Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Whoopysnorp

Is rubbing alcohol bad for fretboards?

Recommended Posts

During these sticky, sweaty summer months, when I'm done playing I like to wipe down my strings with a rag and some rubbing alcohol to try to keep some of the grime off them. I'm concerned that I may be damaging my fingerboards, however. Will isopropyl alcohol harm rosewood/ebony/maple?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no idea, but I personally wouldn't risk it. Try some Fast Fret instead, that's pretty much what it's made for. I've used it and have not experienced any damage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used it on my strings before but I try not to get it on my fretboard...I put a drop on a cloth,and then pinch the string and run from bridge to nut.

I tend to be extra careful on my maple neck guitars,and try not to touch the finish at all.

 

As an aside ,I remember reading in a guitar mag 25+ years ago,to use aftershave for string cleaning,it has enough alcohol to clean the gunk,but not enough to harm a finish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can rub alcohol all you want, just don't overdo it...nasty hangovers.

 

Seriously though, as jdjonnson said, shouldn't hurt as long as you re-moisturize afterward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:eek: OH GOD :eek:, thoes poor guitars :(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JK :D

 

I would not do that to my guitars though

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many times have I seen this thread (or one very similar) come up over the years :eek:. Oh, btw "search" is back!

 

How that that's out of my system... Yes rubbing alcohol/isopropyl alcohol is bad for your guitar's fretboard. Its far too harsh a drying agent and could damage a board that hasn't previously been taken care of. I'd only use isopropyl alcohol for cleaning the electrical contacts of a dirty jack or pot, and then only lightly applied to a Q-tip.

 

If you're looking to clean your strings in after a session just wiping them down with a dry cloth will do fine, if you need something more (like I do -- acid hands) then Fast Fret is a good product.

 

To clean/condition the fretboard lemon oil or linseed oil works fine (except on maple fretboards -- most of these are sealed) and if its especially gunky you can use some 000 steel wool as long as you wipe with the grain of the wood. IMHO though, lemon oil is really more of a cleaner as is dries out too fast to be an effective conditioner. So, I clean with lemon oil and recondition with a product called "Guitar Honey". Works like a charm.

 

--Phrostbit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the deal with alcohol (of any kind): alcohol and water have a tremendous affinity. (That means that, chemically, they really like each other.) As a result, alcohol tends to draw water OUT of whatever the water is in. 200 proof (100%) alcohol will damage mucus membranes, for example, partly by pulling water out of the tissue. (That is, out of the flesh, through the mucus membrane.) Alcohol will dry a rosewood fretboard.

 

I don't know the effect of alcohol on a maple fretboard. I wouldn't chance it, myself.

 

Steel wool is also bad. Bad, bad. It is STEEL WOOL, which means the tiny broken pieces of metal will be attracted to the magnets of the pickups. The tiniest bits of steel will also lodge in the pores of the wood. Then they will rust, from humidity, water vapor, sweat and whatnot. You will hate how your guitar looks.

 

I use a very well wrung out, bone dry cloth that has been dipped in plain tepid water that has had a few drops of hand dish soap added. About 1/8 teaspoon per pint of water. Rub the fretboard well, changing to a fresh area of the cloth regularly, then dry the fretboard well with a different, clean cloth. This method works on rosewood, ebony and maple fretboards. It actually removes dirt and grime, protects natural oils, avoids drying and avoids scratches and rust. It's nearly free of cost.

 

Fret ease and similar products may be good for lubrication, but nothing cleans as well as a very tiny amount of mild dish soap mixed with water on a cloth that has had all excess water squeezed out first. You are welcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why use it at all? The best thing to use on a Rosewood board IF its FILTHY would be Napha or Lighter Fluid. But most of the time a damp cloth with spit or moist breath is all thats needed. Then finish off with the Wood conditioner that you use. Be is Lemon Oil of whatever.

The Maple boards I have never had to use anything except a damp cloth.

But my concern with any chemical is getting it under the frets, and the amount of time it spends there. Which could cause a fret to pop up or one to loosen up.

The worst boards I have seen where off 60's Japan knock-offs that have been hanging around for basically 50 years without being cleaned. That would have the type of build-up where Napha would be needed. Not a Brand New Gibson that needs the board and frets to be polished. That is basically just dirty from manufacturing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used it on my strings before but I try not to get it on my fretboard...I put a drop on a cloth,and then pinch the string and run from bridge to nut.

 

This is exactly what I do but I use a little more than a drop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



Steel wool is also bad. Bad, bad. It is STEEL WOOL, which means the tiny broken pieces of metal will be attracted to the magnets of the pickups. The tiniest bits of steel will also lodge in the pores of the wood. Then they will rust, from humidity, water vapor, sweat and whatnot. You will hate how your guitar looks.


 

Common sense dictates that you cover and tape off the pickups prior to using the wool (painters tape). But I suppose that often enough has to be spelled out on these boards. I always cover the body of my guitar when using wool/lemon oil/guitar honey anyways. Only had to use steel wool when I let my SG and old Guild DeArmond get especially grimy a couple of times. But it does work when milder solutions won't get the job done.

 

As far as the bits breaking and lodging in the pores of the wood, that's bunk and F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). I learned that trick from a luthier with 25+ years under his belt. 000 steel wool is so fine that it just bends on the surface, and after using it you simply use some compressed air and blow the waste away, then wipe it down. You make it sound like a small chunk has the consistency of a brass pipe brush!

 

--Phrostbit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a friend of mine who's been a professional player for probably 45 years cleans his fretboard and string by spraying a tiny amount of WD40 on a towel.

 

I've not been brave enough to try this..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

guitarNed has it right. Damp cloth and elbow grease, & wipe dry period. Only use conditioners if the board is dryed out cause you been putting acohol or something on it. If you just use mild soap and damp cloth method, it wont get dryed out. Finger/body oils will lubricate it just fine.

 

WD40, or 3in1 oil, silicone spray, or something similar does do a good job on the strings if you are prone to gunking them up with acid skin. Like Bubblbuz says. just use a little on the corner of a cloth and keep it only on the strings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

....Fast Fret is a good product....

 

+1

 

I'd have to be changing strings a helluva lot more if it wasn't for my string cleaning rag and my stick of Fast Fret.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as the bits breaking and lodging in the pores of the wood, that's bunk and F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). I learned that trick from a luthier with 25+ years under his belt. 000 steel wool is so fine .....

I'm sorry to appear confrontational, but for the sake of the lurkers it needs to be said: your statement is false.

 

Steel wool fragments, tiny fragments do break off while you are rubbing your fretboard with it. The finer the steel wool, the easier it breaks and the finer the bits. Steel wool should never be allowed near a guitar, for any reason, ever.

 

If you must use an abrasive, get one of those green plastic wool flat pads, such as the ones made by 3M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry to appear confrontational, but for the sake of the lurkers it needs to be said: your statement is false.


Steel wool fragments, tiny fragments do break off while you are rubbing your fretboard with it. The finer the steel wool, the easier it breaks and the finer the bits. Steel wool should never be allowed near a guitar, for any reason, ever.


If you must use an abrasive, get one of those green plastic wool flat pads, such as the ones made by 3M.

 

Well then, Mr. Ned ... it is not my objective to appear confrontational either ... but my method does work and will NOT cause damage to the guitar if you are careful. My recent post for my NGD should be evidence of that. I have cleaned my SG Faded's neck with 000 steel wool pads a couple of times now and have never gotten bits on the pickups nor anything "stuck" in the neck. Before I sold it, my Guild DeArmond M-75 had been cleaned at least 3x that way over the years with no negative effects. No rust, no damaged fretboard, etc. etc. As I said before, if you are cautious and use it gently it works wonders on really grimy boards.

 

I any event to each his own and it appears we must agree to disagree. :blah::blah::p

 

--Phrostbit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...