Cleaning Guitar Fretboards

I use a varitey of methods to clean fretboards. This one is the best I know of for a real dirty grungy Rosewood or Ebony board. Make sure the fretboards are not dyed to look like something their not!! Les Pauls, Martins, Guilds, and Gibson acoustics generally rub some dye in their boards but the wood there is real. First take your strings off and use a guitar pick or your fingernail to scrape next to the fret edge to determine how much gunk and buildup may be there. If it is crud, the pick will scrape some off. Take a warm sponge with a few drops of ivory liquid and scrub like hell to get the stuff loose. Then take a used tooth brush and scrub the daylights out of the wood in all directions. I then clean the wood with some dry towels to get the moisture off. Next take a few drops of naptha (lighterfluid) and with some 000 steel wool rub the fret board from the 1st to 20th fret back and forth real hard. Take a dry brush and get all of the residue from the wool off (before this tape off your pickups on electrics to make for easier clean up) next clean again with 0000 steel wool. Finally rub some light machine oil into the wood and presto the board is as good as new for the most part. Another way we clean fretboards after a refret or if the wood is extremely dirty is get a single edge razor blade and scrape with the wood grain between the frets. This technique is used at all factories to clean and resurface the board and clean next to the frets and binding . This step takes a little practice and not recommended for the novice repair person. It is also more dangerous if the razor breaks. On lacquered maple fretboards use the water, sponge, and soap trick and follow with naptha. If you are working on an epiphone, sigma, or most lower priced imports the dye in the fretboard will come off and create a very worn look not very ugly. Many takamines are dyed so watch out!!

Tim Lawson  

I have a Martin guitar with a Micarta fretboard, what should I clean it with?


Since the micarta is an synthetic material, you could clean it with a slightly dampened cloth.
You could also put a little 409 cleaner on a cotton cloth.

Bob, Gman ( o )==#


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