Hi, fellow knights for the 6 stings..
I have a magic potion for getting rid of fretboard gunk..
By accident, I discovered a fluid that works wonders on grimy fretboards.
While cleaning a really dirty fretboard, I got hold of the wrong bottle on my shelf and before, I knew what I was doing I had a rag soaked with rubbing alcohol, I normally use Naphtha for this task, but I thought oh well I'll put some Naphtha on it too but to my surprise, the mix cleaned the fretboard with ease, so much so I was intrigued I tried a mix of 4 parts Naphtha to 1 part rubbing alcohol, and have been using it for a few days now and must say fretboard gunk removal have never been easier!
A simple trick that works, I know rubbing alcohol can harm Nitro but as long as you don't douse the guitar in it I think this mix works wonders :) Try it out :)
If you don't want to use chemicals here is what I do. I do a LOT of set-ups, hundreds and hundreds annually and as such many guitars come in pretty disgusting..... Some players leave a lot of finger jam.... on the boards.
Usually I use OOOO steel wool (unless it's a maple board) and that works well. First parallel to the frets and then parallel to the grain can clean up a pretty dirty board.
For the really bad ones though I scrape them with a .012" thick, quality single edged razor blade. The thicker ones reduce or eliminate chattering once you've done this a few times and follow-up with the OOOO steel wool.
Works great and no risk from chemicals and at times unknown finishes.
Hesh, I do a boat load of set-ups as well. Tried many 'cleaning' methods. I found that turning a burr on the single edge razor (as used with spot leveling) works very well. Lot's of control with flexing, cuts pearl and plastic well, no chatter, and easy to control from jumping frets. Maybe that's old news, but I thought I would mention it. Worked for me :)
I'll have to try that. I've been using .012" thick single edge razors out of the box favoring the .012" ones over the .009" cheap-arse ones and I do get a bit of chattering. Good idea to turn the burr and I'll give that a try. Thanks!
I have found that the expired credit card with a sharpened edge works amazingly fast...
Keep alcohol far away from varnish finishes. Many instrument varnishes are alcohol based and will be damaged by contact with alcohol. Visualize drinking glass rings on old furniture or renewal of French polished finishes.
My daughter gave me a bottle of Jim Dunlop guitar cleaner as a gift once and it sat unused for a long time. I was cleaning up a guitar while changing strings one time and I decided to try it out. It cleaned the finish as expected but it really did a good job on the fingerboard. All finger shmutz was removed and all that remains is a little polish on the wood from finger contact--a nice patina. I've since used it on several other instruments as I restrung with the same result. It's now my go-to solution.
Hi Larry :)
Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol as we get it here in Denmark is very weak, I tried leaving a large drop of nondiluted isopropyl alcohol on a nitro finished surface and it is in no way as aggressive as grain alcohol, or acetone after 10 minutes, it had evaporated and the finish was fine just a little cleaner :) I use Naphtha every day, to clean rosewood fretboards on nitro finished and non-nitro finished guitars and it does an ok job but the 20% isopropyl it does the job so much better :) I am not telling anybody to dip their guitars in rubbing alcohol :) by no means! :) Be careful with the solution It just works for me :)
"409" is a favorite around here, and it's surprisingly kind to most finishes, so we use it without much anxiety, trying, not to slop it everywhere. Sudsing up with a bit of that fine Belgian steel wool makes short work of fingerboard grime.
Thanks Frank I'll try to find a bottle of 409 :)
I often get good results with an old bone saddle, but I've a bunch of razors and scrapers for when it gets really bad.