Cleaning my crudded up Telecaster fretboard
May 22, 2004 10:11 AM   Subscribe

My Telecaster's fretboard is all crudded up. I know there are a bunch of commercial products out there to clean it, but wonder if I can use just regular furniture polish or windex instead?
posted by signal to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
when I'm changin' my strings, usually I'll wipe the fretboard down with orange oil, dry it, and then take a fine grain steel wool and smooth out the frets and get any leftover gunk. maybe give that a shot?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2004

I've just discovered orange oil and I have been impressed with its versatility. I would try that over furniture polish.

The ammonia in Windex could fog the finish.
posted by mischief at 10:27 AM on May 22, 2004

The page on cleaning recommends using fine steel wool and mineral oil. I'm pretty sure I've seen my luthier cleaning pretty much everything with lighter fluid, but I'm not positive about that.

Mostly I wanted to post the link to The site answers a lot of questions I see coming up on AskMe.
posted by stet at 10:58 AM on May 22, 2004

Is your fretboard maple or rosewoood? If it's maple, it's probably finished. You'd want to be extremely careful using steel wool on a finished neck.
posted by timeistight at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2004

I may be wrong but I recall using a pencil eraser (one of the plastic ones) as a tip many years ago.
posted by i_cola at 12:01 PM on May 22, 2004

Mineral oil works well on my Les Paul, but it's Mahogany with mother of pearl inlays. I wouldn't reccommend steel wool, as it might damage the finish.

And windex is a no-no, it will dry out whatever wood it touches.
posted by Benway at 12:58 PM on May 22, 2004

I've used a product called "Mr Sheen" with success on my tele before (maple neck), given that it's designed for cleaning and polishing wooden furniture, it did the job nicely.

Whatever you end up doing, do a spot test and go from there.
posted by cheaily at 6:16 PM on May 22, 2004

I've used spit. My guitar has survived and even gained character.

posted by troutfishing at 10:28 PM on May 22, 2004

Ditto what trout says. In Dan Erlewine's book, "How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great", he recommends the following in order, until you get it all clean:

Moist breath (you know, like you were fogging up glass)

Hot water (use a barely damp rag, wipe right away w/paper towel)


Mineral spirits

Lighter fluid

Guitar cleaner

And as a last resort, you can scrape the gunk off--Erlewine recommends a credit card, I prefer a guitar pick, but plastic rather than metal is probably a good idea.
posted by arto at 12:30 AM on May 23, 2004

On really gunky necks, e.g. on a pawnshop guitar I just bought, I scrape with a fresh razor blade. Gently! Carefully! This allows you to get right up into the angle where fret meets wood, which is where the gunk is thickest. After using this radical treatment once, do milder cleaning more often so it doesn't get so bad again.
posted by jfuller at 8:12 AM on May 23, 2004

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