There's been a friendly debate going on in alt.guitar.bass about what sort
of treatment is best for guitar fingerboards, many of which are rosewood.
I've heard lemon oil (which I know is just "flavored" mineral oil) can
actually cause drying out (which I don't understand), and a host of other
theories. I'm interested in opinions from this crowd. The goal is to apply
something that'll remove normal hand dirt, and then leave the fingerboard
somewhat moisturized, but not VERY oily.
Probably, but I'd find it hard to believe that there isn't a more commonly
available product used by woodworkers who make furniture or little wooden
jewelry boxes. By "commonly available", I mean something in the category of
tung oil or other things you can find at Home Depot, or a woodworking
specialty store. (I like to avoid ordering things online when the shipping
cost exceeds the value of the product involved).
I don't claim to be that great at woodworking or guitar playing, but I
do both (neither one professionally). Because I do both I love guitars
not only for their musical value, but as highly refined and functional
woodworking pieces (I'm talking about real guitars, not the junk that
gets spit off the Asian assembly lines at a rate of a couple thousand
Most well made guitars I've seen don't have any sort of finish on the
fingerboard. They say that fine instruments only get better with use.
And hand oil--not hand dirt--is, in my opinion, one of the reasons for
this. If you pick up a guitar that has been used a lot for a long
time, it has a feel that cannot be achieved through any process other
than having fingers with their natural oils dancing up and down the
fret board. It's a natural process like the smoothing of river rocks
tumbling in a stream. This natural oiling process can also give some
indication as to the players style. Look closely at the patterns on
the finger board and you'll get some idea of where he chooses to do
most of his playing. Does he stay mostly in the first position using
mostly open chords or does he do a lot of soloing in the mid to high
range. To me this is all part of the guitar's character and story.
And if it's a fine instrument that is worth handing down to future
generations, those generations should not be deprived of the story.
The only oil that get's put on the necks of my guitars is hand oil.
That is, clean hand oil- not hand oil mixed with hand dirt.
For those reading that are not interested in guitars, think of an old
wooden plane or the wood handles of your favorite hand tools. My uncle
has some that have decades of hand oil deposits. You can't get the
same feel from any comercially available finish or oil. To me it's a
desirable feel that would be ruined if you tried to monkey around with
If there's already dirt on the finger board, I would use a rag lightly
dampened with water to rub it off. The water will loosen the dirt, but
won't disolve the hand oil. After the dirt is removed apply additional
layers of hand oil finish by playing at every possible occasion.
Agree with completely. Rosewood and ebony, which is what most
fingerboards are made of, do no need any 'moisterizing'. If you have a
fingerboard cracking or splitting because it's too dry, then it must be
from the last millenia (time to call a museam). Also Keep in mind any
oil you add to the fingerboard will also transfer to the the strings,
and oil on the strings (especially the bass E, A, D) is not a good
No oil, just TLC.
Take a look at these old Usenet threads via google:
I've been using Harvey's Guitar Honey (the same bottle in fact) on all
my guitars since about 1988. I don't think he's making it any more, but
these threads include a lot of other suggestions from guitarists.
Well, I'm not Doug, but I interpreted it as equivalent of "The substance
commercially sold as 'lemon oil' is actually just lemon-flavored mineral
oil". Not sure if that's what you meant, but that's what I read it as.
Sounded like you were making a global statement about all things sold as
You're correct about my meaning. As far as "global", no. I was only
commenting on the 3 products I ran across in stores, which included the one
I finally bought.
Miller probably thought I meant that lemon oil, when first extracted from
lemons, contained mineral oil. Miller's funny that way.
There have to be some assumptions made in any discussion, or it would take
years to discuss most anything. I assume that most people who mentioned
lemon oil in this thread were referring to modified products sold in stores,
not pure, unadulterated lemon oil. Further, it would be just plain stupid to
think that a lemon contained petroleum distillates.
"I was driving down the road and the car stalled".
"What did you do with the elephant?"
"The one riding on top of your car".
"What??? That's ridiculous".
"Well, you didn't explicitly say there was NOT an elephant on top of your
No, it's related to the products I found. I haven't found pure lemon oil.
And, ****IN MY OPINION***, I think others in this discussion were also
referring to typical products found in grocery stores, Home Depot,
woodworking stores, etc.
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