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Basic Fretboard Cleaning And Maintenance Tips

The fretboard, an important component of any guitar, is a thin hardwood-based strip that is glued to the neck. By design, the fretboard is one of the most used parts of the guitar. That’s why it easily gets dirty. As a result, it requires regular cleaning and maintenance. The following quick tips will help you clean your fretboard without any issues. It is important to note that if you have a premium guitar, like a Rickenbacker Guitar, you might be better off getting it professionally cleaned.

Follow Manufacturer’s Advice

Before you begin, always check the manufacturer’s advice for specific cleaning instructions. Different fretboards are made with different materials and the cleaning process may alter. For example, Rickenbacker Guitars’ owner’s manual recommends that “the best way to maintain a hand rubbed oil finish (as seen with the Rickenbacker W Series and older models), is with Tung oil and a 3M Scotch-Brite”.

Use Vegetable Oil Soap

Potassium vegetable oil soap is good on wood. However, it’s good to remove it completely as you move up cleaning your guitar. This is because it can get crusty after drying out. This effect is known as soap snot.

Lighter Fluid Is Good

You can also use lighter fluid to clean your guitar. Usually, this light fluid-based mineral spirit is used to break up hard oil. The best thing with this cleaning material is that it won’t react with your instrument (especially the nitro and poly finishes). Also, it evaporates in seconds. Thus, it won’t cause the wood to expand. When applying it, use a dry cloth. Keep it away from the open flame.

Turn To Guitar Detailer

The guitar detailer is actually a standard guitar-based polish that contains different solvents as well as cleaning oils. This detailer can clean up the guitar, making it sparkling clean. The best thing with the detailer is that it leaves your guitar smelling good.

Wood Polish Spray

You can use lemon oil to clean the fretboard. However, using wood polishes will do more magic.


Don’t use sandpaper to clean the guitar. However, if you want to get rid of the finish so that you can feel the neck, use sandpaper. Otherwise, this material is very abrasive. It will strip the finish from your guitar’s neck. It will only create those nasty hills and valleys.

How Many Times Should It Be Cleaned?

How often you should clean your guitar depends on how you use it. For instance, a player who uses a guitar for 3-6 hours a day will need to clean it more often than a player who uses it just for 15 minutes a day.

It’s also important to note that certain reasons can compel you to deep clean your guitar. For instance, if you don’t clean it regularly, you will end up scheduling deep cleaning sessions. However, this can be avoided by wiping your guitar regularly.

Wipe It Regularly

Wiping it regularly is the surest way to prevent the buildup of dirt and dust. Consider wiping the strings. Wipe the neck using a clean cloth. Be sure to wash it before using it.

Also, consider storing your strap and guitar separately. This will prevent the guitar from becoming dirty.

The Bottom-Line

If you want your guitar to serve you for years to come, clean it well. Regular cleaning of a fretboard will leave your guitar sparkling for years. However, you must get the cleaning right. Know the chemicals to use. Familiarize yourself with how to handle the fretboard. 

Cary Grant
Cary Grant
Cary Grant, the enigmatic wordsmith hailing from the UK, is a literary maestro known for unraveling the intricacies of life's myriad questions. With a flair for delving into countless niches, Grant captivates readers with his insightful perspectives on issues that resonate with millions. His prose, a symphony of wit and wisdom, transcends boundaries, offering a unique lens into the diverse tapestry of human curiosity. Whether exploring the complexities of culture, unraveling philosophical conundrums, or addressing the everyday mysteries that perplex us all, Cary Grant's literary prowess transforms the ordinary into extraordinary, making him a beacon of intellectual exploration.


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