than the statement Ultimate Lemon Oil. There is not "also contains" section. I believe the law requires all products to state the ingredients in the event of accidental ingestion. You have to be able to tell a doctor what was ingested. In this case it would be "lemon oil".

    If there is mineral oil, or petroleum distillates in it, they aren't saying. The label in my post above says it. Sorry I don't have a picture of the back. It contains the warnings for ingestion, VOC compliance, Biodegradable, and Green Product. I don't have a way to photograph. Too old for digital...:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  17. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, all! May try several approaches, divided by frets, to see which works best. I don't know whether to be disgusted or proud of the amazing gunk-volume that I've put on this guitar. It is, probably, the one I've played most in those 20+ years, so no wonder. Looks a stir-fry survivor in a junkyard....
     
  18. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, as mentioned, Erlewine says Naptha for deep cleaning, which is from the same family as WD40, petroleum. WD40 is less of a solvent than Naptha. My theory is adding a bit of oil while cleaning, rather than stripping natural rosewood oils with solvent, is probably better, but it's just a theory!
     
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  19. Bill

    Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I’d go with whatever Dan Erlewine says. After all, he’s the one who takes care of and cleans Willie Nelson’s guitar Trigger.

    Unless of course Trigger didn’t look like that until Dan started cleaning it...
     
  20. Mr Scallywag

    Mr Scallywag Tele-Holic

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    Baby wipes and a can-do attitude, then a little oil.
     
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