When folks talk about tone quality, we always point out that the quality of one guitar’s sound is determined by a lot of factors. Those factors vary in many ways; some are unique to certain individuals, while others are more broad and accessible to anyone.
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One of those broad factors would be instrument hygiene. The one thing that particularly affects your sonic output is the cleanliness of your fingerboard. Therefore, we decided to jot down a few points on how to clean guitar fretboard and hopefully put you on the right track for proper six-string maintenance. Here goes!
Remove all strings
First things first, you will need to remove ALL of the strings from the guitar. Some people prefer doing it partially, but the only way to access every part of the fretboard properly is to remove all six of those babies.
Cover the pickups + clean frets with extra fine steel wool
We mean it – COVER THOSE PICKUPS, you don’t want pieces of steel wool messing up your electronics. After that, give those frets a nice dose of scraping to clean out the initial layer or dirt.
Clean the whole thing with a damp cloth
You can buy a cleaning cloth or use something like a piece of old t-shirt or a sock even. Just make sure to squeeze the water out of it so no drops end up on the fingerboard (bad for intonation).
Use something like a toothbrush or a plastic card to clean the details and small parts you can’t reach. It is important to get the job done all the way and cloth sometimes just can’t cover all the small parts and minute details.
Avoid chemicals at all cost
There is just no need to use any sort of cleaning chemicals and in our experience those will do more damage than good. So simply avoid them and stick to using either just the things we listed here or products actually advertised as fretboard cleaners.
Don’t use real lemon oil
While some companies present lemon oil as a fingerboard hygiene product, we must stress that this is first and foremost a cleaning product and not just full-on lemon oil. Putting 100% lemon oil on your guitar is not good for its wood, and especially not good for the fretboard. So while things lie Jim Dunlop’s lemon oil are something we recommend, using actual lemon oil is something we do NOT recommend at all.
We hope this article gave you a clear image on how to keep you fingerboard squeaky clean and in top shape. All we can say as an ending note is to be patient and thorough while cleaning. Don’t be hasty, don’t miss any part, just take it easy and slow, and enjoy the ride. We stand behind each of the products recommended in this article, but also believe that you can get the job done perfectly right even with just those bare necessities. Happy cleaning!