View Full Version : Mineral Oil & The Fret Board

08-18-2002, 05:04 PM
I'm getting ready to apply some dressing (mineral oil per Bob Taylor) to my fret board.

The question is, should I:

1) Remove all the strings and apply with a cloth
2) Squeeze a "Q-Tip" between the strings and fret board
3) Rake a cloth under the strings

Or ????

I know that Taylor DOES NOT recommend removing all the strings when replacing or "detuning" during long trips. so - - -

How do you do it? Whadda ya' all think? :confused:

08-18-2002, 05:28 PM
Interesting -- I didn't know that Bob recommends mineral oil.

I'd go ahead and remove all the strings from the bridge, as it'll make the job much easier and neater. Put some oil on a soft, clean rag and work it into the wood from one end to the other. Don't use a lot, just enough to leave a thin film behind. Then take another clean cloth and remove all the excess. Put the strings back, and you're done!

If you have an undersaddle pickup, you should take extra care to make sure the pickup and saddle are evenly placed restringing, but otherwise, I can't see what harm removing all the strings does.

08-18-2002, 05:31 PM
I take all of the strings off when I treat the fret board. I'm not sure if that's the proper way though. I haven't had any problems doing that with my classical and my classical is 20 years old this year and sounding better than ever. Once every 5 years I use very fine steel wool and scrape the gunk off too.

Ian Anderson
08-18-2002, 07:14 PM
Yes, Bob recommended mineral oil. BTW just remove ALL the strings, theirs nothing wrong with that, clean with 0000 steel wool, apply the oil and let it seep in, reapply and wipe off completely. Let dry for thirty minutes and re-string.........voila new neck.

BTW, linseed, tung, & motor oil are considered by some to be great too! The important thing is OIL IT, and the bridge too!

08-18-2002, 07:30 PM
Another good product is 'Fretboard Honey'. I used it on an older guitar wiith a really dry, pale fretboard and it really brought it back to life!

One caution when taking off all of the strings. Be sure to de-tune the strings. Don't just cut them with wire snips (don't laugh, I've seen it done!). It will cause a sudden shock to the neck which can't be a good thing. De-tuning them and removing them one by one is fine. If you watch the Taylor video, they do a neck re-set and that's how they do it.


08-18-2002, 09:05 PM
I've used plain old furniture grade Lemon Oil for 15 or 16 years now and never had a single issue. :)

I still stick with it. I do it every time I change my strings.

08-18-2002, 10:40 PM
Might want to read this:


Works well for my old geetar.

Rick Crider
08-18-2002, 11:54 PM
....not that it may make any difference, but 'Mineral Oil' comes in a variety of viscosities, depending on the application......

Also....I noticed that the small bottle that Bob used for his demonstration on the fretboard was labeled 'Trombone Slide Oil' (....or something similar......) I don't know if trombone slide oil is the same as mineral oil or not, or, perhaps he just put mineral oil in the small squeeze bottle for convenience......but I would think that trombone slide oil would be quite a bit thinner than typical 'drug store' mineral oil that is used for constipation and other home remedies.....

Maybe our own 'trombone' can answer up on this one.....


08-19-2002, 07:20 AM
Originally posted by Rick Crider
....not that it may make any difference, but 'Mineral Oil' comes in a variety of viscosities, depending on the application......

I didn't think about that. I was going to go down to the old hardware store and get some mineral oil, but, maybe I'll actually have to to into GC (ugh!) and find the right stuff. Might as well get a new set of strings as well. It's either that or I have a little 10W40 left out in the garage.:)

08-19-2002, 08:49 AM
About a million years ago I played trumpet. I immediately recognized the bottle of oil on the table that Bob used. I didn't read the bottle, but I identified it as trumpet valve oil. Trumpet valve oil and trombone slide oil are the same thing. Yes, they are mineral oils that are very thin (relatively speaking). The next time I have to go into a music store I plan on getting a bottle.

Incidentally, I've also heard that the plastic pot scrubbers are also good fingerboard cleaners. I've never tried, but they are supposed to work as good as 0000 steel wool without leaving any steel bits and pieces laying around to scratch your guitar top. Just a thought.


08-19-2002, 09:05 AM
I think the pot-scrubber David is referring to is Scotchbrite, and it works just as well as steel wool in situations like this without shedding. It also lasts longer. Just make sure that you get a the plain light-duty version (no sponge, no soap). You can sometimes find it in the grocery store, but hardeware stores and home centers have it too. It comes in pieces about 5x7 inches, and you can cut off smaller pieces to use as needed.

08-19-2002, 09:46 AM
When you're in the 'Music Store' (one that also sells band and orchestra instruments) see if you can find some of the oil (conditioner?) that's used on the ebony bodies of the 'higher end' woodwinds (clarinets, oboes, bassoons, etc.). I think I'd be pretty comfortable using something like that, considering the price of the woodwinds it's used on!! If possible, check out the product's "contents"... probably lightweight mineral oil! :)

BTW - I use the light duty ScotchBrites to buff out aluminum alloy covers/components on my motorcycle, specifically because they don't leave little bits and pieces of STEEL embedded in the surface... cleans/polishes exceptionally well, and doesn't leave particles that RUST later on!! I just plain don't like the "shedding" characteristic of steel wool!!