Fretboard Conditioning

I’ve been meaning to replace the strings on my Warmoth project guitar for a while now. And when I actually broke the high E string, it seemed like the perfect reason to condition and clean the ebony fretboard and throw on a new set of strings.

When I took off the strings the nut came off too. This is one of those Tusq nuts and came with the Warmoth thurnderbird style guitar neck I have on the Warmoth strat body. The three spots of glue had stopped working at some point and were totally crystalized.

ebony fretboard

Sorry for the lame picture, but I must of deleted the other ones I took. Anyway, I used a polishing cloth and the edge of a credit card type… well, uh, card from some retailer membership club to clean the grime off the fretboard. It was nice to see I’m putting some wear and tear on the fretboard. Better than a pristine neck that isn’t getting used! But even after cleaning it, you can still see where I play the most. The stainless steel frets are doing wonderfully well and don’t need to be polished (unlike all the frets on almost all my other guitars).

Then I got some sandpaper and an exacto knife to take the glue residue off the nut and nut slot on the neck. That went fairly quickly, but I moved slowly so I wouldn’t damage anything. And since I had the guitar strings off I started looking for the graph tech bridge pieces I had picked up over a year ago. And I couldn’t find them. I actually ended up taking everything out of my work bench and then putting it all back together. I was so frustrated with having lost those bridge pieces and spent so much time looking for them that I put a few dabs of wood glue on the nut and strung up my guitar…without conditioning the fretboard!

I’ll wait a few weeks (or months) to replace the strings and try to remember to condition the fretboard then. And thanks to a recent article I read, this time I’ll use a tooth brush to work the oil into the fretboard instead of just spreading some on, letting it soak in a bit, and then using a paper towel to remove the excess. I’ll probably still have to remove excess, but it sounds like a good idea to me!

Maybe I’ll even find those graph tech bridge pieces by then.


4 thoughts on “Fretboard Conditioning

  1. On Ebony I use the Gibson fretboard conditioner as I’ve heard against Lemon Oil on Ebony. Gibson user support agreed when I asked them. On rosewood lemon oil – I apply both by dabbing it on and then rub it over the fretboard with a cloth – only a little not a lot. Leave it about 3 or 4 sips on a cup of tea then wipe board thoroughly with a clean cloth. I use loads of old t-shirts for the clothes, best thing and cheap!

    • Thanks for the heads up on not using lemon oil for the ebony fretboard. I guess it worked out for the best that I didn’t treat the ebony fretboard at all because I was going to use the wrong stuff! And since I’m not taking the strings off for a while, I have some time to track down some Gibson fretboard conditioner. Thanks again!

      • Some folks do use it but Gibson say no and I’ve read it in some other advice books. Warning the Gibson product be very sparing with it I’ve over done it and that isn’t nice under the fingers. To little better than too much.

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