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Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

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  • Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

    I decided it was time to clean the fretboard of my number 1 today. I have put in between 3 to 5 hours a day on this guitar for the past 7 years now. As you could imagine, the fretboard built up some dirt and "skin wax" over the years so it was time to do another cleaning. This is a ziricote fretboard. Here is how it looked before I used the #0000 steel wool to rub away the grime:



    Ok, the first step when using steel wool to clean the fretboard of an electric guitar is to mask off the pickups or else the magnets will draw in all the metal shavings that come off the steel wool. You may not mind if this happens as far as the looks are concerned but ideally you want to keep the shavings out of the pickups to prevent any potential problems. I used a combination of paper and masking tape. I sealed the paper on the humbuckers with the masking tape on the edges of the humbucker rings and just used a large piece of making tape over the STK-S4 stacked single coil:



    From here I took a small wad of the #0000 steel wool and gently rubbed in between each fret. I use #0000 steel wool which is the finest grade available for this. If you are going to do this, always rub with or along the grain of the wood. Do not go against the grain. You can obviously go over the frets with the steel wool as well to polish them a bit but again, keep it with the grain! I did this for each fret. Then, I went over it all once more with an emphasis on making sure I used my fingertips pressing against the steel wool (gently) to really get the grime leading up to the edge of each fret as much as possible.

    After I had done this, I used my vacuum to clean up all the metal shavings around the work area. I also hovered the vacuum over the neck, body and masked off pickups to get as many of the shavings as possible without touching the guitar with the vacuum. I grabbed a soft cloth I had dampened with water to gently dab each fret to make sure I got any metal shavings left behind by the vacuum.

    Finally, I used a fretboard conditioner to finish the job before restringing. I tried to wait as long as possible after applying the conditioner to take the after photos but I was running out of daylight. Here are some after photos:




    Pretty easy. Should remain this way for another year or two (maybe longer this time as I have already ordered the body for what may become my new number 1 guitar if all goes well).
    Snake Aces
    Singlecut Slut
    Last edited by Snake Aces; 04-15-2015, 05:19 PM.
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  • #2
    Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

    I had to take the 0000 steel wool to the USA strat I just purchased, it may have never had the fretboard cleaned up... Definitely helped out.

    Nice work.
    ISO - Fender Highway One Stratocaster - black
    2004 Chevy Silveraro - 6.6 Liter Duramax Turbo Diesel
    Pickup Booster - Lava Box - Tweak Fuzz - Vapor Trail

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    • #3
      Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

      I don't know why everybody is so afraid of this. I've been doing this for years and I've never had a problem.

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      • #4
        Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

        Originally posted by Kac View Post
        I had to take the 0000 steel wool to the USA strat I just purchased, it may have never had the fretboard cleaned up... Definitely helped out.

        Nice work.
        Thanks! The steel wool definitely makes the task easier.
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        • #5
          Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

          Originally posted by formula73 View Post
          I don't know why everybody is so afraid of this. I've been doing this for years and I've never had a problem.
          I agree. It's really no big deal. Worst case scenario wear some gloves if people don't want gray fingertips for a few days.
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          • #6
            Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

            Nice board.

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            • #7
              Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

              Originally posted by kramersteen View Post
              Nice board.
              Thanks man, I dig it too.
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              • #8
                Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                Looks great now
                I usually use naptha and clean off the board...but sometimes if I can take it outside I use the steelwool as well.
                That is on the guitars I work on, my own I clean the board when I change strings, and sometimes I just clean with strings on, it does not really matter

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                • #9
                  Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                  You could also try the non-magnetic steel wool replacement. Also hairs less.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                    Originally posted by SnakeAces View Post
                    Ok, the first step when using steel wool to clean the fretboard of an electric guitar is to mask off the pickups or else the magnets will draw in all the metal shavings that come off the steel wool. You may not mind if this happens as far as the looks are concerned but ideally you want to keep the shavings out of the pickups to prevent any potential problems. I used a combination of paper and masking tape. I sealed the paper on the humbuckers with the masking tape on the edges of the humbucker rings and just used a large piece of making tape over the STK-S4 stacked single coil:
                    I would say that if it's a bolt on neck, just pull it off, clean it, then put it back on. You're only going to be doing this once in a great while and can give it a good setup/shimming if necessary at the same time. Might even be faster than covering the pickups.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                      Originally posted by Vasshu the humanoid typhoon View Post
                      Looks great now
                      I usually use naptha and clean off the board...but sometimes if I can take it outside I use the steelwool as well.
                      That is on the guitars I work on, my own I clean the board when I change strings, and sometimes I just clean with strings on, it does not really matter
                      Thanks!

                      Originally posted by uOpt View Post
                      You could also try the non-magnetic steel wool replacement. Also hairs less.
                      I did not even know such a critter exists.

                      Originally posted by dominus View Post
                      I would say that if it's a bolt on neck, just pull it off, clean it, then put it back on. You're only going to be doing this once in a great while and can give it a good setup/shimming if necessary at the same time. Might even be faster than covering the pickups.
                      For sure, I just wanted to give people an idea of how it should be done if they do not want to pull the neck off or if they have a set neck. Although, I'm not sure if it's faster to pull the neck off than covering the pickups, it is more convenient to only have to hold the neck while using the steel wool rather than having to lay the whole guitar on a desk.

                      It has been my experience that a Warmoth neck never needs shimming when being used with a Warmoth body. Their necks and bodies fit snugly like a glove. However, many other bolt-ons, in fact almost all other bolt-ons I've owned have benefited from some kind of shimming or even sanding adjustments.
                      Snake Aces
                      Singlecut Slut
                      Last edited by Snake Aces; 04-16-2015, 11:28 AM.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                        Here is an example of non-magnetic "steel wool". It also "hairs" very little.

                        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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                        • #13
                          Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                          Originally posted by uOpt View Post
                          Here is an example of non-magnetic "steel wool". It also "hairs" very little.
                          Cool
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                          • #14
                            Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                            nice. havent seen the synthetic stuff before!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Cleaned Fretboard with #0000 Steel Wool Today

                              Every time I see the cover of Metallica's Death Magnetic, I think of how pickups would look without being covered up before steel wool comes near them.

                              Originally posted by Boogie Bill
                              I've got 60 guitars...but 49 trumpets is just...INSANITY! WTF!

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