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  1. #1

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    I had a new pickup put in my guitar and found out that the "guitar tech" was actually a luthier who not only builds his own guitars and has dones so for over 35 years, but also used to own his own store before he had to close it. He actually has a shop in the back of this store and still builds as well as teaches others how to build guitars.

    He recommends that I oil my fretboard at some point because, depending on how I store it, it is susceptible to eventually drying out, especially if it does not get played much. Do you experienced guitarists feel the same way?

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  3. #2

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    Here's my 0.02$
    I'm in medium humidity environment just outside of Paris, France and my instruments are permanently out on multi stands. All of my instruments get a light wiping of "lemon oil" once a year. I find them more pleasant under the fingers for about 9 months, and for the final 3 months the fingerboard feels less "smooth" or "slick". If I were in a dryer environment I would probably need to do this a couple of times a year.

  4. #3

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    Thanks, Ray.

    I will probably be taking my ES175 in for an inspection since it mainly sits in its case, unfortunately for around 5 years. I thought I saw a crack on the fretboard that last time I took it out, although it could have been the wood itself.

    It may cost a couple of dollars, but better safe than sorry. I am concerned about the frets.

    My home is in Texas and is air conditioned year around. Plenty of humidity comes in from my AC units, so humidity is probably OK. Most of my guitars get in the rotation of my playing so they all seem well, at least to my eyes.

    For Jazz, I normally use my Sheraton. I am going to have to start pulling that baby out the case more...

  5. #4

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    Oil penetrates both the wood of the finger board and skin of your finger tips. This makes the finger tips soft which makes the strings feel very high and tight. I guess that is OK if done infrequently; just takes some time to play through it.

    I think more frequent application of less effect promotes long run stability, so I use Chapstick each string change. Because it is a wax it penetrates much less (so after you wipe it off the finger board it is playable) and won't penetrate the finger tips.

  6. #5

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    I don't and never have and worked around two archtop guitar makers. These builders to my knowledge never used it or even brought the subject up. Keeping the fingerboard clean is different than actually apply anything on it. I don't think it probably can hurt as such but I do believe it certainly can be overdone. Greasing the puppy up does not make too much sense to me.

  7. #6

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    I've never done it...doesn't seem necessary in my area (West Coast, fairly humid).

  8. #7

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    been doing it for years...after cleaning frets and fretboard...dan erlewine the great repairman (stew-mac) uses linseed oil...i usually use food grade mineral oil...(lemon oil is just mineral oil with added artificial lemon scent...not real lemon oil) but i have used coconut oil and walnut oil as well...the idea is to not overdo it...a little bit on a rag or q-tip..a few frets at a time...work it in let it absorb for a 20-30 seconds and then wipe it dry.. with a cloth

    makes the raw fretboard look like new...and keeps the wood from drying...you can see the grain opening in the rosewood clearly when its dried out


    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 07-27-2020 at 04:31 PM. Reason: add-

  9. #8

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    I oil mine around 1-3 times a year. I only play the one guitar and my tiny flat gets very dry in the winter as temperatures drop to -10C or colder.

  10. #9

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    I do after cleaning the frets and board but not in between.
    For most people depending on environmental conditions the natural oils from your fingers is typically enough.

  11. #10

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    I've never done it. I live in a very dry climate and never had a problem. I think just keeping the guitar properly humidified is enough.

  12. #11

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    I use MusicNomad F-One Oil because it darkens the rosewood and ebony fretboards. Looks nice, feels nice, smells OK. It is detailing your guitar: not a huge expense and the fretboard looks nicer.

    Just a very light application will do.

  13. #12

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    A little of this once a year or so, wiped down with a dry cloth.

    Do I need to oil my fretboards at some point?-2e12c0b3-1013-46c4-b296-0d01f85cd531-jpg

  14. #13

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    I have the guitar my father bought me in 1964, an L50, never did it and the fingerboard is fine. Rosewood.

    I had a 56 for several decades and never did it and the fingerboard was fine on that one too.

    Same for some mid 80s instruments.

    Have had them into the shop for one thing or another and never had the luthier (usually the great Hideo Kamimoto) mention it.

  15. #14

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    In my opinion it is mainly an aesthetic thing, to clean off the fingerboard and make it look shiny. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. Whatever makes you look at your guitar and say “wow, I really wanna play that“ is a good thing.

    I am very occasionally oil the fingerboard, like every five years or so; I use about one drop of linseed oil on a soft rag, rub it up and down the fingerboard and then immediately rub it off. This leaves at most a microscopic layer of oil on the wood and doesn’t end up making it feel funky, softening my fingertips (?), etc.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark M.
    A little of this once a year or so, wiped down with a dry cloth.

    Do I need to oil my fretboards at some point?-2e12c0b3-1013-46c4-b296-0d01f85cd531-jpg
    I also use bore oil, but very infrequently.

    The use of bore oil is also controversial for clarinets, which is what it's made for. Some folks argue that it isn't needed, others do it just in case. Many old clarinets have never been oiled and have not developed cracks.

    I just oiled the rosewood of an old guitar I recently bought. The wood is now darker and looks nicer, but beyond that I don't know if it's necessary.

  17. #16

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    My short answer is “no!”

    Longer version:

    We lived in cold climates with many guitars for many years, over which time I spoke with a number of luthiers and repairmen and received many disparate answers about what oil to use, if any, how much, how often. Some said it's necessary, some said it could be harmful. Mineral oil, bore oil, lemon oil. A luthier who was good friends with a very famous luthier said the very famous one used 30-weight motor oil and was none too fastidious about whether it was fresh from the can or had been run through a V8 for 5,000 miles--not sure if he was serious about that.

    A repair guy I once used suggested raw linseed oil so I went to a hardware or paint store and bought a quart; it was really cheap at the time. I’d apply it whenever I had an excuse to have the strings off, taking just a few drops on a piece of paper towel, wiping it in thoroughly, letting it sit for awhile and then wiping it off thoroughly. I did this only to ebony, which was on most of my guitars. Rosewood is naturally oily and shouldn’t need any extra—several of the rosewood necks were on Rics, which are lacquered.

    In New England we heated our house with passive solar when possible, a heat pump via forced hot air in cooler weather, oil furnace in colder weather, and since we lived on a 4-acre woodlot, wood stove most weekends. Even though we had a central humidifier, it couldn’t keep us with that. Oiling the boards seemed prudent, especially since they’d be in my car driving to gigs in sub-zero weather.

    When we left New England we moved to a tropical climate, where my guitars had a surfeit of moisture, followed a few years later by a move to the desert, where they get none. Our winters are bone dry but our heat doesn’t run much, so unlike in NE we don’t get negative dew points. In the summer 7 tons of AC keep us comfortable, but still not as dry as indoors in a NE winter. I had left what was still in the can of linseed oil, which was most of it, back in NE. Looking through our supplies here I found a bottle of “lemon oil” and another of “teak oil,” the latter dating from 1984 when we bought some teak furniture and found it included. I’d long-since stopped oiling the furniture, with no apparent ill effects, so decided to oil my guitars only after I did major board cleaning, which isn’t often, just to make them look nicer. I use the teak oil since it appears to be less viscous than the lemon oil.

    In 19 years out here I haven’t noticed that this relative neglect has cause any problems with the ebony, so I doubt that it’s necessary. I’ve had some structural issues from the dryness, but none that a bit of oil on the board would have prevented.

    YMMV, of course.

    Danny W.

  18. #17

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    like what others have said..my 2006 les paul /rosewood board..

    once a year or so..clean it and very light application..few drops "lemon oil" and wipe off..

    climate: southern california beach town

  19. #18

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    Like so many things in life, there appears to be no cut-and-dry answer to this question. I think I am going to take the guitar in, have that apparent crack inspected, and have the luthier oil it if he thinks it needs it.

    I will see how it affects that guitar, and decide whether I will do the rest. I would like the rosewood on my guitars to be darker...

  20. #19

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    it's apparent that there's a lot of petri dish fretboards out there...if you have never cleaned your raw wood fretboard..unimaginable to me!...oh the years of crud! skin, body oil, beer, sneezes, pizza sauce, smoke, dust, grime etc etc ..haha

    carefully clean with tiny amount of fast dissolving/low h2o solvent like naphtha or high% alcohol...(soapy water or murphy oil soap is not recommended on raw wood)...you can use a a coarse rag, toothbrush or a scotch pad... (steel wool not recommended as its dust sticks to magnetized parts...like pickups)

    shine those frets too!!!

    after thorough cleaning, apply oil as outlined above^

    you'll have a clean lubricated nice looking healthy fretboard

    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 07-29-2020 at 04:01 PM. Reason: typo-

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    Thanks, Ray.

    I will probably be taking my ES175 in for an inspection since it mainly sits in its case, unfortunately for around 5 years. I thought I saw a crack on the fretboard that last time I took it out, although it could have been the wood itself.



    My home is in Texas and is air conditioned year around. Plenty of humidity comes in from my AC units, so humidity is probably OK. Most of my guitars get in the rotation of my playing so they all seem well, at least to my eyes.

    For Jazz, I normally use my Sheraton. I am going to have to start pulling that baby out the case more...
    Is your home air conditioned or air-tended?
    You will have a humidistat with an air-tender. It runs even when the ambient temperature is at your comfort setting.
    In Florida we keep the house 80 and humidity 30% and the air-tender runs a lot in the summer.

    I suggest you keep a humidifier in your case regardless of where you are.

    I use this between string changes. Fast clean no residue.

    Do I need to oil my fretboards at some point?-gorgomyte-jpg

  22. #21

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    Yes

  23. #22

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    There is a very good, if kinda long, thread on another forum started by Terry McIntruff on this subject. Not sure if I should link here.

    I bought a bottle of Fret Dr years ago. Probably bore oil. I may put a tiny bit on a rag and use it maybe every few years. It is great if you buy a guitar with a very light and or dry appearing RW board. Darkens it right up. But I have read not to over do it. Can seep under the frets etc.

    I’ve read Ron Kirn recommend using mineral oil from the drug store. And that many “lemon oils” really are not lemon oil.