View Full Version : Fretboard conditioner

05-27-2009, 01:33 AM
I was wondering if anybody here uses this kind of stuff on their ukes or any other similar products?

05-27-2009, 01:55 AM
IMHO, unless you live in a climate where wood is likely to dry out and crack, then simply keeping your instrument clean and adequately humidified is all you should need to do on an ongoing basis. It probably doesn't hurt to carefully and lightly oil a fretboard once every few years - after checking with the manufacturer of your instrument to see what they recommend, but beyond that I consider most instrument treatments and polishes to be money-spinning consumables with little real benefit.

The people I know who are experienced in building instruments tend not to take much notice of these products, so I take my guidance from them, as they know much more than I do. They tell me I don't need guitar polishes and oils.

The only exception I make is for FastFret which I use on mandolin, but only because it makes the metal strings last longer before corrosion sets in. I don't use it as a treatment on the wood.

So, personally, I'd use my money on something else.

Just MHO, and YMMV.

05-27-2009, 02:19 AM
Yep. I use Dunlop fretboard oil and guitar polish on my ukes right now. I've been a great believer in these products ever since I started playing guitar, in the 1960s. I've used other brands - Lemon Pledge was a favourite of mine for years. But I tend to use guitar-specific products, even if they are more expensive versions of the same thing.

Several reasons:

The natural moisture in the wood is eventually lost through any unfinished surface (which means the inside of the uke and the fretboard are vulnerable). That can lead to cracking (including finish cracks). Better to oil what you can reach to help prevent them than to ignore the potential.
In a really humid climate, the oil will help prevent moisture from saturating the wood, which can lead to swelling. That in turn can cause cracks and separations.
Fretboard oils are better for the wood than fingertip oils. And if you don't do anything with a fretboard, your skin oil will get into it anyway. The fretboard oil is cleaner, less likely to deteriorate and penetrates deeper.
Guitar polishes usually have oils - these help fill in micro-cracks and scratches you may not see. That in turns helps the longevity of the surface.
Unless you remove the strings (I don't), fretboard oil gets on them. That helps clean them, removing any dirt and making them smoother and easier to play on. Of course, you carefully wipe them clean after oiling the fretboard to remove excess residue before playing!
Ditto with the fretboard: as it dries and shrinks, the wood gets coarse and noticeably rougher. The oil keeps the wood expanded and smoother to the touch.

05-27-2009, 03:34 AM
As I've only been playing since about 1970, I bow to greater experience! :D

As I said, YMMV, as Ian's obviously does.

Seriously, one of my bandmates works with UK guitar maker Patrick Eggle and he is one of those who has suggested I save my pennies, and just make sure I keep my instruments clean.

It may be simply that where I live, a very moderate climate in every way, issues associated with extreme dryness and extreme humidity don't occur.

05-27-2009, 04:32 AM
I use orange oil. Lemon oil is good too. You can usually find some in a good hardware store next to the furniture polish.