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Rosewood is not that soft. Its actually quite hard. I use lemon oil and steel wool to clean up the fret board. It doesn't have any affect on a lacquer or nitro finish. If it did it wouldn't be sold in supermarkets as a wood cleaner. People would be wiping out all their old antiques. You don't put it on the lacquer in any case because you'd wind up with finger prints. You just put it on the fret board and use it as a cleaner. It leaves very little residue when it dries and does not hurt rosewood. Rosewood is a very oily wood to begin with and it has its own natural oils that will prevent lemon oil from penetrating very far. As I said, can use linseed oil to fill the wood pores if you want. On a bass your fingers wont touch the fret board with those thick strings so having the fret board super smooth is not really an issue. If you want the fretboard darker its a good way of doing it.
The body on that bass may be poly. You can tell by scratching the finish with a knife in some hidden area like the cavity. If it chips/flakes its lacquer. If it peels its poly.
. . . I use lemon oil and steel wool to clean up the fret board. It doesn't have any affect on a lacquer or nitro finish. If it did it wouldn't be sold in supermarkets as a wood cleaner. . . .
. . . The body on that bass may be poly. You can tell by scratching the finish with a knife in some hidden area like the cavity. If it chips/flakes its lacquer. If it peels its poly.
The good folks at C. F. Martin disagree http://www.martinguitar.com/guitar-care.html:
Martins have nitro finishes and they should know. As for this specific bass, you're right that it may well be poly but why take chances?
There are many different types of lemon oil. The stuff you get at a supermarket is harmless. Its the same stuff they stick in furniture wax. You also have to remember Martin sells their own guitar polish and fretboard treatment so of course they are going to steer you to using their products. I've used it for a good 45 years with zero issues so I use that my source of first hand information. I wouldn't use it on an old surface that's cracked and checked of course. If it gets through cracks it could get into the raw wood causing discoloration and finish chipping. Like I said, you wouldn't be wiping a whole guitar down with the stuff. I have used it that way to get crud like stickers and years of crud off there that wouldn't come off with anything else, but I also used a good wax afterwards so its not like I leave it on there and let it dry. I also use it to clean grungy strings and lacquered fret boards with zero issues.
If anything the thing you "don't" want to use is silicone based car polishes like you see on all those You Tube videos around. Silicone is nearly impossible to remove. If you get it on the fretboard, it sinks into the wood and you're screwed. There's no way to ever get it out of the wood. No solvents can thin it. It can make it impossible to re-fret a neck even using super glue to hold the frets in. You also cant overspray a lacquered finish to repair it. New coats of lacquer wont stick to silicone wax or silicone wood.
All you need to use is a good wax make sure it has Carnauba wax in it. You can even use the paste wax as a initial coat then use thinner waxes as needed. The initial coat will last a very long time, and then you just clean up finger prints and such with a thin wax that also contains water. If you need to remove wax buildup never use alcohol, ammonia, or acetone. These will eat right through a lacquer finish. Naphia should clean off most wax.
Frankly, I would never use wax on any guitar of mine, be it acoustic, electric, bass, etc. A clean, dry cloth (I use an old T-shirt) is pretty much all you need for the finished areas and a small amount of mineral oil, not lemon, is enough for fretboards. As for using furniture polish, here's a recommendation from Taylor Guitars, which doesn't have polish to sell and in fact recommends Turtle Wax (emphasis added) http://www.taylorguitars.com/blog/ta...lish-my-guitar:
Most store-bought guitar and automotive polishes will work fine on the glossy areas of our UV-finished guitars built after 1995. Our factory technicians recommend and use Turtle Wax Express Shine® to clean and detail the entire body and the back of the neck on all Taylor models. Express Shine works well on both glossy and satin finishes, and older finishes. You may also simply use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the surfaces and follow quickly with a clean, dry cloth. To clean the fingerboard, we use and recommend 0000 extra-fine steel wool. Simply rub the steel wool up and down the length of the fingerboard right over the tops of the frets. This will remove any grime from the fingerboard without damaging the wood and will also remove any oxidation from the frets, giving them a nice shine. Do not use furniture polishes on any of our guitars at any time, as they will likely damage the finish.
Granted, they're probably referring to stuff with silicone like Pledge or you may have been lucky all this time but I'll trust the people who know, thanks.
If you look at the ingredients, Turtle Wax Express Shine contains carnauba wax. Its one of the silicone free waxes.
Carnauba is harvested from the leaves of the tree of life. These leaves are allowed to dry out and then special machines remove the rock hard wax in large flakes. Carnauba in this natural form is unusable, so automotive wax manufacturers must first blend this hard wax with oils, petroleum distillates and solvents such as naphtha in order to make the wax workable. This may cause some confusion, as many high quality carnauba waxes are labeled as containing 100 percent Carnauba. This percentage refers to the purity of the base wax used, rather than the overall composition of the solution itself, which is generally only about 1/3 wax. Carnauba is an expensive wax, subject to a variety of harsh grading systems that determine purity and value. Trees grown in northern Brazil tend to produce some of the highest grades of wax, which are of a strong yellow hue. This yellow wax is often refined until it becomes an ultra-pure, white colored wax, to ensure it produces only the clearest and most reflective gloss when applied as a car wax.
You can Google silicone free waxes but there aren't very many out there.
Many like 3M, Meguiars Mirror Glaze, and others do.
When in doubt look up the MSDS sheets to be sure you know what's in there and don't trust what others
I use Pledge Orange Revitalizing Oil on fret boards
It too is no more then scented mineral oil and doesn't harm the fretboard or finish. Again, its not something you'd wipe all over your guitar, but you don't have to freak out like you would getting alcohol on a lacquered finish which will eat right through it in seconds.
I've been busy with other things, and only started looking for a replacement nut yesterday.
It turns out that the nut on this is a rather odd size - 1 5/8" wide (edit:- like most P Basses, thanks for pointing that out below, Isaac42 ), with wider E-G width/string spacing than a standard P Bass nut, and a 3/32" nut slot, - so I'm gonna have to buy a blank, size it, and cut the string slots. I've sanded plenty of saddles and pre-cut nuts before, but never had to cut slots - so it should be a fun, and valuable, learning experience !!
Hopefully, I don't need to buy a 2nd blank
Another thing about the neck is that it appears to have a flatter radius than a real Fender P Bass - which might explain why I love the way it plays - very easy to get around compared to other basses I've played....
Anyway, I'll be back with more pics as the job progresses....
No - my bad on that - P Bass replacement nuts all seem to be 1 11/16 wide, (for sanding down to 1 5/8", I guess - why don't they just make them 1 5/8"??) - but I couldn't find any 1 5/8" pre-cut that were thick enough for the slot (3/16"), or had the correct E-G width/string spacing - so I'll enjoy shaping and slotting a blank - like I said, it'll be a good learning experience !!
The Ric spec on the nut is 1 11/16". I've always thought that Rics and Precisions were about the same at the nut, but P's get wider. More flare. But then, I also thought that both Rics and P's were 1 5/8" at the nut. Seems I was mistaken.
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No - my bad on that - P Bass replacement nuts all seem to be 1 11/16 wide, (for sanding down to 1 5/8", I guess - why don't they just make them 1 5/8"??) . . .
In my (admittedly limited) experience this seems to be the case, most recently replacing the nut on a Strat copy with TUSQ. There's some leeway on either end (and in my case some extra thickness) so you can get an exact fit by sanding.
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The summer has been busy, so I've only gotten back into this project today.
I followed WRGKMC's advice, and used steel wool to strip the final layer of gunk off the fretboard - it worked a treat, as you can see from the pic I took while I was cleaning it. The lower 2 frets in the pic have been cleaned with the 0000 steel wool, while the upper ones still have that layer of black gunk.
Next, it'll be a final cleaning with naphtha and a toothbrush, before a quick treatment with lem-oil, and then it's on to the nut....
I know a lot of people use steel wool for polishing, but, I hate the stuff. The used "wool" debris seems to find its way onto and into all sorts of things -- especially magnetic pickups!
For a number of years, I've successfully been using a combination of 3M plastic abrasive pads and rough white terrycloth for cleanup projects. I only use the 3M abrasive pads if I absolutely need to, which is a fairly rare occurrence.
I've found that rough white industrial terrycloth to be an excellent polishing material. I use it with glass cleaner (Windex) to dissolve gunk / crud buildup. There's just enough alcohol in glass cleaner to do the job of cutting through gunk, but not alcohol to harm any finish that's susceptible to damage by higher concentrations of alcohol, such as rubbing alcohol (70 percent).
Of course, the glass cleaner is ALWAYS sprayed onto the rough white terrycloth polishing rag before the cleanup work begins. After cleaning the surface with the glass cleaner on the rough white terrycloth buffing rag, I follow up with a slightly dampened (water only) smooth white terrycloth rag. Usually, within a few seconds, all of the cleaning solvent residue will evaporate. However, if it too slow to evaporate, I will go over the surface with a totally dry smooth white terrycloth.
By the way, I use a small fan directed at the current work area to aid in evaporation. Also, if you are wondering why I only use *white* terrycloth, it's because the dye in colored terrycloth could dissolve if it is old and low quality, and white terrycloth will show me just what's coming off the dirty surface. I don't believe I've ever needed to use a toothbrush or any other brush to aid in the cleaning process. In some cases, for precisely directed work, I've used terrycloth on the end of a wood stirring stick
I should have given a more complete outline of how I used steel wool to clean the fretboard, so that the thread might be more useful to any DIYers who come across it while looking for info.
First off, the neck had been removed from the guitar, and I did the cleaning in my garden shed - to keep any steel wool particles well away from the workroom that I usually use, and away from the pickups/guitar body. I set up a small rug on my workbench in the shed to work on.
If you can't take the neck off, it might be a good idea to remove all of the electronics, pickguard, jackplate etc - or else you MUST tape over the pickups, controls, jackplate with masking tape.
During the clean, it's important to keep blowing the loose particles off the fretboard, and dusting off with a clean rag as you go. You can also use a vacuum cleaner, or a good magnet, to keep the neck/fretboard/body/work-area free of loose steel shavings as you go, but as I had removed the neck, I found that my way worked just fine.
Also important is to rub with the grain, or you'll end up with cross-grain scratching that will need to be done over. It is perfectly possible to clean right up to the butt of each fret by getting a little bunch of the wool under your fingernail, and scrubbing with the grain into the frets - the same as you'd do when cleaning with a cloth.
Once the clean was done, I thoroughly vacuumed the neck, bench rug, and work area to get rid of all the wool particles. As Radar-Love quite rightly points out above, you don't want those particles getting near the rest of your guitar. But with a little care, this need never happen.
On this particular fretboard, the gunk had gotten right into the grain, and will need a clean with a brush and weak solvent. The grain is pretty nice looking, and I'd like to clean it up as well as possible before oiling.