Why would you use steel wool on your fretboard?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Cheap guitar guy, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. Cheap guitar guy

    Cheap guitar guy Tele-Meister

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    I guess I feel like rocking the boat. Why in hell would you use steel wool to clean/polish your frets and board? The standard that people seem to recommend is 0000. Which is the equivalent to 400 grit sandpaper. There are so many other things that you could use that do not leave micro pieces of metal on what you run your fingertips all over and will not stick to your pickups. I just don't get the logic.
     
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  2. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Tape your fretboard exposing only your first fret. use brasso and steel wool on your fret. Repat 20-23 times, depending.
     
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  3. rickthescot

    rickthescot Tele-Holic

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    'cause yer GAS'n for a new one?
     
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  4. simoncroft

    simoncroft TDPRI Member

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    Steel wool can be quite useful if you're finishing a guitar body in Danish oil, for instance, but I too see no reason to use it on a the neck of a complete guitar. There's ScotchBrite, Wet & Dry paper... almost anything as long as it doesn't disintegrate into iron filings!
     
  5. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Files and super fine sandpaper, like 800 grit, for the frets.

    800 - 1000 grit sandpaper for the fret board, and that's only if it required woodworking. To clean it I use elbow grease and mineral oil.

    I hate using steel wool for anything 'cause the shavings get everywhere.
     
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  6. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I use it.

    It polishes well.

    My feeling is the 0000 is much much finer than 400 grit. More like 2000 I'd say. It's a very soft abrasive.

    As the OP states, the only issue is the iron filings as the stuff disintegrates, but a strong Neo magnet under the work area and judicious use of marking tape to cover the body and PU's and there is no issue.

    I like it for the fact that it conforms more readily to the fret shape than a paper can. You can push a finger nail into it and get right into the corners.

    Could be wrong though. Happy to be schooled.

    CP.
     
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  7. Cheap guitar guy

    Cheap guitar guy Tele-Meister

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    i get the conform thing. If you look it up 0000 steel wool is about 400 grit. More abrasive then you thought i bet.
     
  8. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    It may have the same "removing material" factor as 400 but the 0000 doesn't leave scratches like 400 grit.

    Just my experience.

    Maybe we get softer 0000 downunder?

    CP.
     
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  9. Cheap guitar guy

    Cheap guitar guy Tele-Meister

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    Understood. The amount of pressure you apply is also a factor. And also I sand from E string to E string. Not in the direction of the grain. Getting that small of an area smooth(each individual fret) and thinking a directional sand will make a difference is crap.
     
  10. william tele

    william tele Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I have yet to read of anyone making a pickup unusable because of steel wool debri...
     
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  11. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    I agree with you.....I've used 0000 for years on tarnished frets and it doesn't leave any scratches...nice bright frets is all..400 paper sure would scratch though. I re-fretted a friend's Strat not long ago and I usually just do a 0000 polish after crowning but this time I used my Dremel and some metal polish....there really was no appreciable difference between the two....not that would make a difference in playing anyway....maybe a bit brighter after using the Dremel.

    They are very differently shaped abrasive surfaces (rough, irregularly shaped grit vs. long homogenous sharp edges) so I'm guessing that makes the difference. Like the difference between sanding wood and scraping or planing it....

    I may have tried wool on a rosewood fretboard before I suppose but it's not something I have done for a long time I would say....I don't see a reason to do it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
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  12. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire

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    I used to use 0000, but now I use Magic Erasers. We have them around the house anyway and they do the same thing without having to tape off.

    My leftover 0000 goes in the gaps of this hundred year old house to keep the mouses out.
     
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  13. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have never been able to get a fretboard dirty enough that fast fret didn't clean it up. I probably wouldn't use steel wool, unless I didn't like the guitar very much. Hey you, yeah I'm talkin' to you sittin' over there on that stand acting like you ain't got a care in the world, did you hear what I said about not using the steel wool, unless?
     
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  14. SloppyDawg

    SloppyDawg TDPRI Member

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    I use Micro Mesh, which COURSE to them is 1500 grit. Plus a metal shield to protect the fingerboard. Micro Mesh goes up to 12000 grit FINE. I then freshen up the fingerboard with lemon oil. The grain really pops!
     
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  15. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jason Lollar (yes, the pickup guy) wrote a whole blog post about why steel wool shouldn't be used in guitar repair and building.

    Given that pickups have magnets in them, I keep the steel wool away from my guitars. There's synthetic steel wool and that stuff works better IMHO.

    Thank you,
    Chris
     
  16. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That is the best use of steel wool I have ever heard! That's where my remaining stash is going (my 100 year old house, not yours). I use the synthetic stuff for everything else I would have used steel wool for in the past.
     
  17. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    There's no need for steel wool. Micromesh pads work great and last a long time. I go up to 3000 and it does make a difference, even though you can't really see visible scratches even if you only use 400 (though that stuff is too abrasive, IMO). Steel wool, oil finishing, and various other practices are going to be fine if you know how to use the stuff, but IMO it's simply not as good as other materials and approaches. Why not do things the best way?
     
  18. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Meister

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    uh, I wouldn't.
     
  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Someone at the dawn of time needed to clean their guitar neck after years of eating wings while playing, and surveyed their flat to find only steel wool not any sandpaper without going to the store. So they used what they had and told the next guy and like that old commercial "their friends and their friends" until everyone forgot that the real reason was due to a guy that didn't want to run up to the store for sandpaper but a myth started.

    [​IMG]

    Similar to the story about the granddaughter cooking a ham for a party cut the ends off and threw them away. Her husband asked her why she was throwing away good ham like that. "That's the way my mother always did it". So the granddaughter asked her mother why she cut the ends off. "Oh, I do that because your grandmother always did it." So she rang up her grandmother and asked why. "Oh, it's because those hams were always longer than my roasting pan. So I had to cut the ends of to make it fit! Later on I got a larger pan."

    Don't forget to scrub down the rest of your guitar, this is that fancy tone cleaner they sell at the supermarket.



    .
     
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  20. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    0000 feels finer than fresh 400 grit to me. Steel wool will readily wrap around a fret surface better when you are using it. Sandpaper will not, it will work, but not contact the fret surface all over as readily. All that is a nit pick though.
    There is bronze wool available, we dont use steel wool on boats because the steel fibers fall off and rust on deck etc.
    I rarely use steel wool on a guitar though and wet paper works fine for me on fretes. I use WD40 in lieu of water though.
     
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