How to remove polishing compound from around frets?

BFcaster

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About 12 years ago or so, I stripped and re-fretted two Tele maple necks in nitro. Polished things up, did the fret work, polished them up, etc. Done. I was lazy of course...these are my Teles and I just wanted them done so I could play them.
Now, after all these years, my lack of proper clean-up is bugging me, because around some frets I have hard-to-clean remnants of rubbing/polishing compound. Basically, thin white lines of the hard stuff.

My usual remedy is naptha, which I did at the time but obviously I posted this so....

Suggestions???
 

Sea Devil

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A damp paper towel would normally be enough. A toothbrush? Sure. If it's obstinate, try more polishing compound!
 

Freeman Keller

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I'd vote for the toothbrush, if it is an unfinished board (rosewood, ebony) 0000 steel wool is very effective. If its a lacquered maple board naphtha shouldn't hurt it. A good reason why I don't use compound to polish frets.
 

highwaycat

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What is this ‘white hard stuff’ you used? Polishing compound usually turns a dark color, just wipes off.
Maybe there’s metal dust in there from working on the frets?
Naphtha is great for what it does (including cleaning polishing compound) but it’s not the best for cleaning.
Maybe stewmac’s preservation polish? It’s good stuff.
A plastic cleaner or an oil soap?
 

Vizcaster

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The polishing compound would initially have had either a wax/oil base or an emulsion, so the first instinct is to use naphtha to dissolve the wax that's carrying the abrasive. Now that it's so dried out, however, there may be no wax or oil left.

Have you tried something with a ph neutral detergent such as soapy water? Obviously you can't use alcohol or acetone/lacquer thinner on a nitro-finished neck.

Also, how about one of the spray cleaners that are mislabeled "polish"? e.g. the now defunct Martin Guitar Polish made by Guardsman, or Gibson pump spray polish, or Planet Waves spray polish (not to rant, but in the finishing and detailing world, "polish" contains abrasive and these products are really just cleaners with a little wax, yet they borrow the misnomer from "furniture polish"). They might have enough of an emulsifier to remove the old compound and dried wax.

And a toothbrush is a great tool for this because it almost allows you to control the amount of liquid that you're using and keeps the gunk wet while you're trying to loosen it.

I save thick chopsticks (the round ones, not the cheap flat ones) and occasionally sharpen the end in a pencil sharpener for jobs like this. Won't scratch the frets but will work a bit faster than a toothbrush except it won't help soaking the dry powder.
 

stratisfied

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Dry toothbrush first, damp (not dripping wet) toothbrush if compound has hardened. Last resort is a hobby/utility knife blade (use it out of the handle, you want to be surgically precise). Hold the blade near vertical with the point down, sharp side toward the fret, back side toward the fretboard and scrape gently with very light downward pressure. Follow up with the toothbrush.
 

BFcaster

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Since this was 12 years ago or so, as stated in the OP, the only thing I can think of that I would have used is maybe some ScratchX or Meguiars Swirl Remover (after the usual fret finishing work). I would have used naptha and a soft tshirt with my thumb nail as the 'blunt object' behind the tshirt to clean things up. Again, I got lazy and just wanted to string them up and play.
The white lines around the frets certainly look like dried up ScratchX, compared to some currently dried up on my bottle lid.

Some great suggestions. Applying more of the same (probably ScratchX) would work since the solvents in the product should work to re-liquify to a degree what is hard and hard-to-get.
 

stratisfied

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Almost forgot about Merlin's Magical Elixir ... Mineral Spirits! Dip the toothbrush in odorless mineral spirits, flick the bristles to throw off the excess and brush along the frets. Mineral spirits will not harm a thing and is actually better than a toothbrush dampened with water.
 

Drak

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Magical Elixir ... Mineral Spirits!
Dip the toothbrush in odorless mineral spirits, flick the bristles to throw off the excess and brush along the frets.
Mineral spirits will not harm a thing and is actually better than a toothbrush dampened with water.

This.
In my experience, Naptha doesn't dissolve polishing compound, mineral spirits do.
 

BFcaster

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I should know this but to be certain- any adverse effects with mineral spirits on those nitro-covered maple fretboards??
 




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