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View Full Version : Hooray for Lemon Oil!



connor013
03-17-2012, 04:45 AM
This is probably common knowledge for many, but for those of us who play more often than we clean:

I just cleaned my ukes with lemon oil this morning, and what a difference! On the Black Bears, which are nitrocellulose, all the fingerprints are gone, and there's a noticeably deeper glow to the koa (which looks awesome -- prettiest wood eva, as we say in MA).

But on the Hamano, which is a satin finish, holy guacamole! The mahogany looks beautiful -- deep and reddish and slightly glowing like sunset clouds on a still sea.

20 minutes well spent!

Goats Can Eat Anything
03-17-2012, 05:13 AM
I find that one of the best things for the appearance of an instrument with a rosewood fretboard (ebony too), is a cleaning of the frets and fretboard with 0000-grade steel wool and oiling it up. It makes such a difference in appearance and it even helps the playability a bit. Kind of like lotion on dry skin...

I gussied up my cheap laminate concert with oil and, you're right, the difference is night and day. Looks older and richer!

Kayak Jim
03-17-2012, 05:34 AM
When cleaning the frets and fretboard do you remove the strings or just loosen and pull to the side? Is there any detrimental effect to getting lemon oil on the strings?

Goats Can Eat Anything
03-17-2012, 05:37 AM
I do it when replacing the strings. It needs to be a side to side motion (along the frets) to get grime out from next to the frets and to polish the frets nicely. You also want to be careful not to scratch the finish or get steel wool residue in the soundhole. Additionally, it's nice to apply the oil, let it soak in, and dry it up; repeat. It doesn't need to happen that often, but when it does... Beautiful!

I don't think it would hurt the strings.

mikelz777
03-17-2012, 05:53 AM
Do you do the lemon oil treatment to the entire ukulele? (Are there any wood parts that you don't treat?) Does the lemon oil damage or remove the brand-name lettering on the head stock? I was wondering if I should treat the wood on my Lanikai LU-21C some day or just leave well enough alone. I love the look of it now but the nato laminate seems to have a dry look/feel to it but maybe it's supposed to be that way. I'm guessing that treating it with oil would darken it and bring out the look of the grain more?

mr roper
03-17-2012, 05:57 AM
Just don't over do it. You don't want to wet the board so much that the oil has a chance to penetrate into the fret slots and soften the wood there over time.

Goats Can Eat Anything
03-17-2012, 06:03 AM
The only thing I wholly oiled was the aforementioned cheap laminate uke. In part, the purpose there was to remove the logos (the top had a goofy little hula dancer design). For this, I oiled while steel wool-ing the finish. It looks great. I've never oiled the body of more expensive instruments. I'd be more reluctant to do that.

For the fingerboard oiling, I usually only do the fingerboard and, sometimes, the bridge. Essentially, just the unfinished woods.

1931jim
03-17-2012, 07:23 AM
I take tension off the strings, fold them to the sides and tie them back with a tie around the back of body at the soundhole area. Do about 5 frets at a time lightly, then wipe off immediately. Put the lemon oil on a cloth over the index finger. Oh yeah don't forget to save your old tooth brush, it is one of the secret weapons of any old repairman.
On and off quickly whenever you do the fretboard. The back of the neck and the box itself, one does not need to be so hurried and a very light dab with the cloth will be sufficient.

Freeda
03-17-2012, 08:59 AM
slightly glowing like sunset clouds on a still sea.


I have been basking in that phrase all afternoon. :)

1931jim
03-17-2012, 10:10 AM
Originally Posted by connor013

slightly glowing like sunset clouds on a still sea.

I have been basking in that phrase all afternoon. :)
Slightly glowing just like Father O'Connor013 on St.Patrick's Day after a wee dram or two of Lemon Oil. HaHa!!

coolkayaker1
03-17-2012, 11:16 AM
Another way to keep the fretboard well oiled: learn to play up and down the entire fretboard.

Mine, personally, is pretty much just oiled on the first three frets. Especially after a bag of Lay's.

I know, it's not a beautiful as sunset clouds on a still sea, but it's the truth.

Kayak Jim
03-17-2012, 03:35 PM
How about BBQ or dill pickle chips?

Or in the UK they have really off the wall flavours of crisps- "southern fried chicken 'n dumplin's" or something like that! :rolleyes:

Doc_J
03-17-2012, 04:04 PM
Myamoe ukuleles recommends to rub Planet Waves lemon oil on the hand-rubbed oil finish from time to time to replenish it.

http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/ownerInfo.html

coolkayaker1
03-17-2012, 05:38 PM
The only down side of the Lays oiling method is that you run the risk of having a fretboard that looks like a cratered kitchen cutting board after a few years and that may not appeal to every potential buyer.

You slay me, Bill. That's pretty damned funny. I guess I just killed any UU Marketplace ads for myself. lol

bazmaz
03-17-2012, 10:55 PM
Never considered putting oil on the actual body of the uke...

As for fingerboards, I would also avoid lemon oil unless you can guarantee its genuine real fruit oil. Most sold today is synthetic and just scented with lemon.

I personally use bore oil - its been used by woodwind players for oboes etc for donkeys years and works a treat on fingerboards. Seriously though, I use it once a year or less. More importantly I only use it if the uke fingerboard looks like it needs it. You really don't want to over oil a fingerboard.

As for putting it on the body - anyone else with opinions on this. I have a kanilea with a thin matte finish. Would rubbing bore oil on it do the wood any good?

barefootgypsy
03-17-2012, 11:28 PM
What do think about using linseed oil? It's the traditional treatment for furniture, and The Ukulele Man recommends it for the fretboard.....I've done mine..... (maple fretboard, banjo-uke. :)

Dolf
03-19-2012, 02:36 AM
I use fastfret for my guitar. Works really well. The company states that the product is suitable for all stringed instruments. Worth a try, I would say! I use it ont he strings and the fretboard only, though. For the body (of the instrument, that is) I use plain and simple furniture-wax.

Kayak Jim
03-19-2012, 05:29 AM
What do think about using linseed oil? It's the traditional treatment for furniture, and The Ukulele Man recommends it for the fretboard.....I've done mine..... (maple fretboard, banjo-uke. :)

Gypsy are you using Boiled Linseed Oil (which has metallic driers added) which dries in a couple of days, or Raw Linseed Oil which takes a few months to dry? Mineral Oil (Lemon Oil) does not dry.

barefootgypsy
03-19-2012, 05:57 AM
Gypsy are you using Boiled Linseed Oil (which has metallic driers added) which dries in a couple of days, or Raw Linseed Oil which takes a few months to dry? Mineral Oil (Lemon Oil) does not dry.
Thanks for that, Jim! :) I used Raw Linseed Oil - I only did it a few days ago - but I've just paid a visit to a luthier about my frets, and when I told him I'd used some linseed oil on the fretboard, he advised me not to use it because he said it can stain over time..... he makes guitars. The idea to use it in the first place came from an experienced source - (in banjoleles) - interesting, isn't it!

benjoeuke
03-19-2012, 06:36 AM
I would never put any kind of oil on any of my instruments, whether they be finished with lacquer, spirit or oil varnish the only thing I have ever used is Jubilee Polish, and very sparingly. Lynn Dudenbostel personally recommended it to me for my 1918 Gibson mandolin and said it is safe for any finish if used properly. As for lemon oil on the fingerboard, maybe once a year at most but I do take off the strings first and clean with 0000 steel wool, otherwise the oil just helps to seal in the grimy build up.

MGM
03-19-2012, 10:32 AM
I personally use Loprinzis fretboard conditioner on my raw fretboards. Puts a deep dark luster which lasts unlike lemon oil which disappears its sheen overnight

barefootgypsy
03-19-2012, 12:24 PM
I personally use Loprinzis fretboard conditioner on my raw fretboards. Puts a deep dark luster which lasts unlike lemon oil which disappears its sheen overnight
My Slingerland has a maple fretboard - it's light! Do they do a colourless conditioner?

benjoeuke
03-19-2012, 12:32 PM
My Slingerland has a maple fretboard - it's light! Do they do a colourless conditioner?
I never use anything on my maple fingerboards, let them wear out naturally and they just get better and better with age :)

Paul December
03-19-2012, 12:34 PM
So, would someone please confirm it is OK to put lemon oil on the uke body?

SailingUke
03-19-2012, 12:39 PM
I use lemon oil on my ukes with an oil rubbed finish. (Gordon, Mya-Moe, use lemon oil)
For any uke or guitar with a finish I use Gibson guitar polish. It cleans and all the finger prints and crud of the guitar and leaves a nice shine.
On the fret board I have used the LoPrinzi conditioner and have been super pleased.

vanflynn
03-19-2012, 12:52 PM
So, would someone please confirm it is OK to put lemon oil on the uke body?

What type of finish do you have on your Uke?

Paul December
03-19-2012, 12:53 PM
What type of finish do you have on your Uke?

Very thin finish, open pore. On a Lanikai Koa laminate.

mr roper
03-19-2012, 02:30 PM
This should have been clarified much earlier in this thread. Never use lemon oil, danish oil, linseed oil etc. on the body of your uke unless it has a "hand rubbed oil finish". The coating type finish used on most ukes needs polish or maybe wax but never oil.

connor013
03-19-2012, 02:37 PM
Miscommunication on my part, gang.

I used lemon oil on the fret boards of each and on the body of the Hamano, which isn't probably a hand-rubbed finish but an imitation of one. So far, no staining or blemishes.

On the one hand, I can't really imagine how lemon oil would hurt a hard finish (unless you really just doused it). But on the other hand, I can't imagine it would do much good. Even nitrocellulose seals the wood, right?

Anyways, sorry for any unintended confusion.

Nickie
03-19-2012, 02:51 PM
I love lemon oil. That's all I ever used on my old fiddle, it gave it new life every time. Gotta keep it off the tuning pegs, though. I use fretboard butter from LoPrinzi now, on my uke, wow does it shine it up. I do it when the strings are off. I polish the whole ukulele with it.

mr roper
03-19-2012, 04:29 PM
This should have been clarified much earlier in this thread. Never use lemon oil, danish oil, linseed oil etc. on the body of your uke unless it has a "hand rubbed oil finish". The coating type finish used on most ukes needs polish or maybe wax but never oil.

I didn't mean to imply that the oil would do any harm. There are just better purpose made products for cleaning and shining your instrument. The oil might be more prone to smudges and I'd hate to have it get through to the wood.

barefootgypsy
03-20-2012, 04:31 AM
I didn't mean to imply that the oil would do any harm. There are just better purpose made products for cleaning and shining your instrument. The oil might be more prone to smudges and I'd hate to have it get through to the wood.
Thanks for making that clear, mr roper! :)

mschway
03-20-2012, 05:26 AM
What do think about using linseed oil? It's the traditional treatment for furniture, and The Ukulele Man recommends it for the fretboard.....

Back when I took a luthiery class, our guru recommended a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and turpentine. The turpentine thins down the oil to where it can be absorbed into the wood, and retards polymerization as well (which, otherwise, would gum up). It doesn't smell as nice as citrus oil, but it does a fine job. I imagine you could always add some lemon rind to your bottle.:)

Whatever you use, DO NOT use anything containing silicone oil!!!!! (That includes "finger ease" lubricant as well as most residential furniture polishes). If silicone oil contacts a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, it'll get absorbed. You won't notice it until you have a repair which involves finish touch-up. The contaminated surface won't evenly accept the new finish...you'll end up with pockmarks which look like fish-eyes. Nothing you can do about it short of a total strip and refinish. This isn't as much a problem with catalyzed synthetic finishes.

barefootgypsy
03-20-2012, 05:34 AM
Back when I took a luthiery class, our guru recommended a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and turpentine. The turpentine thins down the oil to where it can be absorbed into the wood, and retards polymerization as well (which, otherwise, would gum up). It doesn't smell as nice as citrus oil, but it does a fine job. I imagine you could always add some lemon rind to your bottle.:)

Whatever you use, DO NOT use anything containing silicone oil!!!!! (That includes "finger ease" lubricant as well as most residential furniture polishes). If silicone oil contacts a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, it'll get absorbed. You won't notice it until you have a repair which involves finish touch-up. The contaminated surface won't evenly accept the new finish...you'll end up with pockmarks which look like fish-eyes. Nothing you can do about it short of a total strip and refinish. This isn't as much a problem with catalyzed synthetic finishes.Really informative, thank you!

webby
03-20-2012, 08:18 AM
If your putting it on the fretboard remember it is only applicable if it's made of porous wood (eg: rosewood, maple isn't porous...).

barefootgypsy
03-20-2012, 08:28 AM
If your putting it on the fretboard remember it is only applicable if it's made of porous wood (eg: rosewood, maple isn't porous...).I didn't know that! Thank you! I'm learning so much on here! :D

strumsilly
03-20-2012, 09:41 AM
Back when I took a luthiery class, our guru recommended a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and turpentine. The turpentine thins down the oil to where it can be absorbed into the wood, and retards polymerization as well (which, otherwise, would gum up). It doesn't smell as nice as citrus oil, but it does a fine job. I imagine you could always add some lemon rind to your bottle.:)

Whatever you use, DO NOT use anything containing silicone oil!!!!! (That includes "finger ease" lubricant as well as most residential furniture polishes). If silicone oil contacts a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, it'll get absorbed. You won't notice it until you have a repair which involves finish touch-up. The contaminated surface won't evenly accept the new finish...you'll end up with pockmarks which look like fish-eyes. Nothing you can do about it short of a total strip and refinish. This isn't as much a problem with catalyzed synthetic finishes.
For what it's worth ,I heard that about silicone too, so I use Preservation Polish from STEWMAC. it says no silicone in big letters on the bottle. it's a little pricey , but the 32 oz bottle will probably outlast me. it does a great job, I use it on all my ukes. I use bore oil on my fretboards if they look dry.