This is the part that will take us the most time, and rightly so. The neck is where we spend all our time playing, which is where most of the contact is being made on our instrument. When there’s buildup of grime beside every fret it’s definitely time to start cleaning!
There are two styles of fret boards. One is the finished and the other is the unfinished. As a rule of thumb, most of the darker fret boards (ebony) are unfinished and the older lighter colored boards have probably seen a lot of wear on the finish as well. The light colored (maple) fret boards usually come with a finish on them.
If a damp cloth is being used, then the process for any fret board is the same. If a fret board product is being used, then make sure to buy the right stuff for the type of fret board on the guitar. If you are unsure consult the manufacturer’s website where they should have the specs listed on the fret board as well as recommended products to use on the not only the fret board but the guitar.
Lemon Oil is a popular product to use on the fretboard, and any exposed wood on the guitar for that matter, and I’ve explored here in detail. It’s pretty essential to keep the guitar healthy for a long life.
Olive oil is also suggested by some guitar techs, which is something most people won’t have to leave the house to find.
It seems that fretboard conditioner is one of the most abundantly available products out there, and Fret Doctor is the most popular. They seem to mostly just boast the ability to protect the fingerboard with a treatment of sealing oil, and make the playing speed much quicker.
The strings should also not be ignored; they are an important part of the guitar, and finger board. Many professional guitarists who tour demand to have string cleaner regularly to help reduce finger buzzing, keep that shine on the strings, and some claim to increase the life-span and tonal life of the strings.
Now, as discussed in cleaning the guitar fretboard, some people recommend using very light grade of steel wool or plastic wool (non soap variety that’s found in SOS pads) to VERY LIGHTLY clean the really hard to reach places on the fretboard that the cloth will not clean, so make very sure that you make this a light treatment. To much of this and you’ll lose your fretboard!
One major note to make: Avoid products that are silicone based. They clog up the wood, and don’t allow it to breathe properly, which then becomes hard to clean up and makes for a very messy ordeal.
Another major note: Avoid a wax on the fretboard. This will effect the sound and playability of the guitar, and should be avoided.