If you know a little about guitars, you know that a clean instrument feels a lot better and lasts longer. Polishing and oiling your guitar is a simple step to keep it in good condition. This is a step-by-step guide on how to clean a rosewood fretboard. Take a look:
Why do I need to take care of my fretboard?
Cleaning isn’t always a pleasurable experience. All cleaning tasks are always tedious, from vacuuming a house to washing a car. Still, for guitarists, cleaning your instrument is the only way to guarantee it lasts a lifetime and makes them feel better when playing it.
The quantity of dirt that accumulates on your instrument is largely determined by where you play it. For example, if you go to play gigs every weekend, then you probably spend so much time in 1000-degree temperatures and harsh stage lighting. When you break a sweat due to these conditions, some of it ends up on your guitar.
Grease and sweat don’t only make your guitar look horrible, but they may also deteriorate the varnish and ruin the fretboard irreversibly. It can also get to your instrument’s electronic parts and hardware, producing corrosion and a bunch of other issues. You probably won’t have to clean your guitar very often if you play for 60-120 minutes a day in an airy and cool room. It all depends on the context and environment.
How to clean a rosewood fretboard: step-by-step
You can clean your rosewood fretboard in a variety of ways. To clean dirt in between frets and on the slides, you can use fancy products available at your local guitar store or just simple household materials like water and oil with cotton balls or Q-tips. However, water may not eliminate as much grime as you’d like, so you might have to consider a real product like the Dunlop’s 6500 System 65 Guitar Maintenance Kit, which contains detailed instructions to avoid damaging your instrument.
It’s possible to clean your instrument without taking off the strings; however, if thorough cleaning is required, you may have to. Plus, it’s much easier that way! The best time to clean your fretboard is when you have to change the strings. It’s just easier that way.
Step 1: Place your instrument in a safe place
So, first and foremost, clean your hands, then prepare a space for your instrument. It is critical that you set it in a place where it will not be damaged. Don’t try to wipe your instrument on the ground, for example. Doing so will scratch the body of your guitar, leaving it with marks. Plus, it’s just so difficult to clean a fretboard properly when it’s on the floor.
So don’t just set your instrument down wherever it’s most convenient. Remember that you’ll be taking the strings off, which can often result in small bits being strewn about. Additionally, you want to do it in a well-lit area to be able to quickly spot any grimes that need to be eliminated.
You can always set your guitar on top of some soft sheets on a table. That way, the instrument won’t be scratched or damaged as you polish and oil it. Plus, you’ll be able to do a nice job on it more comfortably.
Step 2: Remove all the strings
If you’re going to undertake a thorough cleaning of your fretboard, pull off all of its strings to get them out of your way. Even if you don’t want to replace them, having them out of your way will be far more beneficial than working your way around each of them.
If you’ve never done anything like this ever, simply start by loosening each one of them. Finally, you can pull them off carefully or simply cut them off if you don’t plan on reusing them,
And, if you have worries that removing strings from your fretboard is not a good thing to do, please know that removing strings won’t affect your fretboard at all.
Step 3: Use fine steel wool to wipe any gunk off the fretboard surface
Cleaning this portion of your guitar regularly is definitely the most crucial thing you can do. After all, the fretboard is the guitar’s portion that takes the most abuse, and if neglected, excessive dust and sweat may build-up, leading to permanent damage.
When sweat evaporates or dries on the fretboard, it can leave behind permanent stains or cause fractures to appear because the wood becomes too dry.
Polishing rosewood fretboards can be accomplished using a variety of products. On the other hand, steel wool may be necessary if you’ve been sluggish and a huge amount of gunk has accumulated on your instrument. If you do, be sure to use just 4-0 steel wool. Its delicate steel strands will erase any undesirable muck from the frets without any wear or damage.
Place masking tape on your instrument’s pickups to prevent small steel wool particles from clinging to their magnets. After that, begin cleaning the neck of your guitar. Simply polish the neck a little, get on the frets, and make everything nice and shiny. After that, get the nasty stuff off with the help of an air hose or a brush.
Step 4: Clean the fretboard
After scraping off the grime with the steel wool, it’s time to clean the fretboard. This is when you can clean the board with water and cotton wool. If water doesn’t work because the board is too dirty, genuine products should be used. Also, instead of spraying water or product straight on the board, soak a cotton ball and wipe it down. While you’re at it, don’t use too much water or product to risk drowning the board and causing warping problems.
Fingerboard Cleaner & Prep, which is included in the Dunlop’s 6500 System 65 Guitar Maintenance Kit, can be used. Note, it’s possible to skip this step entirely and move straight to conditioning after polishing because the conditioner also rehydrates and cleans the fretboard. But if yours is too dirty, you might want to wipe it as above.
Step 5: Apply conditioner
Conditioners help rehydrate and wash the wood to a brand new look. Cleaning and conditioning treatments like Lemon Oil or Jim Dunlop’s Guitar Fingerboard Kit are ideal. You can use a damp cloth to apply or can combine the product in the steel wool in step 3 above and rub it into the wood. However, don’t be stingy with the conditioner. But also, be careful so as not to oversoak the fretboard since this could result in warping.
Apply conditioner on each fret one by one in circular motions from top to bottom.
Step 6: Clean guitar body
Your guitar body will accumulate stains and grime over time, no matter how careful you are. Fortunately, cleaning the body is much less difficult than cleaning the fretboard. But you must take into account the type of finish on the guitar body.
Most mass-produced guitars have a polyurethane or polyester finish, which provides them with a glossy protective outer shield. Because it does not leave the wood permeable or absorbent, it is also the easiest coating to clean. You can simply wax your instrument with various products to give it a showroom-worthy finish.
For example, you can use the popular Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish to remove accumulated grease and sweat and give your instrument a brand new look. It’s best not to spray it straight on the instrument; instead, spray it a fair few times onto a towel, then wipe your instrument. If you like, you can touch it up with a little bit of Jim Dunlop Platinum 65 Spray Wax, giving it a professional aesthetic look.
Use a dry cloth only to clean matte guitar finishes, and don’t use any cleaning solutions to avoid exacerbating stains and spot marks. Satin-finished guitars feature a semi-gloss surface and a smoother feel akin to matte-finished guitars. The same procedure applies to cleaning these types of guitars finishing, with the exception that only a dry towel is recommended. A slightly wet cloth might suffice if a more rigorous clean is required, but no lemon oil or cleaning solutions.
Can you clean maple or ebony fretboards the same way as rosewood fretboards?
Thanks to their lighter wood color, maple fretboards are more likely to exhibit dirt and blemishes than Ebony and Rosewood boards. To make matters worse, conditioners aren’t suitable for use on Maple in the same way they can on Rosewood or ebony.
Use ultra-fine 4-0 steel wool to eliminate grime from a maple fingerboard without damaging the frets. A little moist towel can be used on satin maple, but anything else should be avoided.
Use only a dry/damp towel to clean a lacquered maple fingerboard since steel wool will dull the surface and produce a matte-like texture, while any lemon oil drop would remove the sheen and reduce the shine. Use only a dry or gently dampened towel only. In case the lacquer appears particularly thick, you could also apply a small amount of the popular Jim Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cleaning Rosewood Fretboard:
Should you oil a rosewood fingerboard?
Yes, unlike maple, which is a finished wood, Rosewood needs to be polished and oiled occasionally. This is because rosewood fretboards are unpolished, which means the raw wood is exposed to harsh elements. Sweat can eventually dehydrate rosewood fretboard. Oil it to help it acquire a healthy level of moisture.
How do you polish a rosewood fingerboard?
Start by taking the strings off to get them out of your way, then grab some steel wool, like the 4-0, and start cleaning your guitar neck. Simply polish the neck a little bit, get on the frets and make it clean and shining good.
Next, use an air hose or a brush to get all the nasty stuff off, and then wipe using a cotton ball soaked in a genuine product. Finally, apply conditioner or lemon oil. Use circling motions and ensure the fretboards stand out really nice and moist. If the cotton wool gets dry due to the rubbing, you can always add more oil; make sure you don’t oversaturate the fretboard.
Can you clean a rosewood fretboard using water?
Yes, you can use water on a rosewood fretboard, but it depends on how dirty it is. Water may not remove all the residue as a real product, so you might want to get genuine products. Also, don’t apply water or cleaning solutions directly. Use a soaked cotton ball instead; that way, you will avoid oversoaking the fretboard and causing warping problems.
Is lemon oil good for rosewood fretboard?
Yes, you may use lemon oil cleaners to wipe, rehydrate, and revitalize a rosewood guitar. But remember to only use lemon oil instead of lemon juice or sliced lemon fruit since it comes in the proper concentration for the wood.
Can I use olive oil on my fretboard?
Olive oil, or just about any vegetable oil, should not be used to oil fretboards since it might go sour or rancid over time.
How often should I condition the fretboard?
Rosewood fretboards require oiling, but you really don’t have to do it every time you clean them lightly. Only 1 to 3 times a year is sufficient to avoid drowning the wood and causing warping.
Finally, a clean fretboard guitar naturally feels and looks nicer than a sweaty, dirty instrument. If you really want your instrument to last longer and avoid the costs of replacement parts every year, you simply must keep it clean. To clean your guitar safely and correctly, you can use regular household products or purchase genuine guitar cleaning supplies from a guitar store.
Household goods may include chemicals that you are unaware of, causing irreversible fretboard damage. To keep your guitars clean, follow appropriate guitar maintenance routines such as washing your hands before playing, wiping down and lubricating the strings, and not hanging your guitar on a wall, which will simply collect dust. Put your guitar in a nice case when not using it.
Conclusion of cleaning rosewood fretboard
Finally, a clean guitar naturally feels and looks nicer than a sweaty, dirty instrument. If you really want your instrument to last longer and avoid the costs of replacement parts every year, you simply must keep it clean. To clean your rosewood fretboard safely and correctly, you can use regular household products or purchase genuine rosewood fretboard cleaning supplies from your local guitar store. Household goods may include chemicals that you are unaware of, causing irreversible fretboard damage. Furthermore, to keep your guitars clean, follow appropriate guitar maintenance routines such as washing your hands before playing, wiping down and lubricating the strings, and not hanging your guitar on a wall, which will simply collect dust. Put your guitar in a nice case when not using it.