View Full Version : Fretboard Conditioning

01-11-2003, 06:07 AM
What are the disadvantages of not conditioning the fretboard?
And what are the advantages of conditioning it?
Does it affect the fingerboard's life?


01-11-2003, 09:30 AM
I think the advantages/disadvantages question depends on alot of things, but I'll say that "if" done correctly that their are advantages and if done incorrectly their are disadvantages. Correctly done, your fretboard will be clean, feel good on the fingers, promote longer string life and long fretboard life. Incorrectly, or not at all, and you can have alot of different problems, sticky, dirt collecting, stings go dead quickly, overconditioning with the wrong type of oil/etc, can cause those type of problems and if done long enough, given the right conditions could even cause the fretboard to swell enough to start pushing the frets up, not conditioning in a really dry climate could even lead to a fretboard developing a crack or cracks, and when it does you got some major trouble. Remember that unsealed/unfinished wood (ebony, rosewood fretboards) never loses it ability to absorb or lose moisture, wood fiber is like a bundle of soda straws, it absorbs or loses moisture best thru the end grain but because of the way grain runs thru wood and the way we cut it, some of that end grain is exposed even on the face of a board, if wood swells or shrinks too fast, it cracks, because the exposed outer surface moves faster than the unexposed surface,( thats why alot of accoustic guitars develop cracks in their tops) the tension has to be relieved and thats why it cracks. To a certain degree, conditioning the fretboard acts as a sealer for the fretboard to slow the process of absorbtion/loss of moisture, which can even be one factor in the need for the seasonal truss rod adjustment alot of us have to do. I guess their are alot of factors that could come into play, and I know their are exceptions to the rule, but a guitar is alot like a car, clean and well maintained usally means years of happy service, left to the effects of time, the elements and abuse, the service life will be greatly shortened, and thats all I have to say............

01-12-2003, 11:06 AM
I believe this too, that the more you take care of your guitar prolongs it's life... But if done the right way of course.

That's why I wanna make sure I'm not doing anything wrong.

I usualy clean my guitar every time I use it, before or after I play it with a dry piece of cloth... I wipe each string individualy a couple of times, and remove stuck dirt from the fretboard (if there is any, cuz usualy dirt takes more time to grow on my fretboard since I clean the strings a lot, I believe that's good isn't it?).

Do you see anything wrong that I'm doing? If so plz correct me.

About the conditioning issue, you told me in previous thread to use "Lemon Oil" , where do I get this from? is it sold in packages or something?

Also , what do you think about furniture cleaners like "Pledge" , would it be ok to use it, or will it harm the guitar somehow?

Thanx for the valuable information dude. :)

01-13-2003, 01:00 AM
Sly, it sound's like you are taking good care of your guitar, keeping it wiped off before and after playing is 99% of the job, as far as lemon oil, in the U.S., you can get it about anywhere that sells furniture care products, I usally use Hope's Lemon Oil, it's silicone and wax free, I recently found out that Carvin sells it in a 4oz spray bottle, and I'm sure it's availble from other sources. Lemon Pledge and all the imitators, as long as they contain no silicone, won't harm anything, they are a little heavy on the wax, just keep it wiped down and don't let it build up. The villian to watch out for in any cleaning product is silicone, if it get's under the guitar's finish, thru a chip or knick, etc, it can cause the finish to start coming off and since it soaks into the wood, it makes refinishing difficult, silicone is slick stuff and paint won't stick to it, it's what causes "fisheye" in paint, ............

01-13-2003, 06:59 AM
So you mean that I should be carefull not to put anything with sillicon on the guitar... how about the wax ? Is it harmfull, ok or good?

Tele Master
01-13-2003, 07:12 PM
What is conditiong the fretboard? Is it another way of saying "cleaning it"?

01-13-2003, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by Tele Master
What is conditiong the fretboard? Is it another way of saying "cleaning it"? As pstring says, these are products that clean and partially seal the surface of the fretboard to prevent rapid loss or absorption of moisture. Lemon oil is probably the most widely used, because it works well. Rosewood has a fairly 'open' grain to it, which creates a lot of pockets to trap dirt, and a lot of surface area to exchange moisture with the ambient air. Both ebony and maple have a closer grain structure which requires less attention to sealing, but still needs to be kept clean.

01-14-2003, 01:19 AM
exactly - and as for the cracking and miosture exchangin stuff - this also depends very much on how the wood has been treated fomr the point where the tree was cut to the point where the instrument was built. Real good and expensive woods have been stored for AGES (in some cases over 100 years) in a special air condition. In italy for example there is a wood-stock very close to the shore that stores extremely old wood - the pores of that wood have been sealed by the salty air and the wood is almost completely dry - it won´t move an inch once worked into an instrument - thats what violin-manufacturers use for top quality instruments. you hardly see a violin with a crack in it unless someone jumped on it *LOL* - so i guess its not only a quesiton of treatment but also a question of the woods quality. So if you want to have a guitar that resists almost everything then you might want to consider geting one costum made from real old wood.

01-14-2003, 05:27 AM
Yeah, I heard something about dry woods before "Azreal".

A guy told me before that's why vintage instruments sells with a very high price (bec the wood is dry) , and it affects the tone... Can anybody confirm this?

01-14-2003, 10:16 AM
Yep - definitely - such old and dry woods cost HEAPS - sometimes (depends on the wood) more than gold (no joke).

ermm.. "Azreal" ??

01-14-2003, 09:25 PM
I use Gibson Luthier's oil.

I probably pay too much for it, since it's from gibson and I'm from canada and the exchange rates just kills me!!!!!

No it's about 6$ CND so I would say 4$ US.

Does a really good job.

I used lemon oil once on the bridge of my accoustic/electric guitar and it went almost black, well very dark. Gives a real good look since my guitar is black but I'm not sure how it would have looked on a light toned guitar.

01-15-2003, 10:04 AM
To answer Sly, avoid silicone always, wax is OK, but use it sparingly and don't use it so often you get it building up, something like Martin's Guitar Polish is probably better. As far as putting lemon oil of an accoustic bridge or using it to clean the finish, I don't recommend it for that, if you had an old guitar with a checked or cracked finish it could do some damage, I know for a fact that it can mess up certain types of varnish or shellac based finishes that you could find on some classical guitars or violins, etc, if you want to clean the finish of a guitar, it's best to start with a clean, soft cloth, if you need anything stronger than that, try a drop or two of water on your cloth, that will get 99% of the mystery muck off the finish. .........................

01-16-2003, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by Azrael
Yep - definitely - such old and dry woods cost HEAPS - sometimes (depends on the wood) more than gold (no joke).

ermm.. "Azreal" ??

At world class guitars (ed roman's store), they sell woods or guitars made out of woods that are over 200 years old, from the bottom of lake Superior or something. Apparently the soaking of the wood has done something to it.

Those guitars are expensive...

01-16-2003, 03:07 PM
There's alot of mystique and maybe a bit of romance attached to the value of certain woods for guitar building, and it's probably has more to do with what people believe than scientific research. I know that certain types of woods have cetain tonal and accoustic properties, but I'm not sure how much the age of the wood affects electric guitars, accoustic guitars, I think are affected alot more by the quality of the wood, and wood quality is one area that comes into play alot with old woods, alot of species like Brazillian Rosewood, Cuban Mahoghany, Gabbonese Ebony etc... either can't be harvested legally, or can't be found in quanity to make instruments, unless you get access to the stockpiles of antique lumber, the old stuff also has the advantage of usally being a better example of a species, old growth, older trees, bigger trees etc, but still does it make a better sounding guitar? It's hard to say, there are just too many factors, I think the best bet is the skill of the guitar maker, knowing how to make a fine sounding instrument has got to be, as, if not more important than what it's made from............

01-16-2003, 04:18 PM
Two more questions for "pstring"...

How often do you use lemon oil?

I live in north Egypt & the weather is pretty nice here , you can say it's a moderate temperature & humidity .

And if it's overused , can this cause harm to the fretboard?

01-16-2003, 11:34 PM
Sly, here's what I do, I put a few drops of lemon oil on a cloth, and wipe a wet coating across the fretboard, leave it set for a few minutes and then wipe off whatever is left on the fretboard. Since the climate there has fairly low humidity, I would start off by using the lemon oil every other month, if you notice that it soaks right in after a few minutes and there is very little to none left to wipe off, then increase the frequency. Lemon Oil does dry, if you think you have used too much, just don't use any for a while, if you ever notice the fretboard "sweating" up any oil after playing, that's a good sign that you are using too much, too often. Good Luck..................

01-17-2003, 04:11 AM
Thanx Dude.