Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guitar Maintenance: How to Take Care of Your Fretboard

I was routinely treating my guitars with fretboard conditioner the other night and realized I was doing another one of those fundamentals you take for granted once you know about it. I always make a point to mention these when I think about them.

My first instructor actually told me about fretboard conditioner after commenting how thirsty the rosewood looked on my guitar. One try was all I needed to make it a permanent part of my guitar maintenance routine.

The rosewood, ebony or other exotic wood used on your fretboard gets coated with oil and grime and will dry out, especially for those of us in more northerly climates. If you do not use a conditioner, just take a look at your fretboard and you’ll see what I mean.

Fretboard conditioners will cleanse and nourish the wood, which improves the feel. An added benefit is it looks a whole lot better! I’ve included pictures of products I have used (Guitar Honey and Lem-Oil) but all you need do is search “fretboard conditioner” to find a bevy of products at your disposal.

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Mission: Rock Star said...

Is this for both electric and acoustic? And how often do you do it?

VintageP said...

It is based on the wood used for the fretboard. Rosewood or ebony it works well for both types. Doesn't really do anything for a maple neck. I just apply it based on appearance and feel. Usually the fretboard starts looking obviously dry or I can see large gradation in appearance based on where my fingers spend most of their time. Not a daily or even weekly thing.

Joe said...

Maple necks are generally finished (coated), and the oil or cleaner will not penetrate the wood, and has little effect. However, some maple necks are unfinished and will benefit from conditioning. If you oil the neck too often you may notice a buildup. The idea is to have a very thin coating, just enough to maintain humidity and protect the wood. You should clean and oil the board when you change your strings (if you play daily you should change your strings AT LEAST once a month, pros may change their strings as often as once a week as well as before every gig), or when the board becomes obviously dry.

Gibson Guitars said...

I'd like to add that adding pick-ups to your guitar should only be done by the experts so as to avoid losing warranty. Also, be careful when you're wearing belts. The buckle can very likely scratch the back of your guitars. Lastly, you may want to change your strings once in a while to maintain the sound quality.

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