Ibanez JEM Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. How do you get scratches out of rosewood fretboards? I was cleaning my fretboard the other day with the steel wool, and I usually go parallel to the grain, but sometimes I go parallel the frets to get the deep gunk out. Well, I was in a hurry and scrubbed too hard and now I have obvious, ugly scratches parallel to some frets. Could I get it out by scrubbing over it parallel to the grain? Or should I just cut my losses and leave it? They're mostly surface scratches, no obvious gouges. Man, I'm kicking myself for this!

Thanks,
John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
If you're using 0000 steel wool, they will be easy to get out. If it's 000 then NEVER go against the grain. Either way, I'll use a razor blade in the parallel to the grain to scrape them off. Sometimes that removes less wood than trying to sand or steel wool them, because it pushes the wood down as its going across. Also it's not simply replacing the bad scratches with different scratches, or scratches going in the "less visible" direction.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Frank. I think I'll try the razor blade thing.

FWIW, it was 0000 steel wool, but I think I put a little too much elbow grease into it :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
Why even use steel wool? Just use the Dunlop cleaning kit. It has this liquid that loosens the dirt on the fretboard, and oil you put on after to replenish the wood. I love it so much and always recommend it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
334 Posts
Lighter fluid is another trick that helps remove dirt embedded in the grain and caked against frets.

If you really have to get aggressive with cleaning, use the soft brush attachment from a Dremel tool and make a thin metal shield to go up against the frets. Push the shield up against the fret you're going to clean and then turh the Dremel brush on the slowest speed. Even though your little shield is up against the frets and protecting the wood in the fretboard, it'll still get the dirt and gunk that builds up against the frets. The brush also has a bit of a polishing effect on the frets, too.

Never rub anything abrasive, even 0000, against the grain of the wood. It's always a sure recipe for some sort of scratching that'll be noticeable.

-R
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Looking at it closely again, there are actually some gouges... Man, sometimes I'm such an idiot, using way too much force than necessary. It should be no surprise that on my first guitar I stripped almost all the wood screws on the back cavity covers :)

Anyway, will report when I get the time to try the razor blade thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
be careful when using the razor blade to not scratch your fretboard even more. and do it quickly with the razor blade, dont use the blade at an angle or anything like that. Have it upright and go left to right not too slow but not super fast, and be careful not to scratch the metal strips.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Evo2k0 said:
be careful when using the razor blade to not scratch your fretboard even more. and do it quickly with the razor blade, dont use the blade at an angle or anything like that. Have it upright and go left to right not too slow but not super fast, and be careful not to scratch the metal strips.
You mean the razor blade is supposed to perpendicular to the fretboard? Okay, I hadn't realized that. In that case I see why one should go fast.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
The blade should go WITH THE GRAIN!-In the direction of the strings. Go from one fret to the other. You can go lightly and quickly, or use one harder stroke. Maybe experiment on something. I don't know if you have any rosewood around, but try to get a feel for it, even if it's just on scrap wood or cardboard even. A blade can do big damage quickly. Keep it mostly perpendicular to the neck (as in straight up in the air) but angle it kind of like you'd angle a paint brush going back and forth. Its kind of like a painting motion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all your help guys. I tried using a razor blade, but I was too chicken to press very hard, so I really only scraped off just a hair-thin layer from the fretboard,which didn't get rid of the scratches. I'm going to take the guitar into the shop tomorrow and see if an expert can repair it. Sometimes it's important to know when to give up :) I just don't want to do any more damage.

Moral of the story: watch what you're doing! I was in a hurry, and too confident in the fact that I'd used the same technique on a few other guitars before with no ill effects. It was just an especially gunky fretboard and I scrubbed too hard. Luckily it wasn't a prized guitar, just a used RG7420 I picked up cheap, and it still plays fine...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Get the cleaning chemical from a guitar store.
Why would anyone risk razor blades and steel wool? Just to much can go wrong with those methods.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,373 Posts
gmeanie said:
Get the cleaning chemical from a guitar store.
Why would anyone risk razor blades and steel wool? Just to much can go wrong with those methods.
Exactly...I would NEVER use steel wool or especially not razor blades (my Jems would never forgive me) I have found that Lemon Oil works quite well. Find it at any hardware store Or use the Dunlop cleaning kit from music store. I am ~cringing~ at the thought of using steel wool & razor blades8O
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Don't feel bad anyhow. I used a razor blade on my very first attempt at cleaning a fretboard, over 25 years ago, but I left it with a few little gouges, and can chuckle over it today.

The guys are SO RIGHT. Ever since ... guitar cleaning kits, brushes and polish have been the way to go.

It was on a Yamaha acoustic. I covered most of the scratches with lemon oil, and now my son plays the same guitar, every day. Strat Man Dwight
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
I agree, and Naptha is my choice for removing tough grime. But this is about what to do after you already put scratches into the wood. The blade is still the best method, unless you're going to have it refretted. Then they'll all come out in the fretboard levelling.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So, I visited my trusty local guitar shop. The guy could barely see the scratches. He thought they were just from the factory when they finished the neck. He said the only way they could get them out would be during a refret, which---he admitted---would be a total waste since it plays just fine. After I explained how I scratched it up in the first place, he recommended trying to use the steel wool with the grain, although that would be "very tedious" since the scratches are so close to the frets.

So when I have some time next week I'll try to spend a couple of hours with the steel wool again (I'm still afraid of the razor blade technique).

Thank you all again for your help.

Note that I will be retiring the steel wool from my guitar maintenance toolbox, since I apparently don't know my own strength :)
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top