3 Easy Ways to Clean and Condition Your Guitar Fretboard

5 minutes read

Your guitar fretboard is an integral part of your musical instrument. You can’t play or produce those great sounds without them. However, dead skin cells dirt, oil, sweat, and grease may accumulate on your fretboard due to neglect or regular use making it the dirtiest part of your guitar.

Not only does this makes your guitar unattractive but may also cause damages to the frets and the fretboard which may be very expensive to repair. Cleaning your fretboard is, therefore, necessary to maintain your guitar’s health and longevity. If you want to learn how to clean a guitar fretboard, we got you covered. This article will guide you through the necessary steps to take to achieve your cleaning goals with ease.

This is a guest post by Alex Frank:

I’m Alex Frank who has worked sound technology industry for 10 years now. Today, I am a blogger who likes to educate my audience more about sound technology. Visit the Music Instruments Center to find all information about music that you need.
how to clean your fretboard 2
Guest post by musician Alex Frank.
So What’s the Guitar Fretboard?

Guitar fretboard (also known as the guitar fingerboard) is an essential part of a guitar. It is that long narrow laminated piece of material (usually made of wood) at the front of the neck of a guitar. The guitar frets are those thin narrow pieces of metal which are fixed into the neck of the guitar. The frets protrude out from the surface of the fretboard to divide the neck into several semi-tonal gaps. The strings run across the fretboard from the nut to the bridge.

The Benefits of Cleaning and Conditioning Your Fretboard:

Most guitar owners do pick up their guitar and perform what know how to do best on playing the instrument, and then pack it back into their boxes after use without cleaning the guitar. So far the instrument is in its good working condition, most people would neglect the proper act of maintaining the guitar. Cleaning the guitar fretboard comes with some helpful benefits:

  • It makes playing the guitar and moving along the fretboard much more comfortable. You can easily tell a well-maintained guitar from one that hasn’t received a proper cleaning in a while.
  • It prevents damages to the frets and fretboard. When you’re playing the guitar, the sweat from your hand can accumulate on the fretboard. And as we all know, those body sweats contain salts which can weaken the frets or make the fretboard to decompose or crack.
  • It helps to forestall paying a huge amount of money for the repairs. Cleaning the fretboard prevents damages that may cost you a lot of money for the repairs.
  • It helps to keep the guitar clean and attractive.
  • It improves the longevity and the durability of your guitar.
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Getting ready.
The Tools You’ll Need:

To successfully remove dirt from a guitar’s fretboard there are some tools or materials needed. These include:

How Often You Should Clean or Maintain the Fretboard:

You need to clean your guitar fretboard when its color starts to fade randomly or when you notice some amount of dirt or stain in the area around your most frequently used frets. Conditioning is only required when the fretboard is dried out or drying out.

How to Clean the Guitar Fretboard:

Follow the following guidelines to clean and condition your guitar’s fretboard.

  1. Remove the strings: this is the first step to take when you want to clean your fretboard. Removing the strings will make the cleaning and conditioning process easier and faster. You don’t have to worry about damaging the neck of your guitar by removing the strings. However, you have to carry out the process with care especially if you are an inexperienced guitar technician.

Place the guitar on a table or place on your lap and gently turn the tuning pegs to unfasten the strings.

  1. Clean the fretboard: There are several ways to carry out this cleaning process, the ideal method depends on the material used in manufacturing the guitar and how dirty the fretboard is. The different methods are:
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Getting it done. Read about the three different methods below.
  • Clean the fretboard with different alcohol swabs. Clean thoroughly to remove oil and grime from the fretboard. Apply lemon oil lavishly to the board and allow it to stay on it for at least 1 minute. Then wipe off the lemon oil with the clean, soft towel until it is dry and the oily feeling is gone.
  • Clean the fretboard with a toothbrush and Hydrate. This method is less messy but won’t polish the frets. Spray the conditioner (Planet Waves Hydrate) on the fretboard and scrub with the tooth brush. Clean off the lifted dirt and excess conditioner with the soft cloth or towel. Note that the Planet Waves Hydrate should be used only on dark fretboards.
  • Clean the fretboard with 0000 steel wool. This approach work best for polishing the frets. However, it is not good for maple fretboards with a glossy finish as it can make it hazy. Put the painter’s paint over the pickups. This help to prevent the collection of steel fibers near the pole pieces. The steel fibers can make the pickup to deteriorate and may also cause noise production if the strings get in contact with them. Apply a conditioner to the fretboard and massage it into the board using the steel wool. Clean the space between the frets thoroughly.

After cleaning, polish the frets by moving the wool pad up and down along their top. Remove the shed steel fibers with a vacuum. Fix the strings properly and adjust the tune and then put it back in its case after use.

The Bottom Line

Cleaning your guitar fretboard is not as difficult as it seems. By following the steps above, you will improve your guitar’s durability, tone quality and its appearance without having to call on a guitar technician.

Keep rockin’,


Alon Cooper

Alon Cooper

Hey! I'm Cooper, and I hope I can be a helpful friend on your musical journeys. I'm a music artist based in Austin & Amsterdam, playing venues with a band / solo, and trying to learn with the most inspiring musicians wherever I go. In the last 8 years I've lived in Australia, northern Europe, the US and more.

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