Metal Guitarist Forums banner
1 - 20 of 28 Posts

Premium Member
3,930 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Preface: So during my first attempted guitar maintenance, I decided to take off the neck and oil it separated from the body. Well, I used lemon oil on the board, used an applicator rag since it's a spray bottle and then put it on the fretboard. I let the board soak for 20~ minutes, and then wiped off the weeping oil and let it sit for the night. I also used Never Dull auto polish for the frets.

Problem: When I woke up this morning to get ready for the day/but the neck back on, I noticed that there is a very faint but extremely noticeable blueish tinge to parts of the board and the rosewood is dry looking. Did I do something wrong? What the hell is going on with my fretboard?

Pallin' around
9,532 Posts

First time I have ever used that!

And :( about the neck, but post some picks. Whenever doing fret work, it is always a good idea to mask off the fingerboard.

Premium Member
3,930 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'll take some pics around 4:30 after college. Thanks a lot guys! What sort of mask do I use for the fretboard?

7,276 Posts
Preface: So during my first attempted guitar maintenance, I decided to take off the neck and oil it separated from the body. Well, I used lemon oil on the board, used an applicator rag since it's a spray bottle and then put it on the fretboard. I let the board soak for 20~ minutes, and then wiped off the weeping oil and let it sit for the night. I also used Never Dull auto polish for the frets.

Problem: When I woke up this morning to get ready for the day/but the neck back on, I noticed that there is a very faint but extremely noticeable blueish tinge to parts of the board and the rosewood is dry looking. Did I do something wrong? What the hell is going on with my fretboard?
Which order did you put them on in? I use something called T-Cut, a bodywork repair buffing compound, similar to what you are using, by the sounds of things. It will dry out the board if left on or used messily. Always polish the frets first, careful not to spill too much on the wood. A bit is fine, but take it easy.

Then clean up the board using the lemon oil. I usually cover the neck, leave it for fifteen minutes, then clean it off. This softens all the grit and dirt and lets the oil seep into the neck, so when you wipe it off with a cloth you are removing the excess, and the dirt.

Pictures would help, but it sounds like it needs another dose of lemon oil to clean it up.

Mod Britannia
7,233 Posts
A good tip for when you are using steel wool is masking off using post it notes. Put one either side of the fret you're working on (sticky side next to the fret), then move them on to the next fret when you'd done. Replace with fresh notes as needed. It's a lot quicker than taping up the whole board.

Premium Member
1,927 Posts
Here you go.

In response to XtremeVillan's requests (and the fact that I was bored shitless at work today) I decided to make a (very brief) picstory about polishing frets and conditioning the fretboard (and a bit of basic maintenance).

Before we start, forgive the shitty pics; I was in a rush - I only decided to do this at 6 o'clock, so its a bit hasty, but I think it covers everything.

Before I started the restring, I finally, FINALLY finished this P.O.S of Gibson, that has been giving me headaches for weeks now. The only things I hate more than this are Gibson players and Triple Rectifiers.

The workbench. Note the (relative) tidiness. Always essential for a good job!

The victim; my 2002 Yamaha RGX121s w/ SD Invader. Its a great guitar (and my first electric), and I need it for a band tryout tomorrow.

The tools/products we shall need: T-Cut (an abrasive scratch remover - really used in automotive repairs), a selection of clean cloths (or at least cloths that are only used for one purpose), Servisol (switch contact cleaner), a stringwinder, guitar polish, and a stanley blade.

Wait, something is missing!

Much better.

We begin by slackening all of the strings at the headstock end... that when we snip the strings they don't ping out under tension and whip me across the face. 'Cos that hurts. :agreed:

Old strings are pwned.

Give the guitar a quick once over with a duster to remove any loose dust/crud/filth/blood/elves.

Apply a dollop of T-Cut to the "T-Cut Cloth". You don't need too much. Indeed, its best to work in small amounts, because this stuff will get sucked into the fretboard or dry out if you leave excess about. Work in small amounts and be accurate, and you'll be fine. You're rubbing the frets, not the wood.

Begin rubbing the frets:

This is entirely normal - it is the build up of sweat/corrosion/skin on the frets. The black stuff is essentially Nickel Oxide (also known as NiO, or nickel monoxide) as that is the black oxide of Nickel.
Just make sure you keep swapping bits of the cloth for a clean bit as it blackens - as soon as nickel oxide is on the cloth, it isn't cleaning the frets, just spreading the dirt around.

You then need to 'polish' the fret by removing the last of the NiO/excess T-Cut. For this you need a sepaerate CLEAN cloth (accept no substitutes) and rub the fret lengthwise. You don't need to do it for long (you'll see it working, and you can tell quickly when it isn't making any more difference. Eventually, the fret should look like this (I haven't cleaned the adjacent fret, so you have a comparison. My frets weren't that dirty, but this shows what a difference it makes)

An attempt to photograph the entire fretboard, all shiny. It didn't work, the light was shit. :lol:

Next: Lemon oil the fretboard to remove all the finger gunk, oils, crap, and extra T-Cut.

Note the felt applicator built into my bottle - if yours doesn't have this, simply upend the bottle against a CLEAN cloth that will hereafter be used SOLELY for lemon oil applications - this stuff stains clothes, untreated maple boards, untreated woods, sensible. it isn't dangerous, just use your head! - and rub the cloth on the fretboard the same way as I have with the applicator:

A thoroughly well fed rosewood board:

We'll give it a few minutes to drink. In the meantime, I crack open the Pepsi Max, and gesture at Matt for his Hello Stitchy 8. :fawk: :wub:

That is long enough. (3-4 minutes). I sop up the excess with the lemon oil applicator cloth (on a dry patch) thusly:

Next, I take my lemon oil "off" cloth, and remove any remaing lemon oil so the fretboard is dry, but nourished:

Good work:

Sometimes, if you have used a LOT of oil (and I did), the fretboard can 'weep' some of the oil back out. This isn't bad, just make sure you remove it with the lemon oil "off" cloth.

Other great things to do if you have strings off your guitar and are giving it your full attention:

1) Clean the switch of any junk/crap/crud/skin/dirt. To do this, simply squirt a bit of contact cleaner (do NOT use a silicon based lubricant, like WD-40, because the silicon deposits build up on the contacts. Silicon doesn't conduct, so all you get is a fucked switch.) I use Servisol, but there are many other versions. I'm pretty sure Radio Shack make their own version in the states. :scratch:

Wiggle the switch about to distribute the cleaner:

2) Do exactly the same with your pots. 98% of all pots have little 'ports' on the back of the pot casing, which you squirt into. If you can't find one (look twice :fawk:) then squirt the contact cleaner against the seal between the shaft and the casing. So, remove the control cavity plate/scratchplate (definitely a job to do when the strings are off :lol:)

I have ports, so use them:

Repeat as before - rotate the controls to distribute the cleaner inside the pot.

Polish the guitar - without strings on it, you can get under the strings, around the pickups etc without any restrictions. Do it now. Make a good job of it, you can tidy up and fingerprints from the restring afterwards.

Dusty bridge? Can't be arsed taking the thing apart? Toothbrush!

However - say, every 3-6 months - take the whole thing apart and clean each part individually. That way, screws never rust over, parts never seize, and you remove the greatest reason for people haggling the cost of your guitar after the paintwork - the state of the bridge. It really isn't that hard. That said, I cleaned mine last time, and I didn't want to spend all night unnecessarily redoing the intonation. What a hypocrite. :lol:

Polishing matt finishes is a bitch, especially without Vova's weird Ukrainian cleaner. :lol: Quite proud of this:

Bastard! Knocked the fucking T-Cut over. :mad:

Fortunately, bog roll, remover of evidence of many teenage sins, comes to the rescue! Crisis averted!

On to the strings. I don't give a shit what anyone else says, I like Ernie Ball Slinky's. I love the feel and sound of the Skinny Top Heavy Bottoms (and the retina-scarring packaging).

Hmmm. EB must be the only string company I can think of that don't make tapered strings at the end. :scratch:

A tip I have always found useful when restringing for those of us who don't use ballend first :D - run the string through the machinehead, and pull it tight. Take the string about 1.5-2 (2-3 for the thinner wound strings, and 3-4 for the plain ones) machineheads' length past the machinehead for the string you are about to wind, then, push the string back through the machinehead to that point. I've marked it here with my thumb:

I then pull the string around and over the top to form one 'turn' quickly. Hard to see here:

Hopefully, this is a shitty one handed video where I try to do it, fail, grunt, and try again. It hopefully gives you an idea:

After winding as normal (where you apply constant pressure to the string to keep it taut along its entire length, and with enough downwards pressure that the string winds down the way down the machinehead, it should 'pinch' the excess string above and below like this:

A different angle of the 'wrap around' I tried to video earlier. You get the idea now? The 'pinch' is great in that it not only looks sharp but gives you slightly better tuning stability because the string finds it harder to slip in the machinehead (particularly if it is wound).

Thinner strings require a longer 'wrapping length' as there is less string. I'll be the first to admit that the strings done so far are a bit lacking in the number of winds they perhaps should have had, but this doesn't bother me because

a) It is my guitar, so fuck it.

b) I know that my guitar will stay in tune quite comfortably when strung like that - I've learnt that after all the time we have spent together. :wub:

c) I hate you guys.

You can see here I am using rather a lot of string:

It is a good idea to wipe fingerprints and dust off the headstock as you go - it means you don't have to struggle with a fully strung headstock covered in strings and no access.

Next, we tune the guitar up to basic pitch. Right now it is at perfect F#, but unfortuately, this isn't my 8 string. :lol:

When tuning guitars, I have found (particularly with vibrato equipped guitars i.e - Strats, Floyd equipped superstrats, Wilkinson trems, etc.) that alternating between the lowest and highest strings, working your way inwards, tends to allow the trem more time to cope with the movement of changing string tension. It REALLY speeds up the tuning process (by at least 50%), and its easy to do.
For example, on a standard tuned 7, you would tune the strings in order Low B, High E, E, High B, A, G, D (String numbers 7, 1, 6, 2, 5, 3, 4).

After tuning to pitch, I stretch the strings like a bastard:

Before tuning up again. Once or twice does the trick when combined with the tension-balanced tuning trick. :lol:

TRICK: If, like me, your fingers perspire excessively, or your sweat seems to corrode strings quickly (which is bad, especially if it is a customers guitar) I have found deoderant, talcum powder and alcohol all help stop sweating. However, deoderant smells (and leaves marks wherever you touch), talcum powder leaves dust everywhere (and gets sucked into lemon oil etc.), which is why I use alcohol - it doesnt last ages, but it stops you sweating for two or three minutes, which is very useful. I use this stuff - medical isobutylalcohol. Cheap shit, basically. Don't drink it ;) :lol:

More good things to do when restringing:

Tighten the neck screws. Isn't hard, but don't over do it. If you can't turn them with a moderately heavy amount of torque, they are fine. You don't want them loose, that is all. If they are spinning the holes, you've stripped the threads for the screws, and you need to fill the neck and body holes so they can be reglued. :(
ALWAYS USE THE CORRECT SIZED SCREWDRIVER FOR THIS. ALWAYS. Removing headless neck screws is a pain in the ass, trust me.

Always, always, always, check the tightness of your strap buttons - straplocks or no. It takes two seconds, and helps prevent against heartbreak and costly damage. :agreed:

My final tip is a useful one for people who have problems with extra noise when playing with heavy palm mutes, a la Killswitch Engage, etc. Ringing springs are criminal. There are several fixes for this, buit I think mine is particularly easy, cheap, simple, and reversible. :)


Electrical tape. Remember that stanley blade earlier? Cut the tape with this. You are looking for lengths no more than an inch long. Just enough to wrap around the spring once.

Place the tape on the spring, as far around as you can get it. The great thing about this is you dont need to remove the springs to do it, it's easy to undo, but also that the difference is immediately noticed - it kills the 'sproing' noises springs can make dead. :)

Fuck off, its 6:27. Its been fun guys, but I have tea to go to. :)

I recycle my string packets:

Say goodbye to my Jackson RR (I am about to sell it :()

Say hello to my latest acquisition (A Starmaker/Starplayer. Bought it for £20 just for that paintjob :lol:)

And bang on some tunes! \m/

For those who are wondering - this is almost exactly the same process for cleaning frets as the Planet Waves fret polishing system. You can get it for free in triple packs of D'Addario XL strings:

The cloth they use is essentially a silver cleaning cloth - something you can buy for brass instruments/flutes/saxophones to remove ick from the finish. What planet waves don't provide is an 'off cloth' - if you use the one they provide, I strongly suggest you try polishing the frets afterwards with a clean cloth. It really makes a difference :D. Also, the abrasive soaked into the Planet Waves cloth is much weaker, so it takes considerably longer to achieve the same result. On the upside, it does come with a free 'shield' for the fretbaord. :)

Hope that was of use to everyone!

Premium Member
3,930 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The polish I'm using has the texture of house insulation, so when you grab it and polish the fretwire, lots of the liquid comes out.

Mr. Negative Pants, ,
14,796 Posts
If you're using any kind of liquid metal polish like that, you should DEFINITELY mask off the fretboard (using masking tape, duh!) first. You don't want that shit soaking into the wood. Hopefully repeated oilings with lemon oil will displace any residue, bringing it to the surface so you can wipe it away.

Reverend Secret Flower
11,836 Posts
i personally have never needed to clean my frets. I had my les paul for over 10 years and i think i might have steel wooled the frets once and it was just for the hell of it.
1 - 20 of 28 Posts