Oiling fretboard question

Discussion in 'Extended Range Guitars' started by ExtendThis, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. ExtendThis

    ExtendThis SS.org Regular

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    So I oiled my jackson js32 8q dinky fretboard with mineral oil, and I'm reading other thinge saying to wipe it off after. I used two tiny drops to cover every fret on it and it left a nice shine. So I definitely didn't saturate it or leave any fluid dripping, but do I need to let it set before putting my strings on? Or do I need to wipe what little is on there off first?
     
  2. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    Wipe all of it off with dry, clean, lint free cloth. There's lots of threads in the luthiery section that detail fretboard care for rosewood, maple, and ebony fretboards. Lots of good info in there
     
  3. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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  4. Humbuck

    Humbuck SS.org Regular

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    I wouldn't use mineral oil but yeah, wipe it all off and just don't do it too much. Once a year is probably more than enough.
     
  5. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    I use Fret doctor, it works very well for me for cleaning and shining up boards. It can also bring back the original colour of old faded wood.

    I basically use a few drops and rub it in and then wipe it off after a bit.
     
  6. j3ps3

    j3ps3 SS.org Regular

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    Clean the fretboard, add oil and let it dry. You'll notice when the oil doesn't sink in to the fretboard anymore and then you just wipe the excess oil away. I tend to do this every time I change my strings, which is once every two months or so. It doesn't hurt the guitar so why not? I've seen fretboards that have been oiled rarely and resulted in a cracked fretboard, because it's too dry.
     
  7. lemeker

    lemeker SS.org Slacker

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    I use lemon oil on my boards. I drip every other fret or so and rub it in a bit. I let it sit for a few then wipe off the excess. I tend to do it every couple of string changes. It kinda depends on how the neck looks. If it's not too bad, I'll let it go another change.
     
  8. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    if you keep your guitars in a generally mid-humid climate, you do not need to oil them whatsoever. your method is fine if you like the aesthetic, use very little oil and do it very sparingly... say once a year or so. if you want to clean the board use a lightly damp washcloth with one end damp, one end dry and wipe the gunk once or twice with the damp end then finish taking off the gunk using the dry end of the washcloth. this will take off all the grime and quickly dry the water off the board at the same time. the key here is VERY lightly damp, as in you cannot squeeze out any water at all from the damp end.
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I'll preface this by saying that all planks of wood, even those of the same species/genus and even from the same tree, are different and have different needs. Likewise, everyone's personal secretions tend to vary wildly in pH.

    All that said, I find a few issues with this nugget of advice, as well intentioned as I'm sure it is.

    First of all, humidity, as in water, is the enemy of un-sealed wood. It easily evaporates again and again which can overtime cause the wood to bend and warp. Additionally, water does nothing to protect the board.

    We use oils to nourish the fretboard for two reasons: 1) to keep the wood moist enough to not crack and 2) to create a barrier to protect from the "gunk", the lovely blend of dirt, sweat and assorted nastiness that comes with regular playing.

    As for how much to use, as has already been mentioned, you want to build up a nice sheen, let it sit (an hour or so should do the trick depending on the board), wipe off the excess and rock. Then wait until you notice the board getting extra dull or having film of gunk appear.

    Again, try to avoid water. Grab one of the many fretboard cleaners sold by EB, Dunlop, Meguiar's, etc. Or, as I do, good old fashioned naphtha. It's a mild cleaner that's been used on stringed instruments for decades. It'll break up the gunk without introducing unwanted material into the board.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  10. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    I stand by my statement. You will get all kinds of opinions on this, with anecdotal evidence proving either method as being just fine. I have many guitars that I've owned for years from brand new... a cheap acoustic for 21 years, a couple electrics for near 20 years and various others for a slightly shorter period of time. In that time, I have never oiled the boards once. Never owned a wood conditioner or oil. I don't clean the fretboards often either, just whenever they start to get really gunky. TINY bit of water in a rag with a dry end to dry right away after wiping off the gunk. probably a lot less than the amount of sweat that hits the fretboards after the countless shows I have played over the years. fretboards look good as new after cleaning.

    If you want to oil the board that is obviously fine too, but don't overthink or overdo it. use very little oil, enough to get the look you want, and wipe it off. the biggest factor from keeping the fretboard from cracking is not leaving it in super dry climates constantly, that is it really.
     
  11. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The materials to clean and oil the board are super cheap, easily available and non-expiring. The time to do both, once you have your method down, can be measured in minutes.

    Repairing a fretboard is expensive, hard to do, and only suited for certain instruments. It takes days in some cases the guitar never feels the same again.

    Why risk it?

    Like I said, I don't think you're trying to ruin this guy's gear. I've just worked around guitars and have repaired enough farked boards to just go through the motions.

    Look at it like insurance. Pay a small parcel of time and money on a regular basis in order to negate a potential, yet unlikely, serious issue.
     
  12. lurè

    lurè Thy Art Is Mambo

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    I use Music Nomad F-One oil. It's a fretboard cleaner and conditioner.
    Just one drop per fret ,rub it a bit and let it rest for 10 minutes, then wipe the excess of oil with a cloth.
     
  13. j3ps3

    j3ps3 SS.org Regular

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    Just because it hasn't happened to you, doesn't mean it doesn't happen at all. That's a terrible advice and it seems like you don't know what you're talking about.

    There's no such thing as using "too much oil". Using it doesn't hurt the fretboard. I've seen an ESP Horizon which was kept in a room with 50% humidity and the fretboard still cracked and I bet that it would've been saved with a little use of oil. Of course ebony is a hard wood and therefore more prone to crack than rosewood, for example. But not using the fretboard oil just because nothing bad has happened yet is just plain dumb. Changing the fretboard is gonna be much more expensive than buying a bottle of oil every year or two. It's a cheap health insurance for the guitar.

    My most recent build ended up having a crack in the body and I used water to actually "stabilize" the cracks. I watered the cracks every day for so long that the weight of the body didn't change anymore. That's when I knew the cracks weren't going to expand anymore so now I'm going to seal it with epoxy. If I'd done it straight ahead without the water, it would've cracked again. Using little water for cleaning is no problem, but I'd still be careful with it. Cleaning and oiling the fretboard are two completely different things. You don't use the oil for just getting the gunk out of the fretboard.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  14. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    ^there's some of that anecdotal evidence i was talking about, going the other way. there is no way that you can come to the conclusion that the fretboard cracked because it wasn't oiled, perhaps the factory didn't dry it out properly, or maybe that part of the tree just didn't want to be a fretboard.

    And by the way, I did not tell the OP not to oil his fretboard. i just simply said it wasn't necessary, and to not overthink it nor overdo it. I have many friends who own many guitars, some of which i have been in bands with for years and the guitars were left out in cars, garages in the hot summer and cold winter (i know this is abuse, and not recommended if it can be helped), all were never oiled and all are fine to this day. the fretboard is NOT a maintenance item.

    If you want some more evidence of over-oiling, just google "over oil fretboard", there are plenty of cases where techs say drenched fretboards made gunk in the fretslots and softened the wood. Would i personally know? of course not, because i never oil!

    And how are you so sure that dumping water in a guitar body to fix a crack is such a good idea? I've never heard of a technique like that before...
     
  15. j3ps3

    j3ps3 SS.org Regular

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    I actually study this stuff at a lutherie school and our teacher has been in the business from the '60s, so I'm pretty confident he knows his business.

    And if the guitar hangs on the wall and the fretboard just cracks, I don't really see any other option than the dryness of the fretboard. This was at a guitar shop I worked at and the guitar didn't get that much play. We ended up selling it on discount. Didn't effect the playability, but nobody really wants to pay the full price, when there's a crack on the fretboard.

    I had a friend who was also careless and kept his 3000€ Larrivee next to a radiator and a window. The top cracked. But hey, if you like to live dangerously, go for it :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  16. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    yeah, feel free to think what you think, there is obviously nothing wrong with that.

    but oiling your fretboard does nothing for moisture, it does not "humidify"

    until i see a scientific study of oiled boards vs non oiled boards in regards to cracking or not with a large sample, i will lump this in with some of the other guitar mythos.

    oil on, bros!
     
  17. j3ps3

    j3ps3 SS.org Regular

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    Does nothing for moisture? Are you serious? :D

    There's three ways how water gets into the tree:
    As liquid, steam and through molecular diffusion through the cell walls (don't know if cell wall is the right word for it, but oh well)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capillary_action
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_diffusion

    You think that the wood doesn't absorb the oil to itself? It just vaporizes to the thin air?

    There's gonna be no problems with the instrument if the humidity has been the same through the whole building process. Sadly this is not always the case. It's also important to know how the builder dries and stores the wood and how he has taken into account of how the wood is gonna act when building the instrument. For example, if you make a neck and don't pay attention how the grain of the wood goes, you're gonna have a bad time. And if the humidity constantly changes, it's gonna be even more of a problem.

    And let's say that the balance humidity of your fretboard is higher than the rest of the neck when you glue it to place. So when the rest of the guitar is in balance, the fretboard is still gonna shrink (wood shrinks when it dries.). And that might crack the fretboard because it tries to move but it's glued to its place. Wood just is more prone to cracking when it's dry. You need a scientific study to believe that?

    And if you use oil for the fretboard, it's gonna protect the fretboard from moisture-related wood movement. Water is gonna just evaporate but oil is gonna go through the wood and protect the fretboard (you can notice that after oiling the wood doesn't absorb water that well). Woodwind instruments are also finished with oil and the point is to replace the water from the cell walls of the wood with the oil.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  18. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The biggest variables in the system are the wood and the player's hands. Oiling the fretboard normalizes those variables. Maybe some guitarists sweat bore oil, and others sweat sulfuric acid. Maybe your fretboard is bulletproof... but whatever the case, oiling your fretboard seems to be the standard practice for a good reason.

    And it's only mostly about water content. There are tons of other compounds that can harm the fretboard that naturally come from regular use or simply from age. The key to understanding this is that the natural oils in the wood are not water soluble, meaning that they trap in the wood's natural water and also keep water ingress from occurring. As those natural oils are replaced with skin oils, which contain a much higher concentration of polar compounds (chemists call these chemicals "carbonyls" and they include things like acids, ketones, and alcohols), as well as chemcial precursors to these compounds (which turn into nastier chemicals over time with exposure to oxygen), water is able to move out of the wood and into the oils, or out of the air and into the oils, or out of the oils and into the air or wood, so, ultimately the more polar oils from human skin are much lower quality oils than either the natural oils of the wood or the oils technicians use to clean and treat the fretboard.

    In other words, there is clear scientific logic behind why you should generally oil your fretboard (especially if it's ebony). If your fretboard is made of some sort of resin or such, then it's most likely not necessary. For example, Switch guitars and others used a high density phenolic made of layers of paper impregnated and coated with black epoxy, which should last nearly forever under normal handling and use, Parker used a fiberglass composite, and also my Oni CF8 has a maccassar ebony fretboard impregnated with clear resin to permanently seal off any contaminants. Most maple fretboards are sealed off with a thin layer of shellac or lacquer, which, usually, wears off, but you can see the damage done to the exposed wood within a few months, usually. Rosewood has more robust natural oils, so it's a little more resilient, but, it is generally standard practice to treat rosewood to maintain it.
     
  19. pahulkster

    pahulkster SS.org Regular

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    This is the best product I have seen for boards. I have about a dozen guitars with rosewood or ebony boards, and will use this about once or twice a year. My bottle will probably last ten years.

    If I get a "new" used guitar that is particularly dirty I will use a slightly damp cloth, and then use the dry end. Oil after that and they are always good. I have found this to work really well. If it is extreme 0000 (prefer synthetic) will do the trick.
     
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